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Online Course

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.

Writing the Song
-In this lesson, you’ll select a new song title and create a worksheet to help develop your ideas. You’ll write your lyric and set it to music, matching your lyric rhythms to melodic rhythms. You’ll create a melody, using stable and unstable notes to support your ideas.

Crossing the Finish Line
-By the end of this lesson, you will understand the role of phrasing to create the body language of your song, using the relationship of your phrases to musical downbeats to create stability or instability. Then you’ll put the finishing touches on your song from lesson 5.

Taught by

Pat Pattison


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4.5 rating, based on 22 reviews

Start your review of Songwriting: Writing the Lyrics

  • Raymond Maxwell

    Raymond Maxwell completed this course.

    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

    Anonymous completed this course.

    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

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Engaging material and instructor. You can learn a lot just by "auditing" (do assignments, but don't bother with the peer evaluations).
  • 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 story,...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    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

    Anonymous completed this course.

    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
    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

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This was an excellent course for anyone interested in writing song lyrics.Very valuable info even if you are not already a pro
  • Mirand Mooreland

    Mirand Mooreland is taking this course right now.

    i like music it is fun it make me happy put a simal on my frice i mack lyrice 24 hours i am it my dick mack lyrice the ther said do your work but i am stell write lyrice it myb distc
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    The presentation of this course is fantastic, and Pat is extremely engaging. It is challenging, but a very fulfilling course.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Pat is a gifted teacher. It was profoundly enjoyable having the opportunity to learn from him.
  • Anonymous
    hi hello hmm i think i am lost whatttttt you are my mother bye child problem kill this trend NO! get away you ugly and my mom is pretty EWWWW! don't touch i will kick off the city if you touch me again
  • Gustavo Borges completed this course.

  • Anne Elder completed this course.

  • Bob Cleary completed this course and found the course difficulty to be medium.

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    Konstantina Mouratiadi completed this course.

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    Dmitrijs Mavcutko is taking this course right now.

  • Christine Fischer

    Christine Fischer is taking this course right now.

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