MUSA120-19S2 (C) Semester Two 2019

Song Writing 1

15 points
15 Jul 2019 - 10 Nov 2019


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.


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 2019

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 16:00 - 18:00 A7 15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct
Workshop A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 15:30 - 17:00 Arts Centre G15 Recital Room 15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct

Timetable Note

Students attend a 2 hour class each week, and a 1.5hr Composition Workshop on Monday afternoons.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Reuben de Lautour


Glenda Keam , Justin DeHart and Hamish Oliver


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Full Portfolio 70%
Song no 1 - Draft submission 10%
Workshop Diary 20%

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.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $850.00

International fee $3,775.00

* 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

  • MUSA120-19S2 (C) Semester Two 2019