Contemporary Techniques in Music Composition 2

I actually really enjoyed Contemporary Techniques in Music Composition 2, much more than CTMC1. Perhaps I already had an idea of what to expect this time around, or maybe it was due to the way the material was presented or just the type of material that was covered.

In any event, this course ended up being a highlight of the term for me and I really enjoyed the pieces that I came up with for it. I’ve added a SoundCloud playlist highlighting some of the pieces towards the end of this post.

Here’s what was covered in the twelve weeks.

Week 1 – “Extended Techniques for Strings, Winds, and More”, Apr 2 – Apr 8
Introduction, Meet and Greet, Writing for Strings: Expanding Harmonics, Glissando, Seagull Effect, Exercise 1.1: Transcribe a Melody with Harmonics, Discussion 1.1: Gyorgy Ligeti’s String Quartet No. 2, More String Effects: Pizzicatos, Bow Techniques, Beyond the Fingerboard, Bow Techniques, Extended Techniques on Violin, Discussion 1.2: Lachenmann’s “Pression”, Extended Techniques for Winds, Quiz 1.1: Identify the Extended Techniques, Extended Techniques for Harp, Extended Techniques for Accordion, Assignment 1: Compose Using Extended Techniques, Recap

Week 2 – “Microtonality and Tunings”, Apr 9th – Apr 15th
Introduction, Temperaments and Tunings, Equal Temperament and Just Intonation: a Brief Explanation, Workshop: Equal Temperament and Just Intonation, The Microtonal Pioneers, Ben Johnston and La Monte Young, Harry Partch and John Luther Adams, Alois Haba, Charles Ives, Ezra Sims, Enno Poppe, Jon Catler, Workshop: Microtonality Perception, Notation and Instrumental Limitations, Workshop: Order the Standard Notation Microtone Accidentals, Workshop: Order the Sims-Maneri Accidentals, Discussion 2.1: Limits of Microtonal Composition, Microtonality and Notation Software, Assignment 2: Microtonal Composing, Recap

Week 3 – “Writing for Voice”, Apr 16th – Apr 22nd
Introduction, How Our Voice Works, Vocal Registers and Ranges: A Quick Review, Vocal Registers, Bel Canto, Writing for Voice Today, Discussion 3.1: Vocal Techniques, Text Setting: Playing with Meanings, Discussion 3.2: Text Setting, Text Setting in Practice, Twentieth Century Text Setting, Exercise 3.1: Text Setting, Assignment 3: Vocal Composition, Recap

Week 4 – “Serial Music”, Apr 23rd – Apr 29th
Introduction, Historical Context: The Need for Something New, Discussion 4.1: Atonal Music, The Core Concepts of Serialism, Expanding the Row: Transposition and Canonic Transformations, Exercise 4.1: Transposition, Inversion, Retrograde, and Retrograde Inversion, Transformations and the Magic Square, Exercise 4.2: Twelve-Tone Row, Series as a Theme, Rhythmical Devices and Serial Counterpoint, Other Serialisms: Total Serialism and Beyond, Discussion 4.2: Serial Music, Assignment 4: Serial Techniques, Recap

Week 5 – “Process Music/Textures and Soundscapes”, Apr 30th – May 6th
Introduction, What is a Texture?, Monophonic, Homophonic, Heterophonic, Polyphonic, Quiz 5.1: Identify the Texture Type, Texture in the Twentieth Century: The Context, Composing with Texture/I: Morphing, Composing With Texture/II: Stratification, Micropolyphony, Discussion 5.1: Texture and Your Listening Experience, Assignment 5: Texture-Based Piece, Recap

Week 6 – “Minimal Music”, May 7th – May 13th
Introduction, Core Concepts/I: Silence, Limited Material, Repetition, Core Concepts/II: Texture and Tonality, Core Concepts and Techniques/I: Phasing (Steve Reich), Motive Transformation (Philip Glass), Workshop: Clapping Music, Core Concepts and Techniques/II: Motive Transformation (Philip Glass), Other Minimalists: Rzewski, Adams, Laurie Anderson (2.40 Glass), Discussion 6.1: Your Perception of Minimal Music, Assignment 6: Composing Minimal Music, Recap

Week 7 – “More Rhythmic Devices”, May 14th – May 20th
Introduction, Expanding Meter/I: Polymeter and Charles Ives, Expanding Meter/II: Metric Modulation and Elliott Carter, Expanding Meter/III: Metric Modulation in Practice, Exercise 7.1: Metric Modulation, Other Uses in the Twentieth Century: Serial Rhythm, Accelerando/Rallentando Patterns, Rhythm and Meter/I: Polyrhythm, Rhythm and Meter/II: Hemiola, Rhythm and Meter/III: Polyrhythm and Non-Western influence, Discussion 7.1: Rhythm and Pitch, Exercise 7.2: Compose a Polyrhythm, Assignment 7: Rhythm, Recap

Week 8 – “Postmodernism, Musical Quotation, and Appropriation”, May 21st – May 27th
Introduction, What is Postmodern Music?, Quotations and Classical Music: a Never-Ending Idyll, Quotation in the Twentieth Century/I: The Early Years, Quotation in the Twentieth Century/II: After 1945, Exercise 8.1: Identify the Quotations, Pushing to the Limit: Multiple Quotes and Humor, Quotation vs. Music Appropriation: Imitating Style, Discussion 8.1: Quotation, Assignment 8: Past as Present, Recap

Week 9 – “New Tonality, New Spirituality”, May 28th – Jun 3rd
Introduction, Looking at the Past, Hinting at Tonality, Discussion 9.1: Neo-Tonality, Tonality as Spirituality: Pärt, Tavener, Discussion 9.2: New Spirituality, Assignment 9: New Tonality, Recap

Week 10 – “Spectralism”, Jun 4th – Jun 10th
Introduction, What is Spectralism?, The Precursors: Proto-Spectralists, The Spectral Composer at Work: Basic Techniques and Terminology, Discussion 10.1: Grisey’s “Partiels”, More Techniques and Terminology, Software Tools: Preparing for your Assignment, Assignment 10: Sound Analysis Composition, Recap

Week 11 – “The Early Pioneers of Electronic Music”, Jun 11th – Jun 17th
Introduction, Noise, Electricity, and Experimentalism: Electronic Music and Sonic Arts, The Early Electronic Instruments: Theremin and Ondes Martenot, Discussion 11.1: The Role of Technology, The US: Minimalism and other Experimentalisms, Germany: Elektronische Musik, France: Pierre Schaeffer and Musique Concrète, Hands-On: The Key Techniques of Early Electronic Music, Workshop: Composing Tape Music Today, Assignment 11: Compose a Collage Piece, Recap

Week 12 – “Looking Ahead”, Jun 18th – Jun 24th
Introduction, Tape, Instruments, and Live Electronics, Composing with Live Electronics, Music and Multimedia, Music Installation, Beyond Spectralism and Minimalism: Saturiation Music and Totalism, Discussion 12.1: The Future of Composition, Assignment 12: Write for String Quartet, Recap

Introduction to College Writing

I took Introduction to College Writing as part of the general education requirements for the degree program that I am in. Overall, I thought the course was really well done, with useful and helpful information.

I particularly liked how each week built on the previous. Instead of trying to cover a big topic in one week’s lesson it was spread over 2-4 weeks. I also thought the instructor did a good job, often providing meaningful and timely feedback.

Here’s what was covered during the twelve weeks.

Week 1 – “Getting Started/The Basics”, Apr 2 – Apr 8
Introduction, Meet and Greet, Writing and Speaking in Different Contexts, Words That Are Commonly Confused, Discussion 1.1: “Everyday I Write the Book” and “Everyday” Lyrics, Workshop: Commonly Confused Words, Editing Commonly Confused Words, Workshop: Proofreading, Writing a Basic Letter, Basic Letter Example, Workshop: Basic Letter Practice, Workshop: Week 1 Terms, Guidelines for Assignment Posts, Assignment 1: Letter Introduction, Recap

Week 2 – “Writing Contexts”, Apr 9th – Apr 15th
Introduction, Understanding Different Rhetorical Contexts, The Five Components of “Clueless”, Discussion 2.1: “Clueless” Analysis, Applying These Rhetorical Elements to Written Texts, Discussion 2.2: Taylor Swift Letter, Generating Ideas, Exercise: Letter Response, Understanding the Components of a Sentence, Practice Exercise: Sentence Completion, Organizing and Drafting a Response, Practice Exercise: Outlining Your Letter, Workshop: Week 2 Terms, Assignment 2: Letter Response, Recap

Week 3 – “Recording and Developing Ideas”, Apr 16th – Apr 22nd
Introduction, Recording Ideas, Discussion 3.1: Recording Your Ideas, Diaries, Anne Frank’s Diary, Discussion 3.2: Journal or Diary, Workshop: Start a Journal or Diary, Concision vs. Lengthiness, Exercise: Diary Excerpts, Understanding Commas, Quiz 3.1: Using Commas, Understanding Verbs and Subject-Verb Agreement, Workshop: Verb Practice, Workshop: Week 3 Terms, Assignment 3: Letter Response Writing, Recap

Week 4 – “Exploring Personal Narratives”, Apr 23rd – Apr 29th
Introduction, Key Elements of a Personal Narrative, Workshop: Starting Your Journal, Analyzing a Personal Narrative, Darryl McDaniels Interview, Discussion 4.1: DMC’s Story, Understanding Pronouns, Pronoun Challenges, Workshop: Pronouns, Grammatical Tools to Best Express Ideas, Workshop: Using Pronouns, Coordination and Subordination, Workshop: Coordination and Subordination, Workshop: Week 4 Terms, Assignment 4: “Moth” Story Hour Assessment, Recap

Week 5 – “Writing a Personal Narrative”, Apr 30th – May 6th
Introduction, Opening Sentences, Survey: Opening Lines in Films, Organizing a Personal Narrative, Basic Narrative Structure, Exercise 5.1: Journal Excerpt for Personal Narrative, Developing Paragraphs, “This Is How Music Can Change Your Brain”, Exercise 5.2: Personal Narrative, Opening Paragraph, Connecting Paragraphs, Workshop: Article Analysis, Choosing the Right Words, Figurative Language, Discussion 5.1: Favorite English Idioms, Workshop: Week 5 Terms, Assignment 5: Personal Narrative, Recap

Week 6 – “Talking about Literature”, May 7th – May 13th
Introduction, Literary Vocabulary, Exercise 6.1: Literary Devices of “Believer”, Editing Sentences, Workshop: Fixing Faulty Lyrics, Reading a Text, Quiz 6.1: First-, Second-, or Third-Person Narrators, Analyzing a Text, Analysis and Structure of “Skin”, Discussion 6.1: BBC Story and “Skin”, Analyzing Literature Interview with Michelle Sterling, Discussion 6.2: Creative Non-fiction, Workshop: Week 6 Terms, Assignment 6: Personal Narrative Analysis, Recap

Week 7 – “Thesis Statements”, May 14th – May 20th
Introduction, What Is a Thesis?, Quiz 7.1: Thesis Statements, Analyzing a Text, Structure of “The Last Leaf”, Discussion 7.1: Literary Techniques of O. Henry, Analyzing Literature Interview with Victoria Large, Quiz: Victoria Large Interview, Developing a Thesis Statement, Exercise: Create a Thesis Statement, Writing a Literary Analysis, Workshop: Week 7 Terms, Assignment 7: Thesis Statement and Outline, Recap

Week 8 – “Exploring Poetry”, May 21st – May 27th
Introduction, Poetry, Quiz 8.1: Poetic Terms, Analyzing Poems in Verse, Poem Structure, Workshop: Stanza Analysis, Analyzing Poems in Verse, Part 2, “Caged Bird” Analysis, Word Choice, Discussion 8.1: “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes, Poetry Writing Interview with Beth Platow, Workshop: Poem Types and Visual Presentation, Quoting, Inserting a Quote into Your Work, Parenthetical Citations, Workshop: Quoting Practice, Workshop: Week 8 Terms, Assignment 8: Thesis Outline to Essay, Recap

Week 9 – “Making an Argument”, May 28th – Jun 3rd
Introduction, Elements of Argumentation, Workshop: Ella Fitzgerald Radio Story Analysis, Analyzing a Text for Argumentation, Analyzing a Text for Counter-Arguments, Discussion 9.1: College Scorecard Article, Finding Sources, Quiz: Source Evaluation, Applying the Concepts, Analysis through the C.R.A.P. Test, Discussion 9.2: College Scorecard Analysis, Workshop: Week 9 Terms, Assignment 9: Thesis Essay Versions, Recap

Week 10 – “Finding and Documenting Sources”, Jun 4th – Jun 10th
Introduction, Finding Sources Part 1: Keywords, Maximize Your Search, Discussion 10.1: Web Searches, Finding Sources Part 2: Databases, Workshop: Searching the Databases, Style Guidelines, Practice Exercise: Cite the Article Practice, The Chicago Manual of Style, Quiz 10.1: The Chicago Manual of Style, Workshop: Week 10 Terms, Assignment 10: Studying Music or the Arts Essay, Recap

Week 11 – “Other Texts: The Critique”, Jun 11th – Jun 17th
Introduction, Art Criticism, Review Example: Forrest Gump, Discussion 11.1: Movie Review, Paraphrasing, Paraphrasing Examples, Workshop: Paraphrasing Practice, Critiquing a Recorded Cultural Product, Writing Your Critique, Wonder Woman Critique Example, Exercise 11.1: Movie Review Summarization, Critiquing a Live Cultural Event, Observation, Rolling Stone Review, Workshop: Recent Experience Review, Critiques Interview with Rob Hochschild, Workshop: Week 11 Terms, Assignment 11: Revised Thesis Statement and Final Essay First Paragraph, Recap

Week 12 – “Other Texts: Proposals and Reports”, Jun 18th – Jun 24th
Introduction, The Proposal, Proposal Plan, Clear and Persuasive Text, Review Carefully, Exercise: The Proposal Review, Discussion 12.1: Project Need and Description, The Report, Quiz: Jazz Standard Workshop, The Abstract, The Abstract: Important Tips, Practice Exercise: Abstract Article on an Artist of Your Choice, Grant Proposals and Reports Interview with Danielle Parillo, Exercise: Future Projects Ideas, Bringing It All Together, Moving Forward, Discussion 12.2: Writing Skills Self Reflection, Workshop: Week 12 Terms, Assignment 12: Final Essay, Recap

Songwriting for Film and TV

I took Songwriting for Film and TV largely due to an enthusiastic recommendation from one of the teachers at Berklee Online that I respect quite a bit. I have to say that it was my least favorite class of the term.

The materials were rather dated and the class felt like a low priority to our instructor. Perhaps if the course author was our instructor I might have enjoyed this one more. For what it was, it was an okay class. Just not as good as many of the other courses that I have taken with Berklee Online.

The highlight was collaborating with a couple of my classmates. They were super nice, responsive and professional. I think we came up with some really nice pieces.

Here’s what we covered over the twelve weeks.

Week 1 – “Historical and Current Use of Songs in Visual Media”,
Introduction, Meet and Greet, History of Songwriting for Films, Synchronized Sound and Picture: The Jazz Singer (1927), Movie Musicals: The Wizard of OZ (1939), Movie Musicals: The Sound of Music (1965), Movie Musicals: 1980-1990s, Movie Musicals: High School Musical 3 (2008), Songs by the “Reel:” WKRP in Cincinnati (1978-1982), Song by the “Reel:” Friends (1994-2004), Cover Songs: Ally McBeal (1997-2002), Cover Songs: Grey’s Anatomy (2005-Present), Animated Film: Snow White (1937), Animated Film: Pinocchio (1940), Animated Film: Little Mermaid (1989), Animated Film: Beauty and the Beast (1991), Discussion 1.1: Technology Impact, Media Path of a Song in Film, Media Path of a Song in TV, Animation, and Video Games, Exercise 1.1: Project a Potential Media Path, Simple Is Effective, Examples: Mystic River, Examples: The OC, Examples: Grey’s Anatomy, Assignment 1: Write a Short Song, Recap

Week 2 – “Songwriting ‘On Demand'”, Apr 9th – Apr 15th
Introduction, Discipline of Writing on Assignment, Tips When Discussing Assignment, Revising an Assignment, Discussion 2.1: Scenario, The Song Has to Have Bassoon and a Reggae Beat!, Dealing with Unusual Requests, “Temp Love”, Communication, Song Characteristics, Identifiable Genre, “Temp Love” Example, Exercise 2.1: Identify Foreground and Background Elements, Remakes, Sound-Alikes, and Copyrights, Copyrights, Assignment 2: Write a Draft of a 2-minute Custom Song, Recap

Week 3 – “Writing a Visual Media Friendly Song”, Apr 16th – Apr 22nd,
Introduction, Melody Elements, Workshop: Is the Melody Distracting?, Harmonic Colors, Workshop: Is the Harmony Distracting?, Discussion 3.1: Harmony, Rhythmic Elements, Workshop: Is the Rhythm Distracting?, Intros, Vamps, and Endings, Intros, Endings, Assignment 3: Revise Song Draft, Recap

Week 4 – “Writing for Music Libraries and Song Catalogs Part 1”, Apr 23rd – Apr 29th
Introduction, Library Music, What is It?, Who Do Music Libraries License To?, Exercise 4.1: Song Catalog Search Party, What Do Music Libraries Want from Their Writers?, Intros, Stylistically Focused, Song Forms, Lyrics, Have a Real Ending, Tell Me What You Are!, Exercise 4.2: Orchestration Consistent with Genre, How Do I Stack Up!, Musical and Performance Quality, Midi Instruments (samples) versus “Live” Players, Mix Quality, Exercise 4.3: Evaluate a Song, Assignment 4: Research Music Libraries, Recap

Week 5 – “Writing for Music Libraries and Song Catalogs Part 2”, Apr 30th – May 6th
Introduction, How Much is My Time Worth?, Cash Flow, Volume, What Year and Place Was the Song From?, Guitar, Keyboard, Bass, Drums, Vocalists, Trumpet, Saxophone, Quiz 5.1: Musicians and Instruments, How Do We Make Our Songs More Flexible?, Expand the Era, Alternate Mixes, Alternate Edits, Exercise 5.1: Accentuate the Positive and Collaborate, Assignment 5: Write a Song, Recap

Week 6 – “Background Source Music Not Sync’d to Picture”, May 7th – May 13th
Introduction, What Is Source Music?, Why Can’t I Hear My Song?, Pesky Dialogue, Audio Manipulation, Electronically “Futzed”, Discussion 6.1: Source Music, Special FX on Your Source Music Song: Mono and EQ, Special FX on Your Source Music Song: Reverb and Delays, Special FX on Your Source Music Song: Specialized Effects, Quiz 6.1: Special FX, Make Your Song “Editor-Friendly”, Song Recorded without a Click Track, Song Recorded with a Click Track, Song Recorded Replacing a Loop or Bad Drum Track, Smart Use of Key Changes, Use of Interlude, Chorus to Chorus and False Ending, Orchestrative Changes, Exercise 6.1: Find Your Success Formula, Assignment 6: Background Source Music, Recap

Week 7 – “Foreground Source Music Sync’d to Action”, May 14th – May 20th
Introduction, How Do I Know When the Music Should Start and End?, Visual Time Code, Pre-Roll, Sonic Impact, Creating Pre-Roll from Nothing, Audio Layout, Exercise 7.1: Ask the Right Questions, Quiz 7.1: The 10-Second Method, Quiz 7.2: The 16-Beat Method, Quiz 7.3: The 16-Bar Method, Different Approach, Variable Click, What If …., Visual Continuity of Instruments and Sound, Guitars, Basses, and Other String Instruments, Keyboards, Drums and Percussion, Structure of the Song Based on the Scene, Quiz 7.4: In Time of the Butterflies Story, Assignment 7: Write a Song, Recap

Week 8 – “Collaboration Part 1”, May 21st – May 27th
Introduction, Why Collaborate?, Work Opportunities and the Spin-off for Future Success, Discussion 8.1: A Few Questions, Strictly Business?, Business Matters, Songwriter Splits, Collaboration – Tools of the Trade, Audio Formats, MP3s, Creating an Audio Footprint, Full Audio Formats, File Naming, MIDI Conductor Track Tutorial: Part 1, MIDI Conductor Track Tutorial: Part 2, File Storage and Access, Staying on the Same Page, Assignment 8: Collaborate, Recap

Week 9 – “Collaboration within the Production Phase”, May 28th – Jun 3rd
Introduction, Importing Digital Audio Tracks from a Collaborator’s Studio, Establish Effects and Recording Guidelines, Mixdown Guidelines, The MIDI Musician Collaborator, Exercise: Identify Contacts, Manipulate the Data!, Replacing Sounds and Editing MIDI data from Your Collaborator, Changing the Song Structure, Cleaning Up the Audio Data, Which Track Are You Using?, Vocal Tracks, Instrumental Tracks: Drums and Bass, Instrumental Tracks – Guitars and Keyboard, Exercise: Identify Your Classmate’s Strengths, Contributions Deserving of Wider Recognition, The Tracks, Deal, and Who did What?, Exercise 9.1: Reharmonizing Melody, Discussion 9.1: “Production Phase Scenario”, Assignment 9: Collaborate, Recap

Week 10 – “Featured Songs”, Jun 4th – Jun 10th
Introduction, TV Theme Songs, Sit-Coms – I Love Lucy, Sit-Coms – Gilligan’s Island, Sit-Coms – All in the Family, Sit-Coms – Family Ties, Sit-Coms – Seinfeld, Sit-Coms – Murphy Brown, Sit-Coms – The Office, Talk Shows – The Tonight Show, Talk Shows – The Late Show, Talk Shows – The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Cartoons, Drama Series, Daytime Drama (Soap Operas), Discussion 10.1: Research a Genre, The Montage – Six Feet Under, The Montage – The Wire, The Montage – Other Examples, Discussion 10.2: Which Song Aired?, Film Feature – Easy Rider, Film Feature – Animal House, Film Feature – Day Off, Film Feature – Titanic, Film Feature – Slum Dog Millionaire, Film Feature – Juno, Film Feature – Falling Slowly, End Credits, Assignment 10: Final Project, Recap

Week 11 – “How Do I Get Paid for My Songs in Film/TV?”, Jun 11th – Jun 17th
Introduction, Should I Give Up My Rights, Research the Music Library Company, Green Light?, Two Music Library Deals, Exercise 11.1: Research Potential Libraries, The New Publishing Model, Exclusive Publisher, Nonexclusive Publisher or Third-Party Publisher, How Do Nonexclusive Publisher Work?, Ownership Splits, Writer and Publisher Split Sheet, Work-for-Hire, License Request, License Confirmation, Screen Credits and Cue Sheets, Getting to Yes, Five Action Items, Negotiating Call Example, Discussion 11.1: “The Negotiation”, Quiz 11.1: Getting Payed, Assignment 11: Final Project, Recap

Week 12 – “Final Projects and into the “Reel” World”, Jun 18th – Jun 24th
Introduction, Get Your Songs Ready for Work, Create Cd Quality Full Mix, Create Mix with “Vocal Down”, Judicious Use of Reverb, Prepare and Archive Alternate Mixes, Finishing Touches, Check your Mix in Mono, Quiz 12.1: Into the “Reel” World, Delivery of The Material, Demo Specifications, Full Audio Files, Exercise 12.1: Make a List, and Check It Twice, Demo Reel!, Choose Your Best Songs, Prepare for Delivery, Prepare a Cover Letter or E-Mail, Assignment 12: Final Project, Recap