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Composition Skills 1

Syllabus - Spring 2003 (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 Text:
None. There will be occasional handouts of reading material, as well as materials placed on reserve in the Music Library throughout the course of the semester.

Materials Required:

  • High quality music manuscript paper
  • Soft lead pencils, No. 2 (HB) or softer (B, BB, etc.)
  • 100MB Zip disk, Macintosh format, for personal back-up of Finale files...very, very important!



    20% Class Participation & Studio Presentation (see Remember #4)
    25% Composition Assignments/Projects
    10% Small Concert Presentations
    15% Listening Reports
    5% Bibliography
    25% Final Project


Office: Lab 147 or Studio 340
Office Phone No.: 392-0223 ext.392
Office Hours: TBA



1) All listening assignments are selections 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) All projects are cumulative.

3) Late work is not accepted.

4) Attendance is required at all classes. Should a class be missed, it is the student's responsibility to see the lecture notes from the missed class are obtained from a classmate and any work assigned completed by their return (a class list will be supplied to help facilitate this policy). After three (3) absences your grade will be lowered one grade increment for each absence after three (ie A to B+, or C to D+).

5) 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.

6) Software piracy is against the law. You are not to install unauthorized software on any of the computers at The University of Florida. Also, it is unlawful to take software under copyright from The University of Florida computers (though there are many freeware applications that are available).

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

8) Each student is required to obtain an email account through the university, per university policy.

9) 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.

10) I make every effort to make myself available to students for questions, consultation, and other communications, and my availability outside of class is not restricted to office hours alone. Send me an email of stop me in the hallway if there is anything you wish to discuss. The University of Florida provides professional counselling services should the need arise.

    Grading Scale:

      A 100-93%
      B+ 92-90%
      B 89-85%
      C+ 84-82%
      C 81-77%
      D+ 76-74%
      D 73-69%
      E 68-0%


Course Outline


Week 1

    • Tuesday, January 7: Get acquainted and discuss objectives, goals, expectations.
    • Thursday, January 9: More discussion of general compositional ideas; Sam will present his work "Absence of Joy"


    Week 2

    • Tuesday, January 14: Composition with intervals; Composition Assignment 1 (CA1) given, due January 28
    • Thursday, January 16: Listen, discuss, and score analysis: John Cage


    Week 3

    • Tuesday, January 21: Finale; notation; score presentation
    • Thursday, January 23: Listen, discuss, and score analysis: George Crumb


    Week 4

    • Tuesday, January 28: Workshop on CA1
    • Thursday, January 30: Listen, discuss, and score analysis: Steve Reich


    Week 5

    • Tuesday, February 4: More composing with intervals; CA2 given, due February 18
    • Thursday, February 6: Life as a composer: copyright issues, professional organizations


    Week 6

    • Tuesday, February 11: Transposition and notation of orchestral instruments; LISTENING REPORT 1 DUE
    • Thursday, February 13: Listen, discuss, and score analysis: Roger Reynolds


    Week 7

    We will have a guest composer in town this week: Roger Reynolds of the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). There will be a series of events with him on Thursday and Friday, and you are expected to attend all events. We are very fortunate to have a visiting composer of this stature.


    • Tuesday, February 18: Workshop on CA2
    • Thursday, February 20: Life as a composer: finding performers, venues, and opportunities for your music

    Friday, February 21: Unbalanced Connection concert, MUB120, 8pm (attendance encouraged)


    Week 8

    • Tuesday, February 25: Composing with non-traditional scales and modes, CA3 given, due March 18
    • Thursday, February 27: Listen, discuss, and score analysis: Gyorgy Ligeti


    Week 9

    • Tuesday, March 4: Composition for voice; text-setting; CA4 given, due March 25; Biliography topic declared
    • Thursday, March 6: Listen, discuss, and score analysis: Morton Feldman


    Week 10

    • Tuesday, March 18: Workshop on CA3
    • Thursday, March 20: Music inspired by visual arts, literature, and other external sources, CA5 given, due April 8; LISTENING REPORT 2 DUE


    Week 11

    The School of Music will be hosting a meeting of the international Liszy Society at the end of this week, and there will be a concert or two featuring new music for the piano. It is expected that you will be in attendance. Details will be provided as they are available.

    • Tuesday, March 25: Workshop on CA4
    • Thursday, March 27: Listen, discuss, and score analysis: James Dashow


    Week 12

    Monday, March 31: New Music Ensemble concert, University Auditorium, 8pm (ATTENDANCE REQUIRED)

    Thursday, April 3, through Saturday, April 5: 12th Annual Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival at the Philips Center for the Performing Arts (attendance expected at as many events as possible)

    • Tuesday, April 1: Discussion of electroacoustic composition; BIBLIOGRAPHY DUE
    • Thursday, April 3: No class, due to the 12th Annual Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival


    Week 13

    • Tuesday, April 8: Workshop on CA5


    Week 14
    • Tuesday, April 15: Jazz, pop, and rock composition: doing it with brains; LISTENING REPORT 3 DUE
    • Thursday, April 17: Listen, discuss, and score analysis: Helmut Lachenmann and his students


Saturday, April 19: Dance concert, featuring music from UF student composers, Constans Theatre, 8pm (please attend if you are in town, although this is Easter weekend)


    Week 15

    • Tuesday, April 21: Workshop on CA6


    Expect that Composition Juries will be on Monday, April 27, though this date is not yet confirmed.


    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 computer notation (Finale) and bound for professional 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.

    SMALL 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 organize an organizational structure that will produce a program and flyer/poster for each of the concert presentations. The class is encouraged to find alternative spaces appropriate to the assignment/project for the presentation concert.

    BIBLIOGRAPHY: Each student will choose 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.

    COMPOSITION JURIES: All students studying composition at the University of Florida, as a major or non-major, must participate in composition juries during the week of final examinations. During the juries, the students will present their compiled works from the semester to the composition faculty.

    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 starting the second week of class in MUB 144.

    SAFETY HINT: Always keep several back-up copies of your Finale files on multiple Zips; if you have a personal computer you may wish to keep one copy on your personal hard-drive, as well as use the FTP space provided to you by UF as a place to store backups.


- last update 17 August 2017 -