BM – Composition

Students perform new work

UConn's bachelor of music degree with an emphasis in composition is intended for students who demonstrate an aptitude for creative thinking and expression through musical composition. Students will be exposed to multiple contemporary techniques and genres and will be encouraged to develop their own compositional style.

The composition degree complements the jazz program, which focuses on jazz composition and arranging.

Student composers will have access to student performers and performance opportunities for their music through existing large and small ensembles. They will also be exposed to major performing artists and ensembles that visit the University of Connecticut under the presentation of the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. In addition, student composers will contribute an emphasis on contemporary music making that will have a positive effect on the musical life of the Department of Music.

Essential Competencies, Experiences, and Opportunities

The goal of the composition emphasis is to achieve the highest possible level of skills in musical composition. Students interested in pursuing an emphasis in composition enroll in composition and composition-related courses as outlined in the curricular chart. Course objectives include the following:

To exercise creative imagination for sound.
To learn and utilize new compositional techniques.
To develop compositional skills through regular and focused practice.
To expand awareness of the richness and diversity of contemporary music.
To foster an environment for creative exchange and constructive criticism.
To move toward the acquisition of a personal musical language.
To develop skills in effective notation.
To develop skills working with specific instruments and voices.
To prepare scores and parts for performance.
To produce a substantial portfolio of compositions.

The curricular foundation for the composition emphasis ensures that students develop a knowledge base of the fundamental elements of musical composition. In composition classes and private lessons, students explore a wide variety of compositional techniques through various composition assignments, score study, analysis, and discussion.

Topics span a wide range of concepts including composing for strings and winds, extended instrumental and vocal techniques, setting text to music, and working with electronic media. Completed compositions are performed during reading sessions with large ensembles and at student composition concerts and Convocation performances. Students receive assessment and evaluation on their work throughout the semester, both from the professor and from their peers in composition classes and forums. Grades in composition are based on assessed quality of completed work and progress throughout each semester.

Students first study the fundamental elements of music and composition in the four-semester sequence of Harmony, Ear Training, and Musicianship during the freshman and sophomore years. At the conclusion of the sophomore year, students submit a portfolio of compositions to the major professor in composition be considered for admittance to the composition emphasis. The portfolio should include a selection of original works that demonstration ability in conceiving music for wind instruments and brass instruments, percussion, piano, and voice. Acceptance is based on assessed quality of completed compositions and assessment of student's likelihood to succeed in the program.

Once students are admitted into the composition emphasis, they become upper-division composition students and enroll in applied composition study through classes (Music Composition MUSI 3331, 3322, 4333, 4334) with the major professor of composition. In addition to applied composition study, students are required to take in the junior and senior years the following courses: Composition Forum (MUSI 4339), Introduction to Electronic Media (MUSI 3341), Orchestration 1 (MUSI 3351), Introduction to Improvisation (MUSI 1601), and Jazz Arranging 1 (MUSI 3631). By permission of the instructor, students may also register for Music Composition Independent Study (MUSI 4999), in which students work under the supervision of the instructor on large-scale composition projects.

To successfully complete requirements for the emphasis in composition, students must participate in Convocation (MUSI 1101) each semester of undergraduate study and present a senior recital of 50 minutes featuring original compositions. Convocation performances include preparing original compositions written in the composition classes. Active involvement in the rehearsal process is expected, and students are encouraged to conduct or perform their works in Convocation and Recital performances when appropriate. The major professor of composition will oversee recital preparation and execution and ensure that achievement standards are met.

Applied Lessons

Applied Music, listed in the university catalog as MUSI 1222 and MUSI 3222, consists of private study of an instrument or voice with a member of the Department of Music faculty. The student's major determines the number of credits of Applied Music taken each semester. Some undergraduate degrees require the student to progress to upper division performance status. Admission to upper division performance status is achieved by passing a promotional jury, typically taken at the end of the sophomore year.

As with all lessons, the main emphasis is on performing. Lessons will address technical and musical skills in order to improve the student's performance ability and understanding. Musical analysis, history, and other musical skills learned in the course of the student's academic career may be applied during Applied Music, thereby elevating the student's musical awareness.

Students pursuing the BM in Composition are required to take seven semesters of Applied music for two credits each. Three of those seven semesters must be in MUSI 3222.