Designed to give an overview of the subject to the student contemplating a career as a songwriter or a career in music in which songwriting plays a major role. Topics include the importance of the song in the music industry, making a living as a songwriter, the relationship of words to music, song structure, and song demo production. This course should help some students decide whether songwriting is the right major for them and also help MB/M majors and MP&E majors understand how to listen critically to songs as well as help prepare them to be more knowledgeable in music publishing, A&R, and other song-related fields.
A Pro Tools course for the DAW beginner with no extensive experience with MIDI (perhaps some use of Garage Band). Students will learn the basic principles needed to complete a Pro Tools project, from initial set up to final mixdown. The course will cover common situations such as recording live instruments, MIDI sequencing of software synthesizers, and audio looping, with lessons in configuring a session, creating and organizing, files and regions, importing files, setting up virtual instruments, creating fades, basic volume automation, etc. Note: Students are required to have a Pro Tools system installed on their laptops.
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 and style of the user, combining a technical and musical creative skill set. This course will provide the songwriter three distinct springboards:
Non-Linear Composition: Works as 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.
Note: Students taking this class must purchase Ableton Live.
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.
Basic songwriting techniques. Students will develop a strong sense of form, melody, harmony, bass line development, and rhythm. Introduction to lyric considerations. Projects, in lead sheet format, will cover a variety of styles. Note: It is recommended that students take SW-221 in conjunction with this course.
Continuation of SW-211. Proper integration of lyrics and melody. Expansion of tonal materials used in songwriting including modulation and modality. Further study of form including the transitional bridge and the primary bridge. Student projects include setting lyrics in various styles and forms. Note: It is recommended that students take SW-222 in conjunction with this course.
ISKB-111, ISKB-211, or PIPN-XXX; and SW-211 and SW-221
This course will focus on the structural aspects of lyric writing, especially the use of rhythm, rhyme, and form. Emphasis will be placed on compositional decisions and choices available to the lyricist. Weekly writing exercises from the workbook.
This course continues to strengthen students' composition of lyrics using techniques gained in SW-221. Student projects cover various uses of form, approaches to hooks, use of thesaurus and rhyming dictionary, writing to existing melody, collaboration with composers (lyrics first), and work sheets on form/function relationships. The course gives practice and experience in prosody (patterns of rhythm and sound), matching lyrics and music, and developing ideas fully. It removes the students’ fear of a blank page and gives them the ability to assess not only the work of others, but, more importantly, helps them to become more objective when assessing their own work.
This course is designed to enrich the students understanding of composition as it pertains to hip-hop. Students will learn how to write effective hip-hop songs by studying the social and cultural background of hip-hop as well as studying the lyrical and compositional elements involved. Students will be asked to write hip-hop lyrics and music, learn how to conceive of lyrics for other artists and to produce a fully conceived hip-hop song.
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.
ET-111 and MTEC-111; and SW-161, SW-181, SW-191, MP-113, MTEC-213, or MTEC-214
Building on skills acquired in AR-111, this course focuses on writing effective arrangements built around a lead vocal with a contemporary rhythm section including percussion, background vocals, and synthesizer(s). Topics include conceptualizing and establishing a groove, writing effective introductions and fills, and supporting the style and structure of the song with appropriate instruments.
AR-111 and HR-211; and any of the following: MP-113, CW-191, MTEC-213, MTEC-214, SW-161, SW-181, SW-191, SW-261, SW-281, or SW-291
This class provides a stylistically open foundation in guitar playing focused on the needs and working processes of songwriters. The class integrates knowledge of theory approached in terms of the guitar fingerboard with songwriting/composition concepts and skills. Each session introduces technical work on guitar skills development, along with small composition exercises, performed and evaluated in class by the instructor and peer critique.
PW-111; basic guitar proficiency necessary (guitar principals should take SW-373)