Fisher Center

Ear Training, Score Reading, and Composition

Ear training and score reading each occupy one semester of instruction, with a focus on solfège and harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic dictation (ear training), and open score and transposition (score reading). Composition is taught in a two-semester course.

Topics in the first semester include melodic organization and materials; basic counterpoint; motivic development in small forms; composing for strings, winds, brass, chorus, piano, and percussion; examination of nonstandard pitch materials; and analysis of selected repertory, including 20th-century works. Assignments include melodic composition and melodic expansion, a short invention or study using twopart instrumental texture, a piece in free texture for solo instrument (usually piano), and the development of a work for string ensemble or chorus, to be read under the composer’s baton at the conclusion of the first semester.

In the second semester students compose a theme and variations, score for larger ensembles of mixed winds and strings, compose with nontonal pitch materials (either restricted to three- or four-pitch classes, working with a nontonal motive, or using a tone row), and compose a woodwind quintet or choral work with small ensemble, to be read under the composer’s baton. During the second part of the semester, each student starts sketching and drafting ideas for a work of about four minutes’ duration, to be completed and performed as part of the student’s conducting program for the thesis concert.
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