Harmony Central Forums
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Do you feel it is necessary to take a songwriting course to improve your craft

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse









X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Do you feel it is necessary to take a songwriting course to improve your craft

    I recently took an intro free online songwriting course from a music university, and although I gained a little brainy stuff about the craft, and did open my eyes as to why I write the way I do without realizing whether it was the  right or wrong way to craft a song. I finished the class thinking that, if you want to write a song, you can do it, and as far as schooling goes, it maybe helpful or even very helpful in the commercial world of songwriting. I kind of felt either you can write naturally and it comes easy for you or one really has to work hard and enjoy his craft.

    "Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a look at the American Indian" — Henry Ford

  • #2

    I think its helpful to learn about songwriting, especially knowing the song conventions of the genre you're interested in. Just don't get burdened by too much infornation because I feel that may hinder the natural progression of things.

     

    What school and course is it?

    ____________________________________
    Moderator - The Singer's Forum
    Follow me on Twitter and Soundcloud

    Comment


    • Chicken Monkey
      Chicken Monkey commented
      Editing a comment

      Never taken a songwriting course, but I've read every book in the library on the subject and focused on creative writing in high school.  Songwriting is the ONLY field in the UNIVERSE in which people are afraid to learn.  There's no doctor, carpenter, or sculptor who wants to keep him/herself "pure" of knowledge.


  • #3

    I think if I found the right songwriting course I would take it - why not? Self taught isn't a bad thing neccersarily but I'd welcome the expansion of knowledge that the (right) songwriting course would bring.

    And the right course would be different for one person to the next. I've read and sometimes scanned a number of songwriting books and some of them just don't connect while others do.

    Anyone have any kick butt songwriting courses (online) they can recommend?

    Rick

     

    "Now and then... occasionally... it seems to have.... too many notes"

    Comment


    • saturn1
      saturn1 commented
      Editing a comment

      rickidoo wrote:

      I think if I found the right songwriting course I would take it - why not? Self taught isn't a bad thing neccersarily but I'd welcome the expansion of knowledge that the (right) songwriting course would bring.

      And the right course would be different for one person to the next. I've read and sometimes scanned a number of songwriting books and some of them just don't connect while others do.

      Anyone have any kick butt songwriting courses (online) they can recommend?

      Rick

       


      Although I haven't sprung for an entire Berklee course, I have watched a number of You Tube videos with Pat Pattison and have learned something from every one of them.  Here is one you could start with, and then decide if he engages you enough to watch more or perhaps even escalate to a course.


  • #4
    No, I don't think it's necessary. To expand on Chicken Monkey's analogy... I know a few people who do wood working and one that does some pretty intense metal sculptures, and they never took classes. They just sort of do it all the time and have for 10-20 years.

    I think just like any craft the most important thing you can do to improve is to spend time doing it.
    ...

    Comment


    • #5

      Was that the Pat Pattison course at Coursera? That looked pretty interesting. But it looked like a lot of hard work, too. Don't they get it that a free course on the internet should be EASY?  grin  grin  grin 


       


      I've never taken a songwriting course but back in the early 70s I took various poetry and fiction writing classes. But they were typically set up as writer's workshops, anyhow. It was university and the hippie era and the teachers and profs seem to be deep in the grip of everything-I-know-is-wrong (or, conversely, some were just deep in reactionaryism) so they were generally loathe to tell anyone how to do it. 


      For me, such writer's workshops have often been very worthwhile. But not everyone can work 'in public.' So they're clearly not for everyone. But they can  lend themselves -- with adequate moderation -- to today's Internet pretty well. 


      Such workshops can be a lot of work, though. Giving serious, thoughtful critique on others' songs can take a fair degree of time and some effort to do right. 


      If one was rich, he could hire one-on-one instruction from a pro, maybe a ghostwriter (who are often used to taking the slightlest slip of an idea from some vapid pop star and trying to flesh it out into a song that will provide ongoing royalties to its writers (which is why even the most empty-headed among the stand-up singing pop elite try to work their name into the often ludicrously long list of writers on the cliche comendia that tend to pass for pop hits today).


       


      However, I understand that in such large courses (as the Coursera course -- do we know how lmany started and how many completed?), with people brought together from a wide variety of genres and cultures, that breaking things down into arbitrary groups may be tricky. Obviously, when you crowd-source feedback and constructive crit, much depends on the members of the crowd. Nonetheless, even though the scale is different, the process isn't really dissimilar from a brick and mortar uni class set up the same way. Classes I took often broke down into small units of 5 to 7 for detailed constructive crit and discussion.



      Anyhow, I'll tell you, having subsequently suffered through some other attempts at creative pedagogy, I would MUCH rather have that slightly-backed-off, you've-got-to-find-your-own-way approach.


      I've read some 'teachers' who give out veritable step-by-step instructions on 'how to write a potential hit song,' and I find them as annoying and unhelpful as watching an adult tell a child to 'color inside the lines.'


      But that's not to say that knowledge can't be exchanged and considered, digested, and acted or not acted upon. I don't think the artist need be alone in the wilderness.


      I do think the learning process can be accelerated with a teacher or teachers sensitive to the student's idiosyncratic creative needs and desires... there are simply basics that can prove enormously helpful.


      It would have been great had I stumbled onto basic harmonic theory a little earlier -- before that I kept combining chords and melodies almost randomly, trying to make sense of it all... I didn't even understand that the chords in a key were defned by the scale -- okay, I was on the verge of determining that and asked a pal who sort of slapped his forehead and sat me down at his mom's piano for a half hour harmony lesson that kept me cogitating for years. THAT was huge. One little key that opened up so much.


      Yet in all my childhood attempts at following formal musical pedagogy, no one had ever bothered to try to explain the fundamentals. Go figure.


        wink.gif 


       

      Attached Files


      music and social stuff | currently listening to...

      Comment


      • rhino55
        rhino55 commented
        Editing a comment

        Two examples of teaching kids to color.

        One of my siblings told her kid she had to color in the lines because that's what the picture was supposed to look like. The kid asked her why. Her answer was because that's what it is supposed to look like.

        I took a very relaxed approach to teaching my kid how to color. I never told her she had stay in the lines. When she would ask me what I thought of the pictures she colored, I'd tell her it was awesome, because... you know... surrealism kicks ass sometimes.

        One day we were all at my moms a comment a comment was made about how it wasn't good that my kid couldn't color inside the lines. My reply was it's not that she can't she just doesn't feel the need to. That was taken as me trying to cause trouble.

        What happened next was brilliant. I asked my kid if she could color inside the lines and she said something to the effect of I guess so. I told her to show me. First try she nailed it.

        The classes, books, workshops, etc are going to give you the lines to color in so that you'll have the best chance of writing something the average person will be more likely to appreciate. Does that make it the best way? No. Is there more value in working with a blank piece of paper over and over until you can make a picture you're happy with all by yourself? No.

        If we are trying to write songs because it makes us happy, then I think we owe it to ourselves to do what makes us happy. For some that means intensive study of the rules, for others that means to hell with the rules.

        And I'm back to my original point in this thread. The reason the kid was successful when given the challenge was she loved to color and had been doing it everyday. If you want to be a better writer, write more. If you'll write more taking a class, take a class. If you'll write less taking a class, don't take a class.  Write more.  Or Not.


      • guitarville
        guitarville commented
        Editing a comment

        blue2blue wrote:

        Was that the Pat Pattison course at Coursera? That looked pretty interesting. But it looked like a lot of hard work, too. Don't they get it that a free course on the internet should be EASY?  grin  grin  grin 

         

        I've never taken a songwriting course but back in the early 70s I took various poetry and fiction writing classes. But they were typically set up as writer's workshops, anyhow. It was university and the hippie era and the teachers and profs seem to be deep in the grip of everything-I-know-is-wrong (or, conversely, some were just deep in reactionaryism) so they were generally loathe to tell anyone how to do it. 

        For me, such writer's workshops have often been very worthwhile. But not everyone can work 'in public.' So they're clearly not for everyone. But they can  lend themselves -- with adequate moderation -- to today's Internet pretty well. 

        Such workshops can be a lot of work, though. Giving serious, thoughtful critique on others' songs can take a fair degree of time and some effort to do right. 

        If one was rich, he could hire one-on-one instruction from a pro, maybe a ghostwriter (who are often used to taking the slightlest slip of an idea from some vapid pop star and trying to flesh it out into a song that will provide ongoing royalties to its writers (which is why even the most empty-headed among the stand-up singing pop elite try to work their name into the often ludicrously long list of writers on the cliche comendia that tend to pass for pop hits today).

         

        However, I understand that in such large courses (as the Coursera course -- do we know how lmany started and how many completed?), with people brought together from a wide variety of genres and cultures, that breaking things down into arbitrary groups may be tricky. Obviously, when you crowd-source feedback and constructive crit, much depends on the members of the crowd. Nonetheless, even though the scale is different, the process isn't really dissimilar from a brick and mortar uni class set up the same way. Classes I took often broke down into small units of 5 to 7 for detailed constructive crit and discussion.


        Anyhow, I'll tell you, having subsequently suffered through some other attempts at creative pedagogy, I would MUCH rather have that slightly-backed-off, you've-got-to-find-your-own-way approach.

        I've read some 'teachers' who give out veritable step-by-step instructions on 'how to write a potential hit song,' and I find them as annoying and unhelpful as watching an adult tell a child to 'color inside the lines.'

        But that's not to say that knowledge can't be exchanged and considered, digested, and acted or not acted upon. I don't think the artist need be alone in the wilderness.

        I do think the learning process can be accelerated with a teacher or teachers sensitive to the student's idiosyncratic creative needs and desires... there are simply basics that can prove enormously helpful.

        It would have been great had I stumbled onto basic harmonic theory a little earlier -- before that I kept combining chords and melodies almost randomly, trying to make sense of it all... I didn't even understand that the chords in a key were defned by the scale -- okay, I was on the verge of determining that and asked a pal who sort of slapped his forehead and sat me down at his mom's piano for a half hour harmony lesson that kept me cogitating for years. THAT was huge. One little key that opened up so much.

        Yet in all my childhood attempts at following formal musical pedagogy, no one had ever bothered to try to explain the fundamentals. Go figure.

          wink.gif 

         


        Yes, I took Pat's course. And another one also.  My actual thought about his teaching were, well. I always said that to teach an art to someone with no or very little talent, it might work out a bit. I'm not sure if Pat sat down and wrote his own theory on songwriting and started to preach from it. I say preach and not teach. If what he is explaining to you reaches the talent within you, you quickly realize that something is missing, and that something is the drive in you that needs to be released at that moment and explored. Doing that with his classes, you can pick up your own direction and grow from there and actually say, my way of writing is my own style, that can't be changed with any type of songwriting schooling. But as I mentioned earlier, if you go into the direction of like Broadway stuff, then yes, a little bit of schooling may really be helpful, even if it lands you a job as a co-writer.

        Attached Files

      • Nelson Olstrom
        Nelson Olstrom commented
        Editing a comment

        I signed up for the Coursera songwriting couse. I stigned in week 4 of a 6 week course and when I looked at the first week of lectures I realized I will never be able to catch up. It was very interesting, but in the middle of summer, I just have too much on my plate. 


    • #6

      I've always been an advocate for taking the most organic approach to art as possible. You can learn a lot of what resonates with your soul and conveys your emotions just by studying the melodies and lyrics of other greats. But I'm the same way with classical training in instruments.

      I don't feel playing Mozart near as much as I feel playing Ray Charles. But there are people who would say the opposite...I've met a few in my life. I'm always very sure that when I seek training it won't get in the way of seeing music as the most liberating form of expression.

      I can't remember who, but someone on these boards once said that any song that brings any sort of understanding or alleviation to you is a good song, regardless of how others feel about it. I agree fully and find that I don't need to know much beyond basic structure to be able to reap music's therapeutic benefits.

      Comment


      • #7

        Wow! Fantastic responses to the OP. I won't waste your time restating their already excellent points.

        I will say to take a class can be the most beneficial thing you'll ever do or the biggest waste of waste of time. It really depends on where you are at with all of this. Taking a class has a stamp of legitimacy but can also be a colossal mind $&@".

        Anyway that you go about it you need to learn basic structure of pop music. Verse, chorus, bridge structures are paramount to any type of music you decide to move into. It really does not matter one iota what genre you're into. Structure is king in writing a great piece of music. How you go about learning that structure is up to you. Whatever works for your personal methods.

        If the class fills that bill then by all means go for that. Having said that, hanging out here is also a great way to learn by fire.

        __________
        Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
        Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
        Jesus

        Comment


        • Lee Knight
          Lee Knight commented
          Editing a comment

          Oh, and by "hanging out here" I mean to post work and be cool enough to learn something. Or not, if you already have a firm MO. Then asking pointed questions just like your OP is a great way to go too.


      • #8

        I definitely don't think it's necessary.  I've never done a songwiritng course myself, though I have actually taught on a songwriting course.  It comes down to the person and your confidence levels.  Like most things you can learn just by doing, listening to things you like and breaking down what you like about it.  

        That being said, doing a course can speed up your progress and show you what is possible.  I actually learnt more about songwriting by teaching on a course too.

        Lord Lav is a rapper, producer and creator of the Zombie Apocalypse Rap Album Lord of the Dead

        Comment


        • blue2blue
          blue2blue commented
          Editing a comment

          Lord Lav wrote:

          [...]


          That being said, doing a course can speed up your progress and show you what is possible.  I actually learnt more about songwriting by teaching on a course too.




          Nothing gets that knowledge into your head like doing a conscientous job of trying to teach it to someone elsethumb.gif

          Attached Files

      • #9

        For the right price, I would say there's no reason not to.  It might be helpful, you might learn a few things.  At the same time, I don't think it's a prerequisite.  Unless you're just getting started and have no idea where to begin writing your own songs.  Personally, I bought one of those "For Dummies" books when I first got started.  I read a few chapters of it and then never looked at it again.  Aside from the billions of songs I've listened to, that's the only songwriting education I've ever had.  That said, education is never a bad thing as long as you're not getting ripped off.

        Comment



        Working...
        X