MUSCOMP 3001 - Composition 3A

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2017

The composition course seeks to develop advanced skills in a broad range of stylistic approaches for composing music primarily in the classical tradition. A comprehensive study of the artistic, theoretical and practical dimensions of music composition is delivered in a variety of modes including individual tuition, lecture and tutorial. The course covers the traditional framework of music composition including form, harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, notation and text setting, along with studies in aesthetics, contemporary media and music technology. Opportunities are provided for ensemble performance and interdisciplinary experience in the areas of film, dance and theatre. Attention is given to the practical, vocational aspects of creative music making and the course seeks to develop composers who are technically well equipped in both traditional and modern compositional practice.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code MUSCOMP 3001
    Course Composition 3A
    Coordinating Unit Elder Conservatorium of Music
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites MUSCOMP 2002
    Restrictions Available to Bachelor of Music students only
    Assessment Modal composition 20%, Motivic composition 30%, Portfolio 50%
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Charles Bodman Rae

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1. An understanding of advanced compositional and music production principles
    2. An understanding of the historical, cultural and philosophical contexts of experimental music practice; particularly as it relates to contemporary popular music
    3. Creativity and individuality as an artist – to allow students to develop their own compositional ‘voice’
    4. A cogent and quality creative portfolio in recorded and notated formats
    5. Critical and self-critical listening abilities
    University Graduate Attributes

    No information currently available.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources

    Students enrolled in the Composition Major should own, or have easy access to, a computer running Sibelius (or Finale) music notation software and a sampled instrument library such as Garritan Personal Orchestra.

    Recommended Resources

    Students should make use of the resources of the Elder Music Library and the Electronic Music Unit. Students are also encouraged to attend the general musical activities of the Elder Conservatorium such as concerts, rehearsals, masterclasses, workshops and guest lectures.

    Online Learning

    Students should familiarize themselves with online resources such as the Petrucci Music Library of the International Music Score Library Project (;; and digital media stores such as iTunes, Amazon etc.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    Individual tuition (.75 hr per week) (Major only) For those enrolled in the Composition major only - develops skills in composition for various instrumental and vocal ensembles and expands knowledge of musical styles, structures, notation and score presentation.

    Technical Studies (1.5 hr per week) (Major and Elective) This seminar provides the opportunity for the theoretical and historical study of the resources, techniques and styles of contemporary music principally in the classical tradition. Topics are presented in a 3-year cycle. Technical Studies is a seminar format class and students may be expected to give in-class presentations on set topics during the year. In addition to these topics occasional sessions will be set aside for guest speakers (subject to availability) or to enable guided discussion of issues related to contemporary musical aesthetics and practice based on materials handed out in class.

    Composers’ Workshop (1.5 hr per week) (Major and Elective) provides for practical engagement with individual instruments and small ensembles (subject to availability) and the performance of student compositions specifically composed for this class. Mr David Harris coordinates this class and will provide details of schedule and assessment.


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Students should be aware that the major assignments for Technical Studies are generally given out as close as possible to weeks 4 and 10 of each Semester and the submission dates are approximately 3 weeks after distribution. Composer’s Workshop assignments are scheduled in class and are based around compositional activities relating to available performer resources.

    Learning Activities Summary
    The Technical Studies class is based on a three-year cycle of teaching modules. This year the topics are:

    Semester 1: Weeks 1-6 Modal Resources and Techniques

    Semester 1: Weeks 7-12 Modernism and Atonality

    Semester 2: Weekes 1-6 The History and Techniques of Film Music

    Semester 2: Weeks 7-12 Minimalism and Music

    (Subject to variation depending on the availability of guest speakers and forum discussions etc.)
    Specific Course Requirements

    From time to time students may need to make themselves available for attendance at rehearsals, workshops, performances and guest seminars.

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment structure depends on whether you are enrolled in Composition as a Major (Composition 1A/1B;2A/2B;3A/3B) or as an Elective (Techniques of Composition 1A/1B;2A/2B;3A/3B).

    COMPOSITION (MAJOR) 1A/1B;2A/2B;3A/3B;(1001/1002; 2001/2002; 3001/3002)

    3 units per semester

    Individual Tuition: 50% of final mark for Composition (Major) 1A/B;2A/B;3A/B:

    Semester 1 Assessment: Students are required to submit two of the required 4 works for the folio completed (or at an advanced stage towards completion) to their teacher by noon on Monday, June 29, 2015. These works will be assessed together with a teacher’s report on student progress. Semester 2 Assessment: Students are required to submit a folio of 4 complete works (equivalent to the specifications listed below and including the two Semester 1 works) to the Hartley office by noon on Monday, November 2, 2015. Students will attend a 15’ panel interview (Viva Voce) on Wednesday, November 14 to discuss their folio. Interviews will be scheduled late in Semester 2.

    Technical Studies: 25% of final mark for Composition (Major) 1A/B;2A/B;3A/B. 4 assignments listed below due approximately 3 weeks after distribution (around weeks 4 and 9).

    Composers’ Workshop: 25% of final mark for Composition (Major) 1A/B;2A/B;3A/B. Attendance and participation form a large part of the final assessment for this component. Composition assignments are set throughout the year.

    N.B. Works composed for one component may NOT be submitted for assessment in another component. (i.e. A work written for Composers’ Workshop cannot be included in your Composition folio for the individual tuition component.)



    3 units for the full year

    Semester 1: 50% of the total for the full year comprised of: 25% Technical Studies assignments 25% Composers’ Workshop assignments (See details below)

    Semester 2: 50% of the total mark for the full year comprised of: 25% Technical Studies assignments 25% Composers’ Workshop assignments (See details below)
    Assessment Related Requirements

    Composers’ Workshop is a performance-based class and full attendance is expected.

    Assessment Detail
    Composition Folio guidelines (Composition Major ONLY):

    First Year: total duration 20’ – content as agreed in consultation with your teacher - to include a set of short piano pieces; a song for voice and piano; a string quartet; a chamber work for small mixed ensemble. (2 works to be submitted by mid-year)

    Second Year: total duration 25’ – content as agreed in consultation with your teacher - to include a small scale mixed chamber work; a choral work; a string quartet; an orchestration of one of your previous piano works (or similar). (2 works to be submitted by mid-year)

    Third Year: total duration 30’ – content as agreed in consultation with your teacher - to include a work for chamber ensemble; a string quartet; an orchestral piece; a short collaborative/cross-artform piece (theatre, dance, film, multimedia). (2 works to be submitted by mid-year)

    The above guidelines indicate the minimum expectations for a folio. In addition to the minimum specifications outlined above you are expected to work on any composition activities that may present themselves during the year – i.e. opportunities to compose for film, theatre and dance projects. ALL students are expected to submit work for these projects and include their submissions in their final folio.

    Technical Studies Assignments: (Composition and Techniques of Composition students)

    Assignment 1: Select and analyse a short piano piece that employs modal resources; provide an 800-word summary and - most importantly - a neat, systematically annotated copy of the score. Identify and analyse the thematic materials and describe the way they are developed; discuss other elements such as form and the use of rhythm and harmony. Pay particular attention to describing and indicating the modes employed. Do NOT waste time on biographical and background information. Include musical examples with your text. (800 words and annotated score)

    Assignment 2: Write an analytical essay on the music in a feature film of your choice. (Do NOT choose a musical or song-based film.) A brief introduction (about 300 words) should provide some background on the film (history and style) - and the composer - but the bulk of the essay should take the approach described below:

    Describe the stylistic features of the music and the composer’s approach to the way the music functions in relation to the narrative and visual aspects of the film. Provide and analyse musical examples of thematic material (you may need to transcribe these by ear) and describe how this material is used and varied within the context of the film. As always, provide a bibliography and use footnotes. (1200 words)

    Assignment 3: Choose a composer from the following list and discuss their music. Consider their influences, aesthetics, compositional techniques and relationship to Modernist philosophy. Keep biographical material to a minimum and only to what is relevant to the music. Include analytical observations on at least three pieces and provide musical examples with the text. (1200 words)

    Pierre Boulez, Witold Lutoslawski, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Gyorgy Ligeti, Luciano Berio, John Cage, Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter,Iannis Xenakis, Olivier Messiaen, Krzysztof Penderecki, Gerard Grisey, Peter Maxwell Davies

    Assignment 4: Write an essay comparing and contrasting the work of a composer – working within an essentially Minimalist aesthetic and technique – and an exponent of Minimalism in another art form (visual arts, literature, theatre or dance). The discussion should concentrate on a comparison of technical, stylistic, aesthetic and philosophical aspects relating to both artists’ work. Do NOT include unnecessary biographical material; concentrate on discussing the work and ideas of the artists. (1200 words)

    Composer’s Workshop:

    Assessment is based on attendance, participation and a series of short composition assignments set throughout the year. Refer to the separate Composer’s Workshop Course Outline provided by Mr David Harris. In mid-Semester 2 students will be expected to submit 3 audio sketches for the annual collaboration with AC Arts Film and Television School.

    Composition folio to be submitted as directed by Head of Composition.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

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