Top 10 Songwriting Books - The Songwriter's Life

Top 10 Songwriting Books

You want to improve your songwriting…

Songwriters dig deep to find their truth. It’s rewarding work.

Like any craft, it takes a curious mind to be creative.

That’s why it’s natural for songwriters to want to educate themselves.

Just listen to Ernest Hemingway…

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”

You can let people think you were born writing great songs. Tell them you’re reading this list of excellent songwriting books just for fun.

10. The Complete Rhyming Dictionary: Including The Poet’s Craft by Clement Wood

The Complete Rhyming Dictionary is the best tool for finding rhyme pairs. More rhyme choices can help you find the right word instead of settling for what comes to mind.

The Complete Rhyming Dictionary will help you write songs and exercise your rhyme muscles.

9. The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook: A Radical Guide to Cutting Loose, Overcoming Blocks, & Writing the Best Songs of Your Life by Karl Coryat and Nicholas Dobson

I don’t care if you have writer’s block or not, get The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook. Your creative juices will be buzzing within 3 minutes of turning the first page.

Read The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook and you’ll be buzzing with inspiration!

8. The Craft of Lyric Writing by Sheila Davis

Sheila Davis wrote a songwriting classic. You’ll learn the tools of the trade. The Craft of Lyric Writing may appear dated at times. But it’s filled with songwriting case studies that will inspire you to write better.

The Craft of Lyric Writing takes wordplay seriously.

7. Melody in Songwriting: Tools and Techniques for Writing Hit Songs by Jack Perricone

Melodic training is a neglected topic. But Melody in Songwriting will show you how to craft memorable melodies whenever you need them.

Melody in Songwriting simplifies melodic theory so anyone can get it.

6. The Songwriter’s Workshop: Melody by Jimmy Kachulis

Writing melodies deserves careful focus. The workshop format of The Songwriter’s Workshop: Melody is a smart solution. You’ll be taken through a clear progression of melodic ideas and techniques.

If you want a system for writing melodies, read The Songwriter’s Workshop: Melody.

5. The Songwriter’s Workshop: Harmony by Jimmy Kachulis

Take a trip through The Songwriter’s Workshop: Harmony and bring home a firm understanding of music theory. Just like Jimmy’s book on melody, the workshop format gives you experience, not just knowledge.

The Songwriter’s Workshop: Harmony delivers a solid framework for songwriting.

4. Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure: Tools and Techniques for Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison

You could call this book a technical manual. But Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure is easy to digest. You’ll become a better songwriter by reading it alone.

Warning: You may become a lyric snob after reading Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure. Use your superior understanding of lyrics wisely!

3. Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming: A Step-by-Step Guide to Better Rhyming and Lyrics by Pat Pattison

Another brilliant technical songwriting manual by Pat Pattison. Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming will show you how to improve your rhyme and word choice.

You might not feel the desperate need to study lyric structure, except when your song is crumbling to the ground. Read Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming to build a solid song foundation.

2. Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison

Writing Better Lyrics is a must read songwriting book. It’s less of a technical manual than some of Pat’s other books. It’s filled with big ideas that will improve your lyric writing.

Pat’s “Object writing” technique will turn your brain into a perpetual idea generator. You’ll have to read Writing Better Lyrics to discover how.

1. Popular Lyric Writing: 10 Steps to Effective Storytelling by Andrea Stolpe

Of all the books in this list, Popular Lyric Writing is the only book that clearly gives you a path from song idea to song completion. It’s not just for pop songwriting either. This book is for songwriters who want to be productive.

Popular Lyric Writing is methodical, actionable, and results in deeply emotional songs.

One more for good measure…

Inside Greatness: Ordinary People Break Down How They Do Extraordinary Things by Graham English

Inside Greatness isn’t a book about songwriting. But it has an entire chapter devoted to the Speed Songwriting Method. This innovative and bold songwriting method makes it easy to start and finish songs.

The Speed Songwriting System will give you song ideas whenever you need them. You can read all about it in Inside Greatness. It’s a great value for beginners and experienced songwriters.

You can’t read all these songwriting books at once. But you could read all ten in a year.

Imagine how good you’ll be in a year!

The best way to use these books is to read as you write. Open a chapter or a page during your songwriting sessions.

You’ll improve even faster when you immediately apply what you learn.

Is there a book you wish was on this list? Let other songwriters know. Leave a comment below.

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 8 comments
mike - March 22, 2015

One book I highly recommend for any musician and songwriter is Wayne Chase’s book called “How Music REALLY Works.” It’s fat and pricey, but you can find bits from the book online. It’s worthy.

Inquisitive - March 24, 2015

Also: “Murphy’s Laws of Songwriting” – by Ralph Murphy. It really helps to congeal what “Writing Better Lyrics”, by P. Pattison, discusses.

J Lawrence - March 26, 2015

Jai Josef’s Writing Music for Hit Songs

Linne Black - May 14, 2015

Yes to all of the above!

“Murphy’s Laws of Songwriting” is definitely on my list, as is Pat and Pete Luboff’s book, “101 Songwriting Wrongs and How to Right Them”

Betsy Jill Jackson - May 14, 2015

All of those books are fantastic. Somehow, I miss the Jimmy Web book. It should be on the list somewhere. “Tunesmith” by Jimmy Web is one of the most amazing reads!

Robin - May 18, 2015

I’m really enjoying John Braheny’s ‘The Craft and Business of Songwriting’ and Paul Zollo’s ‘Songwriters on songwriting’ as well.

Christopher - May 30, 2015

No list could be complete without Robin Frederick’s books-‘Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting’ and ‘Shortcuts to Songwriting for Film and TV’ Check these out-it’s highly unlikely you’ll be disappointed!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sophie Lazar - August 23, 2015

I’d like to comment that I’m happy to see the Berklee Guide: Melody in Songwriting, by Jack Perricone on this list. I would also think though, that this list cant leave out Ricky Rookbsy? Just think his series are a unique presentation that go so well with the way many young Ableton, Logic & N.I. users will write House Music in the piano roll, looking for chord structures. They concisely show all the chord turnarounds with dots on the piano for use in a step sequencer is extremely relevant to todays user; aside from EDM, much house music tells the story with chords progressions and ultimately creating two tracks with the goal of mixing for the “third record” and no lyrics at all, and they will typically will start with VST’is hosted in the DAW.


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