Commercial Songwriting Techniques

Author: Andrea Stolpe | Course Code: OSONG-240

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 processapply a 10-step songwriting strategy to any new ideaconnect with and create a memorable experience for your audiencewrite even when you're not initially inspireddiscover your own unique writing styleemploy new patterns for content based on memorable songscombine lyrics with music more effectivelycontinue 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 ConnectionTopic 2: Two Kinds of Detail: External and InternalTopic 3: Bringing Order to Detail

Lesson 2: Truth In Detail

Topic 1: The Laws of "Whoville"Topic 2: The Three ElementsTopic 3: Benefits of Near-sightedness

Lesson 3: Secrets of Structure

Topic 1: TogglingTopic 2: Five Degrees of RhymeTopic 3: Toggling and Rhyme SchemeTopic 4: The Power Position

Lesson 4: Dialing Into The Audience

Topic 1: Connecting With TenseTopic 2: Connecting With Prepositions and ConjunctionsTopic 3: Musical Characteristics of the Verse

Lesson 5: Reflections of Music Form and Structure

Topic 1: Music and LyricTopic 2: Topic MovementTopic 3: Rhyme and Melody

Lesson 6: Inventing the 'Why'

Topic 1: Chorus FunctionTopic 2: Abstract/Metaphorical and ListTopic 3: The Great Title SearchTopic 4: Powerful PositionsTopic 5: Setting the Chorus to Music

Lesson 7: The Content Compass

Topic 1: Panning on Large and Small ScalesTopic 2: The Three P's: Plot Progression Strategies

Lesson 8: Breaking the Old Routine

Topic 1: The Importance of ContrastTopic 2: Functions of the Second Verse and BridgeTopic 3: Musical Characteristics of the Second Verse and Bridge

Lesson 9: The First Draft Physical

Topic 1: Verbs Get All The ActionTopic 2: Point of ViewTopic 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

Topic 1: Final Project

Andrea Stolpe

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.

Music Theory 101 or equivalent knowledgeFamiliarity with popular music song formBasic proficiency on a harmonic instrumentAbility to sing a melody over a harmonic progression

Popular Lyric Writing: 10 Steps to Effective Storytelling by Andrea Stolpe

Hit-songwriter/educator Andrea Stolpe shares time-tested tools of commercial songwriting. Her 10-step process will help you to craft lyrics that communicate heart to heart with your audience. She analyzes hits from artists such as Faith Hill and John Mayer, and reveals why they are successful and how you can make your own songs successful too—with increased marketability and a more intense connection to your listeners.

PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higherMac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, SafariFlash Player: current versionQuickTime: current versionAdobe Reader: current versionA 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).
Windows Vista SP2 or higherIntel Pentium 4 or higher1 GB RAM500 MB hard drive space recommendedSound cardSpeakers or headphones for your computerA built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built in ports or an external audio interface).
Mac OS X 10.7 or higherIntel Mac2 GB RAM500 MB hard drive space recommendedSpeakers or headphones for your computerA built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built in ports or an external audio interface).


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Next Term Starts June 27

  • Level
  • Duration
    12 weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
  • or
  • Non-Credit Tuition Add 6 CEUs
    $1,200 + $25

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