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.
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.
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 allows songwriters to record and produce their demos, to interact with live musicians and a recording engineer under the guidance of the instructor, and to find the best working methods to get their songs recorded professionally. Class members will either sing their original songs themselves (required of singer/songwriters) or provide a suitable vocalist. During the semester, each songwriter will record/have recorded two of his/her songs, and will be present to observe and learn from recordings of other class members. In addition to registering for this course, the student must also attend meetings of ENPP-303 Rhythm Track for Songwriters.
A workshop for singer/songwriters in which students write and perform their own material. Emphasis is placed on the song as the vehicle through which the singer/songwriter expresses his or her persona to the audience. Performances are videotaped, and songs and performances are critiqued.
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.