If I want to cover some songs, I don't want cover it like the original one. Then, I need some refreshment on my cover version right?

What can I do to make it more interesting? What are the techniques?

  • 1
    I can't add much to what's been said except I love it when bands amke a cover "thier own"- I've seen many pro acts and one problem with them is that you may as well just put the original CD on. It's much more fun (for me at least) if they add their own slant or do it in a totally different way and "own it". So this is really just enthusiasm for what your'e doing. Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 16:45

3 Answers 3


When you have a cover song, what defines it is the melody. Two songs may have similar chord progressions, textures, and accompaniment, but the melody is truly what separates them. As long as you don't mess with the melody, you can do almost anything. Dr Mayhem listed a few, and I'll list a few more:

  • Re-harmonize the accompaniment.
  • Change the "feel" (rhythmic motives) of a song.
  • Rearrange the form of a song.
  • Write new background parts for the song.
  • Modulate or start in a different key.
  • Pick out strong parts(or parts that you find interesting) of the song and reinforce them.
  • Remove/change parts of the song that don't work.

If you don't know how to start, there are many examples of cover songs being rearranged. A very good example is "Blinded by the Light" was written by Bruce Springsteen, but the way more popular version is by Manfred Mann. Another good example is "Imagine" is written by John Lennon, but A Perfect Circle did a very different arrangement of it. There are a lot more, but this should get you started on what is possible.


Dr Mayhem gives you loads of great ideas here. I can't really add much. But, as a counterpoint to his answer, I would say you need to think about what you don't change when doing a cover of a song.

This might seem really obvious, but often you can work out what is most important about a song by trying to strip it back to absolute basics. A great song will often work well sung with strummed acoustic guitar, even if the original was a massively overdubbed recording; and often a less good song won't work this way!

Sure, there is usually a hierarchy of important elements to retain, usually in this order: lyrics, vocal melody, chords (harmonic structure), prominent riffs etc. But sometimes there are other interesting little musical ideas that really add a lot of character to a song; a drum fill here, a strumming rhythm there, something in the bass line, or maybe an unexpected chord. It's fun to see how many of the "important" elements of a song can be changed (or even left out!) without losing the song's identity; equally it's fun to "amplify" those little interesting ideas to make them bigger features (there's a parallel with sampling here, I guess).

By stripping things back, you leave space for your own ideas...


A simple shortlist of obvious ways to make it at least different (which may mean more interesting) is:

  • change the time signature (have you ever tried playing a rock song as a waltz?)
  • change the tempo (speeding up or slowing down can dramatically change a song)
  • change the instruments (use guitars, ukeleles, bagpipes etc)
  • change the vocal style (male voice for female, choir for solo)
  • change the effects (eg add distortion, fuzz etc)
  • play different solos (create your own)

But you can also look at more complex changes, such as altering your chords - moving from major to minor, or replacing chords with their 7th etc - these will totally change the tonal qualities of the song.

Once you get proficient at this, you can pretty much change everything - it is all up to you.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.