Guitar Techniques for Songwriting
This class provides a stylistically open foundation in guitar playing focused on the needs and working processes of songwriters. The class integrates knowledge of theory approached in terms of the guitar fingerboard with songwriting/composition concepts and skills. Each session introduces technical work on guitar skills development, along with small composition exercises, performed and evaluated in class by the instructor and peer critique.
Survey of Popular Song Styles
The purpose of this course is to provide the student with an overview of the contributions that songwriters have made to 20th-century American culture. Included will be a history of the sources of, and the trends in, various popular American styles, including the blues, standards, show country music, and the more contemporary and progressive styles of rock, pop, and new wave. This course will use the basic technical and analytical tools taught in SW-221 and SW-211 to study and analyze significant popular songs and song styles.
Basic Recording and Production Techniques
This is a hands-on recording course using the Mac laptop computer, an audio interface in tandem with a rack of gear consisting of microphones, a compressor, and a small mixer. The recordings are made in an ensemble room, thereby giving the students a similar experience to one they normally encounter if they are not recording in a professional recording studio, but with the important addition of an audio engineer as their teacher who will teach them how best to use the equipment and will guide them to make the best possible recording within the limited facilities. Evening and weekend labs are required.
A writing workshop geared to the producer, arranger, or songwriter that focuses on writing original songs for artists, assignments for television or film, etc. The workshop involves collaboration and addresses the creative process from many angles in order to allow the student to develop varied skills and approaches.
Advanced Lyric Writing 1
A course in workshop format designed to help the student develop individual style and technique in lyric writing. The course will focus on prosody of form and content, setting lyric to music and vice versa, and on the integration of techniques learned in SW-221 and SW-222.
The Music of John Lennon
A study of the work of John Lennon, including musical analysis, lyric analysis, survey of his poetry and art, transitional periods, and the influence of his interest in surrealist and nonmusical events. Influences of Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono. Class presentations include audio and video clips.
The Business of Songwriting
A practical business course for the songwriter. Topics covered will include making and marketing demos, copyright law, publishing contracts, sources of royalty income, performance societies, and collection agencies.
This project-oriented, workshop-style class presents varied models for songwriting collaboration, including differentiated roles for lyricist and composer (typical of earlier musical theater writing), the cowriting model prevalent in current Nashville-centered country songwriting, and emerging collaborative roles in production-driven contemporary genres such as pop, R&B, and hip-hop. Industry needs and realities are reflected in class projects. Students play varied roles in both in-class fishbowl and serious project collaborations, including writing to theme/on deadline and for specific industry artists and/or selected student vocalists. In-class cowriting sessions, partner projects, and technology-supported virtual collaboration are explored. The class also covers pragmatic issues essential in professional cowriting, including cowriter selection, decision-making and consensus, and contractual and business issues of coauthorship and copublishing.
Musical Theater Writing I
An opportunity for student composers, lyricists, and playwrights to collaborate in adapting dramatic scenes into songs for the musical stage. Students write and perform their original work in a class setting and critique the work of their peers with supervision from the instructor. Students also discuss and analyze major works from the musical theater and opera repertoire. The class emphasizes storytelling and dramatic writing through song, promotes innovation, and is open to writers of diverse musical styles.
Songwriting and Social Change
A hands-on songwriting class that will allow students to put their social change ideas into rhyme, while also surveying songs in different eras and cultures throughtout the 20th century that promoted social change and/or illustrated social phenomenon particular to that era and culture. Benefit concert events like Live Aid and the Concert for Bangladesh that brought about awareness of prominent issues will also be explored. Notorious songs which had impact on social change will be analyzed (e.g. Imagine, Get Up, Stand Up, Strange Fruit) and prominent activist songwriters will be profiled (such as Bob Dylan, Bono, Bob Marley, Michael Franti, and Bob Geldof). Throughout the semester, students will have an opportunity to experiment with different writing topics and settings. There will be weekly writing assignments, as well as documentary screenings. Guest speakers and visiting artists will be invited to participate when available.
Song Demo Production Techniques
The songwriting major will learn the necessary techniques to utilize current MIDI and audio technology in the production of professional-quality song demos, including intermediate to advanced skills and concepts of MIDI, synthesis, multitrack recording, mixing, and sound processing. Building on technology skills, this course will focus on musical approaches to the effective assembly and arranging of sound materials using a music-writing workstation. In addition to class meetings, students will be expected to schedule weekly supervised individual hands-on time for practice and assignments in the Professional Writing MIDI Lab.
Advanced Song Production Seminar
This course provides detailed study of professional song production in a range of popular styles, allowing students to understand what makes a successful track work. Using successful tracks as standards for artistic and musical reference, students, by means of a hands-on approach, will develop and integrate a variety of synthesis techniques and DSP applications to creatively enhance their original song productions.