• Theory & Composition

    The study of music theory and composition is intimately connected at HSU. The department’s longstanding philosophy is that these two subjects nourish each other and their integrated study profoundly enriches student knowledge and creativity. HSU, therefore, offers the Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Theory and Composition (BM-TC and MM-TC).

    Students pursuing the BM-TC degree are required to present a 30-50 minute recital of original works. The music for this recital will be part of the student’s composition portfolio, which will be bound and deposited in the School of Music library. The portfolio is music that has met a high standard in artistry and notation. The portfolio will be developed during the three years of formal composition study. To maintain a uniform standard, the head of the composition department must approve all pieces before they can be added to the portfolio. Students are responsible for setting the recital and rehearsal dates, securing performers, producing published quality scores and parts, and developing the recital program that conforms to School of Music guidelines. This music will be composed in a diverse variety of courses, ranging from composition for small chamber ensembles to orchestra and/or concert band. Students are encouraged to experiment with the musical elements they s tudy in the theory curriculum as they develop their inner ear, their unique compositional voice. The School of Music computer lab offers students the opportunity to integrate electronic elements into their music. HSU students are also encouraged to compose music for film. BM-TC degree students are also required to present a paper/lecture on a theoretical research topic. The topic is chosen by the student in consultation with a faculty advisor. The paper/lecture can be integrated into the curriculum in one of the following classes: History of Music Theory, Post-tonal Analysis, Schenkerian Analysis (advanced tonal analysis), and Theory Pedagogy.

    Students pursuing the MM-TC degree are required to present a recital of 40-plus minutes of original music (60 minutes running time), 75% of which must be composed in their advanced composition courses at HSU. Students are responsible for setting the recital and rehearsal dates, securing performers, producing published quality scores and parts, and developing the recital program that conforms to School of Music guidelines. All MM-TC students must produce a thesis that follows the guidelines established by the Office of Graduate Studies at HSU. Students have the option in this degree of selecting a primary and secondary area of emphasis: theory or composition. Students that select the composition emphasis, the thesis is a 15-25 minute (single or multi-movement) work for large ensemble of which the form and ensemble complement are selected in consultation with a faculty advisor. These students will also be required to present a substantial paper/lecture on a theoretical resear ch topic chosen by the student in consultation with a faculty advisor. The paper/lecture can be integrated into the curriculum in one of the following classes: Advanced Counterpoint, Advanced Orchestration, History of Music Theory, Post-tonal Analysis, Schenkerian Analysis (advanced tonal analysis), and Theory Pedagogy. For students that select the theory emphasis, the thesis is a substantial research document in which he or she explores a topic selected in consultation with a faculty advisor. Prose elements of the thesis document must follow the guidelines of the School of Music (Turabian) and the Office of Graduate Studies. A thesis processing fee is assessed.

    HSU students that earn the BM-TC or MM-TC are fully prepared to pursue continued studies in these fields. Graduates in these fields have worked as professional composer/arrangers, songwriters, music administrators, music ministers, and music theory and composition teachers. Our graduates are also fully prepared to enter programs and occupations that focus on composition for multi-media.

    Click here to download the Degree Plan.

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