Academic Paper Sessions

Friday 2:00-3:00
Presentation of Academic Papers 3 (Terrace B)
Thomas Haines, Moderator

Matrixing: A Discovery Advising Tool for Finding One’s Career Niche

Peter Spellman
Associate Professor & Director of The Career Development Center
Berklee College of Music


     The enormous changes in the music business over the past ten years have introduced new challenges as well as new opportunities to our music business students. Many of these are developing career portfolios of a new kind – ones that include high digital literacy and deep personal involvement in social media of all kinds. Faculty are also seeing more students with interests running across the arts spectrum – interests encompassing film, literature, graphic design and drama among others, in addition to the musical arts.

     The combination of mercurial changes and diversifying skill sets challenge not only our students, but the faculty who must advise them. This session presents a concept from the world of marketing called “Matrixing,” a discovery tool faculty can use with students to help them inventory their skills, assess their resources, and discern the environment towards defining their core value proposition or “niche”.

     It is additionally helpful for “renaissance soul” students – those who need help unifying and integrating multiple interests.

Peter Spellman is Director of the Career Development Center and Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music, and author of several handbooks on the music business including, The Self-Promoting Musician: Strategies for Independent Music Success, 2nd ed. (2000/2008, Berklee Press), Indie Business Power: A Step-By-Step Guide for 21st Century Music Entrepreneurs (2010, MBS Business Media), and, Indie Marketing Power: The Resource Guide for Maximizing Your Music Marketing (2011, MBS Business Media), now in its 3rd edition. A recognized expert on music industry trends, entrepreneurship, and music career development, Peter is a popular speaker at colleges, universities, and music conferences around the world. Find him at mbsolutions.com.

The Use of Narrative Theory and Semiotics in the Modern Story Song

Quint Randle
Assistant Professor, Department of Communications
Brigham Young University


     Utilizing a framework of narrative theory and semiotics, this paper first defines the modern story song and then offers a basic typology by analyzing charting songs from the last several decades. With this foundation in place, the author then provides a pedagogy for teaching story song lyric writing for college-level songwriting classes.

     Listeners interact emotionally with popular music for realization and fulfillment. While all pop or country songs feature some elements of storytelling, the modern story song uses a series of archetypal narrative techniques to connect with the listener. Some of these include a distinct beginning and ending, the passage of time, and the use of descriptive, discrete scenes -- within verses -- wherein a protagonist encounters an antagonist (oftentimes not a person) or conflict that results in a change of state (e.g., “In The Ghetto” by Elvis). Chorus lyrics in these types of story songs tend to deliver and reinforce a single layer of meaning or message. However, via semiotic strategies the narrative can signify and trigger deeper layers of meaning through a “turntable” chorus whose message changes and evolves as the song progresses. For example, the first verse may set up a literal or denotative meaning for the lyrics of the first chorus, but the narrative in the second verse plays out in such a way that the exact same words in the second chorus take on a connotative meaning (e.g., “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood). Furthermore, some story songs evolve even more deeply (sometimes after a bridge) revealing further twists or alternate, affective interpretations for the listener (e.g., “Red Dirt Road” by Brooks & Dunn).

     While some songwriting books touch upon a few narrative techniques (i.e., “show don’t tell” and the use of metaphor) there is a level of instruction and analysis missing in the literature.

Quint Randle is an assistant professor in the Department of Communications at Brigham Young University where he teaches featuring writing and new media. He is co-founder of the Pearl-Award-winning group Joshua Creek. He has written two No. 1 Christian Country songs, along with others published by L.A.- and Nashville-based publishers. He is the co-author of the book “Making Money Making Music” and co-founder of Drums On Demand software. In 1986 he founded Gig Magazine, now published by New Bay Media. Quint holds an M.A. from Pepperdine and a Ph.D. from Michigan State.


Thomas Haines, MMusic Butler University, Professor in Commercial Music Production at University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music and a Teaching Fellow and advisory board member for UC’s Center of Enhancement of Teaching and Learning and the Center for Community Engagement. He serves as a Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association executive board member and MEIEA eZine Editor. Haines is the Director of the Susan and Ford Schumann Film Scoring Program and Edgar Stanton Audio Recording Institute at the Aspen Music Festival and School each summer and has extensive experience in engineering and producing orchestral and chamber music recordings for such labels as Naxos, Albany, Mode, Centaur, Ars Nova, New World Records, and others. His students have been awarded national Golden Reel and Emmy awards for work in sound design, musical scores and video productions. www.thomashaines.wordpress.com

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