MUSIC315-19A (HAM)

Composition 3

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Arts


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Paper Description

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Teaching materials for the paper are drawn primarily from the international Western art music tradition of the twentieth and twenty first centuries. Other traditions and genres are included as well. Gaining an increased familiarity with key repertoire works is an essential element of the course.

The paper has three components:

1. Historical, philosophical and aesthetic considerations

An examination of the historical forces and key idea which have shaped developments in music since the late nineteenth century, including social and technological change.

2. Composition studies

A series of studies investigating techniques in composition used in Western art music, popular music and multimedia music written since 1900. Selected influential musical works will be analysed and discussed, with technical and philosophical implications debated.

3. Creating our own music

Students are required to hand in short exercises approximately once per fortnight. These exercises will be based on compositional techniques being studied in lectures. Students may choose which exercises to do, but at least five are required (totalling 20% of the course mark). If more than five exercises are submitted, the best five marks will be used to produce the aggregate mark.

In addition to short exercises, students are required to complete two larger works as Composition Projects. These pieces will develop over a period of time and each will be assessed in two parts: (i) a detailed plan, and (ii) the completed composition in full score. This process permits discussion of the developing work with the lecturer, and maybe other class members, prior to submission. The final composition for assessment may be a conjoint project with another student and/or may involve digital technology. Such a project must be approved by the lecturer before it is undertaken.

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Paper Structure

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The paper is taught mainly through seminar-style lectures.

Preparatory readings are set for each lecture.

A playlist of required listenings where each work relates to a lecture topic, has been created in the Naxos Music Library All enrolled Music students have free access to this service through the University Library subscription.

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • Develop expanded and deepend creative musical skills, technical expertise and artistic outlook

    This course aims to expand the creative musical skills, technical expertise and artistic outlook of students based on the exploration of a variety of twentieth and twenty first century compositional techniques and ideas.

    Linked to the following assessments:
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Composition Project 1 - plan
8 Mar 2019
4:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Composition Project 1 - completed score
29 Mar 2019
4:00 PM
  • Hand-in: Department Office
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Composition Project 2 - plan
3 May 2019
4:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Composition Project 2 - completed score
31 May 2019
4:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
  • Hand-In: Faculty Information Centre (J Block)
5. Short Exercises
31 May 2019
4:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
6. Repertoire Listening Tests
  • In Class: In Lecture
7. Specimen Analysis
7 Jun 2019
4:00 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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Refer to the lecture schedule.

It is essential to make full use of Oxford Music Online, which all enrolled students have access to.

It is also strongly recommend that students explore the repertoire amiable in the Naxos Music Library. A username and password will be given in class.

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Recommended Readings

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Primary recommendations

Kostka, Stefan. Materials and Techniques of Post-Tonal Music (4th edition).

Cope, David. Techniques of the Contemporary Composer

Highly Recommended

Cook, N., A very short introduction to music

Cope, D. New directions in music

Dallin, L., Techniques of Twentieth Century Composition (3rd ed.)

Gould, E. Behind Bars: the Definitive Guide to Music Notation

Griffiths, P., Modern Music; the avant-garde since 1945

Nyman, M., Experimental Music; Cage and beyond

Ross, A., The rest is noise: listening to the twentieth century

Rothenberg, David and Marta Ulvaeus (editors), The Book of Music and Nature

Schat, P. (tr.McLeod) The Tone Clock

Stone, K., Music Notation in the Twentieth Century


Adler, S., The Study of Orchestration (2nd ed.)

Del Mar, N., Anatomy of the Orchestra

Kennan, K., Counterpoint

Mellers, W.,Singing in the wilderness: music and ecology in the twentieth century

Lester, J., Analytic Approaches to Twentieth Century Music

Maconie, R. The Way of Music; The Concept of Music

Persichetti, V., Twentieth Century Harmony

Piston, W., Orchestration

Rochberg, G., The aesthetics of survival; a composer’s view of twentieth century music

Salzman, E., Twentieth Century Music, an introduction (3rd ed.)

Schafer, R.M., Soundscape

Scruton, R., The Aesthetics of Music

Thomson, J.M., Oxford History of New Zealand Music

Whittall, A., Music Since the First World War

Williams, J. Kent.Theories and analyses of twentieth-century music

Winkler, T., Composing Interactive Music; techniques and ideas using Max

Wishart, T. On Sonic Art (revised edition ed. Emmerson)


Any writings by twentieth and twenty first century composers and theorists, especially Adams, Adorno, Boulez, Busoni, Cage, Carter, Lilburn, Maconie, Schoenberg, Christopher Small, Stockhausen, Takemitsu.

Of General Use

• Oxford Music Online <>. The world’s most authoritative encyclopaedia of music, published online by Oxford University Press. The famous dictionary Grove Music is part of the subscription and is accessed through the same Oxford Music Online database. The University maintains a full access subscription.

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Other Resources

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Recordings: MUSI315 Playlist at the Naxos Music Library online website.

Reference reading: Grove Music Online at <>

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Online Support

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All students are encouraged to become responsible for their own learning. Only some of the learning experience can be expected to take place in the limited time available for lectures and tutorials.

It is imperative that students read, listen, think, discuss and explore ideas and materials relevant to the course beyond the lecture times. It is recommended that for every contact hour (lectures, seminars, etc) at least an equivalent time should be spent by the student in self-directed learning.Therefore it is expected that a minimum of four hours per week of independent reading, listening and composing should be done for this paper. Information pertaining to this course will be posted onto the Moodle website which all enrolled students in MUSI315 automatically have access to. A total of about 150 hours work is recommended to get the most benefit from this paper.

Most of the prescribed and recommended listening can be done online using the Naxos Music Library, available through the University’s subscription to this service. As an enrolled student you have access to this. Go to <> and login with username <WaikatoMM>. The password will be advised in class. Go to ‘Playlists’ and enter ‘Waikato University Playlists’. You will see the folder for MUSI315 Composition 3 there, with items named for the appropriate lectures arranged in lecture order. Listen to the set works before the lecture, ideally with a score.

Most of the readings are from the online music encyclopaedia Grove Music Online. Access Grove Music Online through the website <> to which the University holds a paid subscription. Some additional readings will be uploaded to the Moodle page for this course, as noted in the lecture schedule below.

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Linkages to Other Papers

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MUSIC222 Orchestration is recommended as a linked paper.
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Prerequisite papers: MUSIC215




Restricted papers: MUSI315

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