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Course to teach pop hopefuls how to write hits

ARTISTS from Lennon and McCartney to Bon Iver, and from traditional Scottish music to the latest cutting-edge digital recordings, will be taught to budding new hit-makers at the first Masters course in songwriting in Scotland later this year.

ON A HIGH: Musician David Scott, the joint programme leader and lecturer in commercial music at the university's Ayr Campus, with some of the course's students.
ON A HIGH: Musician David Scott, the joint programme leader and lecturer in commercial music at the university's Ayr Campus, with some of the course's students.

The first course of its kind north of the border will be taught at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), led by musician, producer and writer David Scott, member of The Pearlfishers and the BMX Bandits and collaborator with artists such as Isobel Campbell and Ricky Ross.

Between 15 and 20 students will learn the practical skills and artistic motivations behind songwriting on the MA Songwriting and Performance, a course that has been long overdue, according to Scott.

The university, which officially ratified the course last week, hopes students from the course will go on to have successful music careers, or work in production, film making and television.

Scott said: "The course is only the second of its kind in Europe, we understand, and it really comes out of my own experience of learning songwriting and the real life practise of songwriting over the years.

"I think this is a course at the university we have been gradually moving towards. I think in a Scottish sense, it is needed.

"We are a country whose culture is framed so much in songwriting. Not to have had a course like this seemed wrong to me.

"We are going to look of course at people like McCartney and Lennon, and also at traditional and country music and all kinds of songwriting, but we are also very concerned with how to teach people to approach songwriting, and the kind of mindsets required.

"It is about establishing ways of writing songs. Some sessions will be spent in production, listening and working with songwriters. We will also be teaching the business side of things. You need to be able as a songwriter to think like a manager, or you won't get paid."

Bath Spa University in England was the first higher education institution to have an MA in Songwriting, with the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) to be the first north of the border. The new course will be based at the UWS campus in Ayr, with some classes delivered at Glasgow's CCA and Film City in Govan.

The course outline says that "the songwriter is not only a conduit for this expression but the creator of the most powerful intellectual property within the music industry".

Scott has a long and varied career in music in Scotland, with an eighth Pearlfishers album ready to be recorded, as well as records with the BMX Bandits, Bill Wells, Alex Chilton, and Ricky Ross.

He writes and presents music documentaries for BBC Radio Scotland and has been a lecturer in Commercial Music at UWS since September 2006.

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