Lyric Writing: Writing From the Title


Authored by Pat Pattison


Course Code: OSONG-221

Next Term Starts April 8

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Lyric Writing: Writing From the Title will teach you how the professionals approach the construction of songs: by writing from a central idea (the title). Starting with a powerful and effective song title, you'll learn to build complete lyrics from that title, explore how to set the title to the appropriate rhythm and tempo, and to place that title in the song's different sections to create the most powerful impact. Through this approach, you will learn different ways to brainstorm ideas, work with a variety of lyric writing elements, and develop effective tools to create an emotional connection with your listeners.

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By the end of this course, you will:

  • Find and develop a title
  • Understand what a title is and its function in the song
  • Identify rhythm, pitch and tempo of a title
  • Recognize and use different rhyming types
  • Develop verses and understand the functions of various song sections
  • Identify contrasting sections and rhythms
  • Complete a polished lyric
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Lesson 1: What Is a Title?

  • Understanding the Use of Titles in Songs Versus Poems
  • Understanding the Function of a Title in a Lyric
  • Identifying Two Types of Song Titles

Lesson 2: Finding a Title

  • Understanding the Title as the Central Concept of the Song
  • Developing Strategies for Finding Titles

Lesson 3: Developing a Title

  • Identifying Titles That Can Be Recolored by Repetition
  • Sketching Out Possible Sectional Development for a Title

Lesson 4: Rhythm and Pitch of the Title

  • Identifying the Stressed Syllables of a Title
  • Identifying the Pitches of a Title

Lesson 5: Tempo as a Brainstorming Tool

  • Preserving the Natural Shape of a Title
  • Setting a Title Rhythmically Against a Pulse
  • Extracting Various Meanings from the Same Title by Brainstorming Against Various Tempos

Lesson 6: Developing Your Title Motivically

  • Deciding Where to Place a Title
  • Developing a Title's Motive by Using Various Developmental Techniques

Lesson 7: Creating a Rhythmic Template

  • Creating a Section Based on a Title's Rhythm
  • Applying Developmental Techniques to Create Your Section

Lesson 8: Brainstorming with Rhyme

  • Identifying and Finding the Various Rhyme Types
  • Recognizing the Vowel Sounds of the Stressed Syllables in a Title
  • Using Your Rhyming Dictionary as a Brainstorming Tool

Lesson 9: Verse Development Techniques

  • Planning Your Verse Development
  • Approaching Central Sections of Songs More Effectively
  • Applying Your Recoloring Skills to One of Your Own Titles

Lesson 10: Song Forms

  • Understanding the Functions of the Various Kinds of Song Sections
  • Recognizing Basic Song Forms
  • Sketching Lyric Outlines

Lesson 11: Contrasting Sections 

  • Rhyme Schemes as a Contrasting Device
  • Number of Syllables/Notes as a Contrasting Device
  • Line Length as a Contrasting Device
  • Note Values as a Contrasting Device
  • Position in the Bar as a Contrasting Device
  • Variations or Pieces of a Motive as a Rhythmic Contrasting Device

Lesson 12: Putting It All Together

  • Applying the Course's Techniques to Finish Your Lyric
  • Improving Your Critical Skills by Helping Others to Polish Their Work



None required

Required Textbooks

Writing Better Lyrics (Second Edition) by Pat Pattison, Writer's Digest Books

Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure by Pat Pattison, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard

Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming (2nd Edition) by Pat Pattison, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard

The Complete Rhyming Dictionary by Clement Wood, Dell Publishing

Software Requirements

  • A basic audio recording tool that will allow you to record yourself playing 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 (Windows) or GarageBand (Mac).

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • 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 headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)




Pat Pattison is an author, clinician and Berklee Professor of Lyric Writing and Poetry whose students have composed for major artists and written number one songs. At Berklee, he developed the curriculum for the only songwriting major in the country. His books, including Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming and  Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, are recognized as definitive in their genre, and have earned many ecstatic reviews. His clinics are attended by songwriters all over the country, and his articles appear regularly in a variety of industry publications.



Andrea Stolpe is a multiplatinum songwriter, performing artist, and educator. She has worked as a staff writer for EMI, Almo-Irving, and Universal Music Publishing. Her songs have been recorded by artists including Faith Hill, Jimmy Wayne, Julianne Hough, and others. Andrea is the author and instructor of the course Commercial Songwriting Techniques, part of Berklee Online's songwriting program.

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Her books, Popular Lyric Writing: 10 Steps to Effective Storytelling, and Beginning Songwriting, describe how to apply a unique process for uniting our artistic voice with the commercial market.

Andrea lives in Los Angeles, and continues to serve as a guest clinician for music organizations around the world. Read Less

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Lyric Writing: Writing From the Title can be applied towards these associated programs:

Associated Degree Major


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.