Music 252C: Composition Seminar, Spring 2000

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. There will be eight (8) 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.

Book for the course: Contemporary Composers on Contemporary Music, Ed. Schwartz and Childs, Da Capo Press, N.Y. (1998). All of the readings will be out of this book.

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

  • April 3: 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.
  • Apr. 10: Read the Introduction, PP> xv-xxi and PP. 3-32.
    High register to low, thick pitch density to thin, loud to soft dynamics.
  • Apr. 17: Read PP. 59-71, 195-208, and 261-273.
    Middle register, expand out in both directions, contrapuntal to homophonic texture.
  • Apr. 24: Read PP. 72-79, 160-164, and 308-315.
    One line with chordal punctuations.
  • May 1 : Read PP. 33-58, 99-110, and 325-348.
    Figuration which turns into melody, low register to high, heterophonic accompaniment.
  • May 8: Read PP. 80- 98, 111-114, 384-387, and 379-402.
    Contrasting ideas of low and high pitch density, independent control of dynamics.
  • May 15: Read PP. 127-159, 170-194, and 222-242.
    Sustained single sonority, expanding downward in range: two curves of dynamic contour.
  • May 22: Read PP. 243-260, 308-315, and 349-378.
    Excerpt that contains a musical quote, integrated into a chromatic texture.
  • May 29: Holiday.
  • June 5: Read PP. 403-424, 430-461, and 469-484.
    Ostinato, alternating with a freely developmental passage in an opposed register.
    Review of the techniques acquired: a symposium in the methodology of the course.

  • Updated: April 2, 2000.

    Questions may be addressed by e-mail: