Download Songwriting Handbook Vol1 v2 PDF

TitleSongwriting Handbook Vol1 v2
File Size2.1 MB
Total Pages29
Document Text Contents
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“The 10-Step Process to Songwriting” From the Online Course

Commercial Songwriting Techniques by Andrea Stolpe

“How to Write a Hit Song” From the Online Course

Songwriting: Writing Hit Songs by Jimmy Kachulis

“The Business of Song Placement and Song Licensing”

From the Online Course Songwriting for Film and TV

by Brad Hatfield

“Making your Melody Work” From the Online Course

Songwriting: Melody by Jimmy Kachulis

“The Art of Setting your Words to Music” From the Online

Course Lyric Writing: Writing Lyrics to Music

by Pat Pattison

“Starting with the Foundation: How to Build Harmony”

From the Online Course Songwriting: Harmony

by Jimmy Kachulis

“How to Avoid Writers Block” From the Online Course

Lyric Writing Tools and Strategies by Pat Pattinson

“Writing Scores for the Big and Small Screens” From the

Online Course Music Composition for Film and TV

by Ben Newhouse

H A N D B O O K 1


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accident. When lyrics are set to longer notes, they are emphasized and are automatically

more dramatic.

The melodic phrases you use for your lyric sections can be of a standard or surprising

length. Standard two and four bar phrases will give a song a steady feel. Surprising

phrases – any other bar length – will keep things fresh and draw the listeners’ attention.

Good songs will have a mixture of both. And those phrases will gain additional power

from the spaces in between them. Verses will benefit from having lyrics be more closely

packed together with little room to breathe. Choruses, on the other hand, benefit from

being drawn out and require more space between the lyrics as a result. Once you have

the basic lyrical ideas in place for your melody, try developing them with some repetition

or present new ideas as a contrast.

Sure, setting the lyrics to your melody is important. But it is the interaction between

melody and the harmony will define your song. Let’s say we already have a harmony in

place, or we have a way in mind that we want our melody to work so we’re not thinking

of melodic ideas with no context. So let’s develop a pitch. When it comes to the pitch of a

melody, there are three approaches.

• melody on chords—where the melody stays on a chord

• melody over chords—where the melody is in the key, but is only loosely related

to the chords

• melody against a bass line (counterpoint)—where there are two melodies and the

vocal melody moves against a bass melody

No matter what approach you take, you’re going to start on one of the tones in the

chord. Starting from the tones will allow you to build a compelling melody consisting of

even the simplest materials and development. The example that comes to mind is Billy

Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” a song whose melody would resemble a straight line if

mapped out. If you want to decorate a melodic line like this (and you might, considering

how flat it could sound), you can zig zag between the neighbor notes that reside right

above and below your original tone. However many chord tones you try base your

melody on, understand that each will have an effect, creating a distinct melodic shape.

• stationary—a straight line

• zig-zag—decorates a straight line with neighbor

• ascending—starts low and goes up

• descending—starts high and goes down

• arch—starts low, goes up and then down

• inverted arch—starts high, goes down and then back up

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But say you really want to spice things up with your melody. Counterpoint between a

bass line melody moving against the vocal melody might do the trick. But not all bass

lines are built equal. The easiest way to determine if the bass melody would make for

good counterpoint is if it could be sung. Bass lines that move all over the staff will be

useless unless you’re going to be scat singing.

There are four kinds of standard counterpoint: parallel, similar, oblique and contrary.

If a bass line has the same melodic shape as the vocal line, then it is a form of parallel

counterpoint. Similar counterpoint features a bass line and vocal melody that move in

essentially the same direction, though not as closely as parallel. Now here’s where things

get interesting; oblique counterpoint will have either the bass or vocal line revolve

around a limited number of notes. The bass line might stay on one note or move around

in an ostinato. The vocal line will stay in basically the same place. If you’ve heard the

opening verse of “Stairway to Heaven” then you’ve heard oblique counterpoint. Finally,

contrary counterpoint, as its name implies, have the bass and vocal lines moving in

opposite directions; the bass line swings down while the vocal ascends, or vice versa.

That’s just some of the basics of melodic development. I haven’t begun going into

developing a riff or making a melody from a mixolydian mode or in blues form. But you

never leave the building blocks. The simplest methods of developing melody are tools

you’ll be using for the rest of your songwriting career. These methods are the gifts that

keep on giving.

Jimmy Kachulis is the author of Songwriting: Writing Hit Songs, Songwriting:

Harmony, and Songwriting: Melody for Jimmy has helped

thousands of songwriters develop and maximize their skills as a professor of

songwriting and lyric writing at Berklee.

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Once you’ve got the job, you’re going to be beholden to the work flow and the habits

of the production team. In the past I have myself producing music for a project where

I’ve never seen a picture. This is found more frequently in smaller scale projects, like

commercials or TV shows. More frequently the producer or director will hand you a

scratch version of the film with a temp track in place to help give an idea of the music

that they are looking for.

Ben Newhouse is the author and instructor for the Music Composition for Film

and TV for As an assistant professor at Berklee College of

Music, Ben has taught music technology and production and authored the book,

“Producing Music with Digital Performer,” a required text at Berklee and other

music schools. In addition to teaching for Berklee, Ben works as a freelance music

composer and post-production specialist for the music industry in Los Angeles,

Boston and New York City.

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Online Courses
Expand your songwriting and lyric writing skills and

express yourself as a songwriter more effectively

through words and music.

• Film Scoring 101
• Lyric Writing: Tools and Strategies
• Songwriting: Writing Hit Songs
• Songwriting for Film and TV
• Music Composition for Film and TV
• Lyric Writing: Writing From the Title
• Lyric Writing: Writing Lyrics to Music
• Songwriting: Melody
• Songwriting: Harmony
• Jazz Composition
• Commercial Songwriting Techniques
• Jingle Writing
• Hip-Hop Writing and Production
• Music Notation Using Finale
• Music Notation Using Sibelius
• Creative Writing: Poetry
• Composing and Producing Electronic Music

Certificate Programs
Our multi-course certificate programs offer extensive

training in songwriting, orchestration, and lyric writing.


Master Certificates (8-12 courses)

• Orchestration for Film and TV
• Songwriting
• Songwriting and Guitar
• Writing and Producing

Professional Certificates (5-6 courses)
• Singer-Songwriter

Specialist Certificates (3 courses)
• Orchestration for Film and TV
• Singer-Songwriter
• Songwriting

Berkleemusic is the online school of Berklee College of

Music. Become a better songwriter by learning the proven

lyric and songwriting techniques that successful writers

use from Berklee’s renowned faculty.

Contact an Advisor

+1-617-747-2146 International

Academic Calendar 2013–2013 Term Begins

Spring 2012 April 2nd, 2012

Summer 2012 June 25th, 2012

Fall 2012 September 24th, 2012

Winter 2013 January 14th, 2013

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