Songwriting

As a student majoring in songwriting at Berklee, you will develop skills in melody, harmony, and arranging as well as creative approaches to musical composition, lyric writing, and an individual writing style. You will choose a curriculum that focuses on both songwriting and performance, culminating in a portfolio of your original songs. If you are interested in writing songs for other artists, you will have the option of taking more arranging courses and you will learn studio and MIDI demo production techniques.

To demonstrate mastery of songwriting skills and concepts, you will complete a portfolio of several songs that typify various current practices of contemporary songwriters. The portfolio will include lead sheets, lyric sheets, and demonstration recordings of each of the songs, equivalent in production quality to those typically presented to music publishers, record producers, and record companies by professional songwriters.

Through the study of acknowledged masterpieces of the songwriter's art, you will develop the critical skills necessary to recognize and discuss quality elements in musical and lyrical structure. Interpersonal and situational skills will develop through the many collaborative situations that exist in the professional environment, such as cowriting songs both as composer and as lyricist, working with vocalists and instrumentalists in the production of demo recordings, and working with engineers, artists, and producers in the studio environment.

As a graduate of the Songwriting program, you will have sufficient skills and knowledge to work in the music industry as a songwriter, lyricist, singer/songwriter, arranger, and/or demo/MIDI production worker. You will also have a sufficient background in stylistic breadth, analysis, and understanding of permanent musical values to work in a variety of situations and environments with changing stylistic, artistic, and production demands.

Entrance Requirements

None except admission acceptance to Berklee College of Music Students must take Harmony II in order to take SW-211 Songwriting 1.

Learning Outcomes

In order to complete a major in songwriting, you will:

  • Analyze the harmonic and melodic structures of songs in a variety of contemporary and traditional styles
  • Contextualize songs in their historical, musical, and social context
  • Synthesize and apply knowledge of contemporary and traditional musical styles to the composition of songs
  • Synthesize and apply knowledge of contemporary and traditional song lyrics to the composition of original lyrics
  • Arrange songs in a variety of musical styles for ensembles of varying size and instrumentation
  • Create professional quality recordings of songs using Pro Tools
  • Create a professional portfolio of original songs
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Requirements

30 credits for major ISKB-211: Basic Keyboard 1 ISKB-212: Basic Keyboard 2 SW-211: Songwriting 1 SW-212: Songwriting 2 SW-221: Lyric Writing 1 SW-222: Lyric Writing 2 PW-151: Introduction to Desktop/Digital Audio 1 PW-261: Basic Recording & Production Techniques SW-231: Arranging for Songwriters SW-241: Survey of Popular Song Styles SW-311: Advanced Songwriting or SW-321: Advanced Lyric Writing SW-335: The Business of Songwriting SW-361: Song Demo Production Technique or SW-362: Advanced Song Production Seminar SW-498: Directed Study in Songwriting 4 credits of Approved Specified Electives

Assessment Evidence

Students demonstrate their learning through the following types of projects:

1. In-class performances. They receive informal critiques on the form and content (musical and lyrical) of their songs from both peers and faculty. Additionally, faculty provide regular written feedback on songwriting projects.

2. Written exams. In the introductory songwriting and lyric courses (SW-211, -212, -221, -222), students complete a written final exam at the end of each semester. The exam evaluates the student's mastery of key course concepts (e.g. song forms).

3. Recordings. Production classes (e.g. PW-151) require students to demonstrate their knowledge of ProTools and other software by creating and editing recordings.

4. Research projects. The Business of Songwriting (SW-335) requires students to complete several projects exploring songwriting careers. There is also a written final exam for this course.

5. Senior portfolio. In their final semester, students complete a portfolio of five songs that exeplify contemporary songwriting trends. The portfolio includes lead sheets, lyric sheets, and demonstration recordings of each songs, equivalent in production quality to those typically presented to music publishers, record producers, and record companies by professional songwriters.

6. Songwriting contests. Throughout their course of study, students have opportunities to enter songwriting contests sponsored by the department.