For your final project, you will write a pop song in verse-chorus form.

  • Projects are due anytime April 25–May 1.
  • Optional revisions are due May 7.


  • Length: Your song should be between 2–5 minutes long.
  • Form: Your verse-chorus song should include an intro, verse, chorus, and bridge. Arrange these sections according to norms of verse-chorus songs. Other sections are optional.
  • Harmony: Use two contrasting schemas of your choosing from the list given on the textbook. Feel free to incorporate alterations to the schemas, provided you explain them in your analysis.
  • Lyrics: Your lyrics may be newly-written or recycled from another source, but you must cite the source and have instructor approval. Lyrics should be mainly in English so text setting can be evaluated. Please make your lyrics appropriate for an in-class performance. Note: you should not be re-using melodic or harmonic material from the same source as your lyrics.
  • Analysis: Fill in the Songwriting Project: Analysis worksheet.

For extra credit, you may include extra instrumental/vocal parts (e.g., bass guitar, drums, etc.) and/or a recording. Some extra credit will be given for this as long as the rest of the requirements of the project are met. The amount of extra credit is at the discretion of the instructor, not exceeding 10% of the project grade.


Create your project in one of two formats:

  1. A lead sheet with a notated melody with lyrics set underneath as well as chord symbols (not Roman numerals).
  2. An audio file created in a DAW or similar, with sung vocals.

Either format is fine.

Collaboration option

You have the option to work in groups of 2–3 people. If you choose to do this, use the following additional guidelines:

  • Texture: Your song must include all five functional layer types (melody, harmonic filler, functional bass, explicit beat, and novelty).
  • Analysis: Fill in the final page of the Songwriting Project: Analysis worksheet to explain your collaboration and your use of textural layers.

All group members will receive the same grade.


Upload your project on Blackboard under Submit Projects.

Your submission should have:

  • A .pdf of your analysis worksheet.
  • An .mp3 or .wav file of your song (mp3 is not required if you only write for voice + keyboard/guitar)
  • A .pdf of your score, if you have one. Scores should have notated melodies/lyrics and chords (as chord symbols or written-out).


In class, we will have performances/listenings of your songs. It is normal and expected for your song to still be a work in progress. No one is required to perform their compositions themselves—a friend can do it, or the class can read the composition. The atmosphere is casual and is meant to be a fun way to wrap up the semester.

Point breakdown

This project is worth 40 points, which are directly applied to your final grade.

A detailed rubric is available on Blackboard. Below is a succinct version.

category component point value
Intro 2
Verse 4
Chorus 4
Bridge 4
Schema 1 4
Schema 2 4
Melody and lyrics
Fit with harmony 2
Text setting 4
Analysis worksheet
Form analysis 4
Harmony analysis 4
Melody analysis 4
Total 40

Suggested process

You may work on this however you choose, of course, but for those students who prefer to have more guidance, here is a step-by-step process.

  1. Begin writing lyrics for the song. You may use any subject matter suitable for class performance; humor and even parody are acceptable. If you’re writing something original, it is sometimes helpful to choose a lyrical hook, such as a pun or specific turn of phrase (“a hard day’s night,” “un-break my heart,” etc.) that you can build the rest of the lyrics around. Consider writing lyrics for the chorus first, then creating lyrics for the first verse (and optional prechorus) that lead up to the chorus.
  2. Set your lyrics to chords and melody. There are multiple approaches to this; you may find that choosing chords will help you determine an effective melody, or vice versa. Remember to incorporate two schemas from the textbook. Note that specific genres sometimes have their own conventions regarding melodic range, harmonic rhythm, etc., so listening to and transcribing other songs in your selected genre can provide help and inspiration. Write down your harmonies as chord symbols.
  3. Play through your chords and make sure the sound matches the symbols wrote.
  4. Fill out remaining lyrics depending on the form you have chosen. Continue writing your verses.
  5. Write a bridge which contrasts the verse and chorus; the bridge may be instrumental or it may include lyrics, or can even have a section of each.
  6. Create your score or audio file. If writing a score, notate your melody with lyrics and write chord symbols in above the melody.

Songwriting Project Museum

Students can opt to share their song in the Project Museum!

Add your song