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By Andrea Stolpe - 12/08/2007 - 06:31 PM EST

I'm so happy to be able to offer the material of Commercial Songwriting Techniques, part of Berkleemusic's online songwriting program, to budding and advanced songwriters around the globe.  Born from my own experiences as a staff-writer and performing artist in the commercial music industry, the techniques exercised in the course focus on writing more efficiently, prolifically, and commercially.  Lyrics are a stumbling block for many writers, and the first few weeks of the course attack that monster head-on with tools such as Destination Writing, Toggling, and differentiating between internal and external language.  By learning to organize these two types of language, we can identify the strongest pattern that will connect more profoundly to the listener.

Many songs we know and love have a melodic hook that instantly grabs our attention, and so focusing on the lyric alone can leave us just short of a powerful song.  Writing simple and catchy melodic motifs for those lyric areas we want to emphasize improves our songs by a landslide.  Tools for contrast such as changing the lengths of the notes, the phrases, or simply starting on a different beat in the measure are simple to implement and produce huge results.  We can learn to critique our own material using these techniques as well, and become fluent in verbalizing our critique of other songs.  From my own experience, being able to critique my own writing by applying proven tools allows me to sort through the deluge of opinions we sometimes receive on our songs.  In the end, we simply become more confident writers.

If you're ready to approach your lyric writing from an entirely new angle, gather new tools for melody, harmony, and your own unique voice, I encourage you to jump into this course.  By the end of 12 weeks, you'll have dozens of new ideas, hundreds of titles, and 3 fully written songs.  We'll also spend some time finding out what qualities about you draw in the listener, and how you might continue to emphasize those qualities.  For a full course description and to enroll, visit

I look forward to meeting you and moving forward with you in your songwriting endeavors.

Andrea Stolpe

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