Monitored and evaluated professional work experience in an environment related to the songwriting major. Placement is limited to situations available from or approved by the Office of Experiential Learning and the Songwriting Department chair or a designee. To apply for an internship, students must see the internship coordinator in the Office of Experiential Learning prior to registering. Note: Equivalent credit for prior experience is not available due to the requirement of concurrent contract between the employer/supervisor and the college. International students in F-1 status must obtain authorization on their Form I-20 from the Counseling and Advising Center prior to beginning an internship.
This course offers individualized instruction in Musical Theater Writing. Designed to provide students in the Musical Theater Writing minor the opportunity for highly focused, in-depth study of writing music, lyrics, book, or any combination of the three. In collaboration with their instructor, students will determine the specific work and outcome of the course. The primary outcome is the preparation of the Final Portfolio required for the Minor.
A Pro Tools course for students with intermediate DAW skills and interest in producing MIDI-based recordings. The students will be introduced to a more detailed look at Pro Tools using a wider array of shortcuts, and learn to implement recording techniques such as punch-ins, track comping and tuning, and step or loop MIDI recording. Students will also learn to use the Elastic Audio and Beat Detective features to quantize audio, and to integrate track grouping, submixes and networks of multiple sends and returns into their sessions. Students must be ready to demonstrate to the instructor their working knowledge of MIDI editing and some basic mixing experience using either Logic, DP or Reason during the first week of classes. Note: students are required to have a Pro Tools system installed on their laptops.
In the past, Digital Audio Workstations were programs only used by audio engineers with a highly specific knowledge base and typically on machines inaccessible to most people. But over the past 10-15 years DAWs and the act of recording music has evolved from being a luxury of the few, to the inheritance of the masses and a basic necessity to most if not all working musicians, including songwriters.
Ableton Live is a popular DAW used by an extremely broad range of music creators. Live not only facilitates engineers, producers and writers in professional, home and mobile studio settings but is also a powerful platform for musicians on stage, in the DJ booth, or any combination thereof. Live also allows the creator to work via a number of workflows which can be customized to reflect the needs of the user i.e. a left brained musical approach as opposed to a right brained technical approach.
This course will provide the songwriter three distinct springboards:
Non-Linear Composition: Works a sketchpad compositional tool which allows the songwriter to quickly get their ideas down without the constraints of a linear timeline. The writer will be able to freely play with form, arrangement and sound as the writing and collaborative process unfolds. Allows the writer to simultaneously play the role of producer if they so choose.
Production: After the initial writing process the writer will take their ideas/inspirations and lay them into a traditional timeline to arrange, produce, mix, master and create exportable demos or final recordings of their work.
Performance: Live is an ubiquitous platform for live musicians on stage which allows the performer access to an array of digital tools that augment and elevate their specific skill set. This ‘performance’ functionality can also be incorporated into both the Compositional and Production allowing the songwriter the option of literally ‘performing’ both functions.
This course will prepare students to compose, arrange, and produce music using Apple’s Logic Pro X software, a powerful, affordable and ubiquitous MIDI and audio production tool. This will be achieved through learning general concepts of music production and modern recording, as well as the specific workflow of Logic Pro X. The course will also cover the use of tracks, beats, loops and sounds as a generative impetus. Topics to be covered in include: virtual instruments such as Apple loops, drummer, software instruments, audio processing, and editing tools. Students will also gain general knowledge in signal flow, MIDI, recording, mixing, and mastering.
This class explores sampling methods from other forms of music as a means for writing songs. Students will learn the technology of samplers as well as the history behind their inclusion in contemporary music. Each class will further develop the student's understanding of sampling technique through in-class exercises, projects, and group assignments. The course will be structured to cycle through phases of theory, technique, and creative exercises. In each class, key concepts (transcribing, looping, chopping, etc.) will be linked in a visual, tactile way to the sampler (Reason), as well as drawing on ear training and harmony materials from core classes. Although in format this class will resemble a lab, the combination of technical and writing assignments presented will require delivery as a full 2-hour class session. Emphasis will be placed on transcribing prerecorded music to provide a blueprint for the compositions students create. ¬¨‚Ä†
This course will prepare aspiring songwriters with the tools needed to succeed in children's music, a viable and thriving segment of the music industry. Through the study of child development, students will learn tocompose music that connects with and engages children in a meaningful way. Students will have an opportunity to perform their original compositions for children. Business aspects of the children's music market will also be examined, enabling students to maximize opportunities for marketing, distributing, licensing, and performing their musical compositions for children. By the end of the course, students will have a portfolio of field-tested songs for children and the tools needed to pursue viable career opportunities in this genre.
This class will offer a foundation in keyboard and piano playing specifically for songwriters. The course will integrate keyboard technique, specifically theory as applied to seeing and playing it on the piano, with songwriting and composition techniques and processes. The student will work with scales, major and minor triads including inversions, suspensions and colors/tensions, voice led I-IV-V progressions, and excursions into blues and dorian and mixolydian modes, with attention to emotional tone and compositional color. Writing assignments will allow students to learn concepts through creative work. The course will also serve as a survey of basic piano pop rhythmic styles, working with rhythm templates as bases for individual embellishment. Although in format this class will resemble a lab, the combination of technical and writing assignments presented will require delivery as a full 2-hour class session. The goal of this class is to provide a foundation for creative work on the piano for students for whom piano is a second instrument.
A workshop for songwriters interested and involved in writing for a rock band. The workshop will focus on various techniques and characteristics utilized in the composition and arrangement of songs meant to be performed by a singer or singers in a rock setting. The workshop will incorporate playing and singing in class using rock instrumentation. Rock styles from the 1960s to present day will be explored and students will be encouraged to write in a variety of styles from mainstream pop rock and heavy metal to alternative rock and rap. Students will be required to present both original rock song compositions as well as a full arrangement for the songs.
Rooted in the African cultural diaspora, improvisation is an ancient form of musical communication. The process of discovering and collaborating on ideas in the moment is at the core of productive learning, and provides a solid foundation for songwriting. This workshop introduces improvisation tools and techniques to explore effective processes of creating music and lyrics. Students learn via action-based teaching methodology in the classroom, where students’ instruments include voices, hands, feet and desks, as well as piano and guitar. Students improvise and perform original songs in the classroom and create a final performance presentation at the end of the semester. They learn various approaches to finding and cultivating song ideas through the art of playing improvisation games including free word association, singing melodies, clapping and rapping rhythms, jamming with instruments, object writing (stream of consciousness), and rhyming (games are loosely based off of those presented in the famous television show Whose Line Is It Anyway? but in a songwriting context). Students develop words into lyric rhythms, lyric rhythms into melodic motifs, and melodic motifs into longer phrases over harmonic and rhythmic ideas. Students successfully apply improvisational techniques to their songwriting practice in order to become more prolific and have an intrinsically rewarding experience. With emphasis on incorporating musical dialogue, student-run composition, and instructor-initiated improvisation techniques, students find total engagement in creative activity as a means of initiating more possibility for inspiration, innovation, and song collaboration.
This course will offer a foundation in writing topline for pop songs. Toplining is the practice of creating and recording the melody and lyric line for tracks that have already been recorded by track producers, or producers who specialize in creating rhythmic and harmonic structures. The practice has become the industry standard for pop, r&b, and dance songs; virtually all modern pop hits are written in teams by producers and topline writers. The course will focus on techniques for creating topline for tracks including: writing vocal hooks, developing melodic motives through judicious melodic rhythmic and note choice, defining sections through melodic contrast, modern pop forms, and vocal recording techniques like doubling, editing, tuning, processing, and applying effects. Through a series of projects, students learn how to use logic and record their voice as well as deliver a finished topline work, including dealing with the music industry, its players, its gatekeepers, and its many pitfalls.
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.