The Basics of Pro Songwriting | Seth Mosley | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      #1 Intro to Full Circle Music


    • 2.

      #2 FCA Songwriting Intro


    • 3.

      #3 FCA Melody


    • 4.

      #4 FCA Phrasing


    • 5.

      #5 FCA Lyrics


    • 6.

      #6 FCA Chords


    • 7.

      #7 FCA Arrangement


    • 8.

      FCA Outro 2


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About This Class

Learn from a Grammy-Winning Songwriter, all the basics that you need to know for creating a hit song. We cover fundamentals like melody, lyrics, arrangement, chords, and more.

Meet Your Teacher

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Seth Mosley

Grammy-Winner Teaches Songwriting for Free


GRAMMY award winning producer, Seth Mosley is one of the most awarded and in-demand songwriters and producers in the Christian Music industry today. Along with receiving a GRAMMY Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album "RUN WILD. LIVE FREE.LOVE STRONG" (for King & Country) this year, Seth also received the 2014 SESAC award for Christian Songwriter of the Year. In 2013, Billboard Magazine named Mosley the #1 Christian music producer and the #3 Christian songwriter; and Seth was the writer of 28 charting radio singles, resulting in 14 SESAC awards for top radio activity.

Known for hits like, "You Are I Am" (Mercy Me), "Born Again" (Newsboys) & "Words" (Hawk Nelson), this past year has been stellar for Seth with eight #1 songs: "Fix My Eyes" (for KING & COUNTRY), "He Knows... See full profile

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Music Creative

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1. #1 Intro to Full Circle Music: Hi, My name is Seth. Mostly my company is called Full Circle Music. You could find a song line at full circle music dot You can find our work worldwide on countless Grammy winning albums, Dove Award winning albums and at the top of Billboard charts and all kinds of TV way probably have 20 Number one radio singles. Full Circle Music is a collective of producers, songwriters and creators, making music at the highest level. We always strive to be at the cutting edge, yet embracing the familiarity that makes a hit. I was fortunate and blessed to when these 2013 billboard Richard the Year War sacks on out of the year award Grammy Award for double awards. We're always looking to expand our team and work with best artist self. Who knows you might be one of our next producers. 2. #2 FCA Songwriting Intro: thanks for enrolling. We hope this is the spark that you need to chase your dream for being a pro songwriter. We're gonna cover the fundamentals of what makes a pop hit from top to bottom things like melody, phrasing, lyrics, chords and arrangement. We hope that you walk away from this course with a greater understanding that there's a reason why certain tricks make their way into countless pop hits and reasons why pro songwriters do the things that they do. There's an element of song writing that well, you either have it or you don't, but there's also the part of song writing that can be learned and it could be developed and it can be hot. Our goal today is to give you some more tools and to give you the inspiration to realize that no matter who you are, we believe that everybody has a creative spark, and with a little bit of practice, everybody can be a songwriter. What I love about songs is the ability to pierce through to people's hearts in a matter of just minutes. We're glad that you took the first step towards your dream of being a pro songwriter 3. #3 FCA Melody: every hit song has a great melody. It's memorable and it's catchy. No songwriter Left Behind the melody is simply a sequence of notes strung together that's musically satisfying. Given that there are only 12 notes in a scale, it's hard to come up with a melody that hasn't been done before. What makes it unique is when is what you do with the melody and what you do with the track and what you do with the lyric in Conjunction Together, We like to study the work of pop songwriter Max Martin. You haven't heard him. He's behind countless number one hits, and I think he might be the number three pop songwriter of all time. The way that him and his camp use melody is pretty incredible. So if you're ever stuck for inspiration, just look up any of his work and check it out. In our experience, the great melody is catchy, but it's also easy enough to remember. Remember on fundamentals that there were no hard and fast rules when it comes to writing melody. But these were just some some good bets to go by when writing melodies. Sometimes it's hard for for really good singers to write simple, singable melodies because to make an analogy there, like a Ferrari, when the average person is like a Honda, so they can pretty much sing the phone book. And for when you're you know, if you're an artist, it's a little bit of a different story. But if you're riding for other people to sing your songs and you're trying to make it as a commercial songwriter, you have to imagine the audience and listen. They're trying to sing it. This is obviously different from genre to genre, but as a rule of thumb usually can't go wrong with simple, singable melodies. Think of Mary had a little lamb. It only uses four notes out of 12 and people know it pretty well. By now, you might be thinking, Well, I don't have a great musical ear. I can write lyrics or I could do music, but the melodies just doesn't come natural. May. Well, here's the key. You've got a partner yourself with people that have complementary strengths. If you are not great at Melody, find somebody who is and get in a room with them and make sure you're collaborating with people that have complementary skill sets don't feel bad if you're not amazing at everything. Even the Beatles had help writing their song lyrics. Every hit song has a great melody. 4. #4 FCA Phrasing: every hit song has great phrasing. What is phrasing? It's a short passage or segment, often consisting of four measures. It's forming a part of a larger unit. It's the rhythm of the melody. It has pauses, breaks how fast you say certain words, or how long you stretch the words over the better music. In my opinion, phrasing is a big part of what makes makes each songwriter unique and how they string notes and words together. Let's take Mary had a little lamb, for example. Try singing it in a different rhythm. If if you've got a stale melody, just try phrasing it differently, and it can sometimes bring into life. So, for example, like Mary had a little lamb, if you like. If you change the way that rhythm was, Ah, like that being example of phrasing it differently. So there's a lot of things you can do with phrasing to make song writing sort of come to life. If you have a stale section, I love Katy Perry song Unconditional, and you can check it out. Her use of phrasing in this song is pretty interesting, cause just how she says the word unconditional is is a little different than how you would typically pronounce it, but it makes it really cool and really musical. I thought that was really cool because, uh, it's just a different way to say the word, and it was very interesting. So check that out. It's a really good example of some interesting and unique phrasing. Some quick tips on creating great phrasing for your songs. Repeat your musical phrases too often, and the song is boring. Don't repeat them often enough, and you lose the listener in classical music, for example, there often long passages of music that never repeat a phrase. It all but ah, hallmark of pop music is repetition. Don't be afraid of repetition. There's a reason why people like to hear certain parts of a song over and over and over again. The year lyrical and musical phrases have to begin and end at the same time. Well, there are no rules, but practically speaking, Ah, listener often unconsciously identifies them is being together. Every hit song has great phrasing 5. #5 FCA Lyrics: every hit song has a great lyric. This part can often be the most subjective because no two people see the world the same way or explain it the same way one person might have in an experience and explain it a completely different way. An artistic complicated, uh, emotional with emotional words. And another person might explain it very simply and clearly. And just to the point, one Touchstone of modern pop music is simplicity, clarity and focus. If you're writing a song about having a party down by the river, stay at the river, don't go to the zoo. I know that's a dumb example, but I'm just trying to communicate a point that the listener really wants to know what you're talking about and really can't handle that many ideas in one song. The true art of being a pro lyricist is two fold number one saying something in a way that it has never been said before and number two getting to the heart of the listener. You might have noticed nowadays that a lot of top 40 pop music doesn't really have a lot of lyrical content. It's more about the track or the melody or the vibe of the energy, and the lyrics are really just for lack of a better term place holder or designed to just make you feel something. There's nothing wrong with that. Again we're talking. Things were different from genre to genre, whereas a lot of the you know you go back and listen to Bob Dylan. It's all about the lyric or a lot of countries stuff. Even still, Now it is is all about a great lyric. Again, lyrics could be the most subjective fundamental of all of these things. For example, people in some genres don't spend as much time on lyrics as they do in other ones. Um, I think about the band. Coldplay is a good example. We bring them up in song writing sessions all the time because you listen to a Chris Martin lyric and you're like, OK, what is he talking about? What is he meaning? And a lot of the time for like I don't even know. But it just makes you feel something, and it inspires you and, you know, makes you want to go out and do something like tell somebody that you love them or to go support a cause or to go even if it's just buying the song or going and seeing that artist live, It makes you feel like you want to do something, and there's nothing wrong with either way that you're doing it, whether your lyric is clear and everybody knows what you're saying or if it's just a feel here, they're both right there. All they're all good. A few nuts and bolts fundamentals for lyrics, Even though it is very subjective, and it's hard to put words to it, I'll just try to throw out a few of them as Touchstones and basics. To go off of Number one is the use of rhyme scheme. Everybody knows what a rhyme is, and it's really a powerful tool for making a song or a lyric or an idea more catchy. One tip along with rhyme scheme, is if you've got an A B a B rhyme scheme. Stick to that. If Verse one is a B A B, make sure Verse two is also a B A B. I think there's something, something subconscious in listeners that doesn't really know why something feels good, but a lot of the times Ron can have a lot to do with that. Number two is story. Everybody connects with a good story and a story. If you're a country music writer, is very important to grasp, to be able to tell the story and take listeners on a journey from the start of the song to the end of the song, Country songs again have historically amazing job of this number three. A good one to keep in mind is the use of a twist. Listeners don't know it, but they like to be surprised in a song. It's taking a traditional phrase or a word and putting a different spin on it that people don't expect or have never heard before. This is a lot of the art, and writing great lyrics is just learning how to take the listener on an adventure and surprise them at every turn. It can also involve the use of opposites within a line like saying one word and then saying the opposite next to it, or saying one word, it having the opposite meaning A good example of using twists and songs is a song my friend wrote called Where I Want to Live when I die. I thought that was a brilliant title because what it's really talking about is dying and going to heaven. But it was. It was a new spin on that on that phrase, so I thought that was really cool. So the use of twists could be really powerful, and someone writing number four is a liberation. Since lyrics are meant to be sung, their sound is often as important as their meaning. Alliteration is the use of two or more of the same continents that have the same sound. And using this tool can help make a lyric catch here, for example, I'm falling forever to EFS, or we can dig in Deep two D's right in a row. That's that's a good example of militarization. I once interviewed one of my song writing heroes and ask them with all the songs that you write, What keeps you refuel? Where do you get your inspiration? This is a guy that's writing a lot of songs over 100 songs a year. His answer was simple, he said. I read, read a lot, so I thought that was really great. That was really simple. A lot of you guys who are lyric writers or songwriters out there like, Well, I don't really like to read. I've never been a reader. I like to watch TV or movies or audio books or whatever, but I think what he said is pretty serious. If you're going to set out to be a wordsmith and work with words, you've got to immerse yourself in words and immerse yourself and Pulitzer Prize winning novels, poems, songs, lyrics, blog's any anything you can read that is, a good literary works, So you need something to Refueler your creative tank, and reading is a really good way to do that. Every hit song has a great lyric. 6. #6 FCA Chords: every hit song has the right chords. I'll spend the least amount of time on this topic because it could be argued that there is no such thing as in the a chord progression. And that's probably true. I couldn't name all the songs that have a G D minor C chord progression, but the art comes in is what you do on top of those chords. But in the spirit of no songwriter left behind, I'll spend a little bit of time talking about it. The main types accords that you use in pop music are major chords and minor chords. Simply put, major chords are ones that make you feel happy, and minor chords are ones that make you feel sad. There's some songs that only use major chords and some songs that use only combinations of minor chords. I would probably think that most songs used both The core progression is the basic building block of your music bed. Simply put, it's a sequence of chords put together that make up a section. The G D e minor see example I gave is a chord progression. I want to throw out something that might be a new idea to you. That's the fact that it is perfectly OK to use the same court progression the entire song as long as you keep the listener interested with what you're doing with the lyric and the melody and the phrasing, it's perfectly OK to never change Chords wants a lot of songs do it a lot. A lot of big pop songs do it. There really is no right or wrong here. Court choices also very greatly from genre to genre in country, It's pretty common to, you know, just use Major my records in jazz. There's gonna be all kinds of chords that I've never even heard off, and you must be. You probably have never heard of either. And in classical music, it's even more complicated than that. Certain chord progressions evoke different emotions than other ones, and it's ultimately up to you as a songwriter to determine what chords suit the lyrics, what chords suit the story and the vibe that you want to try and portray in the song. It's also OK that if you get into the song and your writing and you start with one chord progression and you've made it a few hours in and you're like, Man, this lyric and this melody have turned into something completely different. Let's change up the core progression. That could be kind of a cool way to experiment and to rewrite something and turn it on its head and put it in an entirely different light again, this part of so subjective and it's ultimately up to you to decide what the cords for the song should be. Every hit song has the right chords. 7. #7 FCA Arrangement: every hit song has a great arrangement. Simply put, an arrangement is the way that all the different sections of a song flow in and out of each other. The different sections of a song are intros versus pre courses, courses, bridges, Paltrow's and tags. Arranging is ultimately about creating moods. A good arrangement should hook the listener from the intro, take them on a journey and hold their attention through the evolution of the lyrics and the melodies, and ultimately surround the vocal and evoke the appropriate emotions. Everyone has their own way of achieving this, and there's not really a right or wrong way. It's all about experimentation here with arrangement. It's about asking the questions like what Sounds would grab your attention and make you want to turn up the radio dial as a music continues, which melodies fill your subconscious and keep you enthralled. The arrangement stage I find kind of happens all the way through the song writing process, and it's really just developed stopping and asking questions about Does this pre course really need to be here? Or should the chorus be longer? Does there need to be 1/3 verse or no third verse it all. Should there be a bridge or an outro? And it's constantly evolving throughout the writing process. There's a lot of times that will write an entire song, finish it and then wind up in the production stage, even doing a little bit with arrangement. But just for the sake of this class we're talking about, stand in the song writing process and arrangement is not done until your song is done. So it's really just about making the sections flow in and out of each other and making this song feel like it's not running on too long. You want people to never lose interest in your song. You want it to be from the second that they turn on the inter all the way to the outro, that they have never lost attention and that it's the masterful way of being able to take all of those ideas. You've got a verse here and you've got a course there. And to combine them all into one can grew in peace. That takes him on a journey from start to finish and and and the other key is this. It leaves you wanting toe hit play over and over again song lengths very from genre to genre. But the key is not necessarily the length. It's just the factor of making the listener want to hit. Repeat. That's That's the more important thing to think about here. Every hit song has a great arrangement. 8. FCA Outro 2: We hope this video gave you some background to get started on the song writing process. I want, you know, it's just the tip of the iceberg. We really didn't have time to dive in really deep on any one particular topic. We could probably spend the whole class just on different kinds of melodies or another class just on Grimes for the Class Assignment way. Want you to go out and write a song about a person or thing that you love the most in life up blood. You might just be a lyricist, so just take a snapshot of the lyrics and hosted on You Don't Have a record and don't worry about being super professional with recording later. Just taken. IPhone recording pewter microphone demo posted on We're really looking forward to hearing