From Lute Songs to Pop Songs: Unboxing a Repertoire

The art of songwriting is an age-old tradition, spanning genres, cultures, and epochs. We tend to classify songs and put them into boxes: certain types of songs should be sung by certain types of voices, accompanied by certain types of instruments, and listened to by a certain type of audience in a certain kind of space. But what happens when a jazz singer sings a song by Dowland or when a lute accompanies a pop song? As genres collide, how does this change our perception and understanding of the music? What is the relationship between groove and tactus? Can old lyrics speak to a modern audience? What needs to be adapted or rearranged?

In this workshop, we explore these questions and many more. The approach is experimental and participants will be encouraged to draw on their own experiences, as well as those of other members of the group.

The workshop is open to early music singers and contemporary vocalists, lute and guitar players, songwriters, and composers. There will be opportunities for experimenting with the new repertoire, composing and arranging, as well as collaborating with other participants.



Day 1: Introduction

  • Forming small groups of singers, instrumentalists, and composers
  • Projects discussions
  • Setting goals for the workshop

Days 2 and 3: Composing, arranging, experimenting

  • Presentation and discussion of work in progress

Day 4: Adding the finishing touches and final presentation to the rest of the group and an invited audience.

Claire Huguenin is a Swiss singer and songwriter, winding along with styles, projects, and venues in and out of Switzerland for over 20 years. Self-taught in pop/rock songwriting, guitar playing, and singing, she took to the stage leading a fiery female rock band at 16 and put a series of underground pop singles on Swiss and French national radios, eventually training formally as a jazz singer and composer at the Hochschule der Künste Bern and Bruckner Universität Linz. Meanwhile, open for collaborations as a performer or co-composer, she gathered further momentum and established herself as a distinctive voice in the pop, underground and contemporary jazz scene. She grew up in a multi-ethnic «patchwork» family and her versatile expressions reflect a multifaceted personality in the constant building of relations with the wider and deeper worlds inside and out.

James Oldham is an interdisciplinary artist based in London. He is co-artistic director of experimental theatre collective Waste Paper Opera and a Ph.D. researcher of comic timing in music at the University of Southampton. James’s education was in composition at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, which instigated a central part of his practice. While living in Birmingham, James worked as an assistant director for Birmingham Opera Company and as guitarist and songwriter for The Bank Accounts, a lo-fi indie band who have appeared on BBC Two. His work with Waste Paper Opera includes bastardisations of Mozart, collaborations with microbiologists, and performances in swimming pools. James performs regularly as a clown, comedian, and vocalist often as his alter-ego Clint – the host of the variety show series Whole Punch and failed 80s pop star.

Sam Chapman studied lute with Elizabeth Kenny at the Royal Academy of Music London, trained as an Alexander Technique teacher in Basel, and completed his studies with Hopkinson Smith and Jesper Christensen at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. Performing at venues including the Wiener Konzerthaus and Staatsoper Berlin, Sam works with groups such as Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, under conductors including William Christie and Rinaldo Alessandrini. He has been repetiteur for lute at the Schola Cantorum and taught at the Universidad Central, Bogota. He currently teaches lute at the Universität der Künste Berlin.

Run period:
24.08.2021 – 27.08.2021
face to face
Course time:
10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Application Deadline:

Course fee:
EUR 540

Min. number of participants:
Max. number of participants:

For further information please contact: