Contemporary Writing & Production Courses
Alternative approaches and concepts to writing that can be used in various aspects of songwriting, arranging, and composing for contemporary broadcast media, such as film and TV scores, that will supplement other writing approaches. Using compositional concepts pioneered by George Tremblay and Jack Smalley, the course explores writing techniques based on the use of the 12-tone row concept and the process of extracting consonant melodic components from the rows that are then applied to writing for contemporary musical styles and forms and commercial clients. Some writing projects will be realized through sequencing and live performance.
Study of orchestration in musical theater and the role of the orchestra in a theater piece. Students will arrange and orchestrate songs with a focus on supporting a vocalist, telling the story, and creating a theatrical sound. The class will explore how orchestration can be used as a dramatic element to establish a period, create a mood, and support the narrative. Written projects focus on typical instruments and ensembles used in various theatrical situations. Listening will include songs from a wide variety of musical theater recordings, with examples of piano scores and individual parts from shows.
The advanced student will learn to utilize digital audio workstations (DAW) to create arrangements of either original or existing musical elements. This course focuses on the creative use of technology in music production. Topics covered include signal flow of MIDI and audio signal within the DAW sound processing plugins, choosing appropriate sounds and combining elements from software synthesizers, alternate approaches to quantizing and refining rhythmic grooves, hybrid production techniques (audio and MIDI), use of the DAW for scoring to picture and basic synthesis techniques. In addition to using their own laptops in the Professional Writing Technology Lab students are expected to have the CWP major bundle.
Viewing music production from the writer's perspective, this course explores how knowledge of compositional elements including melody, harmony, arranging, and orchestration help provide the foundation and focus of contemporary production styles and techniques. Study and analysis of great producer/musicians will include George Martin, Quincy Jones, Phil Spector, Daniel Lanois, Peter Gabriel, Prince, Don Was, Robert John Mutt Lange, and others. Focus will be on how producers utilize their background as accomplished musicians to create the aural landscape of the artists they produce. Course projects will include analysis papers on different producers in a variety of styles, and one recording project.
An orchestration/arranging course that focuses on the techniques and concepts of writing for big band. Content also includes the arranging process and how to adapt and modify the musical elements of a composition into an effective arrangement. The course deals with notation, voicings, and combinations of the various sections comprising the large ensemble: trumpets, trombones, saxophones, selected woodwinds, and rhythm section. Extensive use of recorded examples and extracts from scores.
Emphasis on arranging techniques that apply specifically to recording situations in various contemporary music settings and idioms. Arranger's function, current market trends, and contemporary recording techniques are discussed.
Arranging for strings behind a vocalist or lead instrument. Emphasis is on contemporary string writing approaches in the styles of rock, Latin, funk, ballads, and jazz, and the feels of even and shuffled eighths and sixteenths for string sections (with rhythm section accompaniment) using specific arranging techniques of closed and open voicings, clusters, three- to six-part writing, use of primary melody and countermelody, and guide tone lines. Production approaches from the writer's perspective are also covered. Projects may include arrangements for live performances, recordings, or commercials.
The course focuses on mixing techniques through the use of sound processing as it pertains to the writer who engineers and produces his or her own pieces. Through the use of plug-ins, the understanding and artistic application of ambient effects (e.g. reverbs, delays, flangers, harmonizers, and choruses) and dynamic processing units (e.g. compressors, noise gates, equalizers, and limiters) the course explores how writing can be enhanced at the recording and mixing stage through the effective use of sound processing equipment. The student will have the opportunity to understand how to enhance their recordings with these effects through in-class demonstration, listening analysis, and assigned projects using specified equipment.
This course provides students a one-semester overview of approaches to scoring for video games. Beginning with a short history of interactive music, the content includes typical game music workflow and approaches to scoring video games. Assignments include scoring projects using different interactive music techniques. Students will be able to describe the history, theory, mechanisms, and basic approaches to writing music for video games. They will be able to write simple to moderate interactive scores using the most commonly used methods in the industry. In addition students will discuss and learn about specific industry issues related to working in this field.
An advanced study of the techniques and concepts of writing and arranging for the orchestra in a studio setting. A continuation of CW-311 with the addition of the string section, French horn, percussion, additional woodwinds, and harp. Emphasis is placed on orchestral combinations, stylistic factors, techniques of scoring melody and accompaniment, sophisticated voicings techniques, writing effective introductions and endings, and routining an arrangement. Extensive use of recorded examples and score extracts.
A project-driven course that focuses on production from the writer's perspective. The content includes more advanced creative and production projects, incorporating MIDI sequences using sampled sounds and synth modules with live overdubbing of acoustic instruments, more refined utilization of sound-processing equipment, and conceptualizing with sound-processing ideas in mind. In addition to class meetings, each student will be assigned recording studio time to be used for overdubs, sweetening, and/or mixing. Students will use their own laptop in the Professional Writing technology lab and are expected to have the CWP major bundle.
This course covers advanced sequencing and orchestration techniques in the electronic and hybrid realms of production for acoustic ensembles. Its main purpose is to expose and guide students to writing and production of polished and high-quality original compositions for small to large acoustic ensembles through the use of advanced sequencing techniques and electronic tools. Through a detailed survey and hands-on practice of the major software orchestral libraries, the course integrates all the techniques involved in creating electronic and hybrid polished productions for rhythm section, small ensemble, big band, and studio orchestra. Content includes advanced sequencing techniques such as groove quantization, layering, tempo variations, advanced use of MIDI control changes, and alternate MIDI controllers. The students will learn multilayering of acoustic and electronic instruments; translation into the electronic realm of phrasing, articulations, and performance-related markings; controlled detuning; and horizontal/vertical timbre variation. In addition, through a series of original writing assignments for large ensembles and rhythm section, the course will focus on merging the gap between the composition stage and the final electronic production by covering the mixing stage of the hybrid production process focusing in particular on multireverb placement and variable equalization.