Lyric Writing: Writing From the Title


Authored by Pat Pattison


Course Code: OSONG-221

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

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


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
This course does not have any prerequisites.



  • Students are required to record themselves 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 such as GarageBand (Mac), Audacity (PC), or any DAW.


  • Students are required to capture their performance, as well as monitor audio output. Options include:
    • Input (one required):
      • XLR microphone and audio interface (recommended option)
      • USB microphone
      • Built-in computer/mobile device microphone
    • Output (one required):
      • Headphones (required if multitracking and/or input monitoring)
      • Studio monitors and audio interface
      • Built-in or external speakers
  • Note: Depending on your setup, you may also need an XLR cable, microphone stand, and pop filter.

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Pat Pattison


Pat Pattison is a professor at Berklee College of Music, where he teaches lyric writing and poetry. In addition to his four books, Songwriting Without Boundaries (Penguin/Random House), Writing Better Lyrics, 2nd Edition (Penguin/Random House), The Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure (Hal Leonard), and The Essential Guide to Rhyming (Hal Leonard), Pat has developed several online courses for Berklee Online. He has written more than 50 articles for various blogs and magazines, including American Songwriter, and has chapters in both The Poetics of American Song Lyrics (University Press of Mississippi) and The Handbook on Creative Writing (Edinburgh University Press).

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Pat continues to present songwriting clinics across the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. His students include Grammy-winners, professional songwriters, and major recording artists, including Gillian Welch, John Mayer, Tom Hambridge, Joelle James, Karmin, American Authors, Ingrid Andress, Liz Longley, Charlie Worsham, Greg Becker, Justin Tranter, and many more.

For Berklee Online, Pat has authored the following courses: Lyric Writing: Writing From the TitleLyric Writing: Writing Lyrics to MusicLyric Writing: Tools and Strategies, Creative Writing: Poetry, and Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice. He also co-authored the graduate course Songwriting Tools and Techniques. Read Less

What's Next?

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

Related Degree Major


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

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