• The University of Sheffield

How to Write Your First Song

Get an introduction to the mechanics of songwriting and learn how to write a song of your own with our established songwriters.

57,267 enrolled on this course

How to Write Your First Song

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. You’ll look at some of the fundamentals of songwriting, building your knowledge as you progress.

By the time you’re done, you’ll have gone through the process of writing your own song, working with pitch, melody, chord progressions and more.

Learn how to write a song

The art of songwriting is one that just about anyone can learn. Whether or not you’ve tried your hand at music composition in the past, this course gives you the opportunity to get creative.

As you work your way through, you’ll learn how to make a song, exploring the main steps involved in the process.

Explore the principles of songwriting

Writing songs is an enjoyable and creative way to express yourself. With this course, you’ll discover the underlying principles of song composition.

As well as looking at how to set words to a rhythm, you’ll examine what an effective melody looks like, and how to structure your piece. These techniques can help you write future songs on your own.

Create a song of your own

If you’re struggling with how to write song lyrics or what to write a song about, we’ve got you covered. 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?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

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?

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

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

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Unlock your expertise

  • Access to this course
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Certificate when you're eligible

Unlimited

$15.83/month

Billed annually at $189.99/year

Endless possibilities!

  • All of the above for ALL eligible short courses, for a year*

*Digital certificates only

Basic access

Free

Try before you buy

  • Limited access to course content for 8 weeks

Find out more about certificates, Upgrades or Unlimited.

Available until 22 November 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Upgrades or Unlimited.

Available until 22 November 2021 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

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  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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