Simon Barber & Nicholas Gebhardt (14.-15.05.2019)

History, Politics, and Practices of Songwriting in Popular Music

Day 1 – Hit Songs and Creative Practice

These workshops examine the fundamental issues around popular song production. The aim is to examine the most common song forms and writing techniques in popular, contemporary and commercial songwriting and contextuliase them. We will explore popular, contemporary and commercial songwriting practices with each of the workshops focusing on how to apply these concepts to create new songs which respond to specific briefs. The first session will explore strategies and approaches to studying Tin Pan Alley, Brill Building, Motown and latter day production houses, as well as traditional singer-songwriters, contemporary freelancers and producers, etc. The second session will involve practical activities in response to the briefs.

Day 2 - The Politics of Songwriting
These workshops explore the politics of songwriting from the 1900s until the present, including issues such as copyright, creative labour, remixing and populism. We will also consider a range of different approaches to studying songwriting from a variety of theoretical perspectives. The first session will contextualise song writing within a broader sphere and includes a discussion of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded Songwiring Research Network and examine how it represents a range of interdisciplinary interests. The second session will focus on different theoretical frameworks for thinking about the political economy of songwriting and the wider infrastructure that surrounds it.