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Best of All-Time Online Course

How to Write Your First Song

The University of Sheffield via FutureLearn

Overview

Ever wanted to write a song, but not known how?

This course will introduce you to the tools and techniques you need to write your first song. You’ll look at some of the fundamentals of songwriting, building your knowledge as you progress.

By the time you’re done, you’ll have gone through the process of writing your own song, working with pitch, melody, chord progressions and more.

Learn how to write a song

The art of songwriting is one that just about anyone can learn. Whether or not you’ve tried your hand at music composition in the past, this course gives you the opportunity to get creative.

As you work your way through, you’ll learn how to make a song, exploring the main steps involved in the process.

Explore the principles of songwriting

Writing songs is an enjoyable and creative way to express yourself. With this course, you’ll discover the underlying principles of song composition.

As well as looking at how to set words to a rhythm, you’ll examine what an effective melody looks like, and how to structure your piece. These techniques can help you write future songs on your own.

Create a song of your own

If you’re struggling with how to write song lyrics or what to write a song about, we’ve got you covered. Each week, using specially-commissioned lyrics, we’ll build up a song and encourage you to do the same.

World-renowned musician, Martin Simpson, will use the same words and techniques and we’ll check in with him each week for inspiration and guidance on the songwriting process.

We’ll also talk to experts in music and psychology as well as established musicians and songwriters to find out what makes a song successful.

Whether you’re a complete novice who has never written a song in their life, a budding amateur looking to develop further skills or an accomplished professional brushing up on the basics, this course will deliver comprehensive practical and theoretical knowledge to help set you on your path.

While it will be useful to have access to a musical instrument this is not a requirement, you can participate in the course just using your voice or with freely available music software.

Taught by

Adam White

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Reviews

4.8 rating, based on 135 reviews

Start your review of How to Write Your First Song

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I am sorry to leave a rather negative review. I stayed through the course and I am trying to put some of the advice into practice, but in the end, I didn’t find the course particularly engaging or effective. The course is heavily based on music theory,...
  • Kathleen Littlejohn

    Kathleen Littlejohn completed this course.

    This course has taught me a lot about writing music to go with lyrics, and it's enabled me to have fun composing melodies using free online software and sharing them online. A few people were disappointed because the title doesn't make it clear that...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    An excellent course which I've very much enjoyed. Wrote a song though didn't share it as I just can't sing! I've been a sax player for some years and love improvising but have found traditional chordal theory too overwhelming for my brain so do it instinctively....
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    A very high quality & enjoyable course. The tutors, presenters and guest musicians are all excellent - well-informed & engaging personalities. We were exposed to a broad range of musical styles and influences, from the weekly playlists for listening &...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Great course covering lots of ground. You don't need to be able to write or read music, though if you play an instrument it helps! The vdeos were good, not only the tutor's videos, but those from songwriters - how they go about the process of writing...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    It is a very well-made and generous course for those who are trying to communicate their ideas by writing songs and song lyrics. However, I found that this course is specifically made for people who don't know a lot about songwriting in general, not for...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course was really well presented . It covered all the principal elements of music in a way that was clearly understandable. The staging and course layout was highly commendable. The demonstrations and activities, interviews to accompany the educational...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    A really interesting course on many levels. I enjoyed the weekly selection of tracks to illustrate the focus of each week's learning, which has really enriched both my learning and how I listen to music. Having the opportunity to hear professional musicians...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course has definitely de-mystified songwriting for me. It is a brilliant course, and I would recommend it to all musicians who have never written a song, as well as those those who have taken tentative steps into writing but are unsure what to make...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Fantastic course. I started this course as a lyricist only with no idea how to write a song. The course has given me an intro into writing music and the basic knowledge to start creating a song. I regret that I don’t play an instrument as I would have...
  • Pam Gould completed this course.

    Fabulous course. The emphasis is on music rather than lyrics. The 'lyrics' are provided by poet Matt Black, to use as you see fit. The song writing process is broken down into its basic elements with wonderful interviews with performers and video demonstrations. There are also excellent interviews with songwriters and producers, And Martin Simpson, folk singer/songwriter and stunning guitarist, writes his song along with you, laying bare his process. You'll listen to wide variety of music, and you can share your own music with fellow students.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I am very greatful to Adam and the team. I have just started playing an instrument (in my retirement) and could not understand music theory.
    This course has clarified the mystery of how music works. I cannot believe how much difference it has made in just six weeks.
    I now understand what I am seeing and hearing when I learn or (unbelievably) compose/construct a piece. I am only allowed, by my children and grandchildren, nephews nieces, friends and neighbours to sing in private. Despite this I enjoy putting words to the chords and notes I string together, they now sound like music, whereas before they sounded like my singing.
    I am so happy.
    Thankyou
    RK
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I found the six weeks course very enjoyable and instructive. I had already written and recorded several songs, but I had never had any instruction before. The course has provided me with a better understanding of the process of producing a good song.
    I now feel more confident about writing my next song with a number of extra techniques for improving the quality of a song.
    The structure of the course and the quality the presentations were of a high standard.
    When I started the course I had no intention of upgrading it, but I did so.
  • David Potter completed this course.

    The tutors, interviewees/artistes and general advice to/encouragement of participants (students) were always helpful, inspiring and positive. I found the musical theory the hardest part of the course to grasp and understand, which is where other students...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I highly and heartily recommend How To Write Your First Song from the University of Sheffield on FutureLearn, whatever your musical ability. Your skills are sure to grow over the 6 weeks that encompass this course. A creative activity does wonders to...
  • Anonymous
    This course is very informative and full of practical tips and guidance, with specific step-by-step tasks to undertake, and varied lesson styles to keep the interest up. It's very inclusive, as you don't need any prior knowledge of music to take part,...
  • Anonymous
    This course is very informative and full of practical tips and guidance, with specific step-by-step tasks to undertake, and varied lesson styles to keep the interest up. It's very inclusive, as you don't need any prior knowledge of music to take part,...
  • Sylvia is taking this course right now.

    When I first signed up for this course I was so jazzed. I thought it was for people like me who have never written a lyric, who has no concept as to where to start, no real music background. So I thought that this would be fun for me. Now reading more...
  • David Parkin

    David Parkin completed this course.

    The course starts slowly and builds at just the right pace, the amount of work you put in is up to you but if you work on the song around the weeks topic it is probably easier, I didn’t do that and am now backtracking, revising little bits to refresh...
  • Anonymous
    Very enjoyable course which assumes little knowledge in music theory at the outset & instead provides very succinct summaries of the key aspects of song writing. The task set is an interesting one. I found the work in the studio particularly enlightening....

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