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Colin Devane

BA European Studies
MA English
Professional Musician
My name is Colin Devane and I’m a musician, teacher, and aspiring gardener.  I love to play, write, perform, study and share what I know about music, in particular reggae music, r&b and experimental pop, and I am currently intensively studying permaculture philosophy and gardening techniques. ...

My background is in literature and comparative religion, and my musical background is in jazz and folk music. I am excited to share in the learning process with you, and help you become able to make great music, grow great food, and understand our world in an empowering way!

Song Writing & Music Production


This course will help anyone who wants to learn the basics of songwriting, from inspiration to creation to editing, finalizing and release.  You’ll gain an understanding of some of the best attitudes and frames of mind to approach it in, helpful techniques to spark ideas and inspiration, music theory which will help you to compose your own music—regardless of your current musical level—and help you communicate with other musicians, songwriters and producers, as well as some of the history and importance of songs in human society.  We’ll build individualistic skills like basic chords, music production, beatmaking, and singing, as well as collaborative skills like giving and taking feedback and co-writing, and our end product will be a finished and published song!  



Principles this course is based on:


Anyone can express themselves in song, it just depends how deep you want to get into the details, but right now you can write songs, anyone can write songs, and that’s a beautiful thing


If you want to improve your confidence and fluidity of writing, the mechanics of song writing, performance, and distribution are highly learnable


Perspiration is inspiration, even in the arts


The ability to perform a song, as well as to release a song—i.e. to share it with the world in any way and/or even release it into the market—will help with the confidence and inspiration to write more


Songs can heal, uplift, inspire, and enrich the lives of the writer, the performer and the listener.  We will aim to be all three of these: listeners, performers and writers.  We will be healers, inspirers, and expressers.  Sharing our gifts and stories is important


Songs are marketable. You can make money with them.  You can even make a living with them. There is a huge market for music, and it’s changing fast, but believe it or not it’s expanding.  Huge cultural impact can exist alongside huge economic impact, it is possible and is happening out here every day




Outcomes it is geared towards:


To affirm self-belief, self-expression, and self-empowerment


To be able to communicate experience and emotions in a shareable form


To be able to understand and analyze:

1.) song forms, their parts and structures, and

2.) poetic forms and figures of speech


To have creative ways to conceive of songs and create inspiration out of books, history, everyday life, eavesdropping, ads, games, thought experiments, etc.


To gain some understanding of the basic components of the song as history, roles songs have played in society throughout time until now, across different cultures, the various ways songs function in contemporary society and economy, the basic history and business of songs in our society and songwriting in the music industry. To reflect on how songs are serving people in our current moment, psychologically, politically, socially, etc.  


To understand the basics of music theory and be able to communicate about chords and song structure with other musicians/producers/songwriters


To be able to record the song with an acceptable backing track and to be able to perform the song live and in video recordings


To give and receive feedback, to revise and improve own work and help others workshop and improve theirs  


To collaborate with others on writing a song


To have 10 songs written by the end of the class


To release at least 1 of them on Soundcloud and Bandcamp (it can be private…many great songwriters sell their work to others and don’t make it public, the choice is yours.  But the point is to properly publish it and thus to know how to do that if/when you’re ready)


(Optional advanced additions which I can help with, but which this course won’t focus on yet:

To make visuals, lyric video, and even a music video for the song.

To shop the song to music libraries, to licensing opportunities [ads, video games, influencer channels, movies, ring tones, etc.]

To distribute the song on iTunes/Spotify/Apple Music/Amazon etc.

To copyright the composition and/or sound recording

To register the sound recording with Sound Exchange

To register the composition with a PRO [BMI writer side is free, ASCAP better long run, costs $50 tho, but BMI is free to get started]

To register the metadata so the song is properly credited to you and you can get all the royalties you deserve

To submit music to Spotify playlists and to blogs

To run a social media marketing campaign with creative DIY placements and ads for the song [tiktok, etc]

To make remixes, edits and rearrangements of our or of other people’s songs.

To collaborate on producing a song with someone else

To establish a record label

To sign up with a PRO as a publisher)






*Perfect piano (free phone app, but any chordal instrument needed to learn theory and compose chords.  This one is handy though)

*Preferred Software: Ableton Live (there’s a free 90-day trial of the full version which you can activate a few weeks into the class, when we’ll start to use it, or a simpler version called Ableton lite comes with certain midi keyboards)

*Voice notes or voice recorder app on your phone (always record yourself when a good melody pops into your head)

*Notes app on phone (always be writing lyrics when they pop in your head, you see or hear something you think you can use)

*Watch Songland on NBC whenever you can, the last 5 episodes or so are free…great show with really sharp professionals who give really great feedback to the songwriters



(Optional but very helpful: 

*A Midi keyboard (you can find used ones for $40 or under, new basic ones for as low as $50-60)

*And/or a guitar or piano or bass or any musical instrument that can play chords that you might want or already have in your home

*Garage Band - iPhone or desktop, free or cheap and possibly already on your computer if you already have a Mac, can be helpful to have

[*I will look for and find other phone apps for playing, beatmaking and recording* I’ll be on the hunt for good ones, if you know of any lmk!]

*Headphones (that you can plug into your computer so you can record)

*A digital-audio interface (helps you record directly from mics or external instruments, like electric guitars or basses)

*A microphone (usb or xlr...if it’s a usb mic you don’t need a digital-audio interface…usb mics are usually cheaper and lower quality but they can be a good quick fix.  If your computer has a decent built in mic you don’t necessarily need one at all.  But for quality of vocal recordings, if you think you want to get into it, ask me and I’ll recommend a mic for you)


Coline Devane

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