This module acts as an introduction to contemporary composition, and addresses some of its fundamental issues. Students will work on and submit a folio of compositions.
Module will run
Spring Term 2021-22
Intended as an introduction to contemporary composition, the aim of this module is to address some of its fundamental issues. With particular reference to later twentieth and twenty-first century practices, the module develops a vocabulary of compositional techniques through the study of a range of works. Students will build up a portfolio of exercises that concentrate on line/melody; rhythm; texture and harmony as a preparation for their larger-scale ensemble piece.
Presentation is through lectures, workshops, analysis and tutorials. The class exercises form the basis of workshops in which all will also take part as performers: instruments must therefore be at hand. All students must be equipped with manuscript paper, pencil and a ruler.
Module learning outcomes
By the end of the project the students should:
have developed an understanding of, and creative engagement with, compositional techniques as demonstrated in some key works by twentieth and twenty-first century composers;
have acquired a deeper awareness of the fundamental issues of contemporary composition such as clarity of expression, coherence, unity and diversity within an overall self-defined structure;
have been encouraged to discover and develop the potential of their own creative voice by applying these principles and musical techniques in their compositions;
have developed skills in working independently and self-reliantly, as well as contributing effectively to group workshop activities as performers and listeners and by giving supportively-critical peer feedback.
On completion of the module, in their independent work, students should demonstrate Learning Outcomes B1-6 & 10
% of module mark
Special assessment rules
Additional assessment information
Assessment is through:
1) a portfolio of class exercises (30%);
2) a work for ensemble of c. 7 minutes (60%) and an accompanying commentary of c.750-1000w (10%)
% of module mark
Report form with marks to student no later than 20 working days from submission of assessment.
As preparation for the project students should listen to as much contemporary music as possible. The following are good starting points:
Adès, Thomas: Asyla
Benjamin, George: Into the Little Hill
Catherine Lamb: Parallaxis Forma
Davies, Tansy: Neon
Enno Poppe: Salz
Frank Denyer: Frog
Grime, Helen: Violin Concerto
Harrison Birtwistle: Silbury Air
Iannotta, Clara: Spring or Some Such Thing
Judith Weir: King Harald's Saga
Kajia Saariaho: Lichtbogen
Liza Lim / Lim, Liza: Voodoo Child
Monk, Meredith / Meredith Monk: Dolmen Music
Nico Muhly: Seeing is Believing
Olga Neuwirth: Horizontal/Vertikal
Per Nørgård: Iris
Rebecca Saunders: O
Scelsi, Giacinto: Anahit
Tristan Murail: Ethers
Unsuk Chin: Double Concerto
Varese, Edgar: Deserts
Walsche, Jennifer: here we are now
Xenakis, Iannis: Metastaseis
Young, La Monte: The Well-Tuned Piano
Zubel, Agata: Cascando
Cox, Christoph, and Daniel Warner, eds. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. London: Bloomsbury, 2013.
Cage, John. Silence: Lectures and Writings. Middletown, Conn.:Wesleyan University Press,1961.
Nyman, Michael. Experimental Music. Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Ross, Alex. The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. London: Harper Perennial, 2009.
Strunk, Oliver, ed.Source Readings in Music History: Vol 7, The Twentieth Century. 2nd Revised edn. New York: Norton, 1998.