MUSCOMP 3001 - Composition 3A
North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2021
General Course Information
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 BMus, BCtveArts students only Course Description 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 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.
Course Coordinator: Professor Charles Bodman Rae
The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.
Course Learning Outcomes
- An understanding of advanced compositional and music production principles
- An understanding of the historical, cultural and philosophical contexts of experimental music practice; particularly as it relates to contemporary popular music
- Creativity and individuality as an artist – to allow students to develop their own compositional ‘voice’
- A cogent and quality creative portfolio in recorded and notated formats
- Critical and self-critical listening abilities
University Graduate Attributes
No information currently available.
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.
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.
Students should familiarize themselves with online resources such as the Petrucci Music Library of the International Music Score Library Project (www.imslp.org); Garritan.com; and digital media stores such as iTunes, Amazon etc.
Learning & Teaching Activities
Learning & Teaching ModesEach student 'majoring' in Musical Composition is allocated a Principal Study composition tutor with whom s/he will have individual or small group weekly tutorials. The work in those tutorials will be directed towards the composition of pieces to be submitted in the Interim Portfolio (end of Semester 1) and the Final Portfolio (end of Semester 2). The portfolio submissions carry an assessment weighting of 70% for each semester. The tutorials for first-year students are normally taken by the Head of Composition, and they are usually scheduled with pairs of students in a one-hour session. The tutorials for second-year and third-year students are normally scheduled as one-to-one weekly lessons, usually with one of the specialist, part-time lecturers in Composition (for example, Dr Anne Cawrse, or Dr John Polglase). Once the student has been allocated to the tutor (by the Head of Composition) the precise days and times for the weekly sessions are negotiated direct between the tutor and the student. Some tutors may choose to combine students in an extended session; this is not for the purpose of reducing the overall staff time allocated, but may be beneficial for the purpose of sharing creative ideas.
In addition there is a weekly two-hour Composition Class attended by all the undergraduate composition students across years 1 to 3 (ie excluding Honours, although some Honours students choose to attend the class anyway). This class takes place on Monday mornings (in 2019 from 11am to 1pm, in room Hartley 108a), and is taken by the Head of Composition. The purposes of the class are: to provide a friendly, collegial environment for the exchange of creative, compositional ideas across the year levels; to provide a forum for addressing particular aspects of compositional technique; and to provide a forum for becoming acquainted with seminal works from the repertoire. In these respects the Composition Class is directly comparable with the weekly "Technique and Repertoire" classes for performance students (and these classes are also scheduled for Monday mornings). Matters of Technique and Repertoire are addressed each week, but with the particular needs of composers in mind. The format for the two-hour class will vary from week to week, but in general terms the first hour will normally focus on a particular aspect of Technique, while the second hour will focus on an example of that technique from the Repertoire. The weekly Composition Class also provides opportunities for guest presentations from time to time, depending on the concert calendar of the Elder Conservatorium and associated organisations such as the Australian String Quartet and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. At the end of each semester the Composition Class (in Week 13) will incorporate oral presentations from all the group members. These oral presentations (on a pre-approved aspect of compositional technique) carry a 30% assessment weighting in each semester. The topics will usually be of an analytically detailed nature, and will focus on compositional technqiue in a chosen work from the repertoire.
The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.In addition to compulsory attendance at both the two-hour weekly Composition Class and the student's Composition Lesson (with the allocated specialist composition tutor) students majoring in composition are, of course, expected to devote a significant number of hours each week to their creative, compositional work as they prepare for each end-of-semester Composition Portfolio. It is strongly recommended that students majoring in composition should make good use of the non-teaching weeks, because these are the periods of the year that allow for intensive compositional work on major pieces (without the distraction and interruption of other course requirements). Each semester contains a two-week mid-semester non-teaching period, and it is recommended that during these weeks the composition students will devote several hours each day - for 10 to 14 days - working on their portfolio pieces. In addition, students majoring in composition are expected to devote one or two hours each day to their creative work during the teaching weeks of each semester.
Most students enrolled for Composition as the Principal Study for their degree will wish all to make good use of the non-teaching periods that precede each semester of taught activity. For example, it is customary for a major work scheduled for performance during Semester One to be drafted before the beginning of that semester. For a major work scheduled for performance during Semester Two it is expected that the drafting will largely take place during the June-July Winter Break, ie before the beginning of Semester 2.
It should be understood that the course requirements can be fulfilled at a basic level by attending the classes and tutorials, submitting the minimum number of pieces for each portfolio, and making the required oral presentations. But most students majoring in composition will aspire to have several of their works (perhaps major works, for large forces and relatively long duration) rehearsed and performed. This type of enhanced experience requires considerable investment of time in creative activity, preparation of scores, preparation of instrumental parts, organising rehearsals, and organising performances.
Learning Activities SummaryThe schedule of topics for the Composition Class each semester will, of course, vary slightly from year to year in response to external and internal considerations such as: the repertoire of the Adelaide Smphony Orchestra (particularly premieres); the repertoire of the Australian String Quartet (particularly premieres); the programming of Elder Conservatorium performances (particularly premieres) by student composers; guest contributions by distinguished visiting composers; guest contributions by composers in the Elder Conservatorium postgraduate programme (MPhil and PhD composition candidates). With that proviso the schedule of topics for the Composition Class in Semester One will be according to the following sequence.
Week 1: Introduction, and survey of forthcoming premieres and guest composer presentations
Week 2: Variation Technique, with related repertoire
Week 3: Chaconne/Passacaglia Technique, with related repertoire
Week 4: Guest Composer A (related to corporate concert events of ECM/ASQ/ASO etc.)
Week 5: Aleatory Technique, with related repertoire
Week 6: Layered Ostinato Technique, with related repertoire
Week 7: Guest Composer B (related to corporate concert events of ECM/ASQ/ASO etc.)
Week 8: Refrain-Episodes Technique, with related repertoire
Week 9: Pitch Complementation Technique, with related repertoire
Week 10: Guest Composer C (related to corporate concert events of ECM/ASQ/ASO etc.)
Week 11: Oral Presentations (A) on chosen repertoire and compositional technique
Week 12: Oral Presentations (B) on chosen repertoire and compositional technique
The schedule for the individual composition tutorials will be determined by the student's preparation (guided by the tutor) of pieces of the end of semester portfolio submission. The normal requirements for those portfolio submissions are detailed in the section on Assessment.
Specific Course Requirements
From time to time students may need to make themselves available for attendance at rehearsals, workshops, performances and guest seminars.
The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:
- Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
- Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
- Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
- Assessment must maintain academic standards.
Assessment SummaryPortfolio of Compositions (according to the guidelines given in the Course Outline) : 70 % weighting
Oral presentation to the Composition Class (on an approved aspect of compositional technique) : 30 % weighting
The Oral Presentations will be scheduled in the Composition Class in Weeks 11 and 12 of each semester.
The Portfolio of Compositions must be submitted no later than the Friday of Week 13 in each semester.
The Portfolio guidelines are slightly different for each semester and year level (for full details see the consolidated Course Outline document provided to all students both electronically by email and in hard copy at the beginning of each semester and online via MyUni/Canvas).
For the Oral presentation each student will be allocated a 15 minute 'slot' during the Composition Class (in Weeks 11, 12 or 13) in order to make a 10-minute presentation followed by 3 minutes of questions.
Assessment Related Requirements
Composers’ Workshop is a performance-based class and full attendance is expected.
Assessment DetailA: PORTFOLIO (70% weighting)
For each full year of study there is an “Interim Portfolio” submission at the end of Semester 1, followed by the “Final Portfolio” submission at the end of Semester 2. Each will generate a separate result for the academic transcript (70% weighting for the relevant semester). All the finished pieces and works in progress that were submitted for Semester 1 should also be submitted in the end of year portfolio, hopefully with refinements and improvements (and attention should be drawn to such revisions). The contents can be negotiated with the designated composition tutor, but the following are to be regarded as the minimum requirements at the relevant year level.
Year 1, Semester 1
A suite of FIVE short pieces for solo piano according to an alternating and contrasting tempo scheme of fast/slow/fast/slow/fast. The five pieces should also explore other areas of contrast, for example: metres (time signatures); register; chords versus lines; chords below melody versus melody below chords; contrasting/complementary pitch fields (e.g., black versus white notes); alternation/opposition of modes. These suggestions are intended to be merely indicative rather than exclusive.
A collection of at least THREE solo pieces (unaccompanied) for orchestral instruments from different family groups, for example: Cello, Clarinet, Trombone (being those instruments of the widest range from their respective families). These solo pieces should aim to explore a wide range of idiomatic techniques.
Year 1, Semester 2
The pieces from Semester 1, with revisions/refinements, plus…
A song for voice and piano. The focus for this piece will be on the setting of text. Care should be taken with: the selection of text/poem; the choice of voice type; the treatment of vocal tessitura across the relevant voice range; correct subdivision of words into syllables; correct placement of syllables (text underlay); melismata on suitable words/vowels; correct use of phrase markings (for melismata).
A movement for: piano trio; or string quartet; or wind quintet; or brass quintet; or percussion quartet. It is expected that this will be the most extended and developed piece contained in the end-of-year portfolio. For this reason, students are advised to begin work on the piece in Semester 1 and continue working on it through the mid-year (winter) break. Elements of the piece as a “work in progress” can be appended to the Semester 1 portfolio submission.
Year 2, Semester 1
A group of THREE pieces for string quartet exploring contrasts of various kinds (fast/slow, arco/pizz., chords/lines, on-the-string/off-the-string, muted/unmuted, long/short bowing, and so forth).
A choral setting for SATB. Care should be taken with: the selection of text/poem; the choice of language (not necessarily English); the treatment of vocal tessitura for the various voice types; correct subdivision of words into syllables; collect placement of syllables (text underlay); melismata on suitable words/vowels; correct use of phrase markings (for melismata).
Year 2, Semester 2
The pieces from Semester 1, with revisions/refinements, plus…
A work for mixed ensemble, of circa 5-7 players, with/without solo voice
A piece for string orchestra, with optional subdivisions. The instrumentation can be expanded by including four solo woodwind parts.
Year 3, Semester 1
A work for solo piano, duration circa 5-10 minutes. The purpose of this piece is to prepare for the orchestral work in Semester 2. So it should be conceived in terms of orchestral textures and sonorities, and it does not have to be pianistically idiomatic.
A piece designed to be synchronised to a segment of a chosen film. The instrumentation is left open. The piece can either be presented as a conventionally notated score, with precise timings and cue points, or it can be engineered through a suitable sequencing programme.
Year 3, Semester 2
The pieces from Semester 1, with revisions/refinements, plus…
An extended vocal work, either for solo voice and ensemble/orchestra, or for choral forces (a cappella or accompanied).
A work for either symphonic orchestra or wind orchestra. This piece can be an orchestral version of the piano work submitted in Semester 1. Hence there can be two versions of the same work contained in the end-of-year portfolio.
B: ORAL PRESENTATION (30% weighting)
For the Oral Presentation each student will be allocated a 15-minute 'slot' in one of the Composition Class sessions, in either Week 11, Week 12, or Week 13 (the number of sessions devoted to this task will depend on the total number of students enrolled in a particular year). The presentation should be 10 minutes in duration, and will be followed by three minutes of questions from members of the group. The topics should be proposed to the Head of Composition for approval by the mid-semester break in order to allow plenty of time for preparation. The topics should be analytical in nature and should focus on a particular aspect of compositional technique, with reference to a specific piece from the repertoire. In this respect the Oral Presentation relates directly to the concept of "Technique and Repertoire" that underpins both Composition Class and the equivalent classes for performance students. Particular care should be given to the 'manner' and professionalism of the presentation. It should be audible, fluent, engaging, well prepared, well illustrated, and well rehearsed. It should not be improvised, mumbled, over hesitant, too short, or too long. The style of presentation should be relatively formal (ie standing and scripted).
Due to the current COVID-19 situation modified arrangements have been made to assessments to facilitate remote learning and teaching. Assessment details provided here reflect recent updates.
Portfolio of Compositions - interim folio: 70%. Submitted electronically to the Head of Composition.
Alternative Arrangements for Oral presentation: 30%
Students are to select a work of their own choosing, and examine and analyse how the composer creates, manages and positions the climax of the work. Questions to be answered include, but are not limited to:
how the climax is approached and maintained
musical techniques employed to maximise or intensify the climax
what occurs after if the identified 'climax' is not in a standard 'bigger/louder/higher' model, what is happening in its place?
Students have the option of presenting their findings in various ways:
a 10 minute video presentation, to be pre-recorded and uploaded to MyUni
a 1500 word written report, including score annotations, tables, diagrams etc.
score annotations of the selected work, together with a creative response whereby the student uses the model set in their chosen work and create their own short composition using this model. (This would work best for the study/analysis of shorter works for few forces eg. solo piano, solo instrument and accompaniment).
All work will be submitted electronically, and will be available for other students in the class to read/watch. The final two weeks of Semester (Week 11 & 12) will be used for Q&A and general discussion on the selected work with the whole class, moderated by the teacher.
SubmissionComposition folio to be submitted as directed by Head of Composition.
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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