Arts & Entertainment, Music

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.

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

Topics include: Unleash Your Inner Poet • Fit Your Lyrics Into a Chord Progression • Start With a Melody, Then Add the Words • Sing Your Truth


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.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Tom Morello

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

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