Online course in Creative Arts & Media

How to Write Your First Song

Get a practical introduction to the mechanics of songwriting and meet established songwriters with this free online course

  • Duration 6 weeks
  • Weekly study 3 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $69 Find out more

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.

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What topics will you cover?

  • Setting words to music
  • Time and pitch
  • Working with melody
  • Chords and chord progressions
  • Song forms
  • Arranging your song

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now
    This course started 12 Aug 2019

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Set words to rhythm using the concepts of metre and scansion.
  • Identify the ingredients of an effective melody.
  • Describe the different chord types and progressions used in popular songs.
  • Explain the most commonly used song forms and structures.
  • Explore how songs can develop when different lines and instruments are added to the accompaniment.
  • Combine these fundamental musical elements to come up with a song of your own.

Who is the course for?

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.

Who will you learn with?

Adam White

Adam White

Professional Musician and Associate Lecturer in Music with The Open University. Formerly Course Director for Music at the Department for Lifelong Learning at the University of Sheffield.

Who developed the course?

The University of Sheffield is one of the world’s top 100 universities with a reputation for teaching and research excellence.

Join this course

Start this course for free, upgrade for extra benefits, or buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year.

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  • Access to this course for 8 weeks

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$69

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  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • Access to this course’s tests as well as a print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible
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Unlimited (New!)
$239 for one year

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep access to any course you've achieved a digital Certificate of Achievement on, for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: