Composition Courses

The Composer's Toolkit: Shaping Sound in Time

Course Number
CM-103
Credits
2
Course Chair
Richard Carrick
Semesters Offered
Fall, Spring
Required Of
None
Electable By
All
Prerequisites
None
Department
COMP
Location
Boston Campus
Description

This course will introduce students to fundamental elements of compositional thought and structure. In a series of weekly assignments, students will create short experimental passages of composed sound focused on isolated parameters of music in order to compare the effect of different strategies. Examples of the basic parameters that students will work with: linear/non-linear, pulse/non-pulse, noise/pitch, register (high/low), timbre (bright/dark), texture (dense/sparse), dynamics, and articulation. Through these experiments, students will experience how different choices affect our perception of time, musical flow and space. The course is designed to be approached by anyone at any level of compositional experience, as indicated by the low course number. The course will benefit musicians with any amount of composition experience.

Introduction to Composition

Course Number
CM-201
Credits
2
Course Chair
Richard Carrick
Semesters Offered
Spring Only
Required Of
None
Electable By
All
Prerequisites
None
Department
COMP
Location
Boston Campus
Description

This is a foundational course for potential composition majors and other interested students which introduces composition techniques in a stylistically open way. It is designed to help students expand their individual writing styles by exploring abstract and non-traditional methods in composition. Students create notated and graphic scores for a variety of scenarios, learn to compose with sound and timbre in creative ways, and develop basic musical ideas into larger forms. Students develop their creative process through weekly writing exercises for solo instrument, chamber music, band, voice, and/or electronic sounds, and collaborate on reading through their scores in class.

Tonal Harmony and Composition 1

Course Number
CM-211
Credits
2
Course Chair
Richard Carrick
Semesters Offered
Fall, Spring, Summer
Required Of
All except MUED majors
Electable By
All
Prerequisites
PW-111
Department
COMP
Location
Boston Campus
Valencia (Spain) Campus
Description

Functional tonal harmony analyzed and composed in various musical textures. Emphasis on voice leading, melodic writing, and figured bass.

Tonal Harmony and Composition 2

Course Number
CM-212
Credits
2
Course Chair
Richard Carrick
Semesters Offered
Fall, Spring, Summer
Required Of
All except MUED majors
Electable By
All
Prerequisites
CM-211 or CM-251
Department
COMP
Location
Boston Campus
Valencia (Spain) Campus
Description

Continuation of CM-211. Advanced tonal harmony and intermediate compositional procedures. Emphasis on harmonies with sevenths, other upper extensions, chromatic alterations as well as modulation.

Techniques of Tonal Writing

Course Number
CM-221
Credits
2
Course Chair
Richard Carrick
Semesters Offered
Fall, Spring, Summer
Required Of
COMP and FILM majors
Electable By
All
Prerequisites
CM-212 or CM-252, and CP-210
Department
COMP
Location
Boston Campus
Description

Specific techniques of traditional tonal composition. Conclusive and nonconclusive phrases; antecedent-consequent phrase relationships; open-ended phrase relationships; sequencing; modulation; large-scale tonal relationships; thematic variation and development. Application of these techniques in writing, using models from the classical period.

Guitar Composition Techniques for Performers/Composers

Course Number
CM-225
Credits
2
Course Chair
Richard Carrick
Semesters Offered
Fall, Spring
Required Of
None
Electable By
All
Prerequisites
CM-211 or CM-251
Department
COMP
Location
Boston Campus
Description
Intermediate and advanced approach to guitar composition techniques. The course is designed for performers/composers and provides a comprehensive demonstration of the capabilities of the instrument and the most successful ways to compose for it through analysis, live performances, improvisation, and mostly elementary and advanced compositional techniques. Also covers performance techniques, extended compositional approaches (guitar and other instruments), resources and technologies of basic composition techniques, and mainly guitar music of the 20th century and beyond.

The Russian Art of Modulation

Course Number
CM-227
Credits
2
Course Chair
Richard Carrick
Semesters Offered
Fall Only
Required Of
None
Electable By
COMP, FILM, and CWPR majors
Prerequisites
CM-212 and CP-210
Department
COMP
Location
Boston Campus
Description

During this course the students will explore and master the technique of modulation to the keys both closely related and distant. Using the concepts of three degrees of kinship between keys and the major-minor (minor-major) systems, the students will acquire the skill of gradual modulation as well as sudden modulation, as it was taught in Russia. This practical/theoretical approach will both contrast and complement current methods of handling this more advanced area of harmony, and will thus bring about for the student additional practical applications of these concepts.

Instrumentation and Score Preparation

Course Number
CM-231
Credits
2
Course Chair
Richard Carrick
Semesters Offered
Fall, Spring, Summer
Required Of
COMP and FILM majors
Electable By
All
Prerequisites
CM-212 or CM-252
Department
COMP
Location
Boston Campus
Description

The technical aspects involved in creating finished, professional scores. Score layout; instrumental/vocal ranges and performance characteristics; special playing techniques and limitations; breath and bowing considerations; choice of key, meter, beat, and subdivision values; use of slurs, articulation marks, dynamics, tempo variation, and other devices for indicating expressive nuance; proper underlaying of vocal text; calligraphy; creating a practical piano reduction; and extracting parts.

Traditional Materials and Structure of Music 1

Course Number
CM-251
Credits
2
Course Chair
Richard Carrick
Semesters Offered
Fall, Spring, Summer
Required Of
None
Electable By
MUED majors
Prerequisites
PW-111 and AR-111
Department
COMP
Location
Boston Campus
Description

This course introduces students to diatonic harmonic analysis in various musical textures, melody writing, and harmonization of melodies in various musical textures.

 

Traditional Materials and Structure of Music 2

Course Number
CM-252
Credits
2
Course Chair
Richard Carrick
Semesters Offered
Fall, Spring, Summer
Required Of
None
Electable By
MUED majors
Prerequisites
CM-251 and CP-210
Department
COMP
Location
Boston Campus
Description

This course is a continuation of CM-251. Students explore more in-depth concepts, including advanced traditional harmony and intermediate compositional procedures, as well as seventh chords, altered chords, and modulation.

 

Composing for Acoustic Keyboards

Course Number
CM-261
Credits
2
Course Chair
Richard Carrick
Semesters Offered
Spring Only
Required Of
None
Electable By
COMP, CWPR, FILM, and SONG majors
Prerequisites
HR-112
Department
COMP
Location
Boston Campus
Description

An introduction for the non-pianist to the fundamentals of composing music that is suited to acoustic instruments. Emphasis is placed on writing melodies and chords that fit the hand comfortably. In addition, importance will be given to creating keyboard figuration that suggests the continuation of melodic lines. The student learns how to elaborate a chordal style of keyboard writing to one that is more expansive and florid with a wide variety of figurations.

Contemporary Techniques in Composition 1

Course Number
CM-311
Credits
2
Course Chair
Richard Carrick
Semesters Offered
Fall, Spring, Summer
Required Of
COMP majors
Electable By
All
Prerequisites
CM-221 and either COND-211, COND-216, or COND-221
Department
COMP
Location
Boston Campus
Description

Specific techniques of traditional 20th-century composition. Technical devices such as quartal harmony, serial writing, polytonality, and contrapuntal techniques. Assignments are directly related to each of these aspects of composition and are performed in class.

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