6 x Saturdays at 11AM EST
February 15, March 14,
April 11, May 9,
June 13, June 27.*
This is a live online workshop.
Learn how to combine your unique creativity with proven techniques being used by today’s hitmakers to connect with wide-spread audiences and keep them coming back for more!
This live, online masterclass takes place over a 5-month period on Saturdays at 11AM EST.
Limited seats available.
Hit Songs Deconstructed Masterclass
Writing and Producing with a Hit Song Mentality!
To be accepted you will need to select and submit one song to optimize using techniques learned from each class.
What does Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road (2019) have in common with Black Sabbath’s Black Sabbath (1970)?
What does Cardi B’s I Like It (2018) have in common with The Rolling Stone’s (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (1965)?
What does Taylor Swift’s ME! (2019) and Panic! At The Disco’s High Hopes (2018)
have in common with Bobby Day’s Rockin’ Robin (1958) and The Doors Light My Fire (1967)?
Maximize Your Creativity with Tools and Techniques
from Today’s Hits that Have Stood the Test of Time!
During this masterclass, you will take one of your songs, and, through collaboration with other participants, apply the techniques you learn during each session to optimize your song’s impact. At the end of the five-month period, you will have the opportunity to play your song for the entire group, discuss your process, and get feedback from both David Penn and other participants.
Through an array of current Hot 100 Top 10 and classic hit case studies, we will examine some of the most effective techniques that have been making hits so successful throughout the ages, independent of genre or the artist employing them.
Each class will get you in tune with current trends and focus on techniques for optimizing specific aspects of your song including:
- Creating & Arranging Earworm Melodies
- Building An Engaging Narrative and Using Effective Rhyme Schemes
- Heightening Engagement Through Vocal Production and Strategic Harmony, Tempo, Key & Instrument Choices
- Creating an Engaging & Memorable Ride Through Song Structure, Energy, and Arrangement
- Strategic Song Section Optimization and Hook Maximization Techniques
Classes are between 1.5 hours - 2 hours long and take place on Saturdays at 11AM EST on February 15, March 14, April 11, May 9, June 13, June 27.
By attending this masterclass, you'll come away with new insights, tools, and techniques that you can immediately apply to your own songwriting and producing.
Videos of the class will be made available to participants following each masterclass segment.
Critical listening exercises are at the core of this workshop. Together, we will listen to examples from recent and past hits, deconstruct the techniques being utilized, and analyze why they are so effective.
You'll come away with new insights, tools, and techniques that you can immediately apply to your own songwriting and producing.
At the conclusion of each segment, there will be ample time for your questions.
Videos of all workshop segments will be made available following the workshop.
*Dates subject to change.
“Even though I’ve been writing professionally for over ten years, I’ve found several nuggets of gold in each presentation that have improved my writing already.”
Hit Songwriter, Producer, Artist
One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer, Scouting for Girls
This workshop will help you understand how these techniques have evolved to remain current, fresh and engaging, get you in tune with what is happening TODAY, and help you prime your creativity for success in today’s rapidly evolving music scene.
Day 1: The Core Components
The workshop begins with a deep dive into vocal melody. We’ll start off by looking at an array of recent Hot 100 Top 10 choruses, ranging from the ultra-simplistic to the more complex. We’ll examine what these choruses have in common, what sets them apart, and how they are all optimized for maximum engagement, infectiousness and memorability. We’ll then hone in on one recent chart-topper to see how the vocal melody is optimized in each section of the song.
The lyric section follows, where we’ll focus on the narrative as well as rhymes, the glue between the melody and the lyrics. Using recent case studies across an array of popular lyrical themes, we’ll look at how the storyline is structured & developed across sections, and how it is optimized to connect with the listener.
Vocal production is next. We’ll take one recent chart-topper and go through the entire song while referencing a DAW arrangement outlining the song’s vocal production, and explore the techniques that were used to maximize the song’s vibe, increase memorability and amplify engagement. We’ll also review an array of popular duet/group vocal structure techniques.
We’ll then close out day 1 by exploring how harmony and strategic instrument selection can heighten a song’s impact through a host of recent Top 10 case studies.
DAY 2: Optimizing Your Song for Maximum Impact
Day 2 is all about optimizing your song. We’ll begin with structure and dive into key, tempo and song form, reviewing current trends and exploring how strategic structural decisions can impact your song. We’ll then move into energy and arrangement where we’ll use DAW projects to illustrate effective energy and arrangement flow to heighten engagement and memorability. We’ll conclude the segment with a host recent C.I.A. (chorus impact accentuator) techniques that will help prime your choruses for maximum impact.
Next, we’ll dive into song section optimization techniques, honing in on three strategic points in a hit song – the intro, the “D” (departure) section, and the outro. We’ll look at an array of techniques from recent and classic hits, including “saying hello” to the listener with different types of hook-based and multi-part intros, providing an engaging and memorable departure through recycled and new material and A.P.M. (audience participation moment) techniques, and “saying goodbye” with a focus on effective outro techniques such as the “Ramp Down” and “Wind Up Grand Finale Hook Fest” techniques.
Hooks are next. Using an array of recent and classic hit song examples, we’ll see how some of the most infectious, engaging and memorable hooks are structured and employed. Topics will include vocal hook techniques such as full section, partial section, “icing on the cake” hooks, instrumental hooks including foundational and melodic, and an array of hook maximization techniques.
We’ll conclude the workshop with methods for optimizing your song for today’s marketplace by looking at examples of recent hits and examining their genre/influence blend, instrument choices, vocal characteristics, lyrics, etc. and discussing how they leveraged trends to connect with their audience while transcending trends to stand out.
What are some of the songs we will use as case studies?
- Another One Bites The Dust, Queen
- Bad Guy, Eillish
- Better, Khalid
- Better Now, Post Malone
- Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath
- Boy With Luv, BTS featuring Halsey
- Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored, Ariana Grande
- Breaking The Law, Judas Priest
- Chantilly Lace, Big Bopper
- Despacito, Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi featuring Justin Bieber
- God Is A Woman, Ariana Grande
- Happier, Marshmello, Bastille
- Havana, Camilia Cabello featuring Young Thug
- High Hopes, Panic! At The Disco
- I Don’t Care, Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber
- I Like It, Cardi B, Bad Bunny, J Balvin
- If I Can’t Have You, Shawn Mendes
- Le Freak, Chic
- Light My Fire, The Doors
- Louie Louie, The Kingsmen
- Love Lies, Khalid, Normani
- ME!, Taylor Swift featuring Brendon Urie
- Meant To Be, Bebe Rexha, Florida Georgia Line
- Moves Like Jagger, Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera
- My Sharona, The Knack
- Nice For What, Drake
- Old Town Road, Lil Nas X
- Physical, Olivia Newton-John
- Psycho, Post Malone featuring Ty Dolla $ign
- Rappers Delight, Suger Hill Gang
- Rihannon, Fleetwood Mac
- Rock Around The Clock, Bill Haley & His Comets
- Rockin’ Robin, Bobby Day
- Roxanne, The Police
- (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones
- Scars To Your Beautiful, Alessia Cara
- Shallow, Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper
- Sorry Not Sorry, Demi Lovato
- Stay, Alessia Cara, Zedd
- Stayin’ Alive, The Bee Gees
- Sucker, Jonas Brothers
- Thank U, Next, Ariana Grande
- That’s What I Like, Bruno Mars
- The Midde, Maren Morris, Zedd, Grey
- Walk It Talk It, Migos featurng Drake
- Whole Lotta Love, Led Zeppelin
- Without Me, Halsey
- Youngblood, 5 Seconds Of Summer
- ZEZE, Kodak Black
What People Are Saying
“Awesome workshop. I have never seen hit songs broken down in such an accurate and detailed way.”
“Tons of fantastic tips and information on how to create hit songs. I learned so much!"
“You combined elements I've tried to put together through hours of studies, videos, and books into something straightforward and easy to understand."
“There is so much you don’t know that you don’t know. This workshop helps fill that gap, and that knowledge is invaluable.”
"I’ve come away with a really solid understanding of what make hits work."
“Great event. Would recommend for new and experienced writers.”
“I would recommend this to producers and songwriters who want to open their mind and improve their way of thinking."
DAY 1 at a Glance: The Core Components
- Creating & Arranging Earworm Melodies
- Building an Engaging Narrative
- Heightening Engagement Through Vocal Production
- Maximizing the Foundation & Vibe Through Strategic Harmony, Tempo, Key & Instrument Choices
DAY 2 at a Glance: Optimizing Your Song for Maximum Impact
- Creating an Engaging & Memorable Ride Through Energy and Arrangement Shifts
- Chorus Impact Maximization (C.I.A.’s)
- Strategic Song Structure
- Hook Maximization Techniques
- Techniques for Hooking the Listener In and Leaving Them Wanting More
- Heightening Engagement Through “D” (Departure) Sections
- Optimizing Your Song for the Marketplace Through Trend Adherence & Trend Transcendence
For a more in-depth description of the workshop, scroll down.