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The University of Southampton

MUSI6034 Composition Portfolio

Module Overview

The Composition Portfolio is the principal component of the MMus in Composition and represents a year's concentrated work. You will work both individually and in tutorials throughout both semesters to develop and refine your compositional practice. You will be encouraged to increasingly focus on a specific compositional area, which may be defined by a combination of musical idiom, medium, aesthetic issues and technical concerns. All the pieces submitted in Composition Portfolio are expected to be finished structures and as a whole is expected to demonstrate a range of compositional challenges. In applied compositional practices (film music, video games music, songwriting and musical theatre) these challenges should directly connect to industry realities and standards. Their production (whether in score or other format appropriate to the idiom) should be of professional quality.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Develop your skills and creative imagination in the field of musical composition • Develop your range of compositional techniques and approaches • Develop your range ways of thinking about composition. • Develop your music notation skills.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • A range of techniques for the production of contemporary music pertinent to your developing compositional practice.
  • Your own personal aesthetic through the production of musical works
  • current trends in composition
  • 20th- and 21st-century musical developments
  • aesthetic, technical and critical issues relating to contemporary compositional practice
  • your chosen compositional genres, materials, techniques and forms
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Show evidence of clear musical thinking both in terms of invention of strong musical materials and their elaboration in time
  • Make musical ‘arguments’ that are clear as to their intended structure and expressive content
  • efficient use of library resources to access musical and textual materials appropriate to your study
  • advanced score-reading skills, and the ability to analyse music aurally and visually
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Think through extended structures and execute them, with a clear understanding of the relationship between materials and form
  • Analyse materials of others with the goal of drawing out technical devices pertinent to the development of personal creative work
  • Technological studio based skills (for applied composition pathways)
  • Enhanced powers of concentration and focus
  • The ability to integrate different media (musical, visual, literary) into a compositional project
  • Enhanced skills of time-management and self-directed study
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use methods of note production which provide for a good degree of fluency in your chosen aesthetic
  • Present your work to professional standard in the format most suited to its idiom
  • Develop your own technical skills with technologies and studios (for applied composition pathways)
  • presenting your work, including notated music examples, to the highest standards of academic presentation
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • discern and identify the use of particular compositional techniques in a range of compositions
  • articulate in your own composition your synthesis of compositional methods
  • understand and use a range of analytical techniques to generate coherent analyses of musical works, and evaluate the relative merits and drawbacks of different techniques in different circumstances
  • oversee and bring to conclusion an extended portfolio of original compositions of your own, and present your music in the most appropriate way
  • articulate verbally the aesthetic and technical principles behind a variety of 20th- and 21st-century compositions


There is no prescribed syllabus content for this module. Rather, over the year you will work cumulatively towards the production of a major portfolio of compositions, and have the opportunity to submit drafts of works to your tutor for comment and feedback. Following a plan made with your tutor, you will complete the portfolio over the summer period, when your work will be necessarily self-directed. When appropriate, your tutor will set specific tasks that relate to your work, such as analysing pieces and reading articles.

Special Features

Composition students working with performers will be offered opportunities to work with ‘contemporary-minded’ professional musicians in a number of composition workshops. For applied composition portfolios (for example film music, video games music, musical theatre, songwriting) the subjects can overlap with other areas of study (film studies, theatre etc) and a developing practical and intellectual engagement with the structures, content and where appropriate technologies of those areas can be a necessary part of the course.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Individual tutorials (24 sessions) Learning activities include • analysis/listening to contemporary scores • close critical reading of texts • preparation of scores (mostly self-directed) • Self-directed learning of technologies/ studio skills

Wider reading or practice176
Completion of assessment task1000
Total study time1200


Assessment Strategy

Assessment Method Portfolio of Compositions. Portfolios are typically 35 minutes in duration and accompanied by a 3000-word commentary that provides insight into the technical and aesthetic concerns of the work. Alternatively you may choose to produce a larger portfolio of 40 minutes and a 1000 word commentary. Applied composition portfolios (film music, video games music) are likely to consist of a showreel of clips that have been scored/re-scored; a songwriting portfolio is likely to consist of an album; and a concert-music portfolio is likely to consist of a collection of pieces with recordings where possible. The Portfolio and commentary are marked as a whole and the commentary bears no individual weight.


MethodPercentage contribution
Portfolio  (40 minutes) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Portfolio  (40 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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