Berklee Online Lyric Writing Clinic: Pat Pattison



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In this free songwriting clinic, Berklee College of Music Professor and Berklee Online course author, Pat Pattison, offers tips for lyric writing. He is joined by Senior Academic Advisor, Mark Hopkins.

About Berklee Online:
Berklee Online is the continuing education division of Berklee College of Music, delivering online access to Berklee’s acclaimed curriculum from anywhere in the world, offering online courses, certificate programs, and degree programs. Contact an Academic Advisor today:
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About Pat Pattison
Pat Pattison is an author, clinician and Berklee Professor of Lyric Writing and Poetry whose students have composed for major artists and written number one songs. At Berklee, he developed the curriculum for the only songwriting major in the country. His books, including Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming and Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, are recognized as definitive in their genre, and have earned many ecstatic reviews. His clinics are attended by songwriters all over the country, and his articles appear regularly in a variety of industry publications.

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35 thoughts on “Berklee Online Lyric Writing Clinic: Pat Pattison

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    Love this guy’s theories, books and in-depth research into the use of language and its relationship to songwriting/storytelling but man, those accented WH’s when he says “what, where, when” make me question all these techniques !

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    Can someone help me check whether I'm doing it right? I've just released my first song but I'm not sure whether I'm on the right track :/ thanks

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    I have had a hard time writing songs, my first lyrics I wrote at age 17 was a responsorial to the song about the Purple People Eater, the one eyed purple people eater song. I heard it one day and decided to write a song about the purple people. I can't even remember the exact words but the purple people were made of plastic and just materialistic non spiritual beings that were terrorized by this purple people eater. Then I kind of got a writers block, most of the block was just going through cultural disagreements with pop , rock, country western, jazz all of the music was not appealing to me, I played guitar and keyboards, I usually ended up playing some kind of classical music on keyboards, and blues like heavy metal on guitar because I liked Jeff Healey as a kid , but many of the guitar hero's were heavy metal , I put down guitar because the heavy metal stuff was becoming like a nightmare to me, I wasn't writing lyrics could never finish a whole song, I started singing only and tried some Christian lyrics , they were ok but Christian music is not the easiest thing to write, people have high expectations , especially with catholic sacred renaissance music. I started writing poems, they sucked bad at first, after a few hundred I started to get the hang of it, I learned to pick a topic and then just write about the topic, after choosing as many topics as I could I started to learn my own I style, It took hundreds of poems before I could feel comfortable attempting lyrics again, I was a bad critic of myself. I I sang catholic folk music so I expected my lyrics to have a powerful and beautiful presence that really inspires and teaches wisdom along with embracing the grace and beauty of a song.  Then I ran into what kind of music can really be performed that way. Renaissance music is to old , who would listen to it. Folk is alright but I think hippies kind of pervaded it. Witches and Wizards seem to be in control of the rock and pop, I am no pagan artist. Contemporary Christian music just seems to cheap and simple because I sang catholic folk for enough years. Country is to carnal and simple but can be sang to capture the beauty of nature and natural life, not much for wisdom and grace in the spiritual song. I am 46 and my goal is to write a song or whole album before my voice deteriorates from aging. I hope to find a way to make a song from music theory not conformed to what is out there now, something close to renaissance folk but almost Jewish hymn like , and still modern at the same time.

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    I enjoyed this tutorial and enjoy the challenge that comes with writing good lyrics. It can feel over whelming and I think Pat helped address this when he gave us permission to 'write crap' and not to think about the tools too early in the writing process.

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    Turn down the lights, turn down the bed, turn down FOR WHAT!?

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    Pat's discussion RE: stable & unstable structure, and rhythm, etc. was so helpful t me. He's brilliant and I love his approach.

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    This video was great. It actually gave me an idea to a song which I have just uploaded to my channel. I started out following a lot of these ideas… and ended up changing the whole song afterwards. But I still thought the video was lovely, because it gave me the inspiration for the song 🙂

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    Haha what a character! "Ahhh… Let's have a cigarette".Thanks for posting.

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    gracias!!! you just expanded my horizons. After 20 years writing lyrics for several bands/projects felt really stuck and (in just 30 min) this will help me a lot. Saludos desde Chile.

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    Hearing that  "your body is a wonderland" line over and over and over made me hate John Mayer more than I did to begin with. Surely, a Berklee instructor could use a better pro songwriter as an example for their students. You know, like John Lennon or Paul McCartney? At least they didn't write the same shit over and over and over again until you want to fucking PUKE!!! God damn already!

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    this is fantastic! gladly subscribed.

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    can i ever watch a music related video without getting bass player jokes!

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    The famous song 'Yesterday' started as 'scrambled eggs oh how you've got such lovely legs' when Paul was making breakfast.

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    I'd love to have John Mayer listen to this analysis of his song and ask him if he was thinking about that as he wrote the lyrics.  Often we hear analyses of how songs where created and then the composer explains away things like "I just couldnt find a word that rhymed…", or "it was just a line I saw on the newspaper on the table"… 🙂

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    1st of all you have to scan your lyrics to all of your emails.Make copies and put them in diff spots for backups.Google vocab rhyming words with the meaning and print.Google will help pronounce the words.write your lyrics soon as it comes to mind the sooner  is the best.i got a sony voice recorder i say it to the recorder cause it's faster then write them in all of my notebooks.I write the numbers down to keep track.

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    Do we know any of his songs?  I can't seem to find that in his bio.

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    Pat Pattison is a Master in the craft of Songwriting, and Berklee's On-Line Resources are extraordinary!!! Thanks for the Insights!!!!  

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    "'Eenie meenie miney mo, catch a tiger by the toe.' You know, …I know there is more to that nursery rhyme but still,…I'm ok I can go out and have lunch."

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    Pat Thank you! You made me look at lyric writing at a different light.  Your outlook make sense.. If my song becomes a hit; you will be compensated.
    Salsa / R&B Style…. Please keep me in the loop ! NJ / NY elreydejc@hotmail.com

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    Songwriting does have rules, as long as inspiration is not enough. When Beatles wrote for example the song "I'm only sleeping" or "Let it be" or when Willie Dixon wrote "Hoochie Coochie man", I don't think they had so many rules on their heads… Those instructions are undoubtely useful, but not a pre-requisite to write songs.  

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    I love writing music and vocal lines, but whenever I write anything, it comes off as stupid and pretentious. help?

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    Do you just know the moment when the parts you picked out of the rough draft for the real song feel "complete"? Explain.

  • December 26, 2019 at 3:11 am
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    then you mainly write songs for yourself, wich is fine, if that's what you want. i'd like to think about 'who am I talking to?' when i write a song and when i perform I like to give people a great feeling, an emotion, a good time, I feel released when I can touch an audience. When i play it on my own it's merely practice, no more.

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