Music 16D
Composition Assignment

Compose a work for voice and piano, voice and guitar, voice and two instruments, instrument and piano, or three instruments. The duration should be approximately two to three minutes (longer is OK). The harmonies may be in any consistent tonal tertiary language (Classical triadic harmony, more complex Romantic harmony, jazz chords, etc.), and should demonstrate your understanding of the principles of good voice leading and counterpoint.

For purposes of this assignment, "correct" use of chord progressions, inversions, non-chord tones, etc. will be graded more highly than "poetic license" that disregards those principles. (I.e., saying "I just like it that way" does not make it acceptable; the ability to explain the theoretical reasoning that led you to write it a certain way is expected.)

Suggestions for a plan of action are provided below, in the description of each deadline.


* Instrumentation chosen: Friday October 12

Choose your instrumentation for your piece, and specify your preferred performers if known. Hand it in on a piece of paper. Approval of your choice will be confirmed on Monday October 15, based on an equitable distribution of performer workload.

* Formal Outline Due: Friday October 19

As closely as possible, you should have a (hierarchical) formal design completed for your entire piece. Your formal design could be in the form of a written prose description, but is probably better presented as a (large and detailed) schematic diagram. How long will your piece be? In what meter? In what tempo? How many measures? In what key will it start/end? To what keys will it go (and when)? Will it have discernable sections? What will be the sectional structure? What will be the predominant "texture (homophonic, polyphonic, etc.)? Which instrument will be most prominent (or even solo) at which times? At what moments will certain instruments be clearly "teamed" together in contrast to others? Any particular harmonic ideas, progressions, etc. that you want to be characteristic? Any melodic motives you know you want to use?

* "Halfway" work-in-progress Due: Friday October 26

Hand in a xerox copy of whatever you have at this point. Include very brief written comments to explain what you're doing, problems you're having, things you like or don't like, questions you have, etc. You will not be graded on this. This is mostly as a self-check to keep yourself honest and not let you get too far behind schedule, and to receive feedback.

* "Rough Draft" Due: Friday November 2

You should really aim for handing in a completed (but maybe not beautifully copied) score at this point. However, if you're missing a few dynamic markings and other details, or even have a measure or two that you know needs more work, that's OK. The main point is to have your piece very nearly complete, so that any major problems can be spotted and corrected. This won't be graded, but serves as a very important checkpoint and indicates a serious problem if you don't have a nearly complete piece.

* Complete Score Due: Friday November 9

This is your "final" copy-the score that you think best represents your finished piece. This is the score on which you will be graded. I will grade the score and make final suggestions for corrections you might want to make before giving the parts to the musicians. I will return the score and suggestions to you by Friday November 16. During the week while I'm grading these, you should be copying the parts for the individual musicians. You will then have five days to make final corrections to the score and parts before they must be given to the musicians.

* Corrected Score and Parts Due to Musicians: Wednesday November 21

This is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. (Don't spoil your break by procrastinating so that you have to copy parts over the weekend!) You will be responsible for organizing a meeting time and place for the rehearsals, making sure that your musicians know when to be there, and leading the rehearsals, correcting musicians' errors, drilling the musicians when needed to achieve accuracy and good ensemble, and giving interpretive leadership.


Monday December 3, 10:30-12:30 and Wednesday December 5, 8:00-10:00

Your exact performance time will be assigned by Friday November 30. Approximately 40% of your composition grade will depend on the quality of this performance.