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Book Chapter

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Professional Music; Songwriting


This chapter discusses popular music curricula by talking about classical conservatoires in order to demonstrate that the latter were called into existence with an employability agenda – to provide people who could fulfil society's musical needs. Popular music's aural product manifests itself in one of two ways – as a sound recording, or as a performance. Music industry administrative systems reward the songwriter separately from the performer, and copyright protects the song as a composition differently from the sound recording of the song, privileging melody above all other creative content. This pre-digital-age definition of the songwriting act is problematic for some contemporary popular music, given the other Track Imperatives, and considering that most popular music is at least partly created using a computer. The idea that the student learning experience should engender transferable skills and self-development is established in institutional cultures, specified in national curricular frameworks and much discussed in pedagogical research.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge/CRC Press in The Routledge Companion to Popular Music Education in April 2016, available online: or



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