Songwriting Techniques - CMAT5160

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Autumn Term 5 15 (7.5) Jackie Walduck checkmark-circle


In this module, students will be exposed to a variety of song-writing techniques and will develop and nurture the wide-ranging skill set necessary to succeed in the current music industry. Students will learn to carry out basic harmonic analyses of existing songs and apply theoretical approaches to produce original work, investigate different ways to structure songs, explore creative methods to write and develop lyrics, and learn how to enhance basic song templates with melodic accompaniments (e.g. strings, brass etc.).


Contact hours

Contact Hours: 22
Private Study hours: 128
Total Hours: 150

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

1) Song 1: Recording of an original song for voice and one other instrument (4 minutes) 20%; plus a Written Commentary (300 words) 10%.
2) Song 2: Recording of an original song for voice and 3 - 5 other instruments (4 minutes) 45%; plus a Reflective Critique (1000 words) 25%.

Reassessment methods

Like for like.

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Everett, W. (2004). 'Making Sense of Rock's Tonal Systems', Music Theory Online, Vol. 10 (4)
Moore, A (1992). 'Patterns of Harmony', Popular Music, Vol. 11. pp. 73-106
Moore, A. (2012). Song Means: Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Winkler, P. K (2007). 'Toward a Theory of Popular Harmony' in Moore, A. (Ed) Critical Essays in Popular Musicology, Aldershot: Ashgate.

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1) demonstrate an understanding of key technical concepts in writing and arranging popular music;
2) demonstrate a critical awareness of key topics in music theory in areas such as tonality/modality, harmony and rhythm;
3) create original music using song writing techniques, beginning to shape the finer details of a composition;
4) utilize musical instruments and related musical technologies to develop musical material in the production of songs.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1) use IT and other sophisticated technologies in the preparation of work;
2) be self-critical of work in progress, responding to the critical insights of others in order to develop a final piece of work;
3) prioritise tasks and manage time and resources effectively.


  1. Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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