Lyric Writing: Writing Lyrics to Music


Authored by Pat Pattison


Course Code: OSONG-222

Next Semester Starts
Jan 10, 2022

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Placing that perfect lyrical idea into a melody without it sounding unnatural is a common obstacle to many songwriters. An unfortunate setting of a word or phrase can sink the emotion of the song, calling your listener's attention away from WHAT you are saying to HOW you are saying it. Writing Lyrics to Music analyzes a variety of song forms to instruct you on key lyrical and melodic components: stressed and unstressed beats, rhyme positions, melodic sections, and tone. You'll work through different musical feels and time signatures, and discover how the natural shapes of the words follow the shape of the melody, ultimately creating a much more expressive composition. This is a "can't miss" course - it's bound to take your writing to the next level. It will also make you a more valuable co-writer.

Read More

By the end of this course, you will:

  • Identify stressed, non-stressed and secondary syllables in a lyric line
  • Write your own lyric patterns to match musical patterns
  • Identify rhyme and hook positions within a song
  • Define 3/4 and 4/4 writing styles
  • Create the melody, verse and chorus lyrics
  • Work with multiple note values and swing time phrasing in 4/4 time
  • Work with bridges and pre-choruses
  • Gain independence and confidence in the writing process
Read Less


Lesson 1: Stress in Language

  • Identifying Stressed and Unstressed Syllables in a Lyric Line
  • Notating the Rhythms of Stress Patterns
  • Writing Your Own Patterns to Match Existing Patterns
  • Identifying Secondary Stresses

Lesson 2: Musical Stress

  • Identifying Stressed and Unstressed Positions in a Musical Bar
  • Notating the Rhythms of Musical Stress Patterns
  • Writing Your Own Lyric Patterns to Match Musical Patterns

Lesson 3: More Musical Stress

  • Stressed Positions Caused by Isolating a Note
  • Stressed Positions Caused by a Rest before a Note
  • Stressed Positions Caused by Lesser Note Values Preceding a Note
  • Stressed Positions Caused by Anticipating a Note

Lesson 4: Melody in 3/4 Time

  • Stressed and Unstressed Syllables in Our First Song Section
  • Matched and Unmatched Phrases in the Song Section
  • Rhyme Positions in the Song Section
  • The Hook Position in the Song Section

Lesson 5: Creating the Lyric

  • Brainstorming a Title, Using a Rhyming Dictionary
  • Developing Ideas That Move the Song Forward
  • Identifying Special Positions in the Melody
  • Creating Contrasting Ideas
  • Finishing the Song

Lesson 6: Melody in 4/4 Time

  • Creating a Straightforward Setting in 4/4 Time
  • Working with Multiple Note Values
  • Identifying Cases of Stressed Notes on Weak Beats
  • Identifying Anticipations
  • Working in a Verse/Chorus Format

Lesson 7: Creating the Verse/Chorus Lyric

  • Gaining Speed and Experience Brainstorming from a Title
  • Working with Longer and Shorter Phrases
  • Working More Easily with Contrasting Sections
  • Constructing Effective Bridges

Lesson 8: 4/4 time; Multiple Note Values

  • Working with a More Complex Setting in 4/4 Time
  • Working with Multiple Note Values
  • Working with Sections Whose Note Values Are Different
  • Identifying Anticipations More Quickly
  • Working in a Simple Verse/Chorus Format

Lesson 9: Creating the Lyric

  • Gaining Speed and Experience Brainstorming from a Title
  • Working with a More Complicated Arrangement of Matched Phrases
  • Writing Lyrics for More Complex Structures
  • Developing Your Setting Up Rhyme Schemes

Lesson 10: 4/4 Swing Time; Phrasing

  • Working with a More Complex Song Form
  • Working with Swing Rhythm
  • Gaining Independence and Confidence in the Analysis Process
  • Skipping a Few Steps

Lesson 11: Creating the Lyric; Sectional Contrasts

  • Gaining Independence and Confidence in the Writing Process
  • Dealing Effectively with More Complex Structure
  • Working with Two Kinds of Bridges: Prechoruses (or "Transitional Bridges") and Primary Bridges

Lesson 12: The Last Mile

  • Gaining Independence and Confidence in the Writing Process
  • Working with Two Kinds of Bridges


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

This course does not have any prerequisites.

Required Textbook(s)

Software Requirements

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

Hardware Requirements

  • A built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built in ports or an external audio interface)

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact for any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. 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 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


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.

Read More

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 Lyrics to Music can be applied towards these associated programs:

Associated Degree Majors


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.


Get Info