Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Effective Term: Summer 2021
Units: 4
Hours: 3 lecture, 3 laboratory per week (72 total per quarter)
Advisory: Not open to students with credit in MUS 58C.
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Non-GE
Transferable: CSU
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable


Workshop course for advanced songwriters that focuses on higher-level topics such as self-criticism, rewriting and co-writing. Demonstrations of the practical use of technique and an understanding of the works of the most accomplished professional songwriters. Course is appropriate for advanced levels of songwriting competency.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:
A. Construct a complete song implementing techniques specific to accomplished professional songwriters
B. Re-compose a song adapting it to changes requested by the instructor
C. Defend the technique they used in composing their weekly song assignment
D. Compose a complete song while functioning as a co-writer

Course Content

A. Accomplished songwriters
1. What makes them great
2. What they all share
3. Great songs from different modern eras
4. The danger of overwriting
B. Rewriting and self-criticism
1. Too easy on oneself
2. Too hard on oneself
3. Techniques for self-criticism
4. Advanced song structure choices
6. When to rewrite
7. Rewriting techniques
C. Humor
1. Using humor in serious songs
D. Perspective
1. Use of change of perspective in rewriting
E. Co-writing ground rules
1. Co-writing benefits
2. Co-writing negatives
3. Co-writing legal guidelines
a. When to sign a co-writing agreement
b. How to compose a co-writing agreement

Lab Content

Laboratory activities are provided in which the students can demonstrate, defend and apply their advanced understanding of songwriting, including but not limited to: appraising the work of songwriting masters, distinguishing great songs from mediocre songs, and having the ability to defend their opinion and co-writing. The students create approximately a song per week focusing on the application of songwriting lessons. These assignments are presented in class the following week. The students' songs are then evaluated, commented on, and graded by the instructor.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

A. When taught on campus:
1. Classroom with digital recording system for student feedback.
2. Projection system for video and multimedia content.
3. Basic Sound reinforcement system for in-class performances.
4. Drums and amplifiers.
5. Grand piano.
B. When taught via Foothill Global Access:
1. On-going access to computer with email software and capabilities.
2. Email address.
3. JavaScript enabled internet browsing software.

Method(s) of Evaluation

Methods of Evaluation may include but are not limited to the following:

Song writing assignments
In-class participation
Online participation

Method(s) of Instruction

Methods of Instruction may include but are not limited to the following:

Cooperative learning exercises
Oral presentations

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Pattison, Pat. Writing Better Lyrics. 2010.

Zollo, Paul. Songwriters On Songwriting. 2003.

Although these texts are older than the suggested "5 years or newer" standard, they remain seminal texts in this area of study.

Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

A. Reading assignments include multimedia lessons created by the instructor and delivered via Etudes
B. Writing assignments include but are not limited to:
1. Writing a complete song in the style of a master
2. Writing a completed song with a fellow student
3. Write a complete song about a journey
4. Re-write an early song submission and explain why you made the changes you did and why it's a better song now


Commercial Music