John, Paul, George, and Ringo: The Solo Years
This course will give a musical view of the solo careers of each member of the Beatles. As a group, their influence in the field of popular music is unparalleled. s separate artists, the unique musical qualities that helped to create the Beatles remains present in their solo work. The cross-pollination between all of them is obvious. This course will examine how each musician transitioned into and developed an individual musical path. It will help provide a deeper look at the Beatles' influence on these four musicians as well as uncover the stylistic similarities and differences between them. As the focus will be on harmonic and melodic content, students will be able to expand their musical vocabulary and understanding. Song form, arranging techniques, and lyric writing will also be addressed, giving a view of harmony and melody in a wider context. Examining each member's personal experiences and social environment will add depth and help students create a stronger connection between musical product and context.
Music Application and Theory
A study of popular music. This study begins with the aural analysis of contemporary songs, including bass motion, chord function, and aspects of the rhythm section. It will lead to understanding the bass line, harmony, and rhythmic structure of these songs and creation of original pieces in major key and Aeolian mode (natural minor). Keyboard exercises, written homework assignments, and laptop computer drills will provide extensive practice in musical and notational elements. You will learn to read and write major and natural minor scales in all keys and learn triads and seventh chords diatonic to those scales. The course provides exposure to chromatic variations on major key harmony: the principles of secondary dominants and modal interchange will be studied in limited situations to add color and variety to diatonic harmony. These activities will decode the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic language of most of contemporary popular music and set the stage for a detailed study of more complex and chromatic music in Harmony 2, 3, and 4.
The Creative Flame
This course looks at proven methods that help individuals chisel out their own system in order to ignite their creative flame and sustain their creativity. It examines some of the commonalities, both good and bad, that occur for artists while they are engaged in their creative process. Through experimentation with various creative approaches and tools, as well as reflective practice, students will learn to apply these methods to musical composition and performance. As the course is process-oriented, the experiences and knowledge gained can be transferred into other classroom settings, as well as other aspects of students' lives.
Writing the Film Musical
The course allows students to study the screenplays and songwriting of a variety of film musicals from the beginning of the genre to the present. In addition to focusing on the writing of the musical film, the manner in which song assists in telling the story will be of particular interest. Working in groups, screenwriting students from Emerson will complete an outline and first act of an original screenplay, and composer/lyricist students from Berklee will write the songs that will help tell that story. The semester will culminate in a staged reading—with music—performed by acting/musical theater students from both Berklee and Emerson.