University of California, Irvine

Music 150


Assignments are posted here for the immediately upcoming class session(s) and all past class sessions.

Wednesday June 9:

We will meet for readings and discussion of your final instrumental composition, beginning at 3:00 in Room 196. You are responsible for the quality of the performance of your piece. Attendance at this session is mandatory, in lieu of the final exam. There will be no final exam at the scheduled time on Thursday morning.

Thursday June 3:

No class meeting on this day. Rehearse your players in preparation for the final reading/critique session on June 9.

Due Tuesday June 1:

Bring your completed chamber music composition to class. You must have an individualized part for each performer (xeroxed, so that you can keep the original), and should have enough xeroxed copies of the score so that you can give a copy to each performer and a copy to the professor (and can keep the original). The composition should be 3-5 minutes in duration, exploring at least one new compositional idea or technique discussed in the class, and should be focused on a central conceptual theme or concept as described in your original proposal for the piece.

Due Thursday May 27:

Bring a rough draft of your composition for chamber ensemble for discussion and advice, including extra xeroxed copies for others in class to see. You should be nearly finished with the composition by this time so that you can discuss details of composition and instrumentation specific to your own composition.

Due Tuesday May 25:

There is no new assignment due on this date. Continue working on your composition for chamber ensemble.

Due Thursday May 20:

Come to class with your work-in-progress on your chamber ensemble piece, including extra xeroxed copies for others in class to see, and be prepared to discuss your concepts and goals -- as well as any technical or artistic problems you may be encountering -- with visiting instructor Martin Jaroszewicz.

Due Tuesday May 18:

Read Lou Harrison's Music Primer, of which a xeroxed copy is on reserve under Dobrian at the Arts Media Center.

Due Thursday May 13:

Based on the list of available instrumentalists you received via email, plan what instrumentation you would like to compose for (3-4 instruments) and be prepared to discuss your preference (and your reasons) in class. In conjunction with that decision, think about what concept, idea, or theme you might want to explore in your composition, and be prepared to discuss it.

Study the score of "Liturgie de cristal", Mvt. 1 of Quatuor pour le fin du temps by Olivier Messiaen, handed out in class, and try to identify the talea (repeating rhythmic pattern) and color (repeating pitch pattern) in his use of isorhythm in the cello and piano parts. What is the length of each? You don't need to hand anything in, but think about his decision to compose these parts in such a systematic way. What is the musical effect of using that technique in this case? What role do those instruments seem to play in relation to the (apparently) less systematic music of the violin and clarinet?

Study the document called analyzing a motive. Begin thinking about possible motivic material for your composition.

Due Tuesday May 11:

Compose a 1-page piece -- no more, no less -- for violin and piano "in the style" (i.e. using only the specific stylistic traits we identified in class) of movements I and IV of Hovhaness's Seven Love Songs of Saris. Bring 3 xerox copies of the piece to class. (This is important so that violinist, pianist, and professor can each have a copy.)

Due Thursday May 6:

Read pp. 89-98 of Techniques of the Contemporary Composer by David Cope.

Read pp. 14-30 of The Technique of My Musical Language by Olivier Messiaen.

Compose an interesting rhythm for a single repeated note (or percussion instrument). Write one paragraph explaining how you composed it and why you think it's interesting. Bring three copies of it to class, and be prepared to perform it.

Due Tuesday May 4:

Turn in a xeroxed copy of the completed score of your song for voice and piano.

Due Monday May 3:

Turn in three xeroxed copies of the completed score of your song for voice and piano to Sally Avila in the Music Department office (MM 303) by noon. Your score must be clear and must contain enough detail for the performers to rehearse the song for performance without further coaching or instruction from you, the composer.

Due Thursday April 29:

If you did not present a rough draft of your composition in class on Tuesday, bring at least three xeroxed copies of it to class so that we can discuss the piece you're writing.

Listen to Haiku No. 9 by Christopher Dobrian and Seven Love Songs of Saris by Alan Hovhaness, paying particular attention to the harmonic vocabulary and accompaniment textures used in those pieces, in preparation for class discussion.

Due Tuesday April 27:

Compose a first draft of your song, and bring at least three xeroxed copies of it to class so that we can discuss the piece you're writing. If you have not yet met with your singer, you must do so immediately! After discussion in class, you'll have several more days to incorporate any suggested changes. The completed song is due -- in multiple xeroxed copies so that the singer, pianist, and teachers can all have a copy -- to be handed in to Sally in the Music Department office by noon on Monday May 3.

Due Thursday April 22:

Study the scores for two songs -- Working In Garden and A Nothing On Earth -- with attention to the the rhythmic setting of the text, the patterns of accompaniment, the harmonic progressions and types of chords, and the formal structure. You can hear recordings of the songs here -- Working In Garden, A Nothing On Earth -- but you will probably want to read through them at the piano, too, to get a more thorough understanding of the music.

Due Tuesday April 20:

Work with your singer to a) learn about her/his vocal range, strengths, and preferences and b) discuss the poetry, mood, and style that you will use for the composition. If possible, meet with the pianist, too, to learn her/his technical strengths and preferences. It's your responsibility to schedule and hold the collaborative meeting with the performer(s) before Tuesday. You should come to class with some concrete written descriptions of as much information as you can obtain/devise about the planned song composition. Some fundamental items are such things as text, vocal range and tessitura, mood, style, and as many decisions as possible about other details of the composition such as approximate duration (in measures and clock time), tempo, meter, accompaniment texture(s), and formal structure, possibly even including some initial musical ideas. Please email your report to the professor by 9:00 pm on Monday night April 19, and bring a printed copy of it to class on Tuesday.

Here are the collaborative teams as assigned in the Word and Music class:

Composer               Singer               Pianist

James Brown            James Brown          Nakul Tiruviluamala
Robert Murillo         Robert Murillo       Clifton Lum
Kenneth Haro           Belinda Lau          Hallie Wang
Colin Murphy           Sterling Roberts     Grace Wu
Joann Kim              Tara Waldschmidtt    Melody Besharati
Joseph Earnest         Jonathan Sandberg    Sae Ah Oh
Jeff Omidvaran         Connie Li            Natalie Landowski
Nakul Tiruviluamala    Emma Boss            Nakul Tiruviluamala
John Garbutt           Care'n  Chato        Christopher Smith

Due Thursday April 15:

On the lead sheet for "The Days of Wine and Roses" handed out in class, identify the secondary dominant seventh chords, secondary ii7-V7 progressions, and tritone substitutions of dominant seventh chords.

Listen to several versions of "The Days of Wine and Roses" (at the Arts Media Center, on YouTube, or wherever else you can find a recording of it).

Due Tuesday April 13:

Read the article on jazz harmony that was handed out in class, pages 1-10 of Composing for the Jazz Orchestra by William Russo.

Read pp. 1-39 of Harmonic Materials of Modern Music by Howard Hanson, on reserve in the Arts Media Center.

Using the poetry that you chose in the assignment for April 8, choose your least favorite of those poems, and compose at least 16 measures of music that set the first couple of lines of that poem to music. Your piano accompaniment should use some kind of repetitive arpeggiation pattern that outlines a clear harmonic progression. The progression can use any chord type, with any level of complexity or dissonance you desire, but should be consistent in the type of chords being used, and your arpeggiation pattern should be as consistent as you can reasonably make it. The vocal melody can be for any reasonable singing range, and should (for this exercise, at least) use chord tones or properly-treated non-chord tones, such that the melody and the accompaniment work together toward expressing the same harmonic progression. The piano accompaniment should use good implied voice leading between analogous notes of the arpeggiation pattern, and the vocal melody should ideally create good counterpoint to those implied voices of the accompaniment. Please think of this as an exercise in harmony, voice-leading, counterpoint, and good melodic writing, more than as a first step in the composition of your midterm song project, since you don't yet know for sure the vocal range, poetry, harmonic language, or accompaniment texture that you will be using in that larger project.

Here is an 8-bar example (a .pdf file) that's a pretty blatant rip-off of Schubert's Ave Maria but that does illustrate the instructions of the previous paragraph.

Due Thursday April 8:

Bring to class at least two possibilities for proposed poetry (composed either by yourself or by someone else) for your song composition. Be prepared to discuss its meaning, emotional impact, formal structure, and rhythm.

Due Tuesday April 6:

Study the way that Bach combines harmonic progression and counterpoint in his Sarabande and Double movements from his Partita No. 1 in B minor. Note how the melody of the Double follows exactly the same harmonic progression as the Sarabande, how he uses the melody to delineate those harmonies, and how he uses the cognitive phenomenon of streaming in the Double to imply counterpoint with a single melody.

Write at least one melody for voice (any range, tempo, and mood) that conforms to the chord progression shown below, and that uses only traditional classical types of non-chord tones.

Write two-part counterpoint for two voices, one male one female, that conforms to the chord progression shown below, and that uses only traditional classical types of non-chord tones. Bear in mind the guidelines of counterpoint and melody discussed in class.

Study chapters 1 and 2 of Choral Arranging by Hawley Ades, on reserve under Dobrian in the Arts Media Center. You should play through all the examples in those chapters to understand what he is describing. (You can use the music keyboards in the AMC.)

Read pages 1-54 of The Contrapuntal Harmonic Technique of the 18th Century by Allen Irvine McHose.

Due Thursday, April 1:

Practice singing arpeggiations of the following chord progressions, as demonstrated in class, in all major and minor keys.
Major: I - I7 - V7/IV - IV - IV7 - ii65 - I64 - V - V7 - I
Minor: i - i7 - V7/iv - iv - iv7 - iiø65 - i64 - V - V7 - i
Be prepared to sing the progressions in class.

In classic 4-part chorale style, in even rhythm, in one major key and one minor key each having two or more flats or sharps, write as many variations as you can think of on the following progressions, as demonstrated in class. You'll be credited for good voice leading and for sheer number of (hopefully interesting) variations that conform to these guidelines.
tonic function - "passing" function (could be almost anything) - subdominant (or secondary dominant) function - dominant function - tonic function
Here are a few examples in major:
I - vi - IV - V - I
I - V7/ii - V7/V - V7 - I
I - iii - ii6 - V7 - vi, etc.

Here are a few examples in minor:
i - VI - iv - V - i
i - V2/iv - iv6 - V7 - i
i - VII - iiø65 - V - i, etc.

You should definitely feel free to extend these harmonic functions as far as you'd like, including the use of seventh chords, ninth chords, borrowed chords, recognized chord substitutions, etc. The possible realizations of this chord progression are infinite, so you should be able to produce many solutions.

Christopher Dobrian
Last modified: June 1, 2010