MUSA120-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018

Song Writing 1

15 points
16 Jul 2018 - 18 Nov 2018


This course deals with the basics of song-writing including creative approaches to song writing, song notation skills, listening-based analytic techniques of songs from a wide repertoire.

This course takes an analytical and practical approach to the basics of song writing: structure, lyrics, harmony, melody, instrumentation/timbres and textures. It aims to provide students with an overview of song writing styles from the 1950s onwards, and further develop skills of song writing.  The course explores in detail many song-writing styles, approaches to lyric setting and song arrangements, and presents a range of analytic methods and modes.

Course topics covered include:
• Song elements
• Word setting and writing for voice
• New arrangements of existing songs
• Melodic line and harmonic direction
• Effective use of register, timbre and texture
• Combining voice and instruments
• Writing for solo voice
• Aural analysis of songs
• Pace and direction
• Song structures

Learning Outcomes

Students who pass this course will have:

  • acquired listening-based analysis and commentary skills; 

  • acquired knowledge of a range of song-writing styles and genres; 

  • acquired lyric writing skills; 

  • acquired music writing skills; 

  • compiled a portfolio of original songs (notated and non-notated
    and the following transferable skills:
  • the ability to work in a disciplined and persistent way on an individual project
  • peer review skills
  • the ability to be self-reflective about one’s own work
  • ability to produce creative work within a specific timeframe.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.


Application via portfolio submission, and approval by Head of School. The portfolio should contain approximately three songs that demonstrate the applicant's song-writing abilities. The songs may be recordings and/or notated songs, and the notation format may include anything from a lead sheet to a fully notated music score. While the MusB degree does not have a special deadline, there is a deadline for submission of portfolio of the first Friday in November of the previous year.

Timetable 2018

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 16:00 - 18:00 A7 16 Jul - 26 Aug
10 Sep - 21 Oct
Workshop A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 15:30 - 17:00 Arts Centre G15 Recital Room 16 Jul - 26 Aug
10 Sep - 21 Oct

Timetable Note

Student workload (150 hours) will be allocated to:
• 24 hours attending lectures
• 18 hours attending composition workshops
• 6 hours completing workshop diary
• 102 hours drafting, writing, rehearsing, recording / realising portfolio content

Course Coordinators

Glenda Keam and Reuben de Lautour


Justin DeHart

Glenda Keam - Course Coordinator to Week 8
Reuben de Lautor - Course Coordinator from Week 9


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Song No. 1 10% (Folk song arrangement) full written draft - In August
Portfolio 70% (Scores, recordings, documentation) In October
Workshop Diary 20% In October

All assessments are due on the specified dates. Upload a scanned copy of each written piece of work to the relevant electronic assignment drop-box on the LEARN site for this course, and also upload any performance recordings.

The assessments for this course are a portfolio containing three works, and a workshop diary for this course.  A full draft of the first song has an independent deadline as noted below – after feedback, and with revision, that work should be included in the final portfolio.

You must present at least one song from your portfolio in a composition workshop during semester. This is a compulsory requirement for the course.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $834.00

International fee $3,600.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see Humanities and Creative Arts.

All MUSA120 Occurrences

  • MUSA120-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018