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Writing Better Lyrics Paperback – January 8, 2010


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Writing Better Lyrics + Songwriting Without Boundaries: Lyric Writing Exercises for Finding Your Voice + The Complete Rhyming Dictionary: Including The Poet's Craft Book
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Pat Pattison is a professor at Berklee College of Music, where he teaches lyric writing and poetry. His books include Writing Better Lyrics, The Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, and The Essential Guide to Rhyming. In addition, Pat has developed three online lyric writing courses for Berklee’s online school, and has written articles for a variety of industry publications. His internationally successful students include multiple Grammy winners John Mayer and Gillian Welch. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; Second Edition edition (January 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582975779
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582975771
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pat Pattison is a Professor at Berklee College of Music, where he teaches Lyric Writing and Poetry.

In addition to his three books, Writing Better Lyrics, The Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, and The Essential Guide to Rhyming, Pat has developed three online lyric writing courses, available through Berklee's Online School. He has written over 30 articles for Home & Studio Recording Magazine, and Performing Songwriter.

Pat continues to present songwriting clinics across the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Several of his students have won Grammys, including John Mayer and Gillian Welch.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By J.B. Fillmore on December 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
"Writing Better Lyrics" does an excellent job of providing specific examples and tools for mastering the complex craft of lyric writing. The author extends his formal knowledge of poetry to encompass the additional elements that lyrics require, and does so in a readable, non-technical way. However, no single book can cover all the facets and nuances of writing lyrics, especially since there are so many different artistic temperaments and musical styles. Thus, this book is best used in conjunction with the two other major books for lyricists, The Craft of Lyric Writing (the original classic), and Songcrafters' Coloring Book: The Essential Guide to Effective and Successful Songwriting (the newest, introducing new ideas based on human nature and detailed song analysis). Used as a group, these three books cover all the subtleties and various approaches to the topic, and are sure to provide useful tools for any type of artistic temperament. Each provides a unique set of examples, techniques and insights which work together to create a synergy that is hard to find in any single book.
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As a songwriter, I've always been wary of over-analyzing the magic that delivers songs to me. Some come prompted from a specific instrument, others from the sound of a note or a chord. Others arrive out of the blue, or from an experience. Mostly, I don't set out to write songs, but rather, songs find me. So, in my mind, over-intellectualizing about this magical process has always been a taboo for me. Don't mess with this God given gift, I've told myself again and again. Well, I've been wrong. Pat Pattison's obviously been aware of this for a long time. His book provides tools, tricks, and awareness to enhance a songwriters ideas and craft. He offers activities to evoke the creative process and templates, formulas, and good rules that one may pick and choose to use or apply to one's songs that are just really good stuff. You don't have to do things Pattison's way at all, but if you want to take your craft to another level, the blueprint is here.
I've found myself re-visiting songs written 20 + years ago and making changes just because I now realize that it really could be better by applying this set of knowledge or that rationale.
I almost signed up to take his on-line Berkley course last week that uses this book, but since I am presently re-reading it for the third time, I'll wait for another one into the future. Songwriters, if you've never read a book that actually gets into the action steps that happen when you write a song, do yourselves a favor and get this book. You can thank me later.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Perpetual Dreamer on January 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have never been a lyric writier. I wanted to remedy that deficiency. But do I have the talent, creativity, skills to do it? The books I had bought to help me weren't helping. They dispensed facts. Prosody, rhyme, form, blah, blah. This book is different. Pat is a real, breathing teacher. From the first chapter, he has you on a program designed to rewire the way you think--to harvest the rich garden of word memories you have stored away in your brain. To systematically build tables of nouns and verbs that will serve your song. To then really understand rhyme and prosidy. You learn by doing--not by reading and examining other people's songs. It's all about you and your innate skills plus the necessary new skills to harness them. I feel liberated!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. T. Ireland on January 14, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So... being a right-brained songwriter, I have a tendency to buy these books and then only look at them occasionally when I feel stuck in the process. This book inevitably gives me some nuts and bolts way to look at my song differently and get over the hump to a more creative solution. It also helps me refine my songs once I feel they are 'done' and make them even better. Highly recommend it as a tool in your songwriting toolbox.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. Wallace-Lee on July 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I purchased this book because it was the textbook for a course on songwriting with Pat Pattison through Coursera.com (an online course-facilitating company).

The book covers pretty much every aspect of songwriting, from point-of-view and rhyming to prosody (the idea of all parts coming together to make a satisfying whole).

This man knows his stuff! I would recommend it to anyone struggling to write songs (both lyrics and music). He covers and codifies techniques that you've probably intuitively picked up, but never had labelled and laid out as tools before.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brenton on October 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Pat Pattison has provided a wealth of techniques to access areas of my own writing I had not known of previously. He provides a number of fantastic tools to enhance the writing experience; however, most importantly provides reassurance to trust in your own instincts - rely on your experiences. The book features many fully worked examples of how each effect can change sentiment, emotion or meaning. An essential read for any songwriter, beginner and professional alike!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert Rosina on December 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you have any proclivity for writing, this will put you on the path to being a talented lyricist. A perfect blend of clarity and simplicity, instructed in a way that helps you absorb the knowledge that all lyric writers who consider themselves artists need to have.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Student on September 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
I like this book as a followup to Popular Lyric Writing: 10 Steps to Effective Storytelling. Andrea uses the same object writing idea, but has a more detailed set of steps that you can use to get going on your songwriting.

Pat only spends a few chapters on daily object writing, but Andrea makes it the focus of her book and expands it out. Where this book shines are the very practical suggestions for how to play around with point of view, verb tense, phrase length, and rhyme scheme to tighten up your writing. I think it's useful to come to this back after you've spent a little bit of time actually writing a few songs. When I first got this book, I hadn't really written any songs, and some of the techniques didn't really have any impact for me.

For instance, his suggestion about making sure your title/chorus doesn't have a specific verb tense associated with it makes a lot of sense. It allows the refrain to be at the tail end of more than one verse. The verses themselves can vary in point of view or verb tense, but by making your title/chorus 'neutral', it can sort of color the verse in a different way each time.

There's also an interesting analysis of the # of stressed syllables in Don Henley's "The End of the Innocence" that was cool.
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