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MUSI2145 The Producer as Composer: digital sound & songwriting in practice

Module Overview

In 2017, global recorded music revenues totalled $17.3 billion, the majority of which comes from the consumption of what we would classify as songs. This module aims, through lectures and practical work, to investigate & demonstrate how new production, distribution and consumption technologies are changing the way songs are made.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• to investigate how new production, distribution and consumption technologies are changing the way songs are made; • to explore the relationship between traditional songwriting concerns (lyrics, melody, harmony) and the priorities of production-based practice (dynamics, timbre, texture, acoustic space); • to understand the roles and non-linear creative processes in contemporary digitally-mediated song-making cultures; • to develop critical listening and critical thinking skills and apply them to the analysis of recorded music in various stages of production.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • roles and processes in contemporary song production, distribution and consumption;
  • songwriting fundamentals: lyrics, rhythm, melody and harmony;
  • song production fundamentals: Digital Audio Workstation control of dynamics, texture, timbre and space.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • manage a non-linear creative process;
  • use a range of appropriate techniques to realise musical ideas as sound;
  • identify key compositional and production elements of musical styles/genres.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • work independently and demonstrate critical self-awareness;
  • apply critical listening and critical thinking skills to recorded music.

Syllabus

Topics will typically include: • Roles and non-linear creative processes in contemporary digitally-mediated song-making cultures; • Recording, composition, arrangement and audio mixing & processing to control mood, texture and spectral space; • Working with samples (reduced listening as creative starting point; looping techniques; legal implications & making your own loops); • New AI- and machine learning-based tools for music production.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and demonstrations Seminars, tutorials and group sessions Practical tasks (both in-class and in independent study) Reading Blackboard resources and hardware/software manuals Watching curated online video content Critical listening to a range of audio resources (both in-class and in independent study) Group work

TypeHours
Lecture12
Independent Study126
Supervised time in studio/workshop12
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Moorfield, Virgil (2010). The Producer as Composer. 

Herstand, Ari (2017). How to Make it in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician. 

Holistic Songwriting.

DAW production resources.

Pattison, Pat (2010). Writing Better Lyrics. 

Seabrook, John (2016). The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

• Formative assessments or tasks designed to provide informal, on-module feedback; • Production assignments to allow students to demonstrate the practical technical skills covered; • Reflective report writing.

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Composition  (3 minutes) 60%
Group project  (3 minutes) 40%

Repeat

MethodPercentage contribution
Composition  (6 minutes) 100%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Practical assignment and write-up  (3 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

Costs

Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Equipment and Materials

Good quality headphones or in-ear monitoring device (£70-100 approx)

Textbooks

Cost – no more than £50

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.

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