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Berklee College of Music

Arranging for Songwriters

Berklee College of Music via Coursera


You've created a song. You wrote the lyrics, decided on the melody, and maybe even recorded a simple demo. Now what? If you have a basic knowledge of how to use a digital audio workstation (DAW) and are passionate about being a songwriter, this course will help you take your song from a simple recording on your phone to a fully arranged song ready for the recording studio.

You will be learning from two Berklee College of Music Songwriting professors, Bonnie Hayes and Sarah Brindell. They will show you how to arrange original songs in a digital audio workstation. You will learn tools to heighten the emotional response of your listeners and you'll broaden your understanding of instrumentation and how to add sounds to your song without distracting the listener from the most important aspect: the vocalist.


  • Welcome to Arranging for Songwriters
    • Welcome to the course! Here we will cover all the details about the course and what you'll need to know to get the most out of your experience.
  • New Ways of Listening
    • In this first lesson, we'll learn how to arrange our songs horizontally (meaning the order and length of song sections) and vertically (meaning the frequency range and volume of the various instruments in your song). We'll also consider how to create and support emotional meaning through our writing and instrumentation. We'll review processes for working on arrangements, learn how to listen to arrangements critically, and discuss how arrangements change in live performances vs. recording sessions. By the end of the lesson, you will be able to create a horizontal arrangement for an original song.
  • Laying the Foundation
    • In this second lesson, you will start to lay the foundations for your song. We will discuss how to find the right key and tempo for your song and look at a few popular arrangement styles. By the end of the lesson, you will be able to create a basic track of your original song.
  • Finding the Groove
    • In Lesson three, we'll focus on how to determine the right groove for your song. We'll discuss how the bass works with the drums to support the rhythmic structure of a song, as well as creating a foundation for the songs harmony. By the end of this lesson, you'll be able to create the perfect groove for your original song.
  • Instrumentation and Vocals
    • In this final lesson we will look at how to build the rest of the track around your song. Now that we have the foundation of the groove with the drums and bass, we'll take a look at how we can add other instruments to the mix. Most importantly, we will discuss how to incorporate these additions without taking focus away from the vocal part. By the end of this lesson, you will have completed a full demo of your original song.

Taught by

Sarah Brindell and Bonnie Hayes


5.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

4.5 rating at Coursera based on 68 ratings

Start your review of Arranging for Songwriters

  • Not so focused, but still nice ideas are to be found in this course. Fun, warm, and professional instructors.

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