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Music Composition

Dr. Ofer Ben-Amots, Ext. 6555

Packard Hall, Room 16

MU301 Syllabus


The objective of this course is to encourage individual creative language while exposing the
students to contemporary techniques of music composition. Through practical guidance in the
composition of original music and intensive exploration of 20th century music theory and
compositional methods, students will be able to concentrate on both the creative and the
analytical aspects of contemporary composition.

Class Requirements & Expectations:
Each student will present two medium length (5-6 pp.) papers on 2 different composers. The
discussion of these composers should be accompanied by listening to numerous musical
examples and enriched with score analysis. Composers will be selected from chart on page 3 of
this syllabus.
A portfolio of seven (7) original compositions and compositional exercises. Composition
MU301 satisfies the creative component credit of the music major requirements.
In addition to three morning hours in the classroom, students are expected to spend two-three
(2-3) hours on listening and analysis and four to five (4-5) hours on active composition.
Students are expected to deliver their work according to the schedule assigned below.
Three-hour morning classes are to be supplemented with forty-five (45) minute private lessons
in coordination with instructor.

Class Procedures:
Assignments: Due to the enormous amount of writing, timely submission of compositions is
essential in this class. Compositional exercises (see attached list) given on Monday will be
completed by Friday of the same week. Students will decide on their compositional project no
later than the third day of the course. Final projects will start upon my approval and will be
discussed on a weekly basis (Fridays - individual sessions).
Attendance is mandatory. Absences will not be excused except for medical reasons.
Grading: Student will be graded according to their personal growth in composition and their
efforts reflected in a complete portfolio. This portfolio will include 3 papers (20%) six exercises
(60%) and a final project. (20%)
Office hours: . Individual meeting time is available upon appointment. I am also available for
short consultations 15 minutes before or after class

Required text:

David Cope, Techniques of the Contemporary Composer, New York, Schirmer Books, An
Imprint of Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1997. ISBN 0-02-864737-8. The book is available at the
Colorado College Bookstore.

Recommended reading: A list of additional bibliography is attached to the syllabus. This
recommended reading would be extremely helpful to you when preparing your papers and
presentations. All the books listed will be on reserve at the A. Seay Music Library.

List of Orchestrations and Exercises - A Weekly Planner

Week I (all required)

1. Lied for voice and piano on text of your choice (free style, preferably tonal)

2. Exercise in 12-tone technique (dodecaphony) or Serialism

3. Harmonization and Pitch-class: Chords, choral or free harmonic progression (extended
tonality, atonality)

Week II (choose two of the following)

4a. A folk tune with 4-5 variations (extended modality, polytonality)

4b. A Percussive exercise for 1-3 players (free style - may include piano)

5. A composition in graphic or mixed notation (free style - aleatoric)

Week III (choose one of the following)

6a. A composition for a solo instrument (free style - extended technique)

6b. A composition for dance (collaborative with the Dance Department)

6c. A composition upon any artwork (collaborative with the Art Department)

Week IV

7. Final project (proposals to be approved by me on the second Friday of the block)

* Complete portfolio to be handed on the last Monday of the block

Outline of Lectures, Presentations and Discussions

Week I

Session 1 - Mon., September 6, Convocation at Shove chapel. Class starts at 10:30 a.m.

Going over the syllabus. Baca representative prep. Meeting.

Session 2 - Tue., September 7, Composition class 9-12

Reading: Cope, Chapters 1-5 (pp. 1-57). Assignment: melodic exercise

Session 3 - Wed., September 8, Composition class 9-12

Reading: Cope, Chapters 6 (pp. 58-76). Assignment: Finish first composition. Start 12 -tone
technique exercise.

Session 4 - Thur., September 9, Composition class meets at 8 at the Pearson Studio

Visiting a rehearsal of Stephen' Scott's Bowed Piano Ensemble. Reading: Cope, Chapters 7 (pp.
77-88). Assignment: Finish 12-tone assignments. Begin harmonization and pitch-class

Session 5 - Fri., September 10, individual sessions 9 - 12

No reading. Assignment: harmonization and harmonic progress assignments. Complete part I
of portfolios.

Week II

Session 1 - Mon., September 13 Presentations 1 and 2. Listening sessions.

Session 2 - Tue., September 14, Composition class 9-12. Presentations 3 and 4. Listening

Session 3 - Wed., September 15, Composition class 9-12.

Reading: Cope, Chapters 8-9 (pp. 89-121). Assignment: percussive exercise

Session 4 - Thur., September 16 Exploring 'graphic notation' - visit to the Albert Seay Music

Reading: Cope, Chapters 13-14 (pp. 150-167). Assignment: Alternative (graphic) notation

5 p.m. - Music Department party at Richard Agee.

7:30 p.m. -An evening concert featuring the Crisol Bufons at Packard Hall

Session 5 - Fri., September 17, individual sessions 9 - 12

No reading. Assignment: Five complete compositions in portfolio. *Deadline for final project

Week III

Session 1 - Mon., September 20, 9-12 Papers/Presentation 5 and 6.

1-2 p.m. - Guest performer Daryll Stevens, clarinet and bs. cl.

Session 2 - Tue., September 21, 9-12 Papers/Presentations 7 and 8

Assignment: A piece for solo instrument (with Daryll Stevens, clarinet/bs. cl.)

Session 3 - Wed., September 22, Trio pianOVo class visit.

Session 4 - Thur., September 23, 9:00-10:30 composition class

Thursday @ 11 - Trio pianOVo from Weimar, Germany in Packard Hall (mandatory!)

7:30 p.m. - "Great Performers" concert in Packard - Trio pianOVo

Session 5 - Fri., September 24, individual composition sessions. Checking status of portfolios.

Week IV

Session 1 - Mon., September 27, Deadline for final project. Preparation for the presentations of

Afternoon rehearsals.

Session 2 - Tue., September 28, Rehearsals and preparation for the final concert.

* Complete portfolios to be turned in by 3 p.m.

Final concert and presentations of collaborations at 7:30

Session 3 - Wed., September 29, Last day of class. Big Israeli breakfast at Ofer's starting at 9:30

List of Composers:

Choose three composers for papers/presentations

(one of each period)
Turn of the century
Early to mid-20th century
Second half of 20th century










































Adams and Glass


Peter Maxwell Davies

Recommended reading:

Reginals Smith Brindle, The New Music The Avant-Garde since 1945, Oxford, Oxford
University Press, 1987 (2nd edition)

John Cage, Notations, New York, Something Else Press, 1969

David Cope, New Directions in Music, New York, Brown and Benchmark Publishers, (6th ed.)

William Duckworth, 20/20, 20 New Sounds of the 20th Century (book & CD). New York,
Schirmer Books 1999

Robert Fink, The language of twentieth century music: A dictionary of terms. New York,

Macmillan, 1975

Kyle Gann, American Music in the Twentieth Century, New York, Schirmer Books, 1997

Paul Griffiths, Modern Music and After, New York, Oxford University Press, 1995

Erhard Karkoschka, Notation in New Music, London, Universal Edition, 1972

Daniel Kingman, American Music A Panorama, New York, Schirmer Books 1998

Michael Nyman, Experimental music: Cage and beyond., Cambridge, Cambridge University
Press, 1999

John Rahn (Editor), Perspectives on Musical Aesthetics, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1994

Bryan R. Simms, Music of the Twentieth Century, New York, Schirmer Books, 1986

Composers on Modern Musical Culture, . Edited by Bryan R. Simm. New York, Schirmer 1999

Glenn Watkins, Soundings Music in the Twentieth Century, New York, Schirmer Books, 1998

Arnold Whittall, Musical composition in the twentieth century. Oxford, Oxford University Press,