My five favourite books to learn the craft of songwriting
If you’re a reader like myself, you’ve probably noticed how many songwriting books are out there. There are also many types of songwriting books, ranging from instructive to anecdotal, and it can be overwhelming to figure out which books actually get to the meat of the matter.
The books on this list are the ones I found to be the most helpful when it came to actually learning how to write songs. Admittedly, there is a lot of Pat Pattison here just because his books tend to be the most comprehensive. There are many other books out there that are great, but these are my favourites (so far).
Tip: take notes while reading these books! I read a couple of these twice because I didn’t realize how much I couldn’t memorize. These books are full of information, so I highly recommend taking notes or reading these slowly enough that you can really absorb the material.
Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure by Pat Pattison
Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming by Pat Pattison
These books are really the starting points to lyric writing. Pattison goes beyond what a verse is and ventures into what types of forms might be most effective for your music. The rhyming guide is amazing for when you want to go beyond just using a rhyming dictionary and really understand how rhymes work. It opened up a whole new avenue of possible rhymes.
Melody in Songwriting by Jack Perricone
There are a lot of melody writing books out there, and even if you’ve been writing melodies for a long time, it is a great tool for starting to think about melodies in a new way. It’s also great for beginners. This book had me thinking about how I could better express the emotion of the song in my melody and how to contrast my melodies from section to section.
Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting by Robin Frederick
There is an incredible amount of information in this book for all levels of songwriters. Though it is primarily centred around pop music, it is the book to get in the mind of hit songwriters and find new ideas. It is also great for beginners who want an all-in-one book that gets them started.
Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison
This book is a must-have for songwriters who have been writing for a long time and are looking to advance their songwriting. This book is all about creating impactful music through prosody. The techniques in this book can require practice, so it is worth reading again and again to understand everything.