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.