Music 252A: Composition Seminar, Fall 2003

The course is a seminar in techniques of composition, concentrating on the dynamic process of moving from one texture to another in controlled exercises. Each exercise will be one page of music: about five systems on a two or three line staff. The exercise will be played on the piano from memory by the student, and scores of the exercise will have been distributed to the other members of the seminar. No excuses will be accepted if the score is not memorized, and a grade of zero will be entered. There will be seven (7) exercises in all, and a portfolio of the exercises wil be turned in during exam week for a final grade.

Each exercise will be in the student's own style and is to be performed on the day it appears in the syllabus. NO LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE TOLERATED! Part of the point of requiring these restricted pieces is that they are finished in the allotted time.

Books for the course:

1. Course reader with excerpts from Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music, Ed. Schwartz and Childs, (Da Capo Press, N.Y., 1998). Referred to as CC.

2. Creators on Creating, Ed. Barron, Montuori, Barron (Tarcher/Putnam, 1997). Referred to as COC, the book will be used in the Winter quarter as well.

3. Composers on Modern Musical Culture, Ed. Bryan R. Simms, (Schirmer Books, 1999). Referred to as CMMC, the book will be used in the Winter Quarter as well.

For an advance evaluation, pieces may be faxed to Reale up to 24 hourse before the day of the class (fax number to be given in class). Office hour will be Wed. 12-1 PM.

  • Sept. 30: Introduction.
    We will discuss the need to separate out the various parameters of composition in order to gain the ultimate control of a dynamic process of time.
    The quintessential role of composer as performer will also be explored.
  • Oct. 7: Read the Introduction in CC, PP. xv-xxi, PP. 3-32, CMMC, PP. 1-30.
    High register to low, thick pitch density to thin, loud to soft dynamics.
  • Oct. 14: Read CC, PP. 59-71, 195-208, 261-273, COC, Introduction, PP. 1-21.
    Middle register, expand out in both directions, contrapuntal to homophonic texture.
  • Oct. 21: Read CC, PP. 72-79, 160-164, and 308-315.
    One line with chordal punctuations.
  • Oct. 28: Read CC, PP. 33-58, 99-110, 325-348, CMMC, PP. 31-68.
    Figuration which turns into melody, low register to high, heterophonic accompaniment.
  • Nov. 4: Read CC, PP. 80- 98, 111-114, and 379-402.
    Contrasting ideas of low and high pitch density, independent control of dynamics.
  • Nov. 11: Holiday
  • Nov. 18: Read CMMC, PP. 235-273, CC PP. 222-242, COC, PP. 27-43.
    Select ONE of the two projects below:
    Excerpt that contains a musical quote, integrated into a chromatic texture.
    Sustained single sonority, expanding downward in range: two curves of dynamic contour.
  • Nov. 25: Read COC, PP. 184-197.
    Ostinato, alternating with a freely developmental passage in an opposed register.
  • Dec.2: Final thoughts.
    Review of the techniques acquired: a symposium in the methodology of the course.
    All assignments in final form should be passed in at this class.

  • Updated: Oct. 16, 2003.

    Questions may be addressed by e-mail: