Module WXK-3191:
Songwriting

Module Facts

Run by School of Music and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Dr Jochen Eisentraut

Overall aims and purpose

The Songwriting module sets out to offer students a thorough and comprehensive introduction to important aspects of song composition, in addition to providing historical and analytical insights into aspects of popular song. Students will work together to develop ideas and perform songs as part of the learning process and for assessment. Students are not obliged to sing their own pieces, but must organise performance of their songs by students on the module and are required to participate in the performances.

Course content

Students will be introduced to many basic and advanced aspects of composing in various song genres, with particular reference to the presentation of rhythmic counterpoint, harmonic vocabulary, melodic shaping, formal archetypes and lyrics in their songs. These will be illustrated with reference to a number of song styles, ranging from folk to jazz and rock genres. On successful completion of the module, the student will have created a small portfolio their own songs, and be able to perform them with the help of other students taking the module.

Assessment Criteria

excellent

First class: A- and A (70%-83%) The distinguishing quality is the creation of a compelling, engaging and aesthetically satisfying overall outcome through sustained musical imagination and technical command. The composition exhibits a majority of the following: a coherent, tightly constructed global structure; a cogent, convincing and sustained musical argument, constructed through the exploration and development of the full potential of musical ideas and materials; musical ideas conceived and articulated with evident flair and imagination, and some degree of originality; an entirely appropriate (but not necessarily equal) balance of unity and diversity, such that interest and coherence are sustained throughout; distinctive, creative and idiomatic use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources; confident, fluent and discerning use of appropriate technical means; evidence of acute sensitivity to the effectiveness of, and assured control over, the shaping of phrases and gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures, and the combination, juxtaposition and relationship of ideas and materials; impressive presentation, with excellent attention to detail and full consideration of the practicability of performing materials (whether for live performance or the realization of electroacoustic presentation).

The presentation shows detailed research and is presented to a high standard.

First class: A+ to A** (84%-100%) Compositions in this category would be convincing and credible within a programme of professionally composed works. Marks in this band will only be awarded in exceptional cases in which the composition offers an utterly compelling musical experience achieved through real creative originality combined with an absolutely assured technical realization.

The presentation shows detailed research and is presented to a very high standard.

threshold

Third Class: D- to D+ (40%-49%) The crucial element is the creation of musical ideas. Factors which may limit a mark to this level include: a simplistic or over-complex global structure not supportive of or supported by the material of which it consists; musical argument only intermittently discernible with only limited exploration of materials; musical ideas few and/or of questionable value; an imbalance in unity and diversity at the expense of sustained interest (especially through uncritical repetition of material verbatim); variability in the appropriateness of the use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources; technique restricted to a rather basic level; some basic, though not always successful, attempts to achieve musical shaping and control phrases, gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures; mostly adequate presentation, though with some significant lapse, and materials that may need some revision to be of practical use in performance.

The presentations are poorly researched and presented.

good

Upper Second Class: B- to B+ (60%-69%) The distinguishing quality is the creation, technical realisation and organisation of imaginative musical ideas to create an aesthetically convincing overall outcome. The composition exhibits a majority of the following: a well articulated and effective global structure; a clearly discernible musical argument, constructed through the exploration and development of musical ideas and materials; imaginatively conceived and articulated musical ideas; unity and diversity well balanced, such that the composition achieves a good degree of interest and coherence; appropriate and effective use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources contributing to creative ends; assured use of appropriate technical means; good sensitivity to the shaping of phrases, gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures, showing an appreciation of their overall effect on the musical outcome; presentation of a good standard, with good attention to detail and some evident consideration of the practicability of performing materials.

The presentations are competently researched and presented.

C- to C+

Lower Second Class: C- to C+ (50%-59%) The main quality meriting a mark in this category is the creation and technical realisation of musical ideas to achieve an effective overall outcome. Factors which may limit a mark to this level include: a global structure not always fully supportive of or supported by the material of which it consists; intermittent lapses in the cogency of musical argument; some aspects of musical ideas left unexplored or under-developed; invention present but limited; mixed success in the effective juxtaposition and relationship of ideas and materials; some imbalance in unity and diversity (especially though overuse of material without development); occasional inappropriate use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources; technique solid but not always assured and fluent; intermittent and limited musical shaping and control of phrases, gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures; some presentational lapses, with some limitations as to the practicability of materials in performance.

The presentations are reasonably well researched and presented.

Learning outcomes

  1. Acquire the creative tools and procedures that will allow them to write songs to a quasi-professional standard.

  2. Acquire a differentiated knowledge of songwriting styles in techniques.

  3. Developed the necessary skills to present assessed work to a high standard.

  4. The ability to articulate informed ideas about song styles and their historical development, and be able to apply sound methodological and conceptual approaches to specific examples.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
DEMONSTRATION/PRACTICE Workshop song 10
DEMONSTRATION Performance

Performance of one original song and one cover.

30
INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATION Presentation 1 10
INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATION Presentation 2 10
DEMONSTRATION Perfomance

Perform three original songs.

40

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Lecture

22 classes (lectures and workshops, of up to 2 hours each) during weeks 1-12 of both semesters (Week 7 of Semester 1 and Week 12 of Semester 2 are Reading Weeks: no classes). The first part of each class will usually deal with the content to be covered. In the second part there will be an opportunity for feedback on songs in progress, to listen to and discuss songs the students suggest, and to play songs together.

200

Transferable skills

  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • Musicianship skills – recognition, classification, contextualisation, reconstruction, exploration
  • Re-creative skills – interpretation, innovation, versatility, and other skills relating to performance
  • Creative skills – conception, elaboration, adaptation, presentation, collaboration, preservation
  • Skills of communication and interaction – oral and written communication, public presentation, team-working and collaboration, awareness of professional protocols, sensitivity, ICT skills, etc.
  • Skills of personal management – self-motivation, self-critical awareness, independence, entrepreneurship and employment skills, time management and reliability, organisation, etc.
  • Enhanced powers of imagination and creativity (4.17)

Resources

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: