MUSA120-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021

Song Writing 1

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 July 2021
End Date: Sunday, 14 November 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 1 August 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 1 October 2021


This course deals with the basics of song-writing including creative approaches to song writing, song notation skills, listening-based analytic techniques of songs from a wide repertoire.

This course is for students who want to learn how to write their own songs, or who have experience writing their own songs but want to develop their craft and learn new skills. No prior knowledge of song writing craft is assumed, though it helps if you can sing your own songs and play an accompanying instrument like guitar or keyboard. You do not need to be able to read or write music.

The course teaches fundamental skills in song writing including lyric and melody writing, harmony, and form. You will learn how to identify a central concept for your song, and develop this into a convincing narrative supported by an effective musical setting and arrangement. Musical skills include how to create memorable melodies and using harmony to control the pace and flow of the song. Lessons include in-depth analyses and discussion of songs from a range of popular genres. During the semester you will write at least three of your own new songs. There are no limitations on the genre of music that you want to create, all styles are welcome. While enrolled in the course you will have access to the song writing studio at the School of Music, where you can record and mix your songs.

Learning Outcomes

  • Acquired knowledge of a range of approaches to lyric writing;
  • acquired music writing skills (melody, harmony, instrumentation); 

  • compiled a portfolio of original songs (recorded or notated)
  • acquired listening-based analysis and commentary skills; 

    Transferable skills:
  • the ability to work in a disciplined and persistent way on an individual project
  • peer review skills
  • the ability to be self-reflective about one’s own work
  • ability to produce creative work within a specific timeframe.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.


Subject to approval of the Head of the New Music programme, on submission of a portfolio.

Timetable Note

Student workload (150 hours) will be allocated to:
• 24 hours attending lectures
• 18 hours attending composition workshops
•  8 hours completing workshop commentary
• 100 hours drafting and writing (and possibly recording or realising) portfolio content

Lectures will be held on Thursdays 16.00-18.00. Students enrolled in this course are encouraged to attend the Composition Workshop, Mondays 15.30-17.00 in the Recital Room at the Arts Centre on Hereford St.

Course Coordinator

Hamish Oliver


Song analysis  End of Week 6    10%
Song Drafts     End of Week 7    20%
Portfolio          End of semester  70%

The portfolio must contain at least three original songs composed during the semester you are enrolled in the course. You are encouraged to present one of these at Composition Workshop. The song draft is a “work in progress” version of one or more of these songs. The song analysis is a short study of a song of your choice in a genre relevant to your own creative practice.

All assessments are due on the specified date and should be submitted through the LEARN system. Late work will be accepted up to one week after the deadline with a 10% penalty.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $877.00

International fee $4,200.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Humanities .

All MUSA120 Occurrences

  • MUSA120-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021