The project aims to develop students' familiarity with issues in contemporary composition, and allow them to increase their vocabulary of compositional techniques through completion of an independent folio of music.
Intended for 2nd and 3rd-year students, the aim of this module is to address key issues of compositional techniques and idioms. The study of works by 20th and 21st-century composers and the working out of a number of technical exercises (concerning the melodic, harmonic, contrapuntal and timbral aspects) will be the main focus of the project. The exercises will then serve as a starting point for free composition. All students will actively take part in seminars, as well as workshops, as composers and performers, and are therefore required to bring their instruments to the class.
The project is structured around seminars, study sessions and workshops, where the students will try out their exercises and chunks of their main composition, are very much part of the module, as are the tutorials during the project and up to the final submission.
Module learning outcomes
By the end of the project the students should:
have developed a good understanding of compositional techniques as demonstrated in some key works by 20th and 21st-century composers;
have developed their presentation skills;
have acquired a deeper awareness of the fundamental issues of composition such as clarity of expression, coherence, unity and diversity within the overall formal structure;
by applying these principles and techniques in their compositions, have been encouraged to discover and develop the potential of their own creative voice.
On completion of the module, in their independent work, students should demonstrate Learning Outcomes C1-C6, C7 & C10
% of module mark
Special assessment rules
Additional assessment information
A well-presented portfolio consisting of all the exercises worked (and re-worked as necessary) during the module, and one substantial free composition (ca. 7 minutes) (90%); accompanying commentary on the works submitted of c.750-1000w (10%).
% of module mark
Report form with marks to student no later than 20 working days from submission of assessment.
Bartók, Violin Sonatas, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, Concerto for Orchestra
Boulez: 12 Notations, Le Marteau Sans Maître
Debussy: Douze Etudes, Jeux
Kurtag: Hommage a RSCH, Kafka Fragments, 12 Microludes
Ligeti: Lontano, Horn Trio, Piano Etudes, Viola Sonata, Violin Concerto
Lutoslawski: Livre pour Orchestre, Epitaph, Partita, Jeux Venetiens
Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time
Saariaho: Petals for Solo Cello
Schoenberg: Op. 16, Variations for Orchestra Op. 31, Klavierstück Op.33a
Takemitsu: Hika for Violin & Piano, Rain Spell for Chamber Ensemble
Webern: Op 5, Five Pieces for Orchestra Op.10, Symphony Op.21, Variations for Piano Op. 27
More works by the above composers, and others (!) such as Birtwistle, Grisey, Murail, Scelsi, Xenakis, Unsuk Chin (and many more!) can be found on YouTube!
Whittall, Arnold. Musical Composition in the Twentieth Century. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000.
Lester, Joel. Analytic Approaches to Twentieth Century Music. London: Norton, 1989.
Ligeti, György. Ligeti in Conversation. London: Eulenberg, 1983.