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50+ Great Lyric Writing Resources

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This post is part of a series called Songwriting & Composing: From Inspiration to Execution.
3 Ways to Incorporate iPad into Your Composition Workflow
7 Sets of Lyrics Resources for Songwriters

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.

    Tools

  1. Rhymezone is a rhyming dictionary and thesaurus that sorts its search results by the number of syllables.
  2. An online dictionary, since Rhymezone is bound to give you results that might work, but you’re unsure about.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  5. Photo by BdwayDiva1

    How To

  6. This Hotsource article gives some basic pointers for getting started with a lyric.
  7. 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.
  8. Quamut offers an introduction to basic song form and structure.
  9. Carla Starrett goes into adapting poetry into lyrics.
  10. Berklee Shares has a free PDF on Basic Lyrical Elements.
  11. This series of videos teaches you how to write an alternative pop song—some videos are about composition, but there are several on lyrics.
  12. The BBC presents a page on lyrics in its songwriting guide, including interviews with successful lyricists.
  13. Rock Guitar World gives an overview of the entire songwriting process with a focus on lyrics and structure.
  14. Ken Hill has 21 tips on songwriting at Music Biz Academy.
  15. The Muse’s Muse, a songwriting site that’s been around for ages, has an extensive beginner’s resource section.
  16. If you like online courses, SongU.com has several on lyric writing.
  17. There’s a selection of similarly priced songwriting courses at Musician University.
  18. Lyrical Line has an extensive set of articles on the topic.
  19. Music Radar has a piece suggesting 24 lyric-writing tips.
  20. 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.
  21. Your attitude to songwriting is just as important as your technique—Andy Roberts talks about which attitude is the right one.
  22. And of course for the ultimate guide to songwriting, Scott Adams shares his advice on the Dilbert Blog.
  23. This article is on dealing with rhythm in your lyrics, though I suggest copying it into Notepad to read it (the colors are terrible).
  24. Berklee Music Blogs has an interesting career songwriter blog.
  25. Performing Songwriter has a bunch of case studies looking at how hit songs were developed.

  26. Photo by SAM_FORD.

    Communities

  27. 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.
  28. 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?).
  29. Here’s a free songwriter’s forum with a particularly active lyrics section.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. The Just Plain Folks community claims to have a membership of 51,000 songwriters and music industry professionals.

  33. Photo by Sister72.

    Books

    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.

  34. Lyrics: Writing Better Words For Your Songs by Rikky Rooksby
  35. The Frustrated Songwriter's Handbook by Karl Coryat & Nicholas Dobson
  36. Songwriting For Dummies by Jim Peterik, Dave Austin and Mary Ellen Bickford
  37. The Craft & Business of Songwriting by John Braheny
  38. Songwriters on Songwriting by Paul Zollo
  39. Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming by Pat Pattison
  40. The Business of Songwriting by Jason Blume
  41. Popular Lyric Writing by Andrea Stolpe

  42. Photo by [nati]

    Inspiration

    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!

  43. Prince
  44. Joni Mitchell
  45. Elvis Costello
  46. Brian Wilson
  47. Leonard Cohen
  48. Paul McCartney
  49. John Lennon
  50. Tom Waits
  51. Bruce Springsteen
  52. Neil Young
  53. Bob Dylan
  54. Billy Joel
  55. Eric Clapton
  56. Jimi Hendrix
  57. Bernie Taupin (Elton John’s lyricist)
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