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Arts & Entertainment

Lyrics and Melody

Tom Morello

Lesson time 12:33 min

Learn how to unleash your inner poet to write honest lyrics that come from your soul—then find the melody to fit them.

Tom Morello
Teaches Electric Guitar
In 26 lessons, Grammy-winning musician Tom Morello will teach you the guitar techniques, rhythms, and riffs that define his signature style.


To find a way to craft the best song, let the inspiration be the words you write. Let the inspiration be the melody you create. Combining the two, that's the craftsmanship. Find a song, at the end of the day, that is one that is pleasing to the ear and honest to the soul. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think one of the most satisfying things that a songwriter, a musician, an artist, or a person can do is write lyrics, or express the world through like your poet's eyes. A good friend of mine, Perry Ferrell, once said that everybody's a poet, they just don't always let it out. And it's a great way to process complicated feelings, to give the world a window into who you are. When I've been collaborating, whether it's with Rage Against the Machine or with Audioslave, I always would sort of chip in with ideas, but the principal lyricists, whether it's Zack, or Chris Cornell, or Bruce Springsteen, in order for someone to sing something with conviction, it has to come from them. So you may be able to suggest things that fit their vision of a song, or fit something that they're feeling, but I've never-- you know, never have your feelings hurt when they don't use your lyrics, because they have to come up with something that's really them inside. And that's what I've tried to do in my own lyric writing, is be authentic to who I am. In some ways, it's easier-- it's easier than you think. Like, you really just put on your poet's eyes. Like, we're here in this-- like, the camera square. An old friend's behind it. The day's almost done. Evening's here. There's too many people in the room, but I'm enjoying myself. Together, we're making something that's never happened before. Now, that's just describing what's happening in this room right now in a sort of an indirect way. And to stop and take the time to talk about, sing about, say about, or just keep a journal of what's inside of you can be something that's just very important as a person, whether or not you ever bring that to the stage. I really became a lyricist later in my career. It was kind of in the beginnings of Audioslave, when I started writing the Nightwatchman songs. And at first, I thought that I would be a sort of political union song lyricist, which was a part of what I did. But I found that it really tapped into a deep reservoir of thoughts, feelings, anxieties, suburban angst that I had, that was really very much a healing process. So whether or not you're a songwriter, or you're a guitar player, whether or not it's in the basement or on a concert stage, it's a great thing to do, to just write about the world as you see it. Put on your poet's eyes. [MUSIC PLAYING] What we're going to do now is I'm going to take some lyrics that I've written and talk about how to craft a melody, to take words and make those ideas into a song. And I found there's two ways to do it. One is I will write a complete set of lyrics, like I have here with this song that I'm calling The Stars of Orion....

About the Instructor

Tom Morello is a two-time Grammy winner and one of Rolling Stone’s "greatest guitarists of all time." In his first online guitar class, the co-founder of Rage Against the Machine will teach you the riffs, rhythms, and solos that launched his career and sent his music to the top of the charts. Tom will share his approach to making music that challenges the status quo and teach you how to create your own musical style.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This was a remarkable class for me. Although I play mandolin, not guitar, and I knew virtually nothing about Tom Morello before this MasterClass, I have to say that this was really enjoyable and challenging for me. He broke through a couple of myths about progressing as a musician and I found his perspective to be very compelling. Thanks Tom.

Awesome job! I liked how Tom related his story to the audience and made it easy to understand his background, musicianship, and growth among the years!

Excellent. Truly appreciated Mr. Morello's info and his style and approach to the class.

I've never had so much fun learning something in my life! Thank you Tom for sharing your knowledge and passion for music with us. Truly inspirational!


Glen B.

What an amazing way to break down the elements and simplify the process. Tom is inspirational as well as such a positive instructor of every aspect of the song writing and guitar playing....I literally stopped his discussion three quarters of the way through and wrote a chord progression for a song in two minutes..... That is true inspiration!

Marc T.

This is the most frightening aspect of music writing for me. I have loads of ideas, but yet too little writing experience to express them in a poetic way. Also, I've got some fked up stuff in my mind that I wanna write about and I know it's going to cause family and close friends of mine to look at me in a different way and it's a scary feeling. However, at some point in the near future, I'm sure I'll be able to lay down my ideas in a truthful manner, I just need to practice lyrics writing a lil more first!

Matthew I.

I found this lesson to be very inspiring... also validating when i write it never happens the same way twice. Now I don't feel so weird about it.

Maverick F.

you can really hear in this lesson how influenced Tom is by Bruce Springsteen

Tris C.

Tom is one of the best Masterclass’s i’ve Taken. I was hesitant because i’m From an earlier generation and when i saw the genre of music he wrote i wasn’t intrigued. Boy was i wrong. Tom is an incredible speaker and songwriter. I have gained more from his series that i have in several years. His ability to communicate on a musician level without clouding the waters with theory and simplimifying the process of music writing is simply brilliant. I played for 25 years and have been looking for new inspiration as i get older to continue writing with that that is in my soul. Wanting to pass on to my family and grandchildren the creator that i am. Hat’s off to Mr. Morello he’s been a blessing in my life. thanks Tom

Michael Andres P.

Combining the two Unleash your Inner Poet > express the world through the poet’s eyes > process complicated feeling > the world a window into who I am > journal was what’s inside you > fit your lyrics into chord progressions > how to craft Melody > complete set > “find a way to bring that into the world” “emotive keys” > start with a melody then progress to words “CRAFT A MELODY” Chris Cornell Take the chords Make sounds, sound pleasing to the ear and find a way to fit words into that Lyrics are starting point, so see if their is a combination of words to fit in the melody Phases, lyrics > melody > molding and merging of the two > ...refined over time > let > the craftsman pleasing to the ear and honest to the soul is the product of craftsmanship o the craft is combining the two > Sing your Truth > Milk Chocolate Barotone > things to express: > love > h8 > love of love > love addiction > open mic nights Coffee Houses Safe space Amassed “This is something I have to explore” “Felt the most understood”

Mark C.

This course has been so powerful and inspirational. I tend to get buried in the technical. Tom and I are complete opposites. The end result is I know a ton of stuff and can cover songs but never create anything original. This is the year I will finally express my own, original thoughts through music. Thank you, Tom, for your humility and excellent advice.

Renuka N.

Respect to Tom to have the courage to let us see something of the work in progress. As a songwriter, I understand how faltering this process can be, - and it's often not pretty. I think it speaks a lot about Tom's integrity and authenticity to show this. He looks uncomfortable as he tries out the lyrics with the melody and, for what it's worth, Tom, I respect that willingness to go there. Thank you.

Jonathan S.

I agree with Starla (below). Tom simply encourages us to express ourselves, whether it be in far-out guitar playing or songwriting. Just do something and don't worry about how good it is. You gotta start somewhere in order to get better.


I never got to meet Chris Cornell, but I sure miss him. To Tom's point, Chris had something to say . . . and he knew how to express it so wonderfully and connect so deeply. He was a towering talent and a huge inspiration. May he rest in peace.