Music 150
Course Syllabus

Music 150, Fall 2011
Tuesday and Thursday 12:30-1:50
Music and Media Building, Room 316
University of California, Irvine

Professor Christopher Dobrian
Music and Media 211, x7288

Office hours by appointment.

None required. Readings and musical examples will be placed on reserve in the Arts Media Center.

Course Description:

Structured projects in vocal and instrumental composition based on studies using specific compositional techniques. The focus is on establishing a solid basis of ability in counterpoint, harmony, and instrumentation in historical and contemporary idioms, and gaining a greater awareness of new ideas and aesthetics. The goal is to apply those techniques and ideas to the development of a personal methodology of composition, while establishing a focused pattern of experimentation.

Course Requirements:

Several short composition exercises for solo instrument or small chamber group, as assigned. Completion of one song for voice and piano. Completion of one chamber music composition for instrument(s) and piano or for three (or more) melodic instruments. Timely completion of assigned listening, reading, and score study; participation in discussion of the assigned works. Attendance in at least 90% of the classroom sessions is required. Performances or rehearsed readings of the student's exercises and compositions must be organized and accomplished by each student.


  1. Selected theoretical studies of structure and ornament (melodic, harmonic, and formal), counterpoint, harmony, and instrumental technique, with related composition exercises demonstrating a practical understanding of the ideas discussed.
  2. Reading, listening, and score study of selected exemplary works, and brief prose summaries of the essential ideas in those works.
  3. Analysis and "resynthesis"--observing characteristics of an existing musical model, deriving generative rules from those characteristics, and producing a new example from that generative hypothesis.
  4. Presentation and discussion of students' exercises and compositions in class.
  5. A final recital of student compositions.


Grading for the course will be based on timely completion of all the course requirements. Since every assignment is considered a vital part of the educational experience of the course, serious and high quality work is expected at all times. Grading will be based on:

  1. Assigned exercises to learn specific composing concepts and techniques (30%),
  2. Song composition project (25%),
  3. Chamber music composition project (25%), and
  4. Participation in class work, rehearsals, and performances. (20%).

Final Exam:

In lieu of a final examination there will be a final recital during which each composer is expected to present a polished performance or recording of her/his chamber ensemble composition project. The official final exam time listed in the WebSOC is Friday December 9 10:30am-12:30pm, but we will not in fact meet at that time. By consensus of all the students in the class, the final performance/recording time will actually be Tuesday, December 6, 12:30-3:00 pm in MM 218.

Regarding Academic Integrity:

Collaboration between students in this course is strongly encouraged. Students are urged to exchange ideas, opinions, and information constantly, and to help each other with the composition and performance of their technical exercises and creative projects. However, plagiarism of any kind is in direct violation of University policy on Academic Honesty, and penalties for plagiarism can be severe. In this class you will be expected to attribute due credit to the originator of any ideas, words, or music that you incorporate into your own work.

for upcoming classes
are posted online.

A day-by-day summary of the of the class sessions is also available online,
including links to documents related to the content each class.

Christopher Dobrian
November 30, 2011