Want to get started writing your own lyrics? There’s a long way between the beginner’s "violets are red" debut and award-winning wordsmithing, so here’s a bunch of great resources to help get you on your way. Includes tools, how to guides, communities, recommended books and sources of inspiration.
- Rhymezone is a rhyming dictionary and thesaurus that sorts its search results by the number of syllables.
- An online dictionary, since Rhymezone is bound to give you results that might work, but you’re unsure about.
- If you’re not interested in using Word to write lyrics, there are dedicated apps like MasterWriter out there that integrate rhyming dictionaries and the like.
- For singer-songwriters in particular, this tool page may beat all the others since, alongside the rhyming dictionary and thesaurus, it has a chord finder.
- This Hotsource article gives some basic pointers for getting started with a lyric.
- Robin Frederick’s How to Write a Song is one of the very few similarly titled articles out there that actually touches on all the basics.
- Quamut offers an introduction to basic song form and structure.
- Carla Starrett goes into adapting poetry into lyrics.
- Berklee Shares has a free PDF on Basic Lyrical Elements.
- This series of videos teaches you how to write an alternative pop song—some videos are about composition, but there are several on lyrics.
- The BBC presents a page on lyrics in its songwriting guide, including interviews with successful lyricists.
- Rock Guitar World gives an overview of the entire songwriting process with a focus on lyrics and structure.
- Ken Hill has 21 tips on songwriting at Music Biz Academy.
- The Muse’s Muse, a songwriting site that’s been around for ages, has an extensive beginner’s resource section.
- If you like online courses, SongU.com has several on lyric writing.
- There’s a selection of similarly priced songwriting courses at Musician University.
- Lyrical Line has an extensive set of articles on the topic.
- Music Radar has a piece suggesting 24 lyric-writing tips.
- The page may still bear a design from the 90s, but Charles Wolff’s article is a fairly long and extensive introduction to the craft.
- Your attitude to songwriting is just as important as your technique—Andy Roberts talks about which attitude is the right one.
- And of course for the ultimate guide to songwriting, Scott Adams shares his advice on the Dilbert Blog.
- This article is on dealing with rhythm in your lyrics, though I suggest copying it into Notepad to read it (the colors are terrible).
- Berklee Music Blogs has an interesting career songwriter blog.
- Performing Songwriter has a bunch of case studies looking at how hit songs were developed.
- Great Songwriting has a community for songwriters who wish to have their lyrics critiqued by other songwriters. The cost of entry is to critique lyrics for other songwriters.
- The Hip Hove Ave forums are a place for rap and hip hop lyricists to improve their skills, critique work and engage in online battles (doesn’t that take the fun out of it?).
- Here’s a free songwriter’s forum with a particularly active lyrics section.
- The Songwriter’s Forum has a wide range of message boards ranging from lyrical technique to lyrical business, and has a contests section in case you feel competing with other writers will help you improve.
- The SongStuff Music Resource Web site has a forum with an active lyrics and songwriting board, and this one may be a good choice to get involved with over the others if you want a community that will cater to lyricists while giving you a place to talk about studio gear, instruments, synth design and so on.
- The Just Plain Folks community claims to have a membership of 51,000 songwriters and music industry professionals.
- Lyrics: Writing Better Words For Your Songs by Rikky Rooksby
- The Frustrated Songwriter's Handbook by Karl Coryat & Nicholas Dobson
- Songwriting For Dummies by Jim Peterik, Dave Austin and Mary Ellen Bickford
- The Craft & Business of Songwriting by John Braheny
- Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo
- Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming by Pat Pattison
- The Business of Songwriting by Jason Blume
- Popular Lyric Writing by Andrea Stolpe
- Joni Mitchell
- Elvis Costello
- Brian Wilson
- Leonard Cohen
- Paul McCartney
- John Lennon
- Tom Waits
- Bruce Springsteen
- Neil Young
- Bob Dylan
- Billy Joel
- Eric Clapton
- Jimi Hendrix
- Bernie Taupin (Elton John’s lyricist)
Photo by BdwayDiva1
Photo by SAM_FORD.
Photo by Sister72.
Sometimes reading articles on the web isn’t enough—you need an immersive, in-depth and comprehensive book to get you started. Here they are.
Photo by [nati]
It’s often said that one should learn from the masters of a given field, and this is especially true of songwriting. You should dissect and rip apart every hit song you can get your hands on. To get you started, take a look at the lyrics of some of these songwriters, who are considered among history’s best.
All the masters give this advice: study the greats. Nobody takes it seriously because it seems like a cop-out answer, or because it’s too hard to get out a lyric sheet and analyze it for yourself when you could simply read an article.
Take this advice seriously, and do it.
These are links to lyrics sites; if there’s a small child sleeping in your house, watch out for the noisy banner ads!
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