Q: What are some contributions of this new book, with respect to the many resources already out there for aspiring songwriters?
A: I’d like to think Songwriting Strategies is complementary to books already on the market, that present insights from great writers about approaches that have worked well for them in writing their songs. My book is also grounded in my experience as a working songwriter. But it aims to do more than just report the ways I write songs. It presents a comprehensive set of strategies, encompassing many different approaches. That draws on my experience as both songwriter and teacher, mentoring writers working in many styles and genres and following diverse creative pathways. No matter how you write songs, there are pathways described in the book that you can use to expand your scope and versatility as a songwriter.
The book is also distinctive, I think, in ways that it integrates lyrical and musical aspects, previously discussed at comparable depth and detail only in separate sources.
Q: I see the book is full of notated examples. I’m a songwriter but not really fluent reading standard music notation. Can I follow along with the material and make use of the book?
A: We’ve created audio files for every notated example in the book, as well as many spoken lyrical examples where rhythm and timing are critical for understanding the point being illustrated. We’ve made these audio files available for free on the community site 360songwriting.com. If you have used similar resources in the past from Hal Leonard, in this case you will not require a special code from the book, since we’ve created these files and are hosting them on our own site. (And they won’t be of much interest to anyone who doesn’t have the book!)
I suggest you keep the audio on hand and simply listen as you read. You may find, as you do so, that the notation starts making more sense to you and will be less forbidding.
Q: Is this book as an “official” Berklee textbook?
A: Songwriting Strategies is very much my own book, in my own voice. It’s a stand-alone book. It does not presume other Berklee faculty books as a prerequisite, nor does it rely on internal Berklee vocabulary—though it builds on, and is consistent with, much of the pedagogy and terminology used at Berklee. I know this pedagogy and the other songwriting books well; and I’ve done my best not to duplicate what’s already available but to break new ground.
Though I did not write the book to fit into a specific place in Berklee’s current songwriting curriculum, I certainly hope it will be used in Berklee courses.
Q: Can the book be used for songwriting curriculum elsewhere?
A: Yes, I’d love to see the book used in a wide range of classroom settings. The book covers elements of songwriting in a comprehensive and holistic way. It would be an excellent candidate textbook for a one-semester or one-year course in songwriting composition, addressing both lyrical and musical aspects.
For more information about using Songwriting Strategies in the classroom, check out the “For Educators Page”