Minor in Musical Theater Writing

Writing for musical theater at Berklee

The musical theater writing minor allows students to explore various aspects of creating musical theater. Students can specialize in any or all of the following: music, lyrics, book, and orchestration.

Students gain experience in collaborative songwriting for dramatic situations, and learn to integrate spoken and sung dialogue into musical numbers. Students refine and communicate a thematic statement to the world by conceiving an original piece of theater.

Students' final portfolios will include a pitch for this musical show or film, including story and highlights in the form of scenes and songs, with notation and demo recordings. Collaboration and cowriting will be facilitated and encouraged.

Entrance Requirements

None.

What the Program Gives You

Upon completion of this program, students will:

  • Demonstrate proficiency in collaborative songwriting for dramatic situations, with a specialization in music, lyrics, or both;
  • Incorporate character, time, place, mood, subtext, and genre into songwriting;
  • Utilize song form as a roadmap for storytelling;
  • Integrate spoken and sung dialogue (recitative) into musical numbers;
  • Communicate a thematic statement through an original piece of theater;
  • Understand the collaborative workflow among composer, lyricist, bookwriter, orchestrator, director, music director, and performers;
  • Gain competence in piano/vocal score notation; and
  • Develop additional skills in optional subspecialities, including composing, orchestration, and lyrics or bookwriting.
Department: 
Required Courses

The minor consists of 10-12 credits of coursework and a final portfolio.

Choose​ one of the following:

  • SW-211: Songwriting 1 (2 credits)
  • SW-221: Lyric Writing 1 (2 credits)

Required course:

  • SW-345: Musical Theater Writing (2 credits)

Choose two of the following:

  • SW-445: Musical Theater Writing 2 (2 credits)
  • PW-461: Writing the Film Musical (2 credits)
  • CW-257: Musical Theater Arranging and Orchestration (2 credits)

Choose one or two classes of the following:

  • SW-445: Musical Theater Writing 2 (2 credits)
  • SW-499: Directed Study in Musical Theater Writing (2 credits)
  • PW-461: Writing the Film Musical (2 credits)
  • COND-331: Advanced Conducting Skills for the Theater (2 credits)
  • COND-332: Theater Musical Direction (2 credits)
  • PSVC-343: Coaching Theater Vocalists (2 credits)
  • LENG-336: Scriptwriting for Theater, TV, and Film (3 credits)
  • LENG-P401: Scene Study Workshop (3 credits)

Final Portfolio

Final portfolio will include a pitch for a musical show or film, including story and highlights in the form of scenes and songs. Portfolio material may be developed in several of the course offerings in the minor, including but not limited to SW-499. Portfolio work that represents collaborative writing will be encouraged but not required.