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The University of Southampton

MUSI2093 Composition Workshop A

Module Overview

This module explores a range of technical devices and formal procedures and will introduce you to different ways of thinking about composition. You will study key compositional approaches and techniques that have developed during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and learn about ways of creating, varying, transforming and organising musical materials. Musical style is not prescribed in this module: reflecting the many possible approaches available to the composer in the twenty-first century, we will explore music that is tonal and atonal, experimental and traditional, popular and avant-garde, repetitive and discontinuous, etc. The approaches and concepts presented are intended as springboards for your own creative engagement and technical development.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

- develop your skills in musical composition - introduce you to a range compositional techniques and approaches - introduce you to range ways of thinking about composition. - improve your music notation skills.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • key technical devices and formal procedures that have developed during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries
  • important aesthetic issues relating to music composition.
  • conventional musical notional good-practice, and a greater understanding of how to communicate your ideas in musical notation.
Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • compose short works
  • implement key technical devices and formal procedures in your own composition
  • use music notation effectively


A series of topics will be presented over the semester with each topic exploring compositional approaches. Examples of topics that may be explored include: - Approaches to musical form - Creating musical materials - Composition with constraints - Polyrhythm - Metric modulation - Extended tonality and modality - Writing for percussion - Writing for string quartet Examples of specific pieces will be considered and analysed include: - Belle and Sebastain, She’s Losing it - Benjamin Britten, Sea Interludes - Edgar Varese, Ionisation - György Ligeti, Six Bagatelles - Igor Stravinsky, Petrushka - Miles Davis, So What - Simon Steen Andersen, String Study No. 1 - The Dirty Projectors, Gimme Gimme Gimme - Tom Johnson, Four Note Opera - Radiohead, Motion Picture Soundtrack

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: - Lectures - Individual tutorials - Workshops Learning activities include: - Individual study - Library-based research - On-line based research

Completion of assessment task42
Preparation for scheduled sessions42
Wider reading or practice42
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

David Cope (1977). New Music Composition. 

Arnold Whittal (1999). Musical composition in the twentieth century: Music since the First World War. 

Larry Austin (1989). Learning to compose: modes, materials and models of musical invention. 

Oliver Messiaen (1956). The Technique of my musical language. 

Arnold Schoenberg (1967). Fundamentals of musical composition. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Composition  (3.5 minutes) 50%
Composition  (3.5 minutes) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments  (4 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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