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Topic: Songwriting Textbook recommendations?

  1. #1

    Songwriting Textbook recommendations?

    Hey everyone,

    It's your friendly, neighborhood film composer, Jonny, here and I have a question. Well, more of a request, actually.

    I'm going to be teaching a songwriting class next quarter at Hocking College and I was wondering if anyone had any textbook reccomendations? I was looking at the book "Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure by Pat Pattison from Berkley.


    It looks pretty good, but I'm still not quite sure. I know I'd like to have a book that covers lyric and harmony. Any ideas?

    Thanks alot,
    For more information, check out www.jonathoncox.com/intro.html

    "The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music they should be taught to love it instead." - Igor Stravinsky

  2. #2

    Re: Songwriting Textbook recommendations?

    Sheila Davis has a couple of course books on lyrics that are pretty standard, i.e., "The Craft of Lyric Writing." She does not address harmony, though.


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  3. #3

    Re: Songwriting Textbook recommendations?

    I'm currently taking a songwriting class from a wonderful singer/songwriter Linda Waterfall. I think one of the best things about it is that she isn't using a textbook at all. I don't mean to exploit her great lessons, but it really is quite a successful class.

    For the first half of the semester so far, we've engaged in several exercises: coming up with a series of chords we don't know the name to, creating an interesting rhythmic pattern independent of music and then working the chords into that, figuring out words and melody to accompany said chords/rhythm and independantly working it into a song. We've also studied a good deal of poetry and done tons of freewrites as well as writing a formal sonnet. For the next half of the semester, we're going to be starting the other way around: using a freewrite to generate our lyrics seperate from music, then placing a melody to them. Then we'll be working on constructing the rest of the song from that point.

    Aside from actually working on song material, we've also shared one particular song we like with the class in a 10ish minute presentation about why it succeeds as a well-written song.

  4. #4

    Re: Songwriting Textbook recommendations?

    A friend of mine long ago gave me a book that he said was considered a standard, at least at the time. He was doing a lot of arrangements for bands of various sizes and recommended it to me to improve my songwriting skills.

    The Professional Arranger Composer
    by Russ Garcia

    Hope it helps!
    Christopher Duncan
    Author of
    Unite the Tribes and The Career Programmer

  5. #5
    Moderator/Developer Brian2112's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
    Out of my Mind

    Re: Songwriting Textbook recommendations?

    Pat was my lyric writing instructor at Berklee. He is a class act, and one of those rare teachers whose voice lingers in your head forever. There is no one better that I can think of to write such a book. It may not cover the musical aspects that you want, but Pat’s method helps you to be more aware of everything around you. He helps to see, feel and taste every metaphor, and this has an immense impact on music writing as well.

    It was a deliberate choice by the faculty at Berklee that lyric writing and the music were taught separately. The idea is that each should be able to stand on its own merit. I don’t know if learning how to “set” lyrics is covered, but I imagine it is.

    "So what if some parts of life are a crap shoot? Get out there and shoot the crap." -- Neil Peart
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  6. #6

    Re: Songwriting Textbook recommendations?

    I have seen Pat give a workshop here in the bay area. He was very engaging and has really analyzed the craft of lyric writing to a level I have not seen elsewhere. Berklee is one of the best places to learn songwriting..so you know he must be doing something right. A lot of what Berklee is currently teaching is in his books. He actually has 3 books out, two are thin Berklee press things and then a larger one with more meat. I have his books, haven't read them yet, but I've flipped through and its got a lot of good stuff. As far as I remember he's mostly a lyric guy.

    Sheila Davis' book on lyrics is also an industry standard and has been for a very long time. There is also a workbook available to go along with it. She also wrote a songwriters idea book.

    Another industry standard going back a long time is the book by Braheny, I believe its called "The Craft of Songwriting" or something. Personally I found his book a bit drab and was too much about the business side. I've seen him lecture also and he is drab to listen to as well.

    There is another book that is pretty good which apparantly I must have loaned out and forgot about it because I can't find it now. Its called "Writing Music for Hit Songs" by Jai Josefs and frankly I thought that was the best book on the subject I have ever seen.

    I know there is also a Songwriting for Dummies book, don't know how good it is.
    "Music is a manifestation of the human spirit similar to a language. If we do not want such things to remain dead treasures, we must do our utmost to make the greatest number of people understand their secrets" -- Zoltan Kodaly

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