This course will offer a foundation in writing topline for pop songs. Toplining is the practice of creating and recording the melody and lyric line for tracks that have already been recorded by track producers, or producers who specialize in creating rhythmic and harmonic structures. The practice has become the industry standard for pop, r&b, and dance songs; virtually all modern pop hits are written in teams by producers and topline writers. The course will focus on techniques for creating topline for tracks including: writing vocal hooks, developing melodic motives through judicious melodic rhythmic and note choice, defining sections through melodic contrast, modern pop forms, and vocal recording techniques like doubling, editing, tuning, processing, and applying effects. Through a series of projects, students learn how to use logic and record their voice as well as deliver a finished topline work, including dealing with the music industry, its players, its gatekeepers, and its many pitfalls.
Building on student's Ableton Live skills developed in SW-P181, this course provides the songwriter with the tools to compete in the current marketplace, equips them with the tools and strategies to be in control of their content, enhances their songwriting skills/workflow, provides them with creative digital tools to use in their writing, and increases their employability. Students record their original songs, learning advanced recording skills, including mic placement, recording vocals, EQ and compression, preproduction, overdubs, and mixing. Students sonically recolor existing songs using their writing and production skills, as well as constructing a musical piece from found sounds or samples. Students also create a collaborative performance piece.
This course is a workshop experience for performing songwriters who are interested in engaging with digital technologies live on stage. Students are provided with the tools to use, create, manipulate, and perform live using their laptops and interface in solo or collaborative settings using Ableton Live. This gives performers the power to curate and create their own live show which accurately reflects their sound and frees them of the dependency of other musicians to accompany them on stage, while allowing the flexibility to integrate other members freely. Each student will put on five performances over the course of the semester, each in a different format, including: solo/hybrid; built live; duo collaboration; with a band, routing click, and audio; and a final performance.
Building on skills developed in SW-P191, Logic Skills for Songwriters, this course teaches students advanced Logic skills. Topics include: creating demos using a hybrid combination of recorded audio and synthesized/sampled textures; critical listening and how to recreate specific sounds and textures; virtual instruments, both synthesized and sample-based; mic utilization, selection, and placement; recording, comping, and editing multiple audio takes; advanced mixing skills; and workflow management.
Special Topics in Songwriting sections are advanced-level songwriting project classes, focusing on special topics at a depth beyond that possible in general songwriting classes. Topics may include: songwriting in specific musical genres and styles; new creative work inspired by analysis of work of seminal songwriters, artists, or groups; or professional areas of focus that demand specialized songwriting knowledge and technical skills. Each course section, taught by a specific faculty member in a given semester, will vary in scope and depth of coverage of the given topic area, and in the sequence and emphasis of semester projects. Students should consult the course description for the specific section and semester, available at berklee.edu/songwriting.
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.
This is a hands-on recording course that guides students in making the best possible band production of one of their own songs under less than ideal conditions. Topics covered will include technical aspects (such as finding and adapting a suitable location for the recording, sound isolation,and monitoring and microphone types and placement) but also communicating musical ideas and emotional concepts to other musicians. In addition to learning simple but effective mixing and sound processing techniques available to them in their laptop computers, there will be special emphases on vocals, their comping, doubling, stacking and thickening, their harmonies, and backing. Evening and/or weekend practice and project times will be required.
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‚Äö√Ñ√Æin 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.
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.
In this course, artists, writers, and producers team up each week in constantly changing groups of two to four students. Groups write and produce either a single for their artist or a pitch for a "Who's Looking" list of currently charting Hot 100 acts. Teams will write using several real-world methods: track-first (toplining), song-first, and song and track simultaneously. Tracks may be provided from in-class producers, or through cooperation with the Music Production and Engineering and/or Electronic Production and Design departments. Students analyze current Hot 100 singles to understand attributes of melody, harmony, lyrics, and production common to hit songs. Students discuss the relationship of technology and production to hit making, as well as the business of pitching songs. This course includes presentations with industry publishers, A&Rs, producers, and songwriters. Instructor approval is required for this class; application information is available through email@example.com
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.
Small group seminar designed to guide students majoring in songwriting in the preparation of their final projects.