Reddit reviews: The best songwriting books

We found 42 Reddit comments discussing the best songwriting books. We ran sentiment analysis on each of these comments to determine how redditors feel about different products. We found 18 products and ranked them based on the amount of positive reactions they received. Here are the top 20.

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Top Reddit comments about Songwriting:

u/TESKOmusic · 2 pointsr/MusicProductionTuts

I highly recommend this book "The Addiction Formula" for song progression (arrangement).


The author also has a Youtube channel called Holistic songwriting that I'd suggest you subscribe to! He's very articulate in the way he explains his concepts and he's got a bunch of videos on different artists' styles regarding composition and melody writing, and just overall arrangement, chord progressions, etc. In the book he conceptualizes song "progression" as the combination of hype (intensity) and flow between sections ( i cant remember the exact word he called it now but essentially the type of transition between 2 sections). I've found this approach to be really intuitive and easy to understand.

As far as layering theres definitely some things to take into consideration to strategically layer sounds. First off, why are you layering? Is it to beef up a sound, add a new texture to it, emphasize a part of the ADSR, etc. For example, if I'm "layering" two sounds that sound really similar, it might be better to hard pan them so you get a really wide sound. If I'm using a really soft lead sound and it's lacking some intensity I might look for a layer thats grittier, or maybe a pluckier kind of layer to bring out the attack more, etc. Maybe I've already established my main sound but in a different section of the song I want to give it more depth so I'll find 2 sounds to tuck back into the mix and hard pan them so the main sound gets just a lil "pick me up" later on. Maybe the same line played in multiple octaves so I'll use a sound that sounds good an octave down and one an octave up and have them compliment my main lead. The possibilities are really endless.

It's hard to articulate exactly how to layer, and I'm sure someone could explain it better than me but my advice is to think about what you're trying to achieve with the layering and then flip through lots of different patches and find which compliment each other best for your intended purpose. Layering is a great way to progress your song and keep an idea fresh throughout.

Underbelly runs an awesome and very entertaining channel which I'd recommend checking out as well. Check out his video on layering:

Hope that helps!

u/mmmguitar · 2 pointsr/Guitar

Established chord progressions can help, otherwise use chords + ears.

Theory is just theory, its more of a tool, however, it can help you understand other songs which may help you understand what you have in your head.

I would recommend reading about songs from a songwriter perspective. Not a technical guide. Well, they can help get quick patterns together, but more of the art.

For example Inside the art of songwriting is on my reading list. (although the cover is ridiculous). Songcrafters Colouring Book is an excellent book about taking your creative ideas / raw output and crafting in it into a better song.

As long as it sounds and feels good then it is good. Lyric writing has is nicely explained in songcrafting colouring book. Technical books I have read on lyric writing have been dire.

Try to establish a groove early on and work to that, that can help tie everything together.

Good luck.

u/SpeakeasyImprov · 3 pointsr/improv

You're a short form group, right? Is there anyone in your group who can play an instrument? That's gonna be where you start; a great accompaniest can make anyone sound brilliant.

If you're doing short form, I suggest starting out with some super simple structures. Seriously, Hoedown from Whose Line may cause some long form snobs to roll their eyes but it works. Laura Hall, their musical director, has a book that may be helpful. (I also recommend Nancy Howland Walker's book and Michael Pollock's book.)

One quick tip: You can get away with not rhyming in a song; in fact, commitment, selling it, and staying on rhythm are more important than rhyming. Make rhyme the thing you workshop on the the second day. When rhyming, it helps to think if the word you want to get to first, and then backfill your way there. Like, if I'm singing about dogs, and I've got the word "leash" ready to go, I'll work backwards from there. "As interests go, mine may be niche, but I love it when you pull my leash." Get it?

u/night_zoo · 1 pointr/edmproduction

I cannot recommend this book enough:

It isn't just some goofy self help book. This is filled with gold. Find a friend, or start a group, and you all dedicate one day a month if you can. You each have 12 hours to write and record 20 BRAND NEW compositions. I've never gotten to 20, and most of the ideas are garbage throwaway tunes, but by the end of the day you'll most likely have 2-3 really solid ideas to build from later. And knowing that your friends are doing the same thing adds a little friendly competition. Meet at the end of the day, play your tunes and laugh your asses off. Trust me, this technique works wonders.

u/enjoyJDmusic · 1 pointr/WeAreTheMusicMakers

Its a fairly common "game" to help teach yourself that quantity is better than quality. I'm not sure if this is the origin of the "Immersion Music Method" idea, but I'd heard of it through multiple posts on this subreddit: The Frustrated Songwriter's Handbook. Great book that's worth checking out.

It is a fun and enlightening experience, and I definitely recommend giving it a try sometime!

u/drcode · 1 pointr/Drumming

Thanks for the reply- Those were super helpful answers already, though they were only illustrative examples of many more questions I have.

The best resource like this I've found so far is in the book "The Addiction Formula" https://www.amazon.com/Addiction-Formula-Captivating-Commercial-Songwriting/dp/9082391309/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1525713259&sr=8-1

It has one section on rhythm which touches on the "why" of drums. Though the basic concept of the book is kind of cringey with the whole "get rich writing pop songs" vibe, it actually does have practical information in it- Just curious what other similar resources people are aware of that get deeper into drumming.

I realize simply listening to a lot of good drumming and focusing on the drum work is probably the best way to figure this out, but since I'm an American I was hoping there would be some kind of easy shortcut :)

u/The16Points · 1 pointr/WeAreTheMusicMakers

I don't know what you're into, and you might consider his material kind of hokey, but you might want to give Jimmy Webb's book "Tunesmith" a try. It's been years since I've read it cover-to-cover, but I liked it. But then again, I like Jimmy Webb. It covers more than just chords, and I will admit that the lyrics to the "sample" song running through the book are definitely hokey.

Also, someone else mentioned Lou Reed in this thread. While the Velvet Underground had a lot of simple chord progressions, check out the song Candy Says -- it has more than four chords in the verse and does some interesting changes, e.g. from Fm# to F to B, which serve the melody well but might not seem intuitive if you're just trying to come up with chord progressions. It eventually lands in a simpler progression (two chords repeating at the end of the song), but the variety in the verses helps give the song personality.

u/AngriestBird · 2 pointsr/edmproduction

I haven't gotten good at EDM but i've gotten past the "some one else would buy it" stage in other art forms.

And here's what I have to say: Practice / know your theory is good advice, but if you have the fundamentals but have trouble putting it together, the issue is probably that you have no idea how the parts work in the relation to each other. For example, a person who doesn't know much about graphic design might pick a font that they think looks cool, but doesn't understand that the style of the font has to fit into the context of their illustrations. For example, thin lines usually mean that you need thin text.

The musical equivalent of paying attention to how the parts fit is a bit of an abstract, subjective thing. BUT, generally the accepted rules of music suggests that you should allow each element its own space in its own pitch range, and the elements should generally not conflict with each other rhythmically or harmonically. Ideas should not jump from one idea to a completely unrelated one, unless this is intentional. Mostly its theme and variations. If a bassline and drumline doesn't sound good together, take a look at what types of drumlines the bassline's rhythm suggests and make them work together as a unit.

I can't answer how things work in ableton, but in music, usually you have 8 or 16 bars, each bar lasting 4 beats. You might have an intro, but usually those are short, and the song goes into a verse/chorus structure. for more info on song structure http://www.amazon.com/Songwriting-A-Complete-Guide-Craft/dp/0879103574/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342176869&sr=8-1&keywords=stephen+citron. There are more complicated formats which only appear in classical music.

Lastly you don't need to reproduce a sound exactly - if it sounds good in context of the song it will sound good. and if you are having trouble in massive maybe it is because they didn't use massive.

u/optigon · 1 pointr/aspergers

The best book I've found on that is Jimmy Webb's "Tunesmith." I took courses in music theory, but no one ever talked about how people write lyrics, and he does a good job of getting into both, like doing poetic analysis on song lyrics, dealing with poetic meter and that sort of thing. He's also a pretty engaging writer as well.

u/painkiller-v · 1 pointr/ableton

There are some great resources available on songwriting.

Check out "Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting" by Jimmy Webb

Or anything by Pat Pattison of Berklee College of Music.

Pattison has a great online course on Songwriting offered by Coursera (coursera.org) that they offered free, but it looks like it's not free now. Keep an eye out, though. It may be free again sometime.

u/WilhelmSam · 1 pointr/WeAreTheMusicMakers

This is a good and inspiring book if you're interested in learning more about writing lyrics:

u/etcomro · 1 pointr/WeAreTheMusicMakers

"Songwriter's Market" is a book that gets published every year that has listings of labels, which ones take unsolicited demos and which don't. It also includes publishers, producers, etc. These reviews on amazon though so some of the content may be outdated. This is one option, a better option will be networking as you play and build your core fan base


u/[deleted] · 2 pointsr/Songwriting

Well, I feel like that's music theory in general, no? My city has something called the Old Town School of Folk Music and they have a ton of classes that discuss the subject. Super affordable, too. If I were you I'd look for something similar to that in your area, unless you'd prefer to just read a book. In which case, one of the instructors there wrote this one. https://www.amazon.com/Take-Bridge-Unlocking-Great-Inside/dp/1622772113

u/myquidproquo · 1 pointr/musictheory

😮 Nice! Tell us more about your work. Is there any interesting book about your craft? I’m reading Tunesmith about songwriting. Any equivalent on producing?

u/justmerriwether · 11 pointsr/InternetIsBeautiful

If you wanna get serious Rikky Rooksby has a ton of books on songwriting and music for various instruments. Check out all the related books on amazon.

He gets into the theory of why chord progressions and melodies work and how to create compositionally strong music with a contemporary focus.

u/wilsonhybrid · 1 pointr/musictheory

I recommend grabbing a copy of Songwriting For Dummies and Music Composition For Dummies. Music Theory For Dummies is also pretty good for novices too.

Aside from that, just go make some music. It'll be crap, but that's okay. It's a learning process.

u/bigdumbhick · 1 pointr/IWantToLearn

there is a class taught at Vanderbilt University in Nashville that teaches songwriting. The class is taught by Peter Cooper. This is the book -The Tom T Hall Songwriter's Handbook the class is taught out of. I know Peter, he's a decent songwriter. He's an incredible entertainment writer. I recently ordered the book.

I'll be investigating that Berklee link as well

u/sweetcuppingcakes · 2 pointsr/Songwriting

In researching this stuff yesterday I actually found quite a few on Amazon with that exact purpose. Like this one.

u/LiamGaughan · 1 pointr/musictheory

Someone mentioned to me this book:


Really good book if you want to know how to write.

u/RiggsBoson · 1 pointr/indieheads

I know how you feel. My worst habit, by far, is neglecting to finish pieces that I start. I'd rather be like you, and have at least a collection of strong drafts. Rather than a box of tapes, filled with briefly compelling fragments.

I think it was Jimmy Webb (in his book Tunesmith, which I highly recommend) who said, in so many words, "If writing a song is easy, then you're doing it wrong."

u/preezyfabreezy · 1 pointr/edmproduction

Straight up. Go get the 2 hour workflow instructional video Ill.Gates sells on his site for $50. One of the few videos I've actually paid for and thought was worth the money.


That said, take some of dudes advice with a grain of salt. He takes a bit of a cavalier approach to melody & harmony (which is something I think you should take your time with).

Also. I read this book on writing jingles for TV commercials a long ass time ago, it was really helpful (jingle dudes have to turn around songs really fast) I THINK it's this one (I lost the book so I can't remember the actual name) http://www.amazon.com/Jingles-Write-Produce-Commercial-Music/dp/0898794137/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377666599&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+write+jingles

u/Jongtr · 2 pointsr/musictheory

Books on songwriting may be what you're looking for. Something like this.

u/toupeira · 6 pointsr/WeAreTheMusicMakers

You can read the first few pages online on Amazon (try this link), and there's also a Wikipedia page about the Immersion Composition Society, which this book seems to be based on.

u/babybritain · 1 pointr/musictheory

i also like this book by rikky rooksby.


this along with fretboard logic really pushed me when i was stuck

u/blackb1rd · 2 pointsr/Woodshed

I have one of these I use for when I'm practicing https://www.amazon.com/Moleskine-Notebook-Pocket-Classic-Notebooks/dp/888370536X

As /u/ilikemyteasweet said, if someone else has to read it I'll write it out in software. I use Notion on my iPad but have used Sibelius in the past.

u/vanblah · 1 pointr/WeAreTheMusicMakers

It's been posted before but I'll post it again because it needs to be: Frustrated Songwriters Handbook

u/newDilly99 · 6 pointsr/Guitar

Music Theory for the Road audiobooks have been teaching me a lot. It cost me $20.

The Books "Chord Progressions for Songwriters", and TuneSmith - Inside the Art of Songwriting by Jimmy Webb

Also, Earmaster for ear training has helped me enormously.

u/godisafantasy · -1 pointsr/ableton

Their vids sucks and so do their [books] (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HI9W0Q2/)