Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: songwriting (Page 2 of 7)

songwriting

Behind The Music Featuring Ali Zagame

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 3.33.16 PMSinger and songwriter Alessandra Zagame has been through all the walks of life. Whether it is through her personal life or from the lives who have been touched around her. Originally born in Paris, France, Zagame was primarily born in Worcester Massachusetts. Her music career started when she was about 12 years old and continues today. Now a graduating senior here at the Berklee College of Music.

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Rocket Science, Spaced Learning, and Songwriting

Ben Camp, Assistant Professor of Songwriting

Ben Camp, Assistant Professor of Songwriting

Ben Camp is an assistant professor of songwriting at Berklee, and author of bencamp.com. He is signed to Sony/ATV as a songwriter and has written for artists on Columbia, Sony, and Universal. In this post, Camp details his innovative methods for increasing students’ ability to gain—and remember—new educational concepts.

Songwriting isn’t rocket science.

But these unlikely bedfellows do have one thing in common: they both require a firm grasp of the fundamentals—whether it’s song form and similes, or algebra and calculus.

So, here in Berklee’s Songwriting Department, we teach those very basic building blocks of Songwriting—rhyme schemes, metaphors, song form—right from the first class we offer.

But teaching something once doesn’t mean that it’s been learned for life. I’m less concerned what my students remember on the midterm, and more concerned with what they remember three months, three years, or three decades after my class.

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The Dynamic Duo: Nell Benjamin and Larry O’Keefe

 

Musical Theater Clinic

Larry O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin met at an improv audition at Harvard University. The pair has been making magic ever since and have gone on to create musicals such as Cam Jansen, The Mice, Sarah Plain and Tall, and Life of the Party.

O’Keefe and Benjamin visited Berklee’s 1140 building on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 for an intimate and candid discussion about how to become a successful writer and composer in the musical theater industry. The dynamic duo represents the first artists to participate in the Curtain Up visiting artist series. The Curtain Up concert is an annual concert featuring the winning songs of the Curtain Up Musical Theater Songwriting Contest. It was held in the David Friend Recital Hall on April 1; Larry and Nell attended and were able to offer some feedback to the students who attended the clinic.

O’Keefe ‘93 has made a name for himself in the musical theater community. Earning an education from USC, Harvard, and Berklee, he honed his skills to create works like the Drama Desk Award-nominated Bat Boy: The Musical, which ran off-Broadway in 2001. This production received an Outer Critics’ Circle Award and the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical.

O’Keefe is very busy working on multiple projects, including Andy, which will feature Steve Carell and which is based on the musical Annie, and an adaptation of the novel Heathers into Heathers: The Musical, which will be opening up in Los Angeles.

Benjamin’s television credits include the last and weirdest season of Unhappily Ever After, Animal Planet’s Whoa!, Sunday with Mo Rocca, and the new Electric Company. She received the 2003 Kleban Foundation Award for lyrics and a 2003 Jonathan Larson Foundation grant. She is currently working on a musical adaptation of Because of Winn Dixie with Duncan Sheik and on Pirates!, a witty adaptation of Pirates of Penzance.

For anyone who has a hard time writing melodies or knowing when (or when not) to edit a piece…this clinic was for you. Personally, I have a hard time with melody manipulation and song structure when I’m writing and they answered questions with clarity and examples. After talking with Larry and Nell after the clinic, I was inspired and motivated to pick up the script I had been writing (one that I had previously put away for good), revisit it, and bring some new life to it.

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Loft Sessions: original songwriters and arrangers captured on video

Composition and film scoring major Evan Chapman (’13) writes about the latest installment in his Loft Session video series, featuring original Berklee songwriters Sam Fischer, Melanie Lynx, Vince Cannady, and Sarah Walk accompanied by a full string section, choir, and various percussion instruments. 

The Loft Sessions concept materialized back in September of 2012, with a short four-video series, which featured my good friend, Vince Cannady, a string trio, and three back-up singers. Vince, an incredibly talented vocalist had just begun performing his original music, and up until this point hadn’t received the traction someone of his caliber should. I released four videos shortly after which featured a re-arrangement of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “Use Somebody” and two of Vinces originals which were filmed and recorded live in the Berklee loft space, comprised of Berklee students. Upon the release of these videos, it became apparent that this concept furnished the capacity to provide a platform for unrecognized talent in a way that local shows could not. 

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Student Wins First Place in BMI’s John Lennon Scholarship Competition

The following post was written by Lisa Occhino, a sixth semester piano principal from Stamford, Connecticut majoring in music business/management. She is the editor-in-chief of The Berklee Groove as well as the marketing and PR director/founding member of the Berklee A&R/Artist Development Group. Occhino won first place in the BMI Foundation’s 15th annual John Lennon Scholarship competition.

Even before I ever knew I would be going to school here, Berklee had a profound impact on my songwriting. When I began writing my first songs in middle school, I was such a perfectionist about it that I struggled to ever call a song “finished,” and would refuse to show what I had to anyone until I deemed it was truly “finished.” Naturally, no one ever heard my music, and I was stuck with a collection of dozens of unfinished songs that I didn’t know what to do with. After I had decided my freshman year of high school that Berklee was the number one (and only) college for me, I was of course dying to go to the Songwriting Workshop held over the summer.

Lisa Occhino

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