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Music - Stand alone

PROJECT 1 – Making a music video

Consider reasons why people make music videos for their songs. Why is making a music video a goodway for bands or songwriters to get people to listen to their music? Brainstorm your ideas.

Music Video

From Vancouver Film School on Flickr – Licenced under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Some reasons may include:

So, what do musicians want people to get from their music videos?

Music videos can be about absolutely anything the musicians want them to be! The possibilities for music videos are endless. Some options include:

Music videos that show the bands themselves playing the song in various locations, for example –

Music videos that mix shots of the band with other footage, or another story. Examples -

Music videos that focus on a very simple concept. Tim Steward from Screamfeeder says that the example below took them two takes, was shot outside the local 7-11 and used all their friends for extras. For example -

Music videos that are carefully planned by the band in order to tell a story, for example -

Music videos that use video effects or something particularly artistic, flashy or showy, for example -

Music videos that make use of animation, for example –

Note: A behind the scenes making-of video of the Sophie Koh clip can be seen here and some other interesting stories about music videos for Australian songs can be found here.

When viewing music videos consider these questions: Does the music video ...

There are three components to making a music video - pre-production, production and post-production. Most people want to skip the first component, grab the camera and start filming; however, the more planning you do the better the end product will be. 

Watch a music video and count how many separate shots there are by keeping a tally every time the video angle changes. This count will give you clues about how the video was edited and how many separate pieces of footage were needed to create the final product.

Count the separate shots used in the music videos for Angus and Julia Stone's song Chateau and The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows by Gang of Youths. Compare the counts for the two music videos.

More information on how to make a music video can be found here.


What is your idea for the music video? Are you telling a story? Using shots of the band? Is the music video connected to the lyrics of the song, or is it something different? What mood or atmosphere are you wanting to create? Write down all your ideas and then put these ideas into a couple of paragraphs that clearly outline, or summarise, the events / moments / story of your music video. Complete a storyboard for all the shots that are needed to create the music video. Usually you will need a combination of wide shots, mid shots and close ups.

Wide shots are also called establishing shots and set up where and when the scene is set. Mid shots show the action and some of the emotions on people's faces. Close ups are used to highlight something in particular you want the audience to see or notice. More information about how to create a storyboard for a music video can be found here.

Wide Shot Wide Shot

Wide Shot. Licenced for reuse from Pixabay.

Mid Shot Mid Shot

Mid Shot. Licenced by Manfred Werner/Tsui by CC by-sa 3.0

Close Up Close Up

Wide Shot. Licenced for reuse from Pixabay.

You will need to use your storyboard in order to create a shot list. This is a list of all the camera shots you need to capture when filming. A shot list gives information about where each shot will be filmed, what will be filmed and any props or costumes you may need. The director of the music video will use the shot list during production and tick off each shot as they are filmed.


You will need to spend time setting up your shot – this includes ensuring that the lighting is good, the costumes are correct and that the camera is framing the shot the way you want it. Once you have everything in place, you can do a take. A take is a filming of your shot. It is a good idea to keep a note on your takes. You may do a few takes on the same shot, so keeping a track of the ones you liked or didn't like can be useful. It can also be a good idea to use a clapperboard to keep track of good and bad takes. The clapperboard, with the number of the take clearly written on it, is held in front of the camera before each shot. This makes it much easier to work out later which files are the best to use, rather than having to sort through them all.

Make sure to look through the camera while you are filming! This sounds silly, but it's the only way to know that you are framing and focusing the shot correctly. You are just inviting trouble if you simply point the camera and hope for the best. Look at every shot that is being taken.

If you are getting a shot of the band playing their song, make sure they play along to a recording of the song. It is important to do this so the movements of them playing their instruments on the video match the music. Without this they could be out of time and the music video will look very strange. Because the sound onset won't be used in the final version of the music video (you will add this in post-production), you do not need to worry about filming in a quiet area. This is a luxury in the world of film!


Post-production means editing the footage together. Any piece of video editing software can be used to do this; the most common are Premiere, Final Cut, Vegas Movie Studio, iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. Think about how to match the footage to the music. Which parts need to synchronise, i.e. which bits should match the beat or flow of the music? If it needs to match exactly, use markers to synchronise the audio and the video.

An example of a video that is synchronised is Missy Higgins – Where I Stood. An extreme example of this is this Line Rider version of Hall of the Mountain King.

More information about the stages of video production can be found here.


What makes music from a place? Let's look at Rock music and use The Beatles and The Beach Boys as examples.

The Beatles. Image from Pixabay, free for use by CC0 Creative Commons.

The Beach Boys. The Beach Boys. Photo by nico7martin (The Beach Boys) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool, England in 1960.

The Beach Boys are an American rock band formed in California, USA in 1961.

So what makes The Beatles rock music English? And what makes The Beach Boys rock music American?

Choose a song from each band and compare the following:

Now let's look at AC/DC and Yothu Yindi. What makes AC/DC's rock music Australian? What makes Yothu Yindi's rock music Australian? 

AC/DC. Photo by Harry (Howard) Potts [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Choose a song from each band and compare the following:

More information about the lyrics of Yothu Yindi's Treaty can be found here.

Discuss: How did local and global music developments and trends, politics, social issues and fashion trends influence genres of music, and these specific bands?

What are some examples of this with current Australian music acts? Fill in the headings:

Place making

Darling River, Wilcannia. Photo by Peterdownunder [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Writing lyrics inspired by your place:

Listen to Down River by the Wilcannia Mob and read the lyrics (you may also like to listen to the remix of the song by MIA).

Cultural Identity expressed in language

Lyric and language dictionary:

Aboriginal loan words into English

From Global Worlds site:

Standard Australian English (SAE) includes many loan words and place names from Australian Aboriginal languages, and Aboriginal English has borrowed and transformed English words, often introducing concepts from Aboriginal cultures to their meaning.

A loan word is a word that has been 'borrowed' from another language and absorbed into English to enrich it. English speakers are so familiar with loan words they often have no idea of their origin. Begin with the word 'tattoo', which came into English in the 18th century from Polynesian 'tatau', to discuss the concept of loan words and the cultural associations they can carry with them. The practice of illustrating skin was taken to Europe by sailors along with the word (though Europeans also tattooed in ancient times). Polynesian people such as Maoris and Tahitians, and other Indigenous peoples, have long been known for tattooing their bodies. Being of European descent and having tattoos once connoted membership of a tough subculture, or rebellion, but tattooing is now part of popular culture. Tattooing is thus both a traditional Indigenous practice and a contemporary Western practice inherited from Indigenous cultures.

Research activities

William Dawes and Patyegarang

While language lives on in loan words, complexity and world-view is reduced, and recording or reducing language is never an impartial process. Introduce students to the notebooks of William Dawes, an officer of the First Fleet of 1787–88, and the role of 15-year-old Patyegarang in helping keep Darug language alive.

Patyegarang was just 15 when she roamed Sydney with Dawes, teaching him Darug while he recorded conversational snatches in his notebooks. Now digitised, the notebooks are a rich resource for Darug language revival.


Accent and Cultural Cringe

In 1894, Australian bush poet Henry Lawson wrote in his preface to his Short Stories in Prose and Verse:

The Australian writer, until he gets a "London hearing," is only accepted as an imitator of some recognized English or American author; and, as soon as he shows signs of coming to the front, he is labelled "The Australian Southey," "The Australian Burns," or "The Australian Bret Harte," and lately, "The Australian Kipling." Thus no matter how original he may be, he is branded, at the very start, as a plagiarist, and by his own country, which thinks, no doubt, that it is paying him a compliment and encouraging him, while it is really doing him a cruel and an almost irreparable injury. But mark! As soon as the Southern writer goes "home" and gets some recognition in England, he is "So-and-So, the well-known Australian author whose work has attracted so much attention in London lately"; and we first hear of him by cable, even though he might have been writing at his best for ten years in Australia.[1]

“The sound of Aus” documentary:

Project 3 – Songwriting

Deborah Conway

Deborah Conway performing on stage in the 1990s. Gift of The Age 1995. Courtesy of the Australian Performing Arts Collection. Image reproduced by Tony Mott.

A song can tell a story, express a feeling, make us dance or cry, or give voice to an important issue. Writing a song is something anyone can do - everyone has a unique perspective and a story to tell.

Here are steps and exercises that can help in creating an original song.




"Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." – Michelangelo

Just like a sculptor needs to collect materials in order to shape a piece of work, songwriters need to collect ideas from which they will create lyrics and a song. Ideas and inspiration can be found in:

Exercise: Collecting Ideas

Carry around a notebook for a day. Make a note of anything that catches your interest. You can draw, write, doodle, make lists or write whole stories! Your notebook is a place for you to fill with whatever you want. You may want to bring your notebook with you to the Australian Music Vault and make a note of anything that captures your imagination or makes you curious.

Exercise: Object Writing

Choose an object to write about. You may want to choose an item from the Australian Music Vault, or you may want to use an item from your home or classroom. Set the timer for 5 minutes. In that limited time, write a description of the object. This is not a factual report but an exercise to allow your imagination to go anywhere. Think of how you can use all of your five senses to describe the object. The following questions can help get you started:

When the timer goes off, stop writing. You may like to reread what you have written and circle or underline any ideas, words or images that you find interesting. These may be used as a starting point for your lyrics.




Ideas can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They can be logical and fully formed or they can also come as pictures, words or short phrases. When you start to write a song your job is to capture every ideas – no matter how weird or wonderful – without judgement. Don't think of your ideas as bad ideas or good ideas. You never know what might be useful when you are putting your song together – songwriters often need to go through many ideas before they get to one that is useful.

Exercise: Free Writing

Choose a topic that you came across when you were gathering inspiration. Get a pen and a piece of paper and write everything that comes into your brain without stopping. Keep the pen moving until the page is full. You might like to set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes to keep you focused.

After you have finished read over what you have written and highlight any words or ideas you find interesting.

(Hint, this is a great exercise to come back to if you are ever stuck for lyrics when creating your song)

Exercise: Mind Map

Choose a word or idea that you would like to write about. It could be useful to read through your notebook or free writing work and choose from there a key word or phrase as the starting point for your mind map.

Write the key word or phrase in the centre of a blank A4 or A3 page. Draw 8-10 branches from the key word or phrase, and on these add a word or phrase that is associated with your original key word / phrase.

Now, let the branches with these new words / phrases grow. Springboard ideas as you associate the word or phrase or image to another and then another. The branches should grow and connect.

The aim is to fill up the page with words and phrases. You can use different colours and sketches to bring your ideas to life.

Mind mapping


Now it’s time to translate your ideas into a song that has a shape, structure, rhythm and melody. But, before this step, let’s look at the elements of song.


Songs are built using different sections.

Common Song Structures

Common Song Structures

Here are some of the names for sections that can be used to build up a song:

Whilst there are common conventions used to create songs out of these sections, songwriters make different decisions in how they put these together.

Examples of song structure used in Australian songs:

You’re The Voice – John Farnham
Verse – Pre-Chorus – Chorus – Verse – Pre Chorus – Solo/Bridge – Pre-Chorus - Chorus – Extended Chorus – Choru

Elastic Heart – Sia
Verse – Pre-Chorus – Chorus – Verse – Pre-Chorus – Chorus – Instrumental - Chorus

Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye
Verse – Verse – Chorus – Verse – Chorus (Extended)

Depreston – Courtney Barnett
Verse – Verse – Verse – Verse – Verse – Verse – Verse - Verse – Coda

Exercise – Identifying Song Structure

Choose a song that you know and love. Listen to it and identify what sections have been used to create the song structure and where they occur in the song.

Next to each section write, explain what purpose you think the section served and the feelings or moods it created.

Example –
Intro: Purpose – Sets the tone and mood, introduces the hook. Mood – sweet and bouncy
Verse: Purpose – Introduces the characters, sets the scene.   Mood – quiet, rhythmic, quirky
Hook: Purpose – Reintroduces the hook and creates a recognizable pattern. Mood – fun
Chorus: Purpose  – Conveys the emotion of the song. Mood – uplifting and inspiring.

Exercise – Use an existing song to create a structure for your lyric

Rewrite the lyrics of the song you just analysed using the ideas you have generated in free writing or the min map. Use the phrasing and rhythm of the existing song to guide the way you put your lyrics together. You may also like to use a similar rhyming structure to the song you are rewriting.

Once you have rewritten the song with new lyrics, you can try changing the melody, the rhythm and the timing to make it sound completely different.

Exercise - Create your own structure

Before you begin shaping your ideas into lyrics decide what song structure you want to use for your song. It may go something like this:

Verse - 4 lines

Chorus - 4 lines

Verse - 4 lines

Chorus - 4 lines


Chorus (repeated)

Once you have decided on your song structure, take the ideas and phrases from your mind map and use them to write the words for your song.




Song lyrics are more than words on a page. They are made to be sung, performed, recorded and listened to. Here are some of the elements of music that can be used when creating a song

Beat - a steady repeated rhythm, or pulse in the music

Rhythm - the pattern of notes and sounds

Melody - the tune or musical line that is sung or played

Harmonic/Chord Progression - a repeated pattern of chords (three or more notes played at the same time) played under the melody

Instrumentation - the instruments used to create the song

You may be writing a song that is acapella (unaccompanied), accompanied by a guitar or piano, played by a band or accompanied by a backing track you create with audio software. Either way you will be using at least some of these musical elements when creating your song.

Exercise - Working with a Beat

You can create a beat using loop based software to find a rhythmic loop that plays continuously and sets the tone and pace for your song.

Alternatively you might like to create a beat on an instrument or using body percussion. You can work on your own, tapping or playing as you create your song, or work with a partner, with one person keeping the beat, the other person working on the song.

Listen to the beat you have created and notice how it makes you feel. Start speaking the lyrics you have written in time to what you hear. Imagine your voice is another rhythmic instrument working in collaboration with the beat.

Notice if you are speaking the words quickly or slowly or a combination of both. Are you speaking your lines in repeating rhythmic patterns? What words does the beat emphasise? Do you have time to breathe, pause and rest?

You may like to repeat each line a number of times, trying different ways of saying it in order to find the rhythmic patterns that feel good to you. As you experiment, you might like to change the lyrics to fit in with the beat and patterns you are creating.

As you get more comfortable you can play with singing the lyrics rather than speaking them, using the rhythmic patterns you have created. Again this may change the way you are delivering the lines. Follow what feels and sounds good.

It is a good idea to record yourself as you do this so you can listen back for anything you would like to try again and build on.

Exercise - Building a Melody over a Harmonic Progression

You can create a harmonic progression using loop based software or an instrument. You can begin with a bass line, a guitar riff or a chord progression on an instrument like piano, guitar or ukulele.

It is a good idea to keep this simple so you are able to sing or speak over the top of it.

Choose a progression you like and listen to it a few times.

Spend a few minutes humming as you listen, and find notes that you think sound good. Hum high and low, use notes from the progression and the stepping notes in between. Try playing with different patterns, melodies that go down and up, or melodies that only move between a few notes. Think of this as a warm up - you’re getting to know the music and having fun with it.

Next, go back to your lyrics and song structure. Add notes to the words and phrases you have created in the previous exercise. Notice the shapes your melody makes. See if you can create at least two melodic shapes within your song. Notice if you are using low, middle or high notes and see if you can incorporate different pitches in the different sections of the song (for instance, choruses often use a higher pitch and energy compared to the verses of popular song writing).

When you have a few melodic ideas, record what you have done and listen back. Take note of what sounds and feels good to you.

Victorian Curriculum links:

Learning Areas Capabilities
The Arts
  • Media Arts
    • Explore and Express Ideas
    • Media Arts Practices
    • Present and Perform
    • Respond and Interpret
  • Music
    • Explore and Express Ideas
    • Music Practices
    • Present and Perform
    • Respond and Interpret
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Intercultural
  • Personal and Social
  • Reading and Viewing
  • Writing
  • Speaking and Listening
The Humanities
  • Reading and Viewing
    • The Modern World and Australia: Rights and Freedoms (1945-present)
    • The Globalising World



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