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 deals with the mechanics of song-writing including creative approaches to expressing a musical and lyrical idea, song notation skills, and listening-based analytic techniques using songs from a wide repertoire.
The art of writing a song is creative.  The discipline of song-writing is technical.  The stronger your skills are, the better you can express your creative ideas.  This course will cover the basics of song writing; structure, lyrics, harmony and melody.  This course takes the approach of a very hands-on practical nature to enable you to begin the journey of being an effective song writer.

Topics covered in this course are:

Term 1
*  The elements of music and songs
*  Form, melody and hooks
*  Showing not telling
*  Literary devices
*  Aural analysis
*  Basic harmony

Term 2
*  Rhyme types and family rhyme
*  Motion creates emotion
*  Minor key harmony
*  Folio preparation

Learning Outcomes

Students who pass this course will have acquired:
*  listening-based analysis and commentary skills;
*  knowledge of key works from a range of songwriting styles and genres;
*  lyric writing skills;
*  music notation skills;
*  written analysis skills including preparation of programme notes;
*  will have compiled a portfolio of both notated and non-notated songs 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
*  12 hours attending small group tutorials
*  88 hours attending composition workshops
*  26 hours preparing for in-class assessments

Course Coordinators

Glenda Keam and Reuben de Lautour


The workshop diary and portfolio are due by 4 pm on the specified date.  The tests will be done in the regular lecture time.  You should submit a hard copy to the assignment drop-box in the School of Music foyer with an assignment cover sheet attached.

The portfolio should include notated songs, recordings and/or performances; will include documentation regarding the portfolio content.


Use of Technology

This course assumes that you have sufficient information and technology skills to confidently use a computer to access material for your course.  Your written work should be submitted typed, using standard word-processor software.  The School of Music has iMacs you are able to use which have all standard software required for this course.

You will be required to access our learning management system - Learn - and to become familiar with its tools.  Learn provides easily-accessible information about the course and assessments, topics and deadlines, and supports the learning you will gain from attending all lectures and tutorials.  For help using Learn, refer to:

Additional Course Outline Information

Assessment and grading system

The following shows how to translate grades to numerical scores:

A+  90–100;    A   85–89;    A-  80–84;    B+   75–79;    B 70–74;    B-   65–69;     C+  60–64;     C  55–59;     C- 50–54;     D  40–49;   E  0–39
In a course at 100- or 200-level examiners may grant restricted credit (R) which will be equivalent to a pass for all purposes except as a prerequisite.

A pass is 50 marks and over.

Please see the School of Music handbook for information regarding the following:  late submission of work, aegrotats, plagiarism and dishonest practices, appeals, and reconsiderations.

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