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.
The field of songwriting for film and television has grown exponentially over the past few years, providing a promotional launching pad (as well as a potentially lucrative income stream) for artist and songwriter careers. This course will explore the techniques of writing music that will appeal specifically to music supervisors, editors, directors, and producers across any number of different genres. Throughout the course skills in songwriting, production, negotiation, collaboration, and establishing publishing deals will be developed, along with the opportunity to network with a variety of external music industry disciplines.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.