About Songwriting

Songwriters hold a vital place in the music world across all different genres. The field has also grown exponentially over the past few years, providing a promotional launch pad for talented, up-and-coming songwriters, as well as a potentially lucrative income stream. 

This course will explore fundamental songwriting techniques and uncover the essential tools for writing music in a diverse range of styles that will appeal to music supervisors, music publishers, record labels, and producers, across any number of different genres and media channels.

These techniques and tools will be taught in a practical way that can be finely honed through your group and one-on-one songwriting lessons.

As well as learning how to write music and lyrics, you will have the opportunity to develop instrument studies, produce demo recordings and perform your own songs, or have them performed by on-campus ensembles. 

Diploma of music
(songwriting)

2 Trimesters
Where / Sydney / Melbourne / Brisbane
Next intake 06/06/2016 / See all intake dates
Entry requirements / Aus / International
Whether you’re a relative beginner or an experienced songwriter, this Diploma will help you learn how to brainstorm ideas, overcome writer’s block, and express yourself more effectively in words and music.
 
Combining technical principles with pure creative expression, this hands-on course will help you find your voice, sharpen your craft and creates songs with listeners will appreciate and remember.
 
This Diploma offers you conceptual and technical skills in composition, focussing on songwriting techniques, rhyme, and harmonic analysis.
 
Students will investigate the links between music and text, forms of the contemporary song, and the methodology of song composition. It will also continue to develop your musicianship and aural skills. 
Diploma of music
(songwriting)
Curriculum
Subject
Music History I
This unit provides an overview of Western Contemporary music since the 1950s. Students investigate major musical styles and periods, and develop the ability to define key characteristics of each. The unit introduces the broad themes of music with an emphasis on musical events, personalities, institutions and publications which contributed to the development of different musical styles.

Students are exposed to the structure of the music industry, developing their understanding of the inter-relationships between the different sectors as well as the professional practice opportunities available.

Students also gain an appreciation of the music tradition within which they will work. The unit provides a context and preparation for the concepts which are explored further in subsequent units, and is essential for future professional practice in the music industry.

Basic essay writing skills will also be covered in this unit.
Music Theory I
This subject provides musicians with the basic ideas, techniques and principles of musicianship to allow you to begin to successfully compose, arrange and notate contemporary music.

Skills and understanding achieved in this subject will enable a basic level of musicianship, which will be further developed during the duration of the course. This fundamental level of musicianship will eventually allow you to compose successful compositions and help develop your technical musical skills on your chosen instrument. Classes in this unit will be streamed, determined by previous experience and a basic theory examination.
Music Technology I
This unit introduces students to the capacity of music technology to enhance their potential as musicians, composers, and recording artists. Students will investigate the fundamental range and features of music technology available and gain understanding of its potential in the creative process.

Students will learn the fundamentals of the technology underlying all stages of music creation and distribution. They will also investigate the operations and parts of a computer; set-up and operation of small music home recording systems; operation of industry standard software programs (Pro Tools); program using Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), and understand basic principles behind sound synthesis.

Students will acquire (or reinforce) basic musicianship and keyboard skills.
Ensemble I
This unit is an introduction to musical style, technique and form. Students will develop musicianship through a prescribed repertoire. Stage performance is developed to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for effective performance presentation. This includes aspects of movement, stage dialogue, microphone technique, musicianship and stage image. The unit emphasis is to explore, rehearse and develop musical skills in a group or ensemble environment.

Style masterclasses will develop understanding of a range of styles and genres. Students will develop planning skills and the ability to set specific, timely and achievable goals.

Attention is placed on learning basic communication and interaction skills suitable for performance. The culmination of this unit will be the performance of a set of music to an audience at a professional public venue.
Instrument I
In Instrument I, students will begin to develop their technical expertise in their principal instrument and awareness of repertoire.

The unit involves the study of technical work and repertoire. For each subsequent instrument subject, students are required to demonstrate increased technical proficiency, creativity and the development of their personal playing styles.
Music Business I
The purpose of this unit is to give students an introduction to the music industry enabling a basic understanding of key sectors, roles and structures within it. It will also introduce students to copyright as it applies broadly to musical, literary, dramatic and artistic works and the functions and responsibilities of publishers and publishing companies. All areas relating to the application of copyright and the workings of publishing are considered.

This unit outlines the practical application of the Copyright Act within the entertainment industry from its formative beginnings in the early twentieth century into an increasingly expanding competitive industry in the twenty first century. The course also introduces music publishing contracts, distribution deals, and opportunities that are emerging with the development of digital technology and the practices of independent artists.

This knowledge is essential for any person wishing to work in the entertainment industry and provides the student with a solid understanding of these key elements.
Songwriting I
This unit develops students’ conceptual knowledge and technical skills in songwriting, focusing on songwriting technique and practice methods, harmonic and melodic analysis, and the ability to present their songs using industry standard lead sheets. Students will investigate the links between music and text (prosody), form and structure of contemporary song, and analyse influential songwriters and their works.

The unit contributes to the degree by giving students the opportunity to create their own original songs. The unit will also continue to develop students’ musicianship and aural skills.
Lyric Writing I
Develops students’ conceptual knowledge and technical skills in writing and composing lyrics, focusing on structure, rhyme, poetics and song analysis. Students will develop their own writing ability with a view to nurturing their own unique lyrical style, and investigate and analyse seminal lyrical works across a number of contemporary music genres and forms.

The unit contributes to the degree by giving students the opportunity to create their own original compositions. The unit will be the first in a series of units that focus on developing students’ ability to incorporate words and music together, using advanced methodology and originality.
Ensemble II
This unit will provide further development in the understanding of musical style, improvisation, understanding of form and associated techniques. Students will continue to develop musicianship through a prescribed repertoire; however there will be focus on developing original arrangements and student’s choice in repertoire.

Students will develop planning skills and the ability to set specific, timely and achievable targets. Reflection and evaluation will be introduced and developed. Communication and interaction skills suitable for performance will also be a focus.

The culmination of these areas will be the performance of a music set to an audience at a public venue.

Students will also be involved in a weekly style masterclass, predominantly in a group with their own instrument. The groups will develop specific understanding of genre and style to provide a broad understanding of contemporary music. Students will develop set repertoire and improvisational skills.
Instrument II
Instrument Study II will continue to develop the necessary skills to become eventually become a master of your selected instrument. It will involve the study of technical work and repertoire. It is essential that you constantly develop yourself as not only a member of a band but also as an individual player to ensure your future musical career. For each subsequent instrument subject, students are required to demonstrate increased technical proficiency, creativity, and the development of their personal playing styles. In Instrument II, students will continue to develop their technical expertise in their principal instrument and awareness of repertoire.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bachelor of music
(songwriting)

6 Trimesters
Fees / Fees / International
Where / Sydney / Melbourne / Brisbane
Next intake 06/06/2016 / See all intake dates
Entry requirements / Aus / International

This Bachelor Degree is designed to help you create strong, focused songs that perfectly blend your lyrical ideas with powerful melodies.

You’ll continue honing your craft with an understanding of the principals of film and TV music, while learning key concepts in top-lining, arranging and composing for contemporary ensembles. You’ll also learn about the importance of co-writing and collaboration to the modern musician.

As the music industry continues to evolve, it’s important to be technically savvy and skilled with industry standard software. These subjects will enhance your knowledge of the latest digital score writing programs like Sibelius and refine your recording skills when recording in Avid Pro Tools. Here, you will be able to actually produce your own demo recordings.

Your Degree will also explore the different channels of music distribution and monetisation, while examining the essentials every artist needs to know about copyright and the music business. Upon graduation, you’ll come away with a full portfolio of songs that you developed throughout the course. 

Bachelor of music
(songwriting)
Curriculum
Subject
Music History I
This unit provides an overview of Western Contemporary music since the 1950s. Students investigate major musical styles and periods, and develop the ability to define key characteristics of each. The unit introduces the broad themes of music with an emphasis on musical events, personalities, institutions and publications which contributed to the development of different musical styles.

Students are exposed to the structure of the music industry, developing their understanding of the inter-relationships between the different sectors as well as the professional practice opportunities available.

Students also gain an appreciation of the music tradition within which they will work. The unit provides a context and preparation for the concepts which are explored further in subsequent units, and is essential for future professional practice in the music industry.

Basic essay writing skills will also be covered in this unit.
Music Theory I
This subject provides musicians with the basic ideas, techniques and principles of musicianship to allow you to begin to successfully compose, arrange and notate contemporary music.

Skills and understanding achieved in this subject will enable a basic level of musicianship, which will be further developed during the duration of the course. This fundamental level of musicianship will eventually allow you to compose successful compositions and help develop your technical musical skills on your chosen instrument. Classes in this unit will be streamed, determined by previous experience and a basic theory examination.
Music Technology I
This unit introduces students to the capacity of music technology to enhance their potential as musicians, composers, and recording artists. Students will investigate the fundamental range and features of music technology available and gain understanding of its potential in the creative process.

Students will learn the fundamentals of the technology underlying all stages of music creation and distribution. They will also investigate the operations and parts of a computer; set-up and operation of small music home recording systems; operation of industry standard software programs (Pro Tools); program using Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), and understand basic principles behind sound synthesis.

Students will acquire (or reinforce) basic musicianship and keyboard skills.
Ensemble I
This unit is an introduction to musical style, technique and form. Students will develop musicianship through a prescribed repertoire. Stage performance is developed to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for effective performance presentation. This includes aspects of movement, stage dialogue, microphone technique, musicianship and stage image. The unit emphasis is to explore, rehearse and develop musical skills in a group or ensemble environment.

Style masterclasses will develop understanding of a range of styles and genres. Students will develop planning skills and the ability to set specific, timely and achievable goals.

Attention is placed on learning basic communication and interaction skills suitable for performance. The culmination of this unit will be the performance of a set of music to an audience at a professional public venue.
Instrument I
In Instrument I, students will begin to develop their technical expertise in their principal instrument and awareness of repertoire.

The unit involves the study of technical work and repertoire. For each subsequent instrument subject, students are required to demonstrate increased technical proficiency, creativity and the development of their personal playing styles.
Music Business I
The purpose of this unit is to give students an introduction to the music industry enabling a basic understanding of key sectors, roles and structures within it. It will also introduce students to copyright as it applies broadly to musical, literary, dramatic and artistic works and the functions and responsibilities of publishers and publishing companies. All areas relating to the application of copyright and the workings of publishing are considered.

This unit outlines the practical application of the Copyright Act within the entertainment industry from its formative beginnings in the early twentieth century into an increasingly expanding competitive industry in the twenty first century. The course also introduces music publishing contracts, distribution deals, and opportunities that are emerging with the development of digital technology and the practices of independent artists.

This knowledge is essential for any person wishing to work in the entertainment industry and provides the student with a solid understanding of these key elements.
Songwriting I
This unit develops students’ conceptual knowledge and technical skills in songwriting, focusing on songwriting technique and practice methods, harmonic and melodic analysis, and the ability to present their songs using industry standard lead sheets. Students will investigate the links between music and text (prosody), form and structure of contemporary song, and analyse influential songwriters and their works.

The unit contributes to the degree by giving students the opportunity to create their own original songs. The unit will also continue to develop students’ musicianship and aural skills.
Lyric Writing I
Develops students’ conceptual knowledge and technical skills in writing and composing lyrics, focusing on structure, rhyme, poetics and song analysis. Students will develop their own writing ability with a view to nurturing their own unique lyrical style, and investigate and analyse seminal lyrical works across a number of contemporary music genres and forms.

The unit contributes to the degree by giving students the opportunity to create their own original compositions. The unit will be the first in a series of units that focus on developing students’ ability to incorporate words and music together, using advanced methodology and originality.
Ensemble II
This unit will provide further development in the understanding of musical style, improvisation, understanding of form and associated techniques. Students will continue to develop musicianship through a prescribed repertoire; however there will be focus on developing original arrangements and student’s choice in repertoire.

Students will develop planning skills and the ability to set specific, timely and achievable targets. Reflection and evaluation will be introduced and developed. Communication and interaction skills suitable for performance will also be a focus.

The culmination of these areas will be the performance of a music set to an audience at a public venue.

Students will also be involved in a weekly style masterclass, predominantly in a group with their own instrument. The groups will develop specific understanding of genre and style to provide a broad understanding of contemporary music. Students will develop set repertoire and improvisational skills.
Instrument II
Instrument Study II will continue to develop the necessary skills to become eventually become a master of your selected instrument. It will involve the study of technical work and repertoire. It is essential that you constantly develop yourself as not only a member of a band but also as an individual player to ensure your future musical career. For each subsequent instrument subject, students are required to demonstrate increased technical proficiency, creativity, and the development of their personal playing styles. In Instrument II, students will continue to develop their technical expertise in their principal instrument and awareness of repertoire.
Music Technology II
This unit provides the student with an understanding of audio production techniques within the Pro Tools digital audio workstation software. Students will learn to analyse and reproduce common audio production techniques, focussing on areas such as editing, arrangement, and effects and how they impact the outcome of the song.

While Music Technology I focused primarily on the fundamentals of digital technology and MIDI programming, this unit will develop skills to an intermediate level in audio editing and music production. Students will also explore virtual instruments to a greater depth, looking at how they can be used for music production across a range of musical styles.
Songwriting II
In this unit, students continue to develop conceptual knowledge and technical skills in music analysis and songwriting. This unit concentrates on songwriting techniques, with a focus on melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic development. Students also further investigate the links between music and text (prosody), forms and structure of the contemporary song and the musical methodology of song composition.

The unit builds on skills learned by Songwriting students in Songwriting I (MUS 302), and by Music Performance Students in Arranging I (MUS 209), Songwriting I (MUS 302), and Arranging II (MUS 309), focusing on the development of musicality, songwriting ability and professional practice. Students have the opportunity to create their own songs and write lyrics which demonstrate an understanding of the principles of rhyme, song structure, style and phrasing.
Lyric Writing II
This unit further develops students’ conceptual knowledge and technical skills in writing and composing lyrics, focusing on structure, prosody, phrasing, narrative, and perspective. Students will develop their writing ability with a view to nurturing their unique lyrical style, and investigate and analyse artistic examples of lyrical works across a number of contemporary music genres and forms. The unit gives students the opportunity to create original compositions by submitting weekly tasks.

The unit is the second in a series that focus on developing students’ abilities to incorporate words and music together, using advanced methodology, creative skills, and originality.
Ensemble III
In this unit students continue to develop the understanding of musical style, improvisation, form and interpretation, and musicianship through a prescribed repertoire. There will be an emphasis on the development of original material and more opportunity will be given for students to develop repertoire of their own choice.

Students form ensembles of their own choice and it is expected that they would be at a standard to make a contribution to the ensemble.

Students work collaboratively with the other departments as part of the Integration project. This could be in the form of a recording, a film clip, music for an animated project and other approved activities.

This is an opportunity to work with the other JMC Academy creative disciplines and develop new understanding and skills.
Instrument III
In Instrument Study III students will continue to develop their understanding of style and repertoire, technical expertise in, and mastery of, their principal instrument. The unit involves the study of technical work and awareness of challenging repertoire. For each subsequent instrument subject, students are required to demonstrate increased technical proficiency, creativity, and the development of their personal playing styles furthering development not only as a member of a band but also as an individual player to ensure a future musical career.
Arranging II
Music arranging is an essential skill for many musicians. Arranging skills can be utilised for recordings and live performances for a range of art forms.

This unit further develops the students’ understanding of the process of music arranging. Moving on from MUS 209 (Introductory Arranging), the students begin to develop an understanding of writing for non-rhythm instruments. The unit covers arranging for specific brass and reed instruments which are known in contemporary music as the “horn” section.

These instruments differ in arrangement from the rhythm section. Rhythm sections are interpreters and improvisers whereas the horns are generally reading specialists and require a different approach to notation and arranging.
Music Production
In MUS 418, students will examine various production and arranging techniques with a view to producing high-quality home demo recordings, in order to present an original song in its best and most appealing form. Students will also look at the possibilities behind incorporating various aspects of technology and music, both in songwriting development, live performance and in recording through the use of Ableton Live music software.
Music Cultures
Over five trimesters, students will have gained extensive knowledge of the process of composing and arranging contemporary music. In this trimester, students will be encouraged to look beyond Western music conventions and examine a range of music traditions from around the world. Students will implement this information, and the skills gained in the Music Technology and Composing and Arranging streams, to write and/or record a “crossover” piece of music utilising one or more non-Western musical traditions. In essence the unit is an introduction to the specialist research field of ethnomusicology whilst giving students a chance to further hone their composition/arranging skills.
Ensemble IV
In this unit students continue to develop their understanding of musical style, improvisation, form, interpretation, and musicianship through performing original material. Students will have the opportunity to work with the Film and Television department in preparing a music video collaboration project.

This is an opportunity to work with the other JMC Academy creative disciplines and develop new understanding and skills.
Instrument IV
In Instrument Studies IV students will continue to develop their understanding of style and repertoire, technical expertise in, and mastery of, their principal instrument. The unit involves the study of technical work and repertoire. For each subsequent instrument subject, students are required to demonstrate increased technical proficiency, creativity, and the development of their personal playing styles furthering development not only as a member of a band but also as an individual player to ensure a future musical career.
Specialist Project
Throughout previous units, students have developed skills and knowledge across areas of music theory, industry, performance and technology. This unit aims to provide an opportunity to demonstrate this knowledge and employability skills within a focused area of the music industry. Students are able to apply their specialist knowledge and understanding of both current and future practice while reflecting on their own work related performance.

The unit equips students with skills in a specialist area of music that is of interest to them, helping to better prepare them for focused work within the industry. It also enables them to focus on an element of their previous study they find most fulfilling. Students have the opportunity to define their own work or knowledge based project or may have a lecturer assign one for them.
Screen Music
Throughout previous units, students have developed skills and knowledge across areas of music theory, industry, performance and technology. This unit aims to provide an opportunity to demonstrate this knowledge and employability skills within a focused area of the music industry. Students are able to apply their specialist knowledge and understanding of both current and future practice while reflecting on their own work related performance.

The unit equips students with skills in a specialist area of music that is of interest to them, helping to better prepare them for focused work within the industry. It also enables them to focus on an element of their previous study they find most fulfilling. Students have the opportunity to define their own work or knowledge based project or may have a lecturer assign one for them.
Songwriting III
Students continue to develop conceptual knowledge and technical skills in melodic and harmonic composition. This unit concentrates on song writing and arranging techniques, production and interpretation. Students further investigate the relationship between melody and harmony, structure and form, and scrutinise the compositional methodology of songwriting. The unit builds on skills learned in Song Writing I (MUS 302) and Song Writing II (MUS 402), focusing on the development of original material into a polished, arranged, and produced work. Students have the opportunity to create their own compositions and write lyrics which demonstrate an understanding of the principles of rhyme, song structure, style and phrasing.
Directed Songwriting I
In Directed Study in Songwriting I, students will participate in weekly one-on-one songwriting mentorship sessions with an experienced songwriter, in order to further develop their original ‘voice’ and originality, and to work towards producing a comprehensive and accomplished portfolio of original songs. They will also develop purpose-specific original material for performance and potential recording with their ensembles.
Instrument V
In Instrument Studies V students will continue to develop their understanding of style and repertoire, technical expertise in, and mastery of, their principal instrument. The unit involves the study of technical work and repertoire. For each subsequent instrument subject, students are required to demonstrate increased technical proficiency, creativity, and the development of their personal playing styles furthering development not only as a member of a band but also as an individual player to ensure a future musical career.
Arranging III
Musical arranging is an essential skill for musicians hoping to take their art further than just playing in a band. The practical skills covered in this course require students to start to internalise music and develop notational and analytical skills. In building upon previous study in composition and arranging this unit will now introduce students to writing and arranging for strings, woodwind, brass and percussion.

The aural and solmisation skills contained in this course continues to develop students’ aural and sight reading skills. There is also a continued focus on contemporary music theory and advanced harmonic and melodic concepts.
Music Business II
The aim of this unit is to examine business principles and concepts for the contemporary music performer with the aim of establishing a sustainable professional practice. It will examine performance environments as well as music industry business models. Each student will be required to identify ongoing professional development requirements and opportunities.
Lyric Writing III
This unit seeks to further expand the students writing potential by looking at various literary, poetic and composition techniques throughout history, developing the students’ awareness of various writing styles and structures, in order to advance 12 their creative skills. Various key artists and writers (and their works) will be analysed, and students will also learn to identify and recognise certain stylistic characteristics and techniques across different genres and modes of writing.
Directed Songwriting II
In Directed Study In Songwriting II, students will participate in weekly oneon-one songwriting mentorship sessions with an experienced and established songwriter, in order to further develop their original ‘voice’ and originality, and to work towards producing a comprehensive and accomplished portfolio of original songs. They will also develop an impressive portfolio of original work that will be polished and arranged towards a final recital performance or recording compilation.
Instrument VI
At this stage of the study program, you will be required to draw upon your ability to apply conceptual and technical skills in preparing and performing a 40 minute individual showcase recital. For this unit students are required to demonstrate high-level technical proficiency, creativity, ensemble leadership skills, and the development of their personal playing style.

Careers in the Industry

Graduates may find employment with

With the tools you acquire in this degree, you will be able to make the most of your passion and talent, become a more complete musician and be confident in having a successful career in the music industry as the consummate artist. Your opportunities could include songwriting for advertising to composing for films and everything in-between. 

Specific roles may include

Performing Songwriter
Lyricist 
Freelance Songwriter  
Composer 
Resident/Staff Writer 
 
Advertising Creative (Jingle Writer) 
Music Producer 
Music Publisher 
Music Teacher

Student testimonials

  • "After years of wanting to perform and professionally record my original music, I have finally achieved it. I now also gig regularly with extremely gifted musicians. JMC is well worth the Investment."
    Jewel Heart, Songwriting Student | Contemporary Music and Performance Alumni

Faqs

I’m a singer and want to become a better songwriter. Should I be doing this course or the contemporary music course?
This depends on what outcome you want to work towards, what career you want to ultimately pursue and where your passion lies. If you see yourself performing your music to a live audience and are excited about the thought of doing so then contermporary music performance might be the way to go. Bear in mind that the Bachelor Degree in Contemporary Music Performance does teach two units in Songwriting.

If you love the idea of composing, creating, and telling stories through your music and you're not comfortable with the thought of performing in front of an audience then the song writing course may be a better option for you. 

Of course, if you decide to study the songwriting course, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to perform on your own or within an ensemble.
Do I still need to audition for Songwriting?
An audition is not a requirement of entry. What we do need to see, is a demonstrated passion and/or experience in songwriting. This may involve an audition, or simply being able to show samples of composition work (lyrics, chord charts, or past recordings). Our staff will let you know if you need to prepare anything when you’re booking an interview. 
Do I need to know music theory to be eligible for the Songwriting course?
No. For those with little or no theory background, we'll teach you what you need to know from the ground up. We also offer a program during orientation week which provides a crash course to help you get started if theory isn’t your strong point.