Contemporary Writing & Production Courses
A study of the musical concepts of melody, rhythm, harmony, and form as applied to the principles and techniques of writing and arranging for the rhythm section (drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, basic percussion) and a lead-line for a solo instrument, two horns (trumpet plus alto or tenor saxophone), or voice. Focus on the conceptual process of combining individual components to create a musically satisfying arrangement. Exploration of the use and integration of MIDI technology and sequencing as they relate to rhythm section and lead-line writing. Study of various contemporary musical styles and musical concepts that comprise them, including writing from the bottom up (groove-driven) and top down (working with a melody in a lead instrument or voice). Writing assignments will incorporate combinations of acoustic, electronic, and MIDI instruments.
Study of the properties of the trumpet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, trombone, and baritone saxophone, and the writing/arranging processes of standard and spread voicings, approach techniques, melodic embellishment, and guide tone backgrounds. Focus is on applying the writing processes to soli and background writing for two-, three-, four-, and five-part combinations of these instruments. It is recommended that CW-171 be taken by CWPR majors prior to enrolling in AR-112.
Hip-Hop Writing and Production
An introduction to writing and production techniques in hip-hop styles. Topics include the social and cultural aspects of hip-hop music as it pertains to the music's origins and early pioneers, the analysis of stylistic and musical characteristics, and instruction in the use of sequencing software in hip-hop production.
Expanding on the material introduced in AR-111, this course focuses on creating and writing grooves for the rhythm section (guitar, keyboard, bass, percussion, and drums) and the ways in which different grooves work together. Original techniques and practical approaches to creating grooves will be presented, as well as methods to refine and create variations in grooves and scoring with production goals in mind. Styles studied include funk, hip-hop, rock, reggae, and ska; Latin styles, including bossa, samba, salsa, cha-cha, songo, and baion; shuffle, as used in rock, blues, and funk; generic dance grooves such as techno; and pop and Euro-pop. Projects will include transcription, sequencing, and live performance of grooves.
Sequencing and Production Techniques
The course covers the necessary tools, techniques, and applications of MIDI sequencing and digital audio for writing and production. Main topics include the MIDI standard and its applications, set up and use of digital audio workstations (DAWs), integration of MIDI and audio tracks/sources, use of software synthesizers, basic mixing techniques, audio theory, equipment, and techniques. Through practical examples, activities, and projects the student will learn how to effectively use a DAW to write and produce music. Emphasis is on technological needs of the contemporary writer.
Building on the content of AR-203, this course provides in-depth study of the capabilities of the software program Finale. Course content includes using Metatools, Hyperscribe, Shape Designer, a broader range of editing tools, and practical shortcuts to efficiently create scores and parts of professional quality. Instruction and project work is accomplished in the Professional Writing Division MIDI Lab.
Writing for Small Ensemble
Instruction in advanced small group writing concepts that encompasses sophisticated rhythm section scoring and groove writing, including writing for auxiliary percussion; an introduction to writing for voices and strings; background writing for horns, strings, and voices; manipulation of elements of large-scale form and structure; creation of complex, layered textures; and hybrid writing techniques involving sequencing and live players. In addition, the course will focus heavily on score and part preparation.
Conceptualizing, writing, and producing vocals; contemporary writing and production techniques for vocal groups of different sizes; working with vocals in live situations versus the recording studio environment; writing background vocals above a band versus a cappella vocal writing. Creating vocal band effects will also be explored. Range considerations, timbre, vocal production, and notation for various size vocal groups; writing and production techniques and considerations for recording studio situations.
Composition of music for radio and television commercials. Emphasis on means of creating suitable product image. Working with, and alteration of, given lyrics. Some lyric writing. Determining proper instrumentations. Timing considerations.
Writing in Salsa Styles
A study of rhythmic styles of contemporary salsa music, including characteristics of instrumentation and the unique clave rhythmic pattern. Specific rhythmic styles analyzed will include mambo, son montuno, guajiro, bomba, merengue, and songo, among others. Musical scores of Eddie Palmieri, Juan Luis Guerra, Oscar D'León, Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D'Rivera, and many others will be analyzed. Students will create melodies as well as piano, guitar, bass, and percussion rhythmic patterns; they will write brass instrumental sections using the clave rhythmic pattern.
Scoring for Percussion
Survey of the mallet, membrane, and accessory groups of the percussion instrument family. Demonstration and discussion of notation, range, techniques, and effects. Scores from Broadway shows and studio, orchestral, chamber, and solo pieces.
Writing for Woodwinds
A study of the flute, clarinet, and double reed families based on intensive listening, transcription, live demonstration, and composition. Compositions will include: visual imagery, storytelling, non-Western based concepts and forms, sound exchange, layering sound, and techniques for composition that include improvisation.