Composition Skills 1

Syllabus - Fall 2014 (preliminary)

Workshop in composition techniques, exploring use of styles and devices of contemporary art music.
    Credits: 1
Prereq: Rudimentary music skills; Coreq: MUT 1121, Theory of Music 1. Required for all majors in theory/composition.

Required Texts:

    (available online via numerous vendors - buy used)
Duckworth, William. Talking Music: Conversations with John Cage, Philip Glass, Laurie Andreson and Five Generations of American Experimental Composers.
(DaCapo Press, 1999). ISBN: 0306808935
Cope, David. Techniques of the Contemporary Composer.
(Wadsworth Publishing, 1997). ISBN: 0028647378

Optional Texts:
    (available online via numerous vendors - buy used)
Persichetti, Vincent. Twentieth-Century Harmony: Creative Aspects and Practice.
(W. W. Norton & Company, 1961). ISBN: 0393095398

Materials Required:
    High quality music manuscript paper
    Soft lead pencils, No. 2 or softer
    (6) CD-R blank disks for PROJECTS
    (1) 8 GB Flash Drive (for data backup)
Listening List

    20% Class Participation
    25% Composition Assignments/Projects
    10% Small Concert Presentations
    15% Listening Reports
    5% Assigned Bibliography
    25% Final Project
Office: Office 304/Lab 147/Studio 340
Office Phone No.: 273-3176
Office Hours: see schedule
Professor: Dr. James Paul Sain [email]
Studio/Lab Assistant: Andrew Babcock [email]
Listserv (closed):

1) All listening selections are from the Music Library Listening Area; please plan your time accordingly. A lack of planning on your part does not necessarily constitute an emergency on the part of the library support staff.

2) Late work is not accepted.

3) Attendance is required at all classes. Should a class be missed, it is the student's responsibility to see that the lecture notes from the missed class are obtained from a classmate and any work assigned is completed by their return (a class list will be supplied to help facilitate this policy). After three (3) class absences your grade will be lowered one grade increment for each absence after three (ie A to A-, or C to C-). Your grade will be lowered one grade increment for each UnBalanced Connection concert missed. Each missed concert or presentation will also result in a reduction in your grade by one increment.

4) Plan early for your projects...things have a way of happening at the last minute.

5) The requirements, emphasis, and timing of this course may be changed or adjusted to meet the specific needs of the class as determined by the instructor.

6) All students of The University of Florida are expected to conduct themselves in a reasonable and professional manner at all times as described in the Student Honor Code; please refer to The Code for specifics.

7) UF Software Copyright Policy: All faculty, staff and students of the University of Florida are required and expected to obey the laws and legal agreements governing software use. Failure to do so can lead to monetary damages and/or criminal penalties for the individual violator. Because such violations are also against the University policies and rules, disciplinary action will be taken as appropriate.

8) UF Counseling Services - Resources are available on-campus for students having personal problems or lacking clear career and academic goals which interfere with their academic performance.

    These resources include:
    1.University Counseling Center, 301 Peabody Hall, 392-1575, personal and career counseling;
    2.Student Mental Health, Student Health Care Center, 392-1171, personal counseling;
    3.Sexual Assault Recovery Services (SARS), Student Health Care Center, 392-1161, sexual assault counseling;
    4.Career Resource Center, Reitz Union, 392-1601, career development assistance and counseling.

9) Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office in Peabody Hall. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the Instructor when requesting accommodation.

10) My office door is always open; please feel free to drop by to discuss class issues as the need arises.

Grading Scale:

Course Outline
Week 1 (25 Aug)
  • Introduction

  • Cope: Ch. 1: Basics, pp. 1-11
Week 2
  • Experimentalists

  • Duckworth: Ch. 1: John Cage, pp. 3-28
      - Compose 1, solo instrument composition utilizing given motive

Week 3
  • The Tonal Legacy

  • Cope: Ch. 2: The Tonal Legacy, pp. 12-25
      - Compose 2, solo instrument composition utilizing given motive for "Compose 1" in oposing style
      - Analyze 1, basic tonal musical passage assigned in class
Week 4
  • Melody

  • Duckworth: Ch. 2: Conlon Nancarrow, pp. 29-51
    Cope: Ch. 3: New Roles of Melody, pp. 26-37
Week 5

Listening Report 1

Week 6
  • Harmony, Counterpoint, and Hierarchy

  • Duckworth: Ch. 3: Milton Babbitt, pp. 52-93
    Cope: Ch. 4: Harmony, Counterpoint, and Hierarchy, pp. 38-45
Week 7
      - Analyze
Declaration of Bibliography Topic

Week 8
    Duckworth: Ch. 4: Lou Harrison, pp. 94-120
      - Compose

Week 9
      - Finale, complete notation of first composition (due Wed.)

Week 10
  • The Avante-Garde

  • Duckworth: Ch. 5: Ben Johnston, pp. 121-158
Listening Report 2
Fri 31 Oct 2014 UnBalanced Connection 54, MUB 101 at 7:30 p.m.

Week 11
  • Interval Exploration

  • Cope: Ch. 5: Interval Exploration, pp. 46-57
Week 12
    Duckworth: Ch. 6: Pauline Oliveros, pp. 159-178
      - Analyze

Week 13

Bibliography Due

Week 14
    Duckworth: Ch. 7: Christian Wolff, pp. 179-208
      - Compose

Week 15
      - Finale
Listening Report 3

Week 16
      - Presentation, a final show case concert will be given by the class to present the semester's projects

      - Final

LISTENING REPORTS: A written critique of compositions on each listening list. These typed reports should contain objective prose describing the works on the listening list that demonstrates an understanding of the techniques used to produce the work as well as the aesthetic of the composition.

COMPOSITION ASSIGNMENTS/PROJECTS: The composition assignments will be handed in by the due date in Finale computer notation and bound for professtional presentation. Class projects could be, for example, the presentation of a contemporary composition recording (written within the last 30 years) at the beginning of each class.

CONCERT PRESENTATION: A composition is not "finished" until it is presented in concert. Each composition assignment will be presented by the class in a concert setting. The class members will determine an organizational structure that will produce a program and flyer/poster for the concert presentations. The class is encouraged to find alternative spaces appropriate to the assignment/project for the presentation concert.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Each student will be assigned a contemporary composer, born not earlier than 1950, and compile a bibliography/discography of the composer's works.

FINAL PROJECT: Creative work to demonstrate understanding and application of principles discussed and experienced during the course of the semester. The final project will be presented during the final examination time for the course. All final projects will be considered for performance a the SCI Student Chapter concert.

UNBALANCED CONNECTION CONCERTS: All students are encouraged to attend the UnBalanced Connection 54 concert on Friday, 31 Oct. 2014, at 7:30p. All students are required to set-up, attend, and tear-down for this concert (set-up usually begins early afternoon on the concert day). The concert will be held in MUB 101 unless otherwise noted. Please clear your schedules early to avoid a conflict.

COMPOSITION STUDIO: All students studying composition at the University of Florida, as a major or non-major, must attend and participate in the Composition Studio. The studio meets every Monday during the 4:05 hour. Each student is required to present on at least one studio meeting (25 mins presentation for half the meeting). All topics music be approved by Dr. Sain at least two weeks prior to the presentation date. Dr. Sain must also be given a title for the presentation for the presentation when approval is requested.

SAFETY HINT: Always keep several back-up copies of your Finale files on multiple flash drives; if you have a personal computer you may wish to keep one copy on your personal hard-drive.

    Eight Stave Music Manuscript Paper (.pdf/Acrobat) [.pdf]
    Three System Piano Music Manuscript Paper (.pdf/Acrobat) [.pdf]

- last update 17 August 2017 -