Building on skills developed in SW-191, 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 writing workshop geared to the producer, arranger, or songwriter that focuses on writing original songs for artists, television or film, or other content requiring original songs. The workshop involves collaboration and addresses the creative process from many angles in order to allow the student to develop varied skills and approaches. Lead sheets and multi-track demos are required.
A course in workshop format designed to help the student develop individual style and technique in lyric writing. The course will focus on prosody of form and content, setting lyric to music and vice versa, and on the integration of techniques learned in SW-221 and SW-222.
A study of the work of John Lennon, including musical analysis, lyric analysis, survey of his poetry and art, transitional periods, and the influence of his interest in surrealist and nonmusical events. Influences of Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono. Class presentations include audio and video clips.
In this writing and analysis course, students identify the songwriting techniques used by their favorite writers through detailed analysis of lyric, melody, form, harmony, groove, and production. The second stage of each song project includes adapting those techniques and writing their own expert-level songs. The course involves extensive in-class analyses by teacher and students and original writing.
A practical business course for the songwriter. Topics covered will include making and marketing demos, copyright law, publishing contracts, sources of royalty income, performance societies, and collection agencies.
This project-oriented, workshop-style class presents varied models for songwriting collaboration, including differentiated roles for lyricist and composer (typical of earlier musical theater writing), the cowriting model prevalent in current Nashville-centered country songwriting, and emerging collaborative roles in production-driven contemporary genres such as pop, R&B, and hip-hop. Industry needs and realities are reflected in class projects. Students play varied roles in both in-class fishbowl and serious project collaborations, including writing to theme/on deadline and for specific industry artists and/or selected student vocalists. In-class cowriting sessions, partner projects, and technology-supported virtual collaboration are explored. The class also covers pragmatic issues essential in professional cowriting, including cowriter selection, decision-making and consensus, and contractual and business issues of coauthorship and copublishing.
An opportunity for student composers, lyricists, and playwrights to collaborate in adapting dramatic scenes into songs for the musical stage. Students write and perform their original work in a class setting and critique the work of their peers with supervision from the instructor. Students also discuss and analyze major works from the musical theater and opera repertoire. The class emphasizes storytelling and dramatic writing through song, promotes innovation, and is open to writers of diverse musical styles.
A hands-on songwriting class that will allow students to put their social change ideas into rhyme, while also surveying songs in different eras and cultures throughtout the 20th century that promoted social change and/or illustrated social phenomenon particular to that era and culture. Benefit concert events like Live Aid and the Concert for Bangladesh that brought about awareness of prominent issues will also be explored. Notable songs which had impact on social change will be analyzed (e.g. Imagine, Get Up, Stand Up, Strange Fruit) and prominent activist songwriters will be profiled (such as Bob Dylan, Bono, Bob Marley, Michael Franti, and Bob Geldof). Throughout the semester, students will have an opportunity to experiment with different writing topics and settings. There will be weekly writing assignments, as well as documentary screenings. Guest speakers and visiting artists will be invited to participate when available.
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.
Becoming a recording artist and creating a unique sound is a defining skill for the songwriter. Songs need to move people emotionally. In this course, students' productions, favorite recordings, and artistic identity meet. Students produce and receive feedback at every step in the process, from song choice to mix and mastering. This course explores both the obvious and more nuanced attributes in successful song production in a range of popular styles, allowing students to understand what makes a successful track work. Students will pitch their ideas to the class based on existing favorite records and begin production. Using feedback from the class and popular tracks as standards for artistic and musical reference, students will creatively enhance and better understand their own song productions.
This course can be used to fulfill the SW-261 requirement in songwriting degree credits. Students with home recording experience comparable to the prerequisite courses are encouraged to apply. Contact the chair for more information.