Creating Tracks for Hip-Hop Songs
This class explores sampling methods from other forms of music as a means for writing songs. Students will learn the technology of samplers as well as the history behind their inclusion in contemporary music. Each class will further develop the student's understanding of sampling technique through in-class exercises, projects, and group assignments. The course will be structured to cycle through phases of theory, technique, and creative exercises. In each class, key concepts (transcribing, looping, chopping, etc.) will be linked in a visual, tactile way to the sampler (Reason), as well as drawing on ear training and harmony materials from core classes. Although in format this class will resemble a lab, the combination of technical and writing assignments presented will require delivery as a full 2-hour class session. Emphasis will be placed on transcribing prerecorded music to provide a blueprint for the compositions students create.
Writing Children's Music
This course will prepare aspiring songwriters with the tools needed to succeed in children's music, a viable and thriving segment of the music industry. Through the study of child development, students will learn tocompose music that connects with and engages children in a meaningful way. Students will have an opportunity to perform their original compositions for children. Business aspects of the children's music market will also be examined, enabling students to maximize opportunities for marketing, distributing, licensing, and performing their musical compositions for children. By the end of the course, students will have a portfolio of field-tested songs for children and the tools needed to pursue viable career opportunities in this genre.
Keyboard Techniques for Songwriters
This class will offer a foundation in keyboard and piano playing specifically for songwriters. The course will integrate keyboard technique, specifically theory as applied to seeing and playing it on the piano, with songwriting and composition techniques and processes. The student will work with scales, major and minor triads including inversions, suspensions and colors/tensions, voice led I-IV-V progressions, and excursions into blues and dorian and mixolydian modes, with attention to emotional tone and compositional color. Writing assignments will allow students to learn concepts through creative work. The course will also serve as a survey of basic piano pop rhythmic styles, working with rhythm templates as bases for individual embellishment. Although in format this class will resemble a lab, the combination of technical and writing assignments presented will require delivery as a full 2-hour class session. The goal of this class is to provide a foundation for creative work on the piano for students for whom piano is a second instrument.
Rock Songwriting Workshop
A workshop for songwriters interested and involved in writing for a rock band. The workshop will focus on various techniques and characteristics utilized in the composition and arrangement of songs meant to be performed by a singer or singers in a rock setting. The workshop will incorporate playing and singing in class using rock instrumentation. Rock styles from the 1960s to present day will be explored and students will be encouraged to write in a variety of styles from mainstream pop rock and heavy metal to alternative rock and rap. Students will be required to present both original rock song compositions as well as a full arrangement for the songs.
The Songs of Paul Simon: The Art and Craft of an American Master
A survey of the music and lyrics of Paul Simon. Paul Simon's songs represent a rich and sophisticated tapestry of emotional color, social comment, and dry humor. Each week the class will examine the recurring musical/lyrical gestures and themes found in Paul Simon's songs. The class will explore the cultural, musical, and literary influences that inform Simon's songwriting.
Songwriting for Film and TV
The field of songwriting for film and television has grown exponentially over the past few years, providing a promotional launching pad (as well as a potentially lucrative income stream) for artist and songwriter careers. This course will explore the techniques of writing music that will appeal specifically to music supervisors, editors, directors, and producers across any number of different genres. Throughout the course skills in songwriting, production, negotiation, collaboration, and establishing publishing deals will be developed, along with the opportunity to network with a variety of external music industry disciplines.
Advanced Guitar Techniques for Songwriters
This course explores guitar techniques, particularly addressing the needs and creative processes of songwriters writing on guitar. As a second-level course building on Guitar Techniques for Songwriters (SW-236), this course extends the scope of that foundation class to include more advanced harmonic structures and instrumental techniques, and the skills required by the performing guitarist/singer/songwriter. The class first reviews key material introduced in SW-236 in accelerated form—in close and spread voicings on all stringsets. This includes basic triads in varied sequences and progressions along and across the neck; dyadic voicings with drones and power chords (1-5-1 and 5-1-5 voicings). The class then addresses non-triadic voicings, including suspensions and shell voicings; advanced right-hand finger-picking, flat-picking, and strumming techniques; riff-based writing; and selected open tunings, with exploratory techniques for mapping new tunings. The latter portion of the class moves beyond composition and writing concerns to address: arrangement of repertoire on guitar; vocal/guitar interactions in solo self-accompanied performance; finding a signature guitar sound as a writer/performer; accompanying vocalists as second guitar or in a band setting; fills and leads in a song context; and applying guitar skills in the cowriting session. As with SW-236, each session will introduce technical skills, evaluated in class. This class will follow more of a workshop and master class format, as students present entire songs for critique and review by the instructor and peers. Thus the class will also lend itself to incorporation of sessions with visiting artists and clinicians, working in a lecture-demonstration and master-class format.
Songwriting for Non-Songwriting Majors
This course will allow upper semester students who have never taken a songwriting course at Berklee during their first six semesters to gain knowledge about their craft as well as experience critiques of their songs. It will allow these students the opportunity to learn many of the songwriting techniques taught throughout the Berklee songwriting curriculum and to receive individual attention from an instructor from the Songwriting Department.
Advanced Lyric Writing 2
Advanced Lyric Writing 2 offers students a close look at their own writing process in an intimate seminar setting, focusing on individual strengths and weaknesses, tailoring assignments to each individual student's needs. We'll look especially at the rewriting process, concentrating on how and why choices are made, paying special attention to prosody. The course will demand a high level of skill and commitment. A project will be due each week.