BA (Hons) Creative Songwriting

  • UCAS Code: Not Applicable
  • Course duration: 2 years (full-time) / 4 years (part-time)
  • Direct line: 0203 3888 900
  • Admissions: applications@dime-online.org

Introduction

The BA (Hons) Creative Songwriting course enables students to develop a diverse and industry-relevant set of songwriting skills. You will generate songs that are suitable for a wide range of formats and create an appropriate songwriting portfolio. Under the guidance and supervision of internationally recognised leaders in the field, the course aims to produce graduates who are conversant with the mechanisms of the modern music industry and can demonstrate a creative and industry-relevant approach to their craft.

Your practical studies will be underpinned by research and writing skills and you will reflect critically on your practice. Participation in projects will help you to contextualise your work within a wider arena, enabling you to identify, forge and nurture many new career opportunities.

The intensive nature of the course enables learners to become skilled practitioners and provides the freedom for them to develop their own unique and innovative methods of working. The online delivery mode provides you with flexible access to lectures and multi-media course content through an interactive online delivery platform. This allows you to study at a time and place that suits you, whilst providing opportunities to network with peers working nationally and internationally on the same programme of study.

DIME ONLINE courses are offered in full-time accelerated mode, which enables you to complete your degree in two years. We also offer a part-time version for students who have work, family, and/or other commitments, which enables you to study at a less intensive pace over four years.

Benefits

  • World class artists and educators, active in the music industry and educational practice.
  • Direct engagement with the industry through project-based work.
  • A flexible learning model to suit your schedule.
  • Collaboration within a global community, your regular interaction with peers and tutor group is not limited to geographical boundaries.

How is the course taught?

The delivery of the course will take place through a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) called Canvas. A range of learning and teaching activities take place via this online delivery platform including:

  • Substantial Weekly Lessons embedded into the delivery platform, featuring filmed tuition from the very best artists from around the world, underpinned by text, graphics or additional files as relevant.
  • Signpost Sessions delivered by the Head of Department comprising film and text guidance on progression through the course, context, assessment, timing of feedback and providing inspiration and focus to the academic backbone of the course.
  • Regular one-to-one tutorial guidance from the Head of Education and Head of Department on matters relating to the course, musical performance and student care.
  • Exclusive Masterclasses from world famous artists comprising of bespoke filmed interviews and performances, angled towards supporting the learning aims of the courses.
  • Online Conferencing to conduct real-time events and discussions within the course.

Click on the module titles below to explore the course content:

Stage 1: Level 4

Creating Subject Matter and Lyrics
Great songs are usually built on the lyrics and the subject matter. In this module we investigate the conventions of lyric writing and the use of structure. You will create much of the raw material for your writing and be encouraged to do so fearlessly. Additionally, you will be challenged to write at pace, perhaps producing many more lyrics and titles than you are used to. We will also discuss quality control and editing so that you can refine your lyric material in preparation for writing complete songs.
Songwriting Methodology
Songs are not always written from a lyric or title first. The point of this module is to share with you the almost limitless variety in the writing process. Many young writers can get stuck in a rut, finding they produce one-dimensional material and running out of inspiration. We can use a tempo, a key, a visual cue (e.g. a painting) or an overheard conversation; any one of these could be starting points to stimulate the creative process. Sometimes the process can be free and artistically driven; other times, it can be more formal and the process or craft might take over. You will learn how the great hit writers of today work, from classic pop to modern experimental work, from full arrangements to minimal top line melody and lyric compositions. This module will transform your understanding of the writing process.
The UK and European Music Industry
The UK and European Music Industry provides you with a comprehensive overview of the UK music industry and its relationship with other major European markets. It explores how record companies, publishers, managers, agents, writers, artists and merchandising interact in the digital age. The module will cover areas such as sponsorship and product placement, discovering how artists and managers organise these income streams into a coherent business strategy. Lecture content will incorporate the use of case study research on important artists, showing how they organise their commercial affairs in the UK and Europe.
Developing Subject Matter and Lyrics
Developing Subject Matter and Lyrics builds on the work done previously in Creating Subject Matter and Lyrics and continues with the consolidation of specialist skills, techniques and methodologies for generating lyrics. The content of the module will play a key role in the continued development of your artistic voice and in providing more refined lyrics and titles for your developing portfolio.
Chart Writing
Not to be confused with writing pop songs aimed at the top forty, this module actually deals with the business of score writing. Rather than using the specialist skill of standard notation, the technique of ‘bars and beats’ chart writing will be used, accompanied by detailed arrangement notes and reference material. In this way, we can produce a chart format that would be usable and acceptable in most professional situations. You will examine examples of charts of this description taken from the sets of live TV shows, studio sessions and live tours.
The International Music Industry
The International Music Industry builds on the previous study of The UK and European Music Industry by examining the rapidly changing online developments for record companies and artists. The module will cover the increasingly diverse income streams evolving due to interaction between new mediums and formats. Case study research on important artists will show how they exploit digital formats and organise their commercial affairs worldwide.

Stage 2: Level 5

Arrangement Skills
Through the study of classic song arrangements you will gain the understanding and vocabulary necessary to transform your rough song format into a full arrangement. You will have the authority to direct a band and manage your own material, being able to engage a producer, musical director or band member as an equal at every stage of the song’s journey from page, to stage to studio. You will learn about the essential components of a song as you pick apart the hooks, chord sequences, melodies and riffs within the arrangements of classic works from the 50’s and 60’s to the present day. Songwriters are not expected to read music (although you may learn if you wish), but this study will enable you to describe exactly what you want to hear in a clear and communicable way in the most demanding of professional situations on stage and in the studio.
Co-Writing
Co-writing is a specialist skill, and many successful writers do nothing else. You will be asked to produce a wide variety of material as you develop your skills through the collaborative process. Additionally, you will learn how to prepare for a successful co-writing session and how to ensure that these projects go smoothly. Writers will be able to upload their co written work on the ‘My Studio’ area of the website for feedback from tutors and peers.
Principles of Record Production
Although the course is focused on creative songwriting, it is also important part that you understand the principles of record production, particularly if you decide to specialise in writing for various pop genres. This module takes over where Arrangement Skills left off, and we have the opportunity to discuss the journey from a finished arrangement in the rehearsal room (or demo) to a master recording. Additionally, the lessons will explore the strategy of completely removing the demo process and producing a fully finished master from the outset of the writing process. You will examine the production on various recordings and draw conclusions on what impact the process has had on the success of these recordings.
Writing For Artists
The specialised realm of writing for the pop market is the focus of this module. In today’s industry, this will inevitably include writing for the contestants (successful and otherwise) of the TV talent shows as well as girl groups, boy bands and the contemporary pop solo artists of the day. This is a competitive area to work within, with its own set of conventions and expectations, and is often fraught with political complications. Despite this, many writers have very successful careers in this arena. There is also much to be learned from studying the discipline of pop that can be applied to other genres.
Writing For Film and TV
Writing For Film and TV explores the role of the composer and the range of material and sync opportunities available in contemporary media. You will deliver songs and compositions for a range of briefs, each of which will be a real-world example taken from a film, TV show or advertisement. With a focus on career development, you will examine networking, the process of building a profile as a composer and the effectiveness of online listings such as Sonic Bids and Broadjam.
Writing for Games
Writing For Games exposes students to the gaming industry and the rapidly growing opportunities within it for the professional songwriter. Gaming has grown substantially in recent years and now employs significant numbers of full-time and freelance writers to produce the audio required. The content of this audio will range from basic sound effects through to big budget fully scored orchestral compositions. The module will explore the myriad of opportunities available to a songwriter/composer in the gaming industry and how to adopt a writing style that is relevant to this industry. Additionally, you will explore the role of online listings, agencies and networking in this competitive but exciting industry.

Stage 3: Level 6

Publishing and Copyright Law
Publishing and Copyright Law provides you with a detailed look at the publishing industry and the opportunity to gain an understanding of the major income streams available to songwriters. The module will examine the content and terms of various types of publishing deals – and how to protect your song rights through knowledge of copyright law. You will also explore other scenarios such as songwriting splits and how to agree them without conflict.
Songwriting Workbook
Songwriting Workbook provides you with the opportunity to create and develop a portfolio of raw materials for songwriting under the supervision of your tutor. You will be asked to record your progress, file raw songwriting material and comment critically on your learning and development. You will upload your material to the ‘My Studio’ area of the website for informal and formal feedback from tutors and peers as you develop your workbook.
Songwriting Portfolio
This is your opportunity to present a mature, well-crafted body of work that demonstrates how you have refined your talent and skills. You will produce several complete songs with full charts, arrangement notes, lyrics and critical appraisal. You may have co-writes and song placements that could form part of the portfolio, and any live, recorded or online achievements (including those as part of a band or as a solo artist) can also be included. Don’t forget that the flexible nature of the online course will allow you to tour and promote your music while undertaking the programme.
Professional Practice Portfolio
The Professional Practice Portfolio module requires you to research and report on the career opportunities available within your specialist area. You should also comment on how your craft can be contextualised in professional opportunities that will monetise your skills and inspire entrepreneurial practice and artistic excellence. Your Portfolio will also include a personal website and various forms of social media to support your professional work.

Explore a free sample lesson in ‘Canvas’,
our interactive online learning environment

Staff

Throughout your studies with DIME you will come into contact with a range of artists, practitioners, educators, support and administrative staff. Your key contacts will be the Head of Education for DIME ONLINE and the Head of Department. You will enjoy regular contact with these people during your time with DIME.

In addition, your education will be enhanced by input from a range of experts whose contributions include the provision of masterclasses, participation in Q&A and interviews and input to the design and writing of specific modules.

Assessment

The modes of assessment used in this award include:

  • Portfolio of work
  • Small in-lecture tasks (solo and group)
  • Essays (critical, reflective, research-based)
  • Case Studies
  • Podcasts and digital media
  • Project Presentation
  • Project Documentation

In some cases, more than one mode of assessment will be used within a module to ensure that the learner can demonstrate that they have met all of the learning outcomes. The work produced for these assessments develops graduate outcomes required in employment, such as a high level of managerial and entrepreneurial competency, time management, written and oral communication, portfolio production, and team working. This is alongside self-motivation, independence and creativity of thought.

Careers

DIME Online is deeply committed to providing career advice and support. This starts in the recruitment of a roster of tutors who exemplify the values of a successful self-employed music professional in today’s music industry. DIME ONLINE courses and learning outcomes reflect the music business as it is today, and our commitment to course development will ensure their currency in the future. Students are encouraged through the course to form realistic and achievable career goals, underpinned by research and experience, providing a genuine understanding of the structure and operation within the industry. The philosophy is described as ‘designing your own professional life’ and a musician will see this theme recurring throughout the course.

Further career opportunities/destinations may include:

  • Solo artist
  • Songwriter/composer for a range of different areas including popular artists, film, TV and games
  • Music entrepreneurship
  • Author of educational materials (e.g. books, DVDs, etc)
  • Teaching

Further study opportunities include:

  • Postgraduate Diploma or Master of Arts
  • PGCHE (teaching course)

Questions? Ask a Student!

At DIME ONLINE, we recognise that studying entirely online may be an unfamiliar format and that you might have some questions. To help with this, we’ve assembled a team of some of our previous graduates who are here to tell you about their online learning experience. Simply click on the address below to send an email.  Students will endeavour to respond within 24 hours.

 

Name: Simon Ashworth

Location: Zurich

Program: BA (Hons) Creative Songwriting

Email: ashw@zhaw.ch