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Unit information: Introduction to Professional Composing in 2015/16

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Unit name Introduction to Professional Composing
Unit code MUSIM0002
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Ellison
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit is intended to develop the core skills needed to organise and work out a composition from conception to delivery of performance materials. We will focus on chamber music in order to facilitate study of instrumental usage, ensemble design, continuity of idea, texture, and formative approaches. We also cover elements of analysis, repertoire, and orchestration. A study of the contemporary new music scene and the profession will provide orientation on your prospects outside of the University. The Professional Composing unit culminates in a commissioned piece of about 6 minutes from each student for workshop / recording with our resident ensemble Gemini.

Intended Learning Outcomes

1. Comprehensive technical skills for professional score writing, including instrumental and other resources, instrumentation, orchestration, score layout and presentation.

2. Up to date knowledge of and critical understanding of contemporary musical repertoire and related cultural ideas based on listening, score study and reading

3. Acquisition of technical foundations of contemporary composition, supplemented by analysis of relevant scores

4. As a Composer, to demonstrate a high level of technical assurance, the ability to select and generate appropriate constructional tools to bring about the articulation of a musical concept, to use form and argument effectively and clearly, to assess creative ideas objectively in relation to emotional and cultural context, and to develop a reflective and self-critical attitude.

5. clarity and objectivity in expressing musical ideas

6. capacity for creative and lateral thinking

Additionally students on this module will be able to:

7. compose suitable contemporary works for a variety of forces

8. display technical competence and imaginative quality within an emerging individual and imaginative musical voice

9. respond creatively to prescribed commissions for specific forces

10. demonstrate an entrepreneurial approach to seeking-out new artistic collaborations

11. present musical materials to a high standard of presentation and utility

12. be aware of the etiquette involved in working with professional performers

13. be able to respond promptly and creatively to the problems that may emerge in rehearsals

14. be able to produce a good basic recording of their music.

15. be able to respond promptly and creatively to the problems that may emerge in rehearsals

16. be able to produce a good basic recording of their music.

Teaching Information

Weekly seminars, supported by tutorials and a final recorded workshop.

Assessment Information

Project 1 25% of unit mark. Here the student will write a piece for a performer chosen by the tutor. Successfully attaining outcome (9) will demonstrate (12 and 13)

Project 2 25% of unit mark. Here the student will work with a performer of their own choice. Successfully attaining outcome (10) will demonstrate (12 and 13)

Project 3 “Commissioned” piece for Gemini: clarinet/bass clarinet, violin/viola, piano. 50 % of unit mark. Approximately six minutes duration. Played and recorded in workshops. Successful attainment of outcome (4) will enable the student to demonstrate (1) - (3) and (5). A successful Project submission will also embody (6). Additionally, successful attainment of outcome 7. will show (8), (9) (12) and (14).

Reading and References

  • Adler, Samuel,The study of orchestration [3rd ed.] New York : Norton, 2002.
  • Gould, Elaine, Behind Bars - The Definitive Guide to Music Notation, London, Faber 2011
  • Read, Gardner, Compendium of modern instrumental techniques. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1993
  • Read, Gardner, Modern rhythmic notation London : Victor Gollancz, 1980.
  • Read, Gardner, Music notation :a manual of modern practice [2nd ed].. London : Victor Gollancz, 1974
  • Rehfeldt, Phillip, New directions for clarinet [2nd ed.] Lanham, MD : Scarecrow, 2003.