Songwriting

BA (Hons) in Commercial Modern Music

Overview

At BIMM Dublin, our Songwriting degree is one of a kind. We have a strong focus on writing technique, analysis and personal stylistic development, and you’ll be encouraged from day one to explore your creativity as an artist, where our expert tutors will guide you to deliver career-making tunes.

Our four-year programme aims to develop your songwriting skills at the same time as progressing your career goals, using a deadline-driven project management approach.

The degree is both academically and musically challenging, providing the perfect balance between practical and technical skills, and theory and analysis.

To succeed as a great songwriter, a detailed understanding of the music business is essential. We’ll share our knowledge of music publishing, contracts and recording technology, and will deliver our teaching in line with the latest trends and directions in the evolving music industry.

You’ll be part of a creative community of gifted writers, performers and music industry professionals who you can collaborate and network with to help bring your talent to life.

Through a range of optional modules, including The Songwriter/Producer, Commercial Songwriting, Music Business Studies and Music Teaching Practice, you can tailor the degree to fit your own personal goals.

You’ll get to attend unique and inspiring Masterclasses by some of the best musicians in the world, which will stretch you as a songwriter. You’ll also have the opportunity to audition for The BIMM Album and termly BIMM gigs.

Your course will culminate in a Professional Project designed to teach academic research skills, and give you the opportunity to develop a live industry project of your choice, giving you a head start into the workplace when you graduate.

So to make your way as a songwriter, connect with us, and we’ll connect you to a life in music.

Validated by:

The BA (Hons) in Commercial Modern Music falls under the Free Fees Scheme. To check if you are eligible for Free Fees take a look at the Student Finance website. Detailed information on fees is available from the Registration Office at DIT.
Full list of fees

Year 1

Module names and structure may be subject to change.

  • Songwriting Techniques 1

    This module is designed to develop the student’s ability by honing technique and therefore facilitating enhancement of the student’s musical vocabulary. As technique develops, students will be able to execute more ideas within their chosen discipline and with greater dynamic control and accuracy. The study path encompasses various different concepts, techniques and applications, in preparation for the many different playing situations that may be encountered. The module is also designed to help you develop your ability to interpret industry standard notation in a wide range of musical settings.

  • Styles Analysis

    These modules are concerned with the deconstruction and study of the elements that make up successful popular songs. This includes a look at the historical, social and biographical context that may have had a bearing on the composers of these songs, as well as a study of some of the specific influences and references that they utilised.

  • Live Arrangement Workshop

    In this module, students will learn a vocabulary for communicating ideas with other musicians. They’ll work on making sure that their band and performance are tight, well-arranged and professional, and that it sounds like a professional band through a big PA.

  • Music Theory and Keyboard Skills

    This module provides the student with an introduction to the fundamentals of music theory, with practical applications of theoretical concepts on the piano keyboard. It will also facilitate the development of aural recognition and transcription skills, to better prepare the student for the range of musical situations they are likely to encounter as a professional musician.

  • Music Business and Study Skills

    This module covers practical music industry knowledge that will help students plan their careers. They’ll cover all aspects of the music industry in comprehensive detail, including record deals, publishing deals, management, music synchronisation, legal issues, copyright, music teaching, live music, and business planning.

  • Artist Development and Entrepreneurship

    This module explores the planning of key performances at local, national and international levels. Areas for study include rehearsal techniques, promotion, marketing, leadership, venues and promoters, tour management, stage management and budgeting. The unit focuses on attention to detail and explores how to make things happen at the highest level.

Year 2

Module names and structure may be subject to change.

  • Applied Music Theory, Transcription & Keyboard Skills

    This module provides the student with an opportunity to consolidate, develop and apply the music theory concepts studied in Theory, Transcription and Keyboard Skills. It will facilitate further the development of aural transcription skills, along with a more detailed study of the theory behind the music, including practical applications of theoretical concepts to better prepare the student for the range of musical situations they are likely to encounter as professional musicians.

  • Songwriting Techniques 2

    A continuation of the Year 1 module, this module involves the preparation of songs to professional studio standards. Parts, arrangement, tone and performance will all be broken down and analysed.

  • Arrangement Analysis

    This module is concerned with the deconstruction and study of the elements that make up successful popular songs. This includes a look at the historical, social and biographical context that may have had a bearing on the composers of these songs, as well as a study of some of the specific influences and references that they utilised.

  • Live Performance Workshop

    In this module, students will learn a vocabulary for communicating ideas with other musicians. They’ll work on making sure that their band and performance are tight, well-arranged and professional, and that it sounds like a professional band through a big PA.

  • Applied Music Business & Study Skills

    This module covers practical music industry knowledge that will help students plan their careers. They'll cover all aspects of the music industry in comprehensive detail, including record deals, publishing deals, management, music synchronisation, legal issues, copyright, music teaching, live music, and business planning.

  • Essential Development Skills

    This module consists of three components or learning arcs undertaken by both the instrumentalist stream and the songwriting stream. The components are designed to be a continuation of key skills addressed in Year 1 and preparation for key skills required to enable the fulfilment of learning outcomes underpinning modules in Years 3 and 4. The indicative syllabus associated with each component will inform and aid the development of a broad skillset and encourage a spirit of curiosity and a desire to learn among students. The individual module components are: 1. Cultural Theory, An Introduction 2. Personal & Professional Development 3. Research Methods, Academic Writing and Pedagogy, An Introduction.

Year 3

All students take mandatory and optional modules in their third year of study. These modules are an example of some of the units that can be studied during Year 3 of the degree programme. All modules for the academic year beginning in September will be confirmed in writing prior to the commencement of the programme. Module names and structure may be subject to change.

  • Cultural Perspectives

    This module covers the comprehensive history of popular music from 1900 to 1970, which analyses the social and political conditions that influenced the development of the art form, as well as evaluating key releases from influential artists.

  • Advanced Music Theory and Arrangement

    This module assists musicians with ear training, transcription skills and notation. It discusses broad theoretical issues and introduces non-Western and 'classical' techniques of composition, analysis and performance.

  • The Songwriter/Producer

    This module will address the musical and technological aspects of writing and producing popular songs, and will include focus on song form and structures (AABC, etc.), cadences and chord progressions, modulation, writing and harmonising melodies, lyric writing, and applying learning to original material. Linked to this theme will be the introduction of technical training in the use of Digital Audio Workstations (DAW), which have become the mainstay of this discipline.

  • Music Publishing

    This module will familiarise musicians with fundamental issues in music publishing, including: history of the industry, key concepts of copyright, collection societies, analysis of music publishing contracts, sub-publishing, and synchronisation. It will encourage songwriters/musicians to apply their knowledge in real world situations with their own material.

  • Research Methods

    Musicians undertake a research project that supports their planning for the Professional Project module. For example, a vocalist could research the techniques involved in getting a vocal sound in the studio, or a band musician planning a national tour could prepare a case study on a relevant breaking act or important venue.

  • Optional – Studio Recording

    This module is designed to help studio musicians understand basic engineering principles and take responsibility for the sonic direction of their recordings. With this knowledge, any musician should be able to get a quality tone in even the most basic of studios. Studio-based arrangement skills are also covered.

  • Optional – Performance in Context

    In this class musicians map their own performances against professional work using original and cover material. Performances are routinely videoed and critically assessed in small group settings.

  • Optional – Digital Marketing in the Music Business

    This module addresses the need for modern music practitioners to be digitally literate and dynamic entrepreneurs, enabling them to directly engage with their target audience. Some of the areas covered include data collection, analytics, social media marketing, artist branding, direct email marketing, website design, marketing campaigns, digital music stores and benchmarking.

  • Optional – Studio Musicianship

    In this module musicians will be placed in simulated, 'deadline driven' recording session environments. They’ll be encouraged to attain an understanding of professional production values and an awareness of the responsibilities of the recording musician. These responsibilities will include professional performance skills, studio etiquette and technical knowledge.

Year 4

All students take mandatory and optional modules in their fourth year of study. These modules are an example of some of the units students could be studying during Year 4 of the degree programme. All modules for the academic year beginning in September will be confirmed in writing prior to commencement of the programme. Module names and structure may be subject to change.

  • Professional Project

    This module ensures that students confront their responsibilities as professionals and manage a project that is rooted firmly in the professional world. Jobs in the music business vary enormously and musicians need to be adaptable and flexible in order to carve their own niche in the industry. Final projects must be realistic and achievable, and are linked with the earlier Course Planning and Research Methods modules. During the module, students will consolidate the skills and experience gained through the course of their studies. These include industry related skills, and research methods enabling them to analyse, interpret, and reflect upon their chosen project activity in a systematic fashion. In the final stage of their studies, students will be able to utilise their analysis of past experience to create theories upon which to base models for future working practice.

  • Analytical Perspectives

    This module presents a critical history of popular music from 1970 to the present day. Significant artists will be examined in relation to their cultural, social and political impact and their continuing influence on contemporary music genres. The module will also draw on theoretical contexts found in the wider discipline of cultural studies, such as critical theory and postmodernism. You will be expected to develop a sophisticated understanding of our cultural and musical antecedents and will be encouraged to analyse, synthesise and evaluate the circumstances around significant moments in the history of popular music since 1970. This module will oblige you to engage with in depth reading and demonstrate an appropriate level of academic rigour. You will be required to engage in critical debate with full justifications and explanations for your reasoning.

  • Commercial Songwriting

    This module will further address the musical and technological aspects of writing and producing popular songs, and will include focus on composition for the media and moving image, alongside commercial concerns and production values vital to this discipline. Musicians will continue to develop technical skills along with creative techniques common to working with sound and image.

  • Optional – Ensemble Performance

    This unit gives musicians the opportunity to showcase four years of live performance experience in a final ensemble setting. Students are encouraged to consider how their work will be perceived as professional artists and to map their work against other, established professionals.

  • Optional – Solo Performance

    In this module, musicians perform either on their own or using backing tracks. A clinic-style presentation could work well in this module, and work is compared to professional material with students critically assessing their progress and attainment.

  • Optional – Music Business Studies

    This module involves a thorough investigation into the music business, with detailed analysis of contracts and music business structures. There will also be high-profile guest speakers.

  • Optional – Music Teaching Practice

    This module deals with the development of strong teaching skills, from one-to-one tuition to large group classroom work. Small teaching practice business models are discussed and musicians can investigate full-time teaching as a career option either in mainstream education or as a private practitioner.

  • Optional - Professional Development

    Musicians are encouraged to consider and facilitate their own personal and business development, an essential activity for band members, songwriters and singers alike. The module will take students through the stages of identifying professional development needs, with specific topics covered including effective team working, stress management, time management and goal setting.

  • Optional - Composition and Analysis

    This is an elective module aimed at students with a strong aptitude for music theory that wish to deepen their understanding of advanced theory concepts, and further develop their composition and arrangement skills through song analysis and practical application. This module will consolidate, and develop on, the concepts covered in the Year 3 module, Advanced Music Theory and Arrangement, in a project-based environment, through their application on DAWs and notational software, using sample libraries and industry standard notation.

Want to apply?

Minimum requirements

The minimum academic requirements are two Higher Level C3s and four Ordinary Level D3s at Leaving Cert level or equivalent. All applicants must attend an audition at which they can earn up to 600 additional points to add to their Leaving Cert points. Overseas students where English is not their native language must meet a minimum English language requirement of IELTS 6.0. We require a minimum of 5.5 to be achieved in each band.

After this course:

Progression

Graduates can progress directly to employment in the music industry in roles such as solo performer, band member, session musician, backing vocalist or songwriter, or can continue their study with a Postgraduate Certificate in Further and Higher Education at BIMM Brighton or a MMus Popular Music Performance at BIMM London.

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How to apply

All Irish and other EU applications must be made via the CAO. Applicants must attend an audition to determine their eligibility for the course. CAO applicants can gain up to a maximum of 600 additional points at audition to add to their Leaving Cert points. International (non-EU) students must apply directly through the International Office at DIT.

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International students

We’re proud to welcome students from all around the world. Our dedicated International Team is on hand to help with applications, visas, accommodation, settling in and much more.

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Course Specification

Mode of attendance:
Full-time
Length of course:
4 years
Awarding institution:
Dublin Institute of Technology
Teaching institution:
BIMM Dublin
Language of study:
English
Final award and exit awards:
BA (Hons) Degree
Admissions criteria:
The minimum academic requirements are two Higher Level C3s and four Ordinary Level D3s at Leaving Cert level or equivalent. All applicants must attend an audition at which they can earn up to 600 additional points to add to their Leaving Cert points. Overseas students where English is not their native language must meet a minimum English language requirement of IELTS 6.0. We require a minimum of 5.5 to be achieved in each band.

Teaching this course:

BIMM Tutors

From performing with Red Hot Chili Peppers and playing guitar on The Commitments soundtrack, to vocal coaching Bono and being frontman for the indie band JJ72, our BIMM Dublin tutors have done it all. Imagine what you could achieve with direct access to their knowledge, guidance, experience and enviable industry connections!

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Making it in music:

Success Stories

Our students prove that talent and hard work are an impressive mix, with nearly 80% of our graduates making a living out of music alone. Take a look at our shining stars.

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