Creativities in popular songwriting curricula: teaching or learning?

Bennett, J (2015) 'Creativities in popular songwriting curricula: teaching or learning?' In: Burnard, P and Haddon, E, eds. Activating diverse musical creativities: teaching and learning in higher education. Bloomsbury, London. ISBN 9781472589132

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Cognitive psychologist Margaret Boden describes creativity as “the ability to come up with ideas or artefacts that are new, surprising and valuable” . In music, it is easy to create something new - the work needs only to be non-plagiaristic of extant works. But surprise and value cannot exist without an audience; philosophically speaking, one might say that music without a listener is like a falling tree in an empty forest. It follows that a ‘creative’ music curriculum must go beyond students’ self-expression and engage in listener-derived notions of artistic value. Historically, popular songwriting is a highly constrained art form, and too much deviation from cultural norms can prevent the song from being communicated fully. But listeners also require newness – that is, elements that are appealingly different from other songs. This paradox creates upper and lower thresholds of originality within which students must operate if they are to create effective songs. This chapter discusses the teaching and learning of creativity in songwriting with reference to Joe Bennett’s own involvement in designing, teaching and assessing undergraduate and postgraduate curricula. It addresses the implicit tension between learners’ and listeners’ expectations of creativity in songwriting, and evaluates pedagogical approaches and challenges, including peer critique, critical listening, prior learning, repertoire, formative and summative assessment.

Item Type: Book Chapter or Section
Keywords: Songwriting, popular music, music creativity, composition, lyric writing
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > MT Musical instruction and study
Divisions: Bath School of Music and Performing Arts
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2014 14:27
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2022 16:58
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