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Berklee College of Music

Songwriting: Writing the Lyrics

Berklee College of Music via Coursera


There’s a songwriter lurking somewhere inside you, peeking around corners, wondering if it’s safe to come out. Now it is. This course is an invitation to let your inner songwriter step into the sunlight. All it takes is a simple “yes” and you’ll be climbing that windy hill, marveling at the view. If you haven’t written any or many songs, this course will show you an efficient, effective process for tailoring songs to express your ideas and emotions. If you have, you’ll look at your process differently, taking control of aspects of the process you may have not noticed. The course will start by examining the tools available to you, all revolving around the essential concept of prosody. You’ll learn to use your tools to enhance your message—to work compositionally at the same time you’re developing your ideas. You’ll be working both lyrically and musically, though musically it’s not necessary that you either read music or play an instrument. If you play, great, and you’ll be encouraged to play and record your musical responses to the assignments. If you don’t play, the course offers you a number of musical loops to work with. All you’ll have to do is sing your melodies over the loops. Assignments will ask you to post something for peer review—sometimes lyric lines or sections, sometimes melodies, sometimes both. None of it has to be polished. The course is about writing, not performing. Most important, you’ll have a lot of fun.


  • Welcome to Songwriting: Writing the Lyrics
    • 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.
  • The Journey of the Song
    • By the end of this lesson, you will see how to develop your song idea so it creates an interesting journey from start to finish. You’ll understand your options developing the point of view of your song and will be introduced to the songwriter’s six best friends.
  • Stopping and Going
    • By the end of this lesson, you will understand the concept of prosody as it relates to the number of lines/musical phrases in a section and to line lengths/musical phrases. You’ll create both stable and unstable line/musical groupings, using an odd or even number of lines and musical phrases. Using these tools, you’ll write a verse and chorus.
  • Sonic GPS—Mapping Your Song with Rhyme
    • By the end of this lesson, you will understand the relationship of rhyme schemes to prosody. You’ll create both stable and unstable sections, using various rhyme schemes to show your ear the way to go home. Using these tools, you’ll write a new verse and chorus.
  • Making It Move
    • By the end of this lesson, you will understand language rhythms—the difference between stressed and unstressed syllables and how to put rhythm in your lines, preparing them to join into the dance with musical rhythm. Using these tools, you’ll put last week’s verse and chorus to music.

Taught by

Pat Pattison


4.7 rating, based on 24 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 849 ratings

Start your review of Songwriting: Writing the Lyrics

  • Great material here!

    Lots of insights about how to write the lyrics, and their important connection with the melody. There's a part in which even the music is actually obtained from the lyrics!

    The instructor completely dominates this area, with several published books in the field and tons of collaborations.

    Downside: you are likely to find 90% of the song you listen to have very poor lyrics

  • Raymond Maxwell
    Great lectures, informative, engaging. I took this course last spring and several months later I still have many of Pat's insights in the front of my consciousness. The peer review process was a bit discouraging after having completed a much better peer-review experience in ModPo, but I stuck with the course anyway and was glad that I did. The course will give you a deeper insight in to the making of music and of poetry, the length of lines, the number of lines in a stanza, rhythms and rhymes, and how all that affects the listener. Definitely one of my top course choices.
  • Anonymous
    Fantastic presentation, fantastic content, makes it easier to write good songs, and to tell if a song is good and know how to improve one. Should be called a lyrics course, it's really not about melody, although you need to be able to record somehow even if just yourself speaking over a downloadable drum loop.

    The peer review rubric was deeply flawed in ways that seemed to encourage low grades but the prof is aware of that and was already testing improvement ideas on the last peer project.
  • Anonymous
    This course has great content and a talented, engaging instructor. However, it has the worst deployment of peer evaluation that I have yet seen on Coursera. In my view, though the content is ready for prime time, the poor mechanical performance means that this course should be taken back to the woodshed and reworked.

    Students who want useful feedback will greatly benefit from forming local or virtual groups to exchange the week's assignments and provide one another with feedback
  • Anonymous
    I Love To Tell The Story.

    I love to tell the story; Of unseen things above;

    Of Jesus and his glory,

    Of Jesus and his love; I love to tell the story,

    Because I know ‘tis true,

    It satisfies my longing, As nothing else can do.


    I love to tell the story;

    ‘Twill be my theme in glory,

    To tell the old, old story,

    Of Jesus and his love.
  • Anonymous
    I'm amazed how much easier it is to write songs, just using the clearly explained "tool set" Pat gives us. If you're at all interested in songwriting, take this class before it stops being free!
  • Anonymous
    Engaging material and instructor. You can learn a lot just by "auditing" (do assignments, but don't bother with the peer evaluations).
  • Anonymous
    This was an excellent course for anyone interested in writing song lyrics.Very valuable info even if you are not already a pro
  • Anonymous
    Jyler Zambia @jylerzambia Music the songwriter I Love To Tell The Story. I love to tell the story; Of unseen things above; Of Jesus and his glory, Of Jesus and his love; I love to tell the sto…
  • Profile image for Zoey Nail
    Zoey Nail
    My dream is to be a singer and be on America gots talent and be a singer thats my dream here is my little song when i was younger my first day was pre k and i love to sing and i love to do it my life that is good so far all of those years my life?

  • Anonymous
    why did you left me Alon.

    you didn't look what I did for you .

    girl that you have done to me to me.

  • Profile image for Akriti Singh
    Akriti Singh
    Happy wlle duniya me happy log sahi hai, Jo khwab krte apne wlle wahi hai hai, Din din raat raat baat krte hai, Saath me jo mulakaat krte hai.. Unko mtlab nhi hai mere kaam krne se, Unko nfrat hai mere naam krne se, Dil or dimaag nhi aaram kr…
  • Anonymous
    The presentation of this course is fantastic, and Pat is extremely engaging. It is challenging, but a very fulfilling course.
  • Anonymous
    Pat is a gifted teacher. It was profoundly enjoyable having the opportunity to learn from him.
  • Bob Cleary
  • Desirm
  • Grilligan
  • Konstantina Mouratiadi

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