Online Master's Degree Course

Genre Survey for Songwriters: Analysis and Application

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Authored by Prince Charles Alexander

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Course Code: OSONG-640

Next Semester
Starts Sept 27

Level 6 - Degree Only

Level 6

The goal of this course is to get a professional understanding of the music and production choices within a wide variety of genres in the music industry. You will explore and analyze typical consumption patterns within these genres, which will inform your choices so you will be able to apply them in your own personal music projects. The course will explore the creative process within genres as defined by Billboard.com, using Production Analysis and Critical Listening techniques defined by Berklee College of Music’s Music Production and Engineering Department.

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By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of current music markets
  • define the connectivity of each studied genre with its demographic target market
  • apply an advanced understanding of current music markets within your own creative process
  • apply the melodic, textural, harmonic, and rhythmic variations that evolve throughout popular music into work that is professionally viable
  • critically analyze various production techniques that typify specific genres
  • record and produce songs in a DAW, utilizing genre-specific production techniques
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info

Syllabus

Lesson 1: Genre Classification: Billboard, the Grammys, and Other Curated Charts

  • The Beginnings
  • Commercial Advertising
  • The Roots of American Popular Music
  • Genres
  • Billboard
  • The Grammy Award
  • Song of the Year
  • Other Curated Charts
  • The Songwriting Analysis Template
  • Assignment 1: Classifying Genres

Lesson 2: Billboard Top Charts

  • The Hot 100
  • Artist 100
  • Radio Songs
  • Streaming Songs
  • Analyzing a Hot 100 Song
  • Assignment 2: No. 1 on the Hot 100 Chart

Lesson 3: R&B/Hip-Hop

  • Some R&B and Hip-Hop Background
  • Hot R&B Songs
  • Hot Rap Songs
  • Adult R&B Songs
  • Analyzing an R&B/Hip-Hop Song
  • Assignment 3: Production Analysis of an R&B/Hip-Hop Song

Lesson 4: Country

  • Hot Country Songs
  • Top Country Albums
  • Bluegrass Albums
  • Americana/Folk Albums
  • Analyzing a Country Song
  • Assignment 4: Production Analysis of a Country Song

Lesson 5: Rock

  • Hot Rock and Alternative Songs
  • Alternative Airplay
  • Hot Hard Rock Songs
  • Mainstream Rock Songs
  • Analyzing a Rock Song
  • Assignment 5: Production Analysis of a Rock Song

Lesson 6: Latin

  • Hot Latin Songs
  • Latin Pop Albums
  • Analyzing a Latin Song
  • Assignment 6: Production Analysis of a Latin Song

Lesson 7: Dance

  • Hot Dance/Electronic Songs
  • Dance/Mix Show Airplay
  • Dance Club Songs
  • Top Dance/Electronic Albums
  • Analyzing a Dance/Electronic Song
  • Assignment 7: Producing a Song in the Genre of Your Choice

Lesson 8: Completing the Analysis of Charts

  • Hot Christian Songs
  • Hot Gospel Songs
  • Additional Charts
  • International
  • Assignment 8: Production Analysis of a Christian/Gospel Song

Lesson 9: Analyzing Your Target Genre and Draft 1

  • Strengths of Your Target Genre
  • Weaknesses of Your Target Genre
  • Opportunities within Your Target Genre
  • Threats within Your Target Genre
  • Assignment 9: Final Project (Draft 1)

Lesson 10: A Deeper Analysis of Your Song and Draft 2

  • Genre
  • Lyrics/Melody
  • Music/Instrumentation
  • Editing/Arrangement/Mix
  • Assignment 10: Rework of Final Project (Draft 2)

Lesson 11: Your Final Original Song

  • Further Considerations within Genre
  • Extending the Lyrics/Melody
  • Strengthening the Music and Instrumentation
  • Advanced Editing, Arrangement, and Mix
  • Assignment 11: Final Project (Final Version)

Lesson 12: Class Overview and Final Thoughts

  • Thoughts from an Industry Professional: Artist
  • Thoughts from an Industry Professional: Producer
  • Thoughts from an Industry Professional: Label Executive
  • Thoughts from an Industry Professional: Promotions, Marketing, or Distribution Representative

Requirements

Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Completion of Songwriting: Melody, Songwriting: Harmony, Arranging for Songwriters: Instrumentation and Production in Songwriting, or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.

Students should be able to:

  • Apply music theory concepts such as major and minor scales, chord progressions, etc., to their songwriting analysis and project completion
  • Critically listen to and analyze music examples from different genres
  • Manage instrument(s) that provide(s) harmony, such as guitar or piano, for songwriting purposes
  • Manage a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) of their choice at an intermediate level

Required Textbook(s)

  • None required

Required Subscription

  • A month to month Billboard.com subscription

Software Requirements

  • Full-featured DAW such as Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase Pro, Ableton, Studio One, Reason, FL Studio

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact support@online.berklee.edu for any questions.


General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection

Instructors

Prince Charles Alexander

Author & Instructor

Prince Charles Alexander is a sought-after music producer and audio engineer whose clients include Mary J. Blige, Destiny's Child, Faith Evans, P. Diddy, the Notorious B.I.G., Usher, Boyz II Men, Brandy, Babyface, Sting, Aretha Franklin, Brian McKnight, Donnie McClurkin, and others. 

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Alexander has garnered more than 40 Platinum and Gold certifications from the RIAA and has multiple Grammy Awards and nominations. He teaches Advanced Production and Mixing at Berklee, and created the Commercial Record Production minor in that department, for which he received the Don Wilkins Excellence in Curriculum Development Award from Berklee's Professional Writing and Music Technology Division in 2013. Alexander also teaches production and engineering for Berklee Online, is co-creator of the Vocal Production course for Berklee Online, and for ten concurrent years, was also an adjunct instructor at New York University's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. 

He has taught audio technology at the Institute of Audio Research in NYC, and is a frequent lecturer at colleges and universities around the world. From the early to mid 80s, he produced, wrote, and recorded on Virgin Records with his group, Prince Charles and the City Beat Band. Alexander was an early innovator of wind synthesis and a part of the "punk-funk" generation that incorporated many of the devices that would propel rap music to the forefront of the American music scene. Prince Charles Alexander is one of the proud founders of the annual Berklee in Atlanta Spring Break Trip. Read Less

Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

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