Unit 48: Songwriting Techniques and Skills
Writing songs is a specialised area within the wider discipline of composition. It does not automatically follow that all composers can write successful songs. Songwriting is an art form that encompasses all periods and styles, having a history that can be traced back centuries. In more serious classical styles, composers such as Franz Schubert and Hugo Wolfe stand supreme
in this art form. Contemporary pop music is very dependent on songs and songwriting, regardless of style or genre (heavy metal, acoustic, bands or solo artists) and has become an important art form in its own right. Purely instrumental pop compositions are in the minority. Furthermore, the singersongwriter is a popular music phenomenon which does not occur in classical music. The Beatles changed the face of pop music in the 1960s with their fresh approach to the sound and content of their songs – but their resultant influence on music can be attributed as much to Lennon and McCartney writing their own songs as to their performances.
A song is a complete composition in microcosm. The ingredients of a song – flowing, memorable melody lines and lyrics, chord progressions, accompaniment figures – are elements of composition in miniature. On completion of this unit the learners will be able to understand and acquire these skills together with the process of writing songs, working with other musicians in the process.