Songwriting remains one of the UK’s biggest exports, with UK music stronger than ever. Popular song is the heart of the industry; global demand for new songs is high. Focusing your portfolio through research prepares you to contribute to this field.
The course is aimed at:
unpublished songwriters wishing to develop their craft to professional level;
published songwriters wishing to achieve academic accreditation whilst exploring their creativity.
We maintain strong links with industry professionals, guest artists and guest lecturers.
From day one you’ll write songs, using alternative strategies designed to work alongside your current creative approaches. Through a range of creative strategies and critical perspective on your songs’ relationship with audience and industry you’ll develop and focus your output. This is informed by a blend of practical, theoretical and scholarly practice – teaching and learning unique to Bath Spa University.
Lyric-writing, and a fluent command of imagery, metaphor and narrative is nurtured as chords and melody take shape around language’s mood and meaning. All the while you’ll investigate the power and potential of song forms, modes of address, perspectives, time-frames and characters.
Having stretched the range of creative options available to you within your own artistic palette, you’ll turn your hand to research; this is your entry to the post-graduate world. You’ll identify the industrial context relevant to your songs; your knowledge of your field will become intensified through primary research, secondary research and contact with guest speakers from industry.
Collaborating with songwriters from near and far will increase your creative and networking range; ahead of your Major Project contextual and collaborative research perform the vital tasks of shaping your song outputs.
We offer places on the basis of the student´s experience, potential and commitment as a songwriter. Normally, but not invariably, applicants have a first degree (or equivalent music industry experience) plus a substantial body of recorded work, equal to that which would be obtained as part of a related undergraduate course. Applicants should submit their application together with 3 songs on a web-link accompanied with lyrics. Applications are invited from candidates with a range of academic disciplines and from a variety of national backgrounds. Where an applicant does not have a degree, he or she is required to complete an APEL (Accreditation of Prior Learning Experience) form.
A series of online lectures which are supported by private tutorials and international online seminars. You engage with a range of alternative creative strategies, and through this process you will develop a feel for lyrical imagery, metaphor and narrativity in song. Meanwhile you apply experimental approaches to harmonic constructions and melodic devices. Of the songs generated here, many may go on to become part of your final Major Project showcase.
History of Song
The first of our research modules and here you investigate the techniques and the cultures of the songs you love. Lectures focus on song-form, lyrical perspectives, character and identity, whilst you study a range of your own favourite songs. There is also the option to study a genre or ‘movement’ that has influenced your songwriting, e.g. Americana, post-punk, musical theatre, indie, grunge, electronica etc. You then use Bath Spa’s extensive international library resources to research techniques, principles and cultures that distinguish the tunes your are studying. Research here serves to formalise your instincts for song, technique, its cultures and its contexts.
Reflects an increasing industrial tendency towards multiple writers on the world’s most successful songs. Your collaborations are open for you to negotiate. This may be with another songwriter or team, producer, performer or DJ. Songwriters on the course have collaborated with poets, choreographers and film directors. It is open for you to decide. All we require is that you negotiate the many human and professional decisions and choices required of the collaborative experience.
Context and Methodology
A ‘pathfinder’ contextual study into an economic/cultural context for your future song outputs. From folk to hip-hop, indie, metal, etc., each industrial context possesses a uniquely different set of venues, publishers, labels, agents, producers and performers. Each of these contexts are defined by a set of modes and approaches which ultimately reflect audience and market. You assemble a methodology with which to report on a socio-economic cultural context appropriate for your particular form of song. This training is a firm foundation for further study as a postgraduate researcher, and for many this is the beginning of their research career.
Where you bring all your research and preparation into focus. You are asked to present a showcase artefact representing the songs developed during your time on the course. Usually this is an album. For some it will be several projects for differing contexts, like a writer’s showcase for a publisher. Some students choose to perform live and record the performance, though most students engage with contemporary production processes. Your final showcase is yours to define; this is your calling card and the beginning of a new journey.
There is a broad range of professional outcomes from this course and our graduates now work as:
The course is also an excellent grounding if you’re interested in going on to PhD study, and many of our alumni are currently doing their doctorates.
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