Popakademie
Academics / B.A. Pop Music Design / Content

What will you learn?



The bachelor’s degree programme in Pop Music Design is focussed on creating and developing the original artistic profile of each individual participant. Talent is fostered through individual and group lessons, coaching formats and project work - through both artistic skills and business skills.

Domestic and international networking with artists and music producers in the industry is vital to future success, which is why we place great important on networking during your studies.

Concentrations include: Voice, Electric Bass, Electric Guitar, Drums, Keyboard, Composition/ Songwriting and Producing/ DJ Producing.

Departments

Singing and Songwriting
Our mutual goal is to awaken and expand your creativity in songwriting. We'll show you how to come up with ideas for lyrics, how to best craft them into a songs, and how to harmonise them. For this we will sing a lot of existing music, so that you can get to know all styles of popular music in order to expand your horizons in your own writing. Of course, this includes a lot of healthy vocal technique, because each style requires different techniques.

During the foundational studies, we try to raise you to the necessary level for your band in singing and songwriting: How do I write lyrics? What tools and tricks will help me sing in a healthy way? What kind of sounds can I create with my own voice? How can I improvise with my voice?

During the main studies, we look at themes such as circle singing, writing choral arrangements, working with the loop station, ad-hoc songwriting, International Songwriter Week, singing standard repertoire, getting to know other singing techniques, interview training, artist profiles, stage work and much more!

Department Chief: Prof. Annette Marquard. Further lecturers.
Guitar
Whether you love heavy metal or acoustic, funk or the indie-music scene: As long as you do that well, while remaining open and curious about new things, you’re in the right place. We want to educate you both as an independent artist and as a competent sideman. There are technical standards that will make it easier for you to work professionally later on. But just as important is your personality, which lends creativity, power and warmth to the artistic component of music. This means: We want to promote your strengths individually, while minimising your weaknesses.

Major
  • 1st & 2nd semester, lecturer Peter Wölpl: Improving general timing & technique, pentatonic level 1, scale level 1, rhythm guitar in various musical styles, rhythmic note-reading, rhythm pyramid, improvisation with target pitches
  • 3rd & 4th semester, lecturer Jan Zehrfeld: Pentatonic level 2, scale level 2, rhythmic modulations, solo improvisation versus solo composition, fingerboard navigation, three- and four-part chords with extensions and inversions
  • 5th & 6th semester, lecturer Kosho Koschorrek: Fundamentals of gripping, picking and strumming technique for acoustic guitar, percussive acoustic guitar as accompanying and solo instrument, fundamentals of Latin/flamenco style, bottleneck/slide playing technique, alternative improvisation concepts

Minor
Lecturers: Gagey Mrozeck & Kosho Koschorrek; no prior experience necessary, but allowed
  • General fretboard navigation, basic overview for correlations of chords & scales, open tunings
  • Chord inversions to develop and expand songwriting abilities on the guitar
  • Song examples, guitar riff compilation and exercises for different guitar styles
  • Relevant basic knowledge about the different guitar types and their sound and play types; amps, effects and sounds

Department Chief: Prof. Peter Wölpl. Further lecturers.
Bass
We’ll prepare you for a sustainable career as a live performance and recording session musician. The emphasis in the classroom is on sound formation based on influential bassists, sensitivity for tone lengths and timing as a groove factor and phrasing as a basis for bass lines and melodies. You’ll also be instructed in playing with a pick and using slap technique.

Grouping, phrase-shifting and equipment instruction are key topics throughout the course of study. We also include stylistics and a detour into the sight-reading genre such as musical, orchestra pit and conducting, the ternary rhythms as well as ethnic and fusion music with all its complexity.

Our goal is to set you up with the broad skills needed to meet the challenges of a career as a professional bassist.

Department Chief: Prof. Frank Itt. Further lecturers.
Drums
Department Chief: Prof. Udo Dahmen. Further lecturers.
Keyboard
For your keyboard as a major, you will receive a foundational and comprehensive training that prepares you for a career as a professional musician.

You’ll learn to express yourself in different styles using their respective sounds. Styles include: Soul/Funk, Latin/Reggae, Gospel/Blues, Jazz, Hip Hop/R&B and modern genres like House/Dance, Drum & Bass, TripHop/Electro or Dubstep/ElectroPunk. These basics are complemented and supported by technical exercises that enhance your fluidity in playing and your ability to improvise. With these skills, you will also compose and arrange your own songs. In doing so, you can recombine what you have learned to develop your own signature style. You’ll pick up current trends and let them flow creatively into your work.

In addition, you’ll learn about solutions for the stage and studio, such as the targeted use of laptops, software or virtual instruments.

Department Chief: Prof. Mathias "Maze" Leber. Further lecturers.
Producing
In the Producing programme, you’ll explore and learn about all topics affecting current and future professional music producers throughout their careers. Unlike degree programs focused purely on sound technology, there is a special focus on the entire genesis of produced music, on workflow, methodology, aesthetics and stylistics. However, as producers today must consistently be able to produce their productions on a technical level themselves, sound and production technology is more than just basic knowledge, but developed or deepened during a variety of events with specialists and experts for pop-music-relevant skills.

Both major topics are connected through practical work. The multitude of musicians-in-training, soloists and bands at the Popakademie will provide you with a wide variety of tasks and production situations. The individual supervision of your own student projects and working methods by specialist lecturers allows you to foster your own potential.

Contents in detail
Common and lesser-known production philosophies and approaches, production of your own projects and individual tasks, one-on-one lessons, recording of live instruments and ensembles, band producing, electronic sound and groove design, vocal-producing, vocal arrangement and choral arrangement in the studio, orchestral arrangement and studio recording, listening in the studio, sound and recording technology (basic and specialised knowledge on the topics signal flow, digital technology, microphone technology, use and selection of microphones, acoustics, psychoacoustics, use of signal processors of all kinds [plugins] as well as analog outboard [preamps/EQs/dynamic processors, etc.] and effects, delay, reverb, convolution, etc.), special workshops for the most important recording tools/programmes used, among others through tutors/manufacturer clinics, mixdown: in the DAW, at the mixer, field trips to the labs of the masters, mastering/distribution, production analysis, music business for producers, introduction to film and game scores.

Concentration in Electronic Music Producing, possible to choose starting in the 3rd semester
  • Producing & Sound Design: EMP-specific application in the DAWs, beat programming, intensifications, NI Massive and Reaktor, Abletone live, Cubase Profi WS, hybrid production, connection between DAW and analogue technology, midi setups, automation techniques, summing and mixdown, combination DJ/ProductionGear, modular sound design, basics, set-up, how the individual modules on the system A100 work, sequencing within the system, connection with DAW systems, creating complete tracks in the system, producing business for EMP producers and DJs, booking, management, branding, social networking, streaming/broadcasting, licensee/contracts, merchandising, Beatport & Co
  • DJ/DJane: Typing of genres (Deep House, House, Techno House, Electro House/EDM, Progressive House, Techno, Trance, Minimal, Dubstep, Electronica, etc.), mixing basics, set planning, performing with Pioneer CDJ, NI Traktor with Control S4 with optional twister hardware, Abelton with various controllers, combination of Pioneer DJM 900 with Traktor software, integration of outboard gear, use of effects, live remixing and broadcasting

Department Chief: Prof. Florian Sitzmann. Further lecturers.
Music Theory and Composition
What looks to some as just the mathematics of music studies is for us the key to making everyone a better musician. Three passionate music-systematists who gained their knowledge mainly from musical practice, teach true pop music theory.

Ear training, harmony and rhythmic training expand your musical perception, improve your overview during songwriting and train your sense of rhythm and body. Communicating principles of music theory means bridging the gap between theory and practical music making. We’ll improve your musical ear, music theory knowledge, rhythmic consciousness and individual compositional skills. This area includes the subjects Music Theory I-IV, Body Percussion, Listening and Analytical Listening.

Department Chief: Prof. Alexander Paeffgen. Further lecturers.
Popular Music Education
A freelance pop music artist’s income is often patchwork. Artists pursue their own projects, work as music service providers and earn part of their income, at least in phases, by teaching. Teaching as a part of their activities is a favourite pursuit of many artists, as they are able to pass along their passion and make money without losing their authenticity or sacrificing actual artistic activity. In this constellation, they often feel that teaching is a personal asset.

The elective Band Training/Ensemble Management familiarises students with the basics of popular music didactics. This subject is closely interwoven with our successful music education project Pop macht Schule. The students get to know different methods and concepts of the practical teaching of popular music and apply them in a tour through different schools in day-long projects.

The methodology and didactics of Pop macht Schule take account of a very action-oriented music education that offers students opportunities for aesthetic experiences through creative processes. The tools taught enable a variety of creative processes through popular music when working with groups:
  • Body percussion
  • Singalong: singing
  • Words & Raps: lyrics and rapping
  • Meet the Band: Band work for beginners
  • Band coaching: Intermediate band work
  • We are Producers: Music production on the computer
  • World Music Ensemble: Learning about and trying out various instruments from around the world

Department Chief: Prof. Axel Schwarz. Further lecturers.

Artistic and music business: basic
  • Body percussion
  • Music production
  • Artist development and management
  • Business start-up
  • Image, staging, performance

Music core courses: basic
  • Major instruction: Singing, electric bass, electric guitar, drums, keyboard, composition/songwriting, producing/DJ producing
  • Minor instruction: Keyboard or guitar
  • Band or producing work

Theoretical foundations
  • Music theory
  • History of popular music

In the four-semester main course of study, necessary skills for thriving in the field of popular music are enhanced in a practical way. The course offerings are supplemented by masterclasses and workshops by prominent actors in the field of popular music and world music. .

Music core courses: advanced
  • Major and minor instruction
  • Band and performance coaching
  • Recording session/ live performance technique
  • Music theory

Electives
Electives may be chosen from both the music business field, e.g. Business Start-up, Artist Development, Pop Culture, as well as from the pop music design and world music area, e.g. History of Popular Music, Multimedia, Masterclass Music Theory, Rehearsal/Fusion Band.

Internship
An essential part of the programme are two compulsory internships of 12 weeks each, which are completed as an internship in a company or a band. These internships provide the practice-oriented skills that are crucial for working in the field of popular music.

Artist Profiles

Producer
Description
Main place of work is the studio, where good song ideas are turned into hits. As a producer you also write your own songs (see Songwriter). Instruments and their tonal processing are an important basis for your work.

Goals of study
Excellent skills in arrangement and composition, good skills in the areas of recording, sampling and programming. Good musical and theoretical foundations, at least one, preferably two instruments should be played well. Foundational knowledge of the use of all basis instruments and a basic education in business.
DJ-Producer
Description
Number 1 piece of equipment: computer & sampler. The DJ producer writes songs and usually has concrete ideas about acts and marketing.

Goals of study
Excellent in the areas of recording, sampling and programming. Good musical and theoretical foundations, especially in arrangement and composition. Technical skills on an instrument should be reinforced but are not a focus of the programme. Basic education in business.
Creative Head and Songwriter
Description
Strong, original songs are the hallmark of the creative head and songwriter. For this artist, creating new, unusual compositions and arrangements are more important than mastering technical skills. At least one composition instrument and good theoretical knowledge is important.

Goals of study
Excellent skills in the areas of arrangement and composition, a good musical and theoretical foundations, At least one instrument should be played well. Foundational education in the areas of recording, sampling and programming. Solid foundation in business.
Instrumentalist and Performer
Description
Your basis is technical know-how, musical flexibility and versatility. Music theory foundations and knowledge of the repertoire are important.

Goals of study
Excellent technical skills, good music theory foundations, broad range of repertoire, musical versatility, feel for true-to-genre performance, basics in business.

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