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Composition Concentration Requirements

The mission of the Composition Program is to provide student composers with the resources to develop a broad set of creative skills, and the opportunities to explore approaches to composition in all media and styles. Interested students should ask one of the faculty composers to serve as an advisor.

Core Requirements (42 Units)

Required

Develop aural skills

  • Music 24A, 24B, 24C: Ear Training I, II, III (1-2 units each)
  • Ear training exit exam
  • Piano proficiency exam

Analytical approaches: from the common-practice era to today

  • Music 21, 22, 23: Elements of Music I, II, III (3 units each)

 

Required

Develop proficiency with the history of Western art music

  • Music 40: Music History to 1600 (4 units)
  • Music 41: Music History from 1600 to 1830 (4 units)
  • Music 42: Music History since 1830 (4 units)

    

 

 

Required

Complete three upper division courses:

1. Choose one course among these three:

  • Develop compositional and analytical skills focus on tonal and post-tonal contrapuntal practices
  • Learn analytical methods
    • Music 122B: Analysis of Tonal Music (4 units)
    • Music 122C: Introduction to 20th- Century Composition (4 units)

2. Choose one course among these eight that satisfy the Writing In the Major (WIM) requirement:

  • Acquire the capacity to write about music
    • Music 140: Studies in Music of the Middle Ages (4 units)
    • Music 141: Studies in Music of the Renaissance (4 units)
    • Music 142: Studies in Music of the Baroque (4 units)
    • Music 143: Studies in Music of the Classical Period (4 units)
    • Music 144: Studies in Music of the Romantic Period (4 units)
    • Music 145: Studies in Western Art Music Since 1900 (4 units)
    • Music 146: Studies in Ethnomusicology (4 units)
    • Music 147: Studies in Music, Media, and Popular Culture (4 units)

3. Choose one more course among the remaining nine listed in 1 and 2.

Note: A course cannot be used to satisfy more than one major requirement.

Choose a course or some courses among the following, for a minimum of 3 units  

1. Develop proficiency with at least one instrument or voice

2. Ensemble

3. Acquire conducting skills

  • Music 130B: Elementary Instrumental Conducting (2 units)
  • Music 130C:  Elementary Choral Conducting (2 units)

4. Play/Perform electronic music

  • Music 128: Stanford Laptop Orchestra: Composition, Coding, and Performance (3-4 units)

5. Play/Perform improvised music

  • Music 126A: Introduction to Thoroughbass, historically informed stylistic improvisation  (1-3 units)
  • Music 156: [sic] Improvisation Collective (1 unit)

6. Play/perform contemporary music, and collaborate with performers in having your music performed

Note: A course cannot be used to satisfy more than one major requirement.

Choose a course or some courses among the following, for a minimum of 3 units  

1. MST (Music, Science, and Technology)

  • Music 101: Introduction to Creating Electronic Sounds (3-4 units)
  • Music 155: Intermedia Workshop (3-4 units)
  • Music 192A, B, C: Sound Recording (192A & B: 3 units each, 192C: 1-2 units)
  • Music 220A, B, C: Computer Generated Sounds (2-4 units each)
  • Music 223: Composition for Electronic Musicians (3-4 units)
  • Music 223B: Sonic Experiments in Composition (1-3 units)
  • Music 223C: Tradition, Experimentation, and Technology in String Quartet Composition and Performance (1-3 units)
  • Music 223D: Sound Practice: Embodiment and the Social (2-3 units)
  • Music 250A, C: Design of Digital Sounds for Interactive Performance (3-4 units each)
  • Music 256A, B: Music Computing, Design (3-4 units each)

2. Composition

  • Music 20C: Jazz Arranging and Composition (3 units)
  • Music 112: Film Scoring (3 units)
  • Music 113: Introduction to Instrumental Composition (2-3 units)
  • Music 123A: Composition seminar: Rhythmic design (1-2 units)
  • Music 123B: Composition seminar: Pitch design (1-2 units)
  • Music 123C: Composition Seminar: World Music (1-2 units)
  • Music 124A: Songwriters Workshop (1-2 units)

3. Orchestration

  • Music 127A: Instrumentation and Orchestration (3 units)
  • Music 127B: Advanced Orchestration (3 units)

Note: A course cannot be used to satisfy more than one requirement.

Composition Concentration Requirements (20 Units)

Complete the following courses for a minimum of 12 to 14 units:

1. Undertake diverse compositional experiences.

  • Music 123A: Composition seminar: Rhythmic design (1-2 units)
  • Music 123B: Composition seminar: Pitch design (1-2 units)

2. Expand your creativity through individual composition lessons with multiple faculty composers, and build a portfolio of pieces of solo, chamber, and large ensemble music.    

  • Music 125: Individual Undergraduate Projects in Composition (Must complete 3). (1-3 units each)
  • Music 198: Concentration Project (2 units)

3. Develop competence with instrumental and orchestration technique. Choose one course among these two:

  • Music 127A: Instrumentation and Orchestration (3 units)
  • Music 127B: Advanced Orchestration (3 units) 

4. Become proficient in electronic music techniques. In consultation with your advisor, choose one course among those offered by CCRMA:

Note: A course cannot be used to satisfy more than one major requirement.

 

 

Choose courses among the following, for a minimum of 6 to 8 units, depending on your Composition core being 14 or 12 units, respectively:

1. Develop competence with instrumental technique and orchestration. Understand new performance practices, compositional techniques, and notational strategies.

  • Music 127B: Advanced Orchestration (3 units)
  • Music 223: Composition for Electronic Musicians (3-4 units)
  • Music 223B: Sonic Experiments in Composition (1-3 units)

2. Experience the creation of vernacular music (popular, jazz and indigenous music cultures)

  • Music 20C: Jazz Arranging and Composition (3 units)
  • Music 123C: Composition Seminar: World Music (1-2 units)
  • Music 124A: Songwriters Workshop (1-2 units)

3. Become proficient in electronic music techniques and media. Explore areas such as interemedia composition, installation, instrument and interface design, interactive composition, sound art, and other contemporary creative enterprises

  • Music 112: Film Scoring (3 units)
  • Music 128: Stanford Laptop Orchestra: Composition, Coding, and Performance (3-4 units)
  • Music 155: Intermedia Workshop (3-4 units)
  • Music 192A, B, C: Sound Recording (Music 192A & B: 3 units, Music 192C: 1-2 units)
  • Music 220A, B, C: Computer Generated Sound, Psychoacoustics, and Computational Music (2-4 units each)
  • Music 250A : Design of Digital Sounds for Interactive Performance (3-4 units)
  • Music 250C: Interaction - Intermedia - Immersion (2-3 units)
  • Music 256 A, B: Music Computing, Design (3-4 units each)
  • You may also consider other CCRMA courses (2-4 units)

4. Gain experience in contemporary music performance and improvisation (Limited to a maximum of 2 units)

5. Further develop your compositional and analytical skills  

6. Get familiarized with music perception, psychoacoustics, cognition, and neuroscience of music.

  • Music 251: Psychophysics and Music Cognition.

 

Note: A course cannot be used to satisfy more than one major requirement.

 

Recommendations

 

The 62-unit structure is designed to offer a preliminary basis in composition. Students intending to delve deeper, and, in particular, interested in professional careers and graduate studies should work with their advisor to be prepared to meet the anticipated expectations and requirements.

This can be achieved by taking additional courses from the above listed electives but also others offered occasionally or by visiting artists. Taking multiple quarters of composition lessons (Music125) with more than one faculty member can be particularly beneficial. The following is also recommended:

  • Be part of the community: Expand existing music communities or create a new one.
  • Develop collaborations with fellow musicians
  • Use the library and online resources to expand and diversify your knowledge of contemporary composers 
  • Attend concerts and rehearsals. Follow the contemporary music scene.
  • Take advantage of the Stanford Overseas Study Program
  • Look into various summer courses and find out about available partial funding
  • Take advantage of the available funding during your Sophomore summer to develop and carry on your research, composition competitions, among several other opportunities.
  • If you are considering graduate studies in composition, select target programs and study their entrance requirements and exams