Essentials of Songwriting
Designed to give an overview of the subject to the student contemplating a career as a songwriter or a career in music in which songwriting plays a major role. Topics include the importance of the song in the music industry, making a living as a songwriter, the relationship of words to music, song structure, and song demo production. This course should help some students decide whether songwriting is the right major for them and also help MB/M majors and MP&E majors understand how to listen critically to songs as well as help prepare them to be more knowledgeable in music publishing, A&R, and other song-related fields.
Introduction to Desktop/Digital Audio 1
A Pro Tools course for the DAW beginner with no extensive experience with MIDI (perhaps some use of Garage Band). Students will learn the basic principles needed to complete a Pro Tools project, from initial set up to final mixdown. The course will cover common situations such as recording live instruments, MIDI sequencing of software synthesizers, and audio looping, with lessons in configuring a session, creating and organizing, files and regions, importing files, setting up virtual instruments, creating fades, basic volume automation, etc. Note: Students are required to have a Pro Tools system installed on their laptops.
Basic songwriting techniques. Students will develop a strong sense of form, melody, harmony, bass line development, and rhythm. Introduction to lyric considerations. Projects, in lead sheet format, will cover a variety of styles. Note: It is recommended that students take SW-221 in conjunction with this course.
Continuation of SW-211. Proper integration of lyrics and melody. Expansion of tonal materials used in songwriting including modulation and modality. Further study of form including the transitional bridge and the primary bridge. Student projects include setting lyrics in various styles and forms. Note: It is recommended that students take SW-222 in conjunction with this course.
Lyric Writing 1
This course will focus on the structural aspects of lyric writing, especially the use of rhythm, rhyme, and form. Emphasis will be placed on compositional decisions and choices available to the lyricist. Weekly writing exercises from the workbook.
Lyric Writing 2
Composition of lyrics using techniques gained in SW-221. Student projects will cover various uses of form, approaches to hooks, use of thesaurus and rhyming dictionary, writing to existing melody, collaboration with composers (lyrics first), and work sheets on form/function relationships.
This course is designed to enrich the students understanding of composition as it pertains to hip-hop. Students will learn how to write effective hip-hop songs by studying the social and cultural background of hip-hop as well as studying the lyrical and compositional elements involved. Students will be asked to write hip-hop lyrics and music, learn how to conceive of lyrics for other artists and to produce a fully conceived hip-hop song.
Arranging for Songwriters
Building on skills acquired in AR-111, this course focuses on writing effective arrangements built around a lead vocal with a contemporary rhythm section including percussion, background vocals, and synthesizer(s). Topics include conceptualizing and establishing a groove, writing effective introductions and fills, and supporting the style and structure of the song with appropriate instruments.
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.