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How to Write Your First Song

The University of Sheffield via FutureLearn

27 Reviews 870 students interested

Taken this course? Share your experience with other students. Write review

Overview

Ever wanted to write a song, but not known how?

This course will introduce you to the tools and techniques you need to write your first song.

Each week, using specially-commissioned lyrics, we’ll build up a song and encourage you to do the same. World-renowned musician, Martin Simpson, will use the same words and techniques and we’ll check in with him each week for inspiration and guidance on the songwriting process.

We’ll also talk to experts in music and psychology as well as established musicians and songwriters to find out what makes a song successful.

Whether you’re a complete novice who has never written a song in their life, a budding amateur looking to develop further skills or an accomplished professional brushing up on the basics, this course will deliver comprehensive practical and theoretical knowledge to help set you on your path.

While it will be useful to have access to a musical instrument this is not a requirement, you can participate in the course just using your voice or with freely available music software.

Taught by

Adam White

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Reviews for FutureLearn's How to Write Your First Song
4.5 Based on 27 reviews

  • 5 stars 67%
  • 4 stars 26%
  • 3 star 0%
  • 2 stars 7%
  • 1 star 0%

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  • 1
Anonymous
5.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
It gives great insight into how to create a song from the way to sing the lyrics (scansion) through to developing chord progression and melody. Very interesting to hear from the pros on how they tackle problems in song creation.
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Anonymous
2.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I am sorry to leave a rather negative review. I stayed through the course and I am trying to put some of the advice into practice, but in the end, I didn’t find the course particularly engaging or effective.

The course is heavily based on music theory, much of which is skimmed over too quickly if you are new to it. It is also based around a set of lyrics or a poem which is not tailor made for a simple introduction to song writing. Many of the contributions from song writers are rather anecdotal. Perhaps this is why there were rather few musical contributions from course partic…
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Anonymous
5.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
An excellent course which I've very much enjoyed. Wrote a song though didn't share it as I just can't sing! I've been a sax player for some years and love improvising but have found traditional chordal theory too overwhelming for my brain so do it instinctively. But I must admit the section of this course on chord progressions really helped me. Not only with playing the sax but with enriching the songs that I write. I've always been aware of their simplistic chord progressions but never really known how to correct that. I wrote a song called Their Town right at the beginning of the course and as the weeks have gone on it's become enriched with chord progressions that I'm really proud of. So thanks Adam and everyone. I look forward to developing my skills further. In particular have bought a book called Chord Progressions: Theory and Practice by Dan Fox and Dick Weissman and chord sequences are now really beginning to make sense!
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Pam G
5.0 3 years ago
by Pam completed this course.
Fabulous course. The emphasis is on music rather than lyrics. The 'lyrics' are provided by poet Matt Black, to use as you see fit. The song writing process is broken down into its basic elements with wonderful interviews with performers and video demonstrations. There are also excellent interviews with songwriters and producers, And Martin Simpson, folk singer/songwriter and stunning guitarist, writes his song along with you, laying bare his process. You'll listen to wide variety of music, and you can share your own music with fellow students.
2 people found
this review helpful
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David P
4.0 4 months ago
by David completed this course.
The tutors, interviewees/artistes and general advice to/encouragement of participants (students) were always helpful, inspiring and positive. I found the musical theory the hardest part of the course to grasp and understand, which is where other students comments and advice was always useful. Most songwriters feel that the music and words are equally important but I thought the course gave much more attention and importance to the music and more could have been done with the lyric writing (and ways to inspire this) content. Some of the artists interviewed were rather flippant about the words…
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Kathleen L
4.0 4 months ago
Kathleen completed this course.
This course has taught me a lot about writing music to go with lyrics, and it's enabled me to have fun composing melodies using free online software and sharing them online.

A few people were disappointed because the title doesn't make it clear that this course doesn't teach lyric-writing but, because the course team provided three versions of a poem/lyric, most of us didn't need to learn to write words in order to learn the music part. I tried all three versions, as well as my own, so I've created four melodies and received useful feedback from my fellow learners. I've also learn…
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Sylvia S
5.0 3 years ago
by Sylvia is taking this course right now.
When I first signed up for this course I was so jazzed. I thought it was for people like me who have never written a lyric, who has no concept as to where to start, no real music background. So I thought that this would be fun for me. Now reading more into it most people have so much know how, have done it before and are wonderfully talented which is fantastic but I have none of that. This is just a dream for me to write my first lyric. I would totally get lost in concept. I would be that person placed in Wall Street where everyone is bidding and yelling, holding up cards, doing hand signs. I would just want to climb high above it all to watch and learn yet it all moves too fast that I would be left with visions of the act but no knowledge of it. If you have some know how and instrument background this would be fantastic for you. I wish I did. Maybe I can try my hand at learning to play guitar and then move in this direction.

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Anonymous
5.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Fantastic course. I started this course as a lyricist only with no idea how to write a song. The course has given me an intro into writing music and the basic knowledge to start creating a song. I regret that I don’t play an instrument as I would have gotten so much more from the course had I been able to add accompaniment. It has made me determined to master at least one instrument. It has also introduced me to apps such as Hookpad and to SoundCloud although I’m still trying to master them, too. Thank you to everyone involved in the course. I know from writing management courses myself just how much work is involved in bringing it altogether as a structured, cohesive and flowing learning experience for the student. I would expect nothing less from the OU. Thank you.

Carole Tucker
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Anonymous
5.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
How to Write Your First Song gives you a great overview and guidance on the songwriting process, key ingredients and toolkits you can experiment with in your own personal songkitchen! It gives a lot of inspiration with stories from all kinds of musicians from al kinds of genres in the field, who give their own perspectives on songwriting. It's very useful to give you a boost in your own songwriting, and it's very instructive to work with all attendees with the same theme/lyrics on building a song, still with enough space for exploring with your own creativity. Also very nice to meet all these lovely people who are also struggling and finding their ways in the songwriting process.
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Anonymous
5.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
This course is a good balance between informal and technical, so there's a lot to learn here on many levels. Adam has been thoroughly engaging and motivating on each topic. His delivery is paused and articulate and in this sense I would recommend this course also to non native speakers. The singers were beautifully emotive and all the musicians and collaborators involved individual and absolutely contemporary.

I've been teaching music for forty years and I would recommend this course to potential songwriters both in and out of school. Thank you so much for a wonderful course!
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Kevin Q
5.0 5 months ago
Kevin completed this course.
Really enjoyable course. I had never written a song before despite playing in a band for years. For some reason I had always thought it would be too difficult but I found the course set out a good way to approach song writing and it was great fun just "having a go". During the course I wrote seven songs and our bass player has started writing too (he did the course as well). I'm sure we will still play plenty of covers but it's nice to do your own material.

A very inspirational course - the 6 weeks just flew by!!
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Anonymous
2.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Some useful material on the technicalities of the music side( chords, keys etc.), but, with all due respect, this course should be more accurately described as 'how to set a poem to music' which is not quite the same thing as 'writing a song'.

As (primarily) a lyricist and co-writer, I would say that the course fell down badly on the lyrics side.

"... Despite the many similarities, poetry and lyrics are not the same thing..."

http://www.songlyricist.com/lyricorpoem.htm
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
5.0 4 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
A great course! I did finish all the materials, although didn't manage to write and upload a final song - more due to time constraints than anything else. However, I would say that even if you don't intend to write a song, you will learn so much from this course in terms of the different elements and approaches to songwriting as well as introducing you to music that you wouldn't normally listen to through the playlists.
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Anonymous
5.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
This is an excellent course. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked the blend of music theory with down to earth practical advice on how to write a song. The chance to make a song out of the the poem My Town gives the student a great opportunity to put what's learned into practice. ( I'm still working on my version and hope to post something shortly). I recommend the course to anyone interested in song writing.
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Anonymous
4.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I Learnt a lot in the first 5 weeks of the course as it concentrated on the tools and techniques to us e when writing a song. I found week 6 aimed at a level which was above my aspirations. A lot of the 'chat ' videos were of no value to me.However ,overall I found the course useful to me and would recommend to others who had an interest in songwriting.
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Anonymous
4.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I enjoyed this course. It was well organised, interesting and encouraging. I liked the interviews with different song writers, the weekly play lists which explored a range of musical styles and the Sheffield local colour. I learned lot about the process of song writing and found the comments of fellow students helpful.

Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
5.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I really enjoyed the course. I did write a song alongside the course and 6 weeks on I'm still fiddling with it and just don't know when to stop!

I really felt at ease at the pace and this made it easier for me to learn from it.

Thank you to all that are involved.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
4.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Learnt so much on this course but there's still a way to go. Quite technical, i.e. the jargon used - scansion, phrasing, etc. way over my head! Will try and re-read the whole thing while I've still got access. Great musicianship from everyone involved.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
5.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
While not a graduate program in songwriting; I thought for a free presentation, it was outstanding! They really taught a great deal that new writers will understand as they develop and recall this course!
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Martin N
5.0 6 months ago
Martin is taking this course right now.
This is a really engaging course it kept me interesred and challenged all the way through. The course covered the basics of songwriting and musical arrangement but also pointed the way to the stars.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
  • 1

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