Lyric Writing: Writing Lyrics to Music

Author: Pat Pattison | Course Code: OSONG-222

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.

By the end of this course, you will:

Identify stressed, non-stressed and secondary syllables in a lyric lineWrite your own lyric patterns to match musical patternsIdentify rhyme and hook positions within a songDefine 3/4 and 4/4 writing stylesCreate the melody, verse and chorus lyricsWork with multiple note values and swing time phrasing in 4/4 timeWork with bridges and pre-chorusesGain independence and confidence in the writing process

Lesson 1: Stress in Language

Identifying Stressed and Unstressed Syllables in a Lyric LineNotating the Rhythms of Stress PatternsWriting Your Own Patterns to Match Existing PatternsIdentifying Secondary Stresses

Lesson 2: Musical Stress

Identifying Stressed and Unstressed Positions in a Musical BarNotating the Rhythms of Musical Stress PatternsWriting Your Own Lyric Patterns to Match Musical Patterns

Lesson 3: More Musical Stress

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

Lesson 4: Melody in 3/4 Time

Stressed and Unstressed Syllables in Our First Song SectionMatched and Unmatched Phrases in the Song SectionRhyme Positions in the Song SectionThe Hook Position in the Song Section

Lesson 5: Creating the Lyric

Brainstorming a Title, Using a Rhyming DictionaryDeveloping Ideas That Move the Song ForwardIdentifying Special Positions in the MelodyCreating Contrasting IdeasFinishing the Song

Lesson 6: Melody in 4/4 Time

Creating a Straightforward Setting in 4/4 TimeWorking with Multiple Note ValuesIdentifying Cases of Stressed Notes on Weak BeatsIdentifying AnticipationsWorking in a Verse/Chorus Format

Lesson 7: Creating the Verse/Chorus Lyric

Gaining Speed and Experience Brainstorming from a TitleWorking with Longer and Shorter PhrasesWorking More Easily with Contrasting SectionsConstructing Effective Bridges

Lesson 8: 4/4 time; Multiple Note Values

Working with a More Complex Setting in 4/4 TimeWorking with Multiple Note ValuesWorking with Sections Whose Note Values Are DifferentIdentifying Anticipations More QuicklyWorking in a Simple Verse/Chorus Format

Lesson 9: Creating the Lyric

Gaining Speed and Experience Brainstorming from a TitleWorking with a More Complicated Arrangement of Matched PhrasesWriting Lyrics for More Complex StructuresDeveloping Your Setting Up Rhyme Schemes

Lesson 10: 4/4 Swing Time; Phrasing

Working with a More Complex Song FormWorking with Swing RhythmGaining Independence and Confidence in the Analysis ProcessSkipping a Few Steps

Lesson 11: Creating the Lyric; Sectional Contrasts

Gaining Independence and Confidence in the Writing ProcessDealing Effectively with More Complex StructureWorking with Two Kinds of Bridges: Prechoruses (or "Transitional Bridges") and Primary Bridges

Lesson 12: The Last Mile

Gaining Independence and Confidence in the Writing ProcessWorking with Two Kinds of Bridges

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 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.

Writing Better Lyrics (Second Edition) by Pat Pattison

Pattison presents a unique, in-depth approach to the process of lyric writing. Apprentice songwriters will examine 17 extraordinary songs and learn the distinct elements that make them so effective. Pattison then presents more than 30 lyric-writing exercises designed to help them achieve the same results.

With additional song evaluations and exercises to help songwriters hone their lyric-writing skills, Writing Better Lyrics (Second Edition) is more comprehensive than ever before. The book features new and expanded chapters covering such topics as when the use of repetition can be an asset; how to successfully manipulate meter; how to work with a co-writer; how to build on ideas and generate effective titles; and, much, much more.

Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure by Pat Pattison

This book will help you handle your lyric structures more effectively. Showing you how to take control of your lyrics by honing your creative process, this essential guidebook reveals the secrets of how to become a naturally great lyricist. By studying examples of famous songs, you will learn to integrate the techniques of the pros into your own lyric-writing craft.

Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming (2nd Edition) by Pat Pattison

This book has a very specific purpose: to help you find better rhymes and use them more effectively. Rhyme is one of the most crucial areas of lyric writing, and this guide will provide you with all the technical information necessary to develop your skills completely. Make rhyme work for you and your lyric writing will greatly improve.

The Complete Rhyming Dictionary by Clement Wood

This simple-to-use, exceptionally complete reference work has been updated, expanded and redesigned to meet the needs of today's most demanding wordsmiths. Included here are over 10,000 new entries--over 60,000 in all, sight, vowel, consonant, and one-, two-, and three-syllable rhymes.

PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer 10 or higherMac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, SafariFlash Player: current versionQuickTime: current versionA 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 or GarageBand.Adobe Reader: current version
Windows Vista SP2 or higherIntel Pentium 4 or higher1 GB RAM500 MB hard drive space recommendedSound cardSpeakers or headphones for your computer
Mac OS X 10.7 or higherIntel Mac2 GB RAM500 MB hard drive space recommendedSpeakers or headphones for your computer


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Next Term Starts June 27

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