Maricopa Community Colleges  MTC113   20006-99999 

Official Course Description:  MCCCD Approval:  4-25-00

MTC113  2000 Fall – 2010 Summer II

LEC  1.0 Credit(s)  1.0 Period(s)  1.0 Load  Acad

Songwriting Techniques

Introduction to pop melody writing and harmonic settings. Development of short ideas into complete songs with the use of contrast, variation, and repetition. Consideration of the pros and cons of writing songs with a partner or small group.

Prerequisites: MTC110 or permission of Instructor.


Go to Competencies    Go to Outline

MCCCD Official Course Competencies:


MTC113  2000 Fall – 2010 Summer II

Songwriting Techniques



Expand an initial melodic idea into an eight-bar section of a song or a complete song. (I)


Use contrast, variation, or repetition to expand a short melodic idea into a complete song. (II, III)


Select interesting chords or chord progressions to accompany the melody. (IV)


Assessing one’s own strengths and weaknesses as a songwriter, and describe the characteristics of a productive collaborative writing team. (V)

Go to Description    Go to top of Competencies

MCCCD Official Course Outline:


MTC113  2000 Fall – 2010 Summer II

Songwriting Techniques


I. Basic Elements of Pop Melodies

A. Short melodic ideas without much classical development

B. Some portion of the melodic idea, or motive, should repeat at least once

C. Melody should be memorable but have enough variety to withstand repeated listenings

D. May alternate between two melodic ideas

II. Repetition and Variation Techniques

A. Start with a one-bar phrase and duplicate it

B. Use a slight variation in the repetition of the first phrase

C. Alternate two completely different melodic ideas

1. A completely different idea is juxtaposed with the original, forming an idea that is then repeated

2. The close alternation of two ideas serves to link them quickly in the listener’s mind

III. Adding Contrast to a Song for Variety and Interest

A. Change the pitch level of the melodic line

B. Change the phrase length

C. Change the rhythmic patterns

D. Change the text

E. Begin a second repetition of the phrase, but then change it unexpectedly

IV. Choosing the Harmonic Foundation for the Melody

A. Using simple triads

B. Use of seventh chords

C. Use of more complex harmonies

1. Ninth, eleventh and thirteenth chords

2. Chromatically altered harmonies

3. Jazz harmonies

D. Harmonic progressions

1. Order of the chords

2. Letting the melody help determine harmony

V. Writing in Collaboration

A. A writer may be stronger as a lyricist or as a composer

B. Writing with a collaborator can provide new and innovative ideas to a writing style

C. A collaborator can provide feedback and critique

D. More networking to get the song published and heard


Go to Description    Go to top of Competencies    Go to top of Outline