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The University of Southampton

MUSI3017 Composition Portfolio

Module Overview

With a mixture of lectures and individual supervision, Composition Portfolio is the final stage of the undergraduate pathway in concert-music based composition. Building upon the skills gained in first and second year creative music based modules, the lectures will provide you with more technical devices, formal procedures and ways of thinking about composition. You will study key compositional approaches and techniques that have developed during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The individual supervision will support the development of your work in creative, technical and practical terms. Your work must be score-based and that score should be the basis for a live-performance, but beyond that musical style is not prescribed in this module: you may incorporate the compositional techniques and issues we explore within the musical idiom of your choice

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • advanced technical devices and formal procedures that have developed during the second half of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries
  • important aesthetic issues relating to music composition.
  • good-practice within conventional musical notion
Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • compose middle-length works (i.e. 5-12 minutes)
  • implement key technical devices and formal procedures in your own composition
  • use music notation effectively and communicatively


Over the 24 teaching weeks of the module, approximately 8 classes are dedicated to lectures where compositional approaches and techniques are presented. Examples of topics that may be explored include:  Musical textures  Orchestral composition  Theatrical music  Advanced systems based composition  Conceptual music  Collage  New Complexity  Modular form Examples of specific pieces will be considered and analysed include:  Luciano Berio, Sinfonia  Henry Purcell, Fantasia in three parts  Richard Ayres, Trumpet Noncerto  Joanna Bailie, Artificial Environments 1-5  Johannes Kriedler, Fremdarbeit  Karheinz Stockhausen, Kreuzspiel  Igor Stravinsky, Symphonies of Wind Instruments  Arnold Schoenberg, Farben In addition, you will write at least one work (and usually two) that will be performed and recorded by professional musicians.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include:  Lectures  Group and individual tutorials  Workshops with professional musicians Learning activities include:  Individual study  Library-based research  On-line based research  Analysis/listening to contemporary scores  Close critical reading of texts

Completion of assessment task174
Practical classes and workshops12
Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Wider reading or practice60
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Pierre Boulez (1991). Stocktakings from an Apprenticeship. 

Michael Nyman (1999). Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond. 

Arnold Schoenberg (1975). Style and Idea. 

Christophe Cox and Daniel Warner (2007). Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. 

Arnold Whittall (1999). Music Composition in the Twentieth Century. 


Assessment Strategy

All work is coursework. The students submit one five minute composition towards the end of the first semester (25% of final grade) and a portfolio of compositions with a total duration of fifteen minutes (75% of final grade) at the end of the academic year (this element is the final assessment).


MethodPercentage contribution
Composition  (5 minutes) 25%
Portfolio  (15 minutes) 75%


MethodPercentage contribution
Composition  (5 minutes) 25%
Portfolio  (15 minutes) 75%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


No additional costs have been associated with this module.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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