For over a decade, course author Andrea Stolpe has written for the commercial music industry, including songs performed by Faith Hill and Josh Gracin. Her online course, Commercial Songwriting Techniques is a perfect combination of theory and concrete skill building that focuses songwriters on the key element of writing a hit song: creating patterns of content that will help to create memorable melodies and lyrics that forge an emotional connection with the listener.
In this course you'll learn a ten-step process to reproducing the time-tested traits of successful songs while still maintaining your unique voice – a practice critical to the success of any songwriter. You'll learn to control the connection to your audience through toggling – moving between detail and pulling back for a broader picture. You'll also learn to use all of your senses—touch, taste, smell, sight, sound, and movement—as springboards for creativity in a process called destination writing. These enhanced descriptive skills will give you the power to determine the intensity of the experience you create with your song lyrics. By focusing on a different song section every week you'll also learn how to streamline your writing and create more descriptive songs in less time. This course plants the seeds necessary for writing great commercial songs in an easy to understand step-by-step method, while always leaving the door open for individual artistic expression.
By the end of the course you'll have three completely written songs that are organized in a way that is accessible to the mainstream, as well as firm ideas for many future songs.
You will learn to:
- Streamline and accelerate your writing process
- Apply a 10-step songwriting strategy to any new idea
- Connect with and create a memorable experience for your audience
- Write even when you're not initially inspired
- Discover your own unique writing style
- Employ new patterns for content based on memorable songs
- Combine lyrics with music more effectively
- Continue building on your catalog of three completed songs and several developed ideas
Lesson 1: Exposing The Artist Perspective
- Topic 1: Word Paintings: Six Keys of Connection
- Topic 2: Two Kinds of Detail: External and Internal
- Topic 3: Bringing Order to Detail
Lesson 2: Truth In Detail
- Topic 1: The Laws of "Whoville"
- Topic 2: The Three Elements
- Topic 3: Benefits of Near-sightedness
Lesson 3: Secrets of Structure
- Topic 1: Toggling
- Topic 2: Five Degrees of Rhyme
- Topic 3: Toggling and Rhyme Scheme
- Topic 4: The Power Position
Lesson 4: Dialing Into The Audience
- Topic 1: Connecting With Tense
- Topic 2: Connecting With Prepositions and Conjunctions
- Topic 3: Musical Characteristics of the Verse
Lesson 5: Reflections of Music Form and Structure
- Topic 1: Music and Lyric
- Topic 2: Topic Movement
- Topic 3: Rhyme and Melody
Lesson 6: Inventing the 'Why'
- Topic 1: Chorus Function
- Topic 2: Abstract/Metaphorical and List
- Topic 3: The Great Title Search
- Topic 4: Powerful Positions
- Topic 5: Setting the Chorus to Music
Lesson 7: The Content Compass
- Topic 1: Panning on Large and Small Scales
- Topic 2: The Three P's: Plot Progression Strategies
Lesson 8: Breaking the Old Routine
- Topic 1: The Importance of Contrast
- Topic 2: Functions of the Second Verse and Bridge
- Topic 3: Musical Characteristics of the Second Verse and Bridge
Lesson 9: The First Draft Physical
- Topic 1: Verbs Get All The Action
- Topic 2: Point of View
- Topic 3: Tense
Lesson 10: Shining the Toolbox
- Topic 1: Recap of Steps 1-4
Lesson 11: More Tools in Action
- Topic 1: Recap of Steps 5-10
Lesson 12: Off and Running
Author & Instructor
Andrea Stolpe is a multi-platinum recorded songwriter, performing artist,
and educator. She has worked as a staff writer for EMI, Almo-Irving, and
Universal Music Publishing, with songs recorded by such artists as Faith
Hill, Daniel Lee Martin, Julianne Hough, and others. Andrea is the author
and instructor of the course Commercial Songwriting Techniques, part of
Berklee Online's online songwriting program. Recently released in fall of
2007, her book Popular Lyric Writing: 10 Steps to Effective Storytelling
describes how to apply a unique process for uniting our artistic voice with
the commercial market.
Andrea graduated with a degree in songwriting from Berklee College of Music.
She continues to tour and promote her solo release, "Breaking Even," and
serve as a guest clinician nationally and abroad. Andrea lives in Los
Angeles with her husband, recording engineer Jan Teddy.
Completion of Music Theory 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required. Familiarity with popular music song form, basic proficiency on a harmonic instrument and the ability to sing a melody over a harmonic progression are also necessary.
Popular Lyric Writing: 10 Steps to Effective Storytelling by Andrea Stolpe
- A basic audio recording tool that will allow you to record yourself playing along with a background track and save the recording in MP3 format. You will have a tool to use for this purpose inside the learning environment. Alternatively, you can use software like Audacity or Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).
- OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
- Latest version of Chrome (recommended), Firefox, or Safari
- Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
- Latest version of Chrome (recommended), Firefox, or Edge
- A built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built in ports or an external audio interface)
- 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
- 500 MB hard drive space
- Speakers or headphone
- Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed (http://www.speedtest.net to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)