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What is a song? A bit of melody, a few words, some instruments. Songs can be simple. They can be complex. They are secrets we share with others or hold close to our hearts. They help us through good times and bad, like an emotional pocket knife that whittles away at love, hope, and pain.

The songs in this collection do all of these things and more. They were crafted as part of a new course we taught in the fall semester of 2018: Music 201, On Songs and Songwriting. The class explored the expressive dimensions of song through criticism, analysis, and composition. Open to students of all levels, it was a labor of love for us. And this album — with a hymn, a country song, a jazz ballad, and even a Chinese folk song in the mix — is a testament to the students’ boundless creativity, intelligence, and originality.

For some, it was the first time ever writing a song. The collection in this way reveals the unending vitality of song as an expressive medium, with its capacity to speak in so many different accents and to say so much with so little. We hope you will be as moved by this music as we are by the students who created it.

We want to express our gratitude to everyone who shared their talents to realize this album. Conn is a deeply collaborative culture and we have to thank not only our own students but also the musicians from beyond Music 201 for lending their hands and voices to the effort. This project is dedicated to all of you.

—Katherine Bergeron and Butch Rovan