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Course Date: 13 October 2014 to 24 November 2014 (6 weeks)
Learn an efficient, effective process for writing songs that express your ideas and emotions, including a range of tools that revolve around the concept of prosody—the matching of lyrics and music to support your underlying message.
Pat Pattison is a professor at Berklee College of Music and the author of several online courses in songwriting and creative writing offered through the college’s continuing education division, Berkleemusic.com. The courses—Lyric Writing: Tools and Strategies, Lyric Writing: Writing from the Title, Lyric Writing: Writing Lyrics to Music, Creative Writing: Poetry, and Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice—are instructor-led and offered four times each year to anyone, anywhere in the world. Pat’s former students include Grammy-award-winning artists John Mayer, Gillian Welch, and Tom Hambridge. In addition to teaching, Pat is the author of four books on songwriting, including Songwriting without Boundaries, Writing Better Lyrics, The Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, and The Essential Guide to Rhyming. He has written over 50 articles on songwriting for various magazines and blogs and presents clinics for songwriters around the world.
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
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,
Most important, you’ll have a lot of fun.
Do I need to have prior songwriting experience or musical ability?
No. Playing an instrument, such as the guitar or keyboard, is helpful but not necessary.
Can I work on my own music?
Absolutely. If you do not have your own music, you will be able to use musical loops supplied in the course.
What do I need in order to submit recording assignments?
During the course, you will be asked at times to submit recorded
examples of your song ideas. In order to do this, you will need your
computer's built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged
your computer (via built-in ports or an external audio interface), in
addition to basic audio recording software, such as Audacity, that will allow you to record yourself and save the recording in MP3
Lesson 1: 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.
Lesson 2: 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, the school crossing guards of your song. 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
Lesson 3: 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.
Lesson 4: 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.
Lesson 5: Writing the Song
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.
Lesson 6: Crossing the Finished 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.
The course consists of video demonstrations, with integrated quizzes
that allow you to reinforce your knowledge of the material before moving
on. From time to time, you will be asked to listen to songs that demonstrate key concepts. There are 21 songs in total referenced in the course, and you should make sure that you have access to them, either digitally or perhaps in your own record/CD collection:
"Still Crazy After All These Years" (Paul Simon) performed by Paul Simon
"50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" (Paul Simon) performed by Paul Simon
"Can’t Be Really Gone" (Gary Burr) performed by Tim McGraw
"Eleanor Rigby" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) performed by The Beatles
"The End of the Innocence" (Don Henley) performed by Don Henley
"For No One" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) performed by The Beatles
"The Great Pretender" (Buck Ram) performed by The Platters
"Hasten Down the Wind" (Warren Zevon) performed by Warren Zevon
"Heartbeat City" (Ric Ocasek) performed by The Cars
"How Can We Hang On to a Dream" (Tim Hardin) performed by Tim Hardin
"I Can’t Make You Love Me" (Mike Reid/Allen Shamblin) performed by Bonnie Raitt
"In Front of the Alamo" (Gary Burr) performed by Hal Ketchum
"It Was a Very Good Year" (Ervin Drake) performed by Frank Sinatra
"Judgement of the Moon and Stars (Ludwig's Tune)" (Joni Mitchell) performed by Joni Mitchell
"One More Dollar" (Gillian Welch) performed by Gillian Welch
"Some People’s Lives" (Janis Ian/Kye Fleming) performed by Janis Ian
"Strawberry Wine" (Matraca Berg/Gary Harrison) performed by Deana Carter
"Sweet Baby James" (James Taylor) performed by James Taylor
"Train in the Distance" (Paul Simon) performed by Paul Simon
"What’ll I do?" (Irving Berlin) performed by Linda Ronstadt
"Why Can't I Have You?" (Ric Ocasek) performed by The Cars
You will also have assignments that ask you to write or record examples of your song ideas for peer review.
Better Lyrics,second edition, by Pat Pattison. Publisher: Writer's Digest Books. ISBN-10: 1582975779.