Music 123B: Undergraduate Composition

This course is a continuation of undergraduate composition, essentially the technique of composition. Good composers with great musical ideas are born: all I can do is explain what compositional technique is and how to work more efficiently.

The course meets on Monday from 10:00 until 11:50 and Wednesday from 11:00 PM until 11:50. Wednesdays will consist of a demonstration lecture which poses a problem that the student will take home and solve in his/her own style and return on Monday. The following Wednesday will give more examples and following Monday will be devoted to the rewrites. There will be three projects and a final project, and they must be completed by the end of the quarter. All musical examples will be from the vocal literature, and all texts, whether selected by students or studied, will be in English.

Examples in the xerox packet:

  • Purcell, Dido and Aeneas, Act II.
  • Handel, Acis and Galatea, "Wretched Lovers."
  • Ives, "The Housatonic at Stockbridge" (from 114 Songs, with excerpt from
  • Three Places in New England, III (for analyzing the nature of the accompaniment).
  • Britten, The Prodigal Son, "Welcome, welcome."
  • Stravinsky, The Rake's Progress, "Fa la la."
  • Menotti, The Medium, "Afraid, am I afraid?"
  • Sondheim, Into the Woods, "Your Fault," Act 2 Finale, Parts 3&4.

  • Each student will select three texts: one which could be set as a song, one which could be used in a choral treatment, and one which could be an operatic scene (fragment). Since it is possible that different students will be working on different kinds of settings at the same time, no due dates will be enforced.

    A packet of xeroxed materials must be purchased from University Reader Printing Service. This packet has all of the vocal examples mentioned below. In addition, other materials will be distributed in class. If you lose this syllabus, check in at the Reale-Rydell Website, under Educational Resources for this document online.

    Monday (1/12) Introduction: Problems of writing for the voice.

    Wednesday (1/14): Read Edward T. Cone, The Composer's Voice, Chapter 4 (first example in xerox packet).

    M (1/19): Holiday. There will be individual appointments on selection of texts on Thursday from 1:00-2:00.

    W (1/21): Analysis of the differences between opera, song, and choral texts, as well as in differences in the nature of the accompaniment. This study will continue on successive Wednesdays for the first six weeks.

    M (2/16): Holiday. Individual conferences on Thursday from 1:00-3:00.

    W (2/25): The cast of Sondheim's "Into the Woods" will ilustrate excerpts from that piece. John Hall will moderate.

    M (3/9): Noon concert of student works. No class on Monday or Wednesday. Individual conferences on Thursday from 1:00-3:00.

    The remainder of the sessions will be devoted to rewriting the vocal and choral assignments with a possibility of choral readings (TBA).

    Feel free to call Reale at home any time between 9AM and 9PM or e-mail him for questions.