Jul 15, 2024  
2019-2020 Catalog 
    
2019-2020 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Music — Composition Concentration, BMus


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Department of Music, College of Fine and Performing Arts

109-111 credits minimum

Introduction

Music composition majors learn a variety of skills enabling them to express their musical ideas in an effective manner that allows for performance of their creations. Each student receives private composition instruction along with instruction in basic music theory, music history, conducting, lessons on their major instrument or voice, and ensemble performance. While composition instruction will cover all modes, genres, and periods, students may elect to concentrate their creativity on one or more specific areas. Instruction will include introduction and advanced courses in the use of computer hardware and software.

Why Consider a Music Composition Concentration?

The Music Department at Western Washington University is centered around a community of collaboration and support where all are welcome and encouraged to learn, explore and create in a positive nurturing environment. Western graduates become successful teachers, performers, composers and leaders in all fields of music. The strength of Western’s Department of Music is its faculty’s commitment to students and helping them achieve their goals and aspirations.

 Contact Information

Program Coordinator
​Undergraduate Academic Advisor

Lee Anne Frahn
Performing Arts 263
360-650-4091
LeeAnne.Frahn@wwu.edu

Composition and Theory Coordinator
Lesley Sommer
Performing Arts 147
360-650-7382
Lesley.Sommer@wwu.edu

Department Chair
Patrick Roulet
Performing Arts 271
360-650-3404
Patrick.Roulet@wwu.edu

 Sample Careers

Professional Composer for Orchestras, Choirs or Wind Bands | Professional Composer for Movies, Video Games or Television | Music Critic | Composer of Popular Music | Engineer/Mixer

 Major/Career Resources

www.wwu.edu/careers/students_choosingamajor.shtml

Admission and Declaration Process:

General WWU vs. Music Admissions: Acceptance to the Music Department does not guarantee admission to the general university. Decisions related to general admissions are completed independently by the University. Students may request and complete a music audition regardless if they have received their admissions decision by the WWU admissions office.

Admissions/Audition: All students must successfully complete an Entrance Audition on their instrument or voice. Prospective Composition majors must also submit a portfolio of previous work for faculty review. Please visit our website for priority audition dates. Students who audition after these priority dates will be considered on a space available basis. Due to the sequential nature of our curriculum, mid-year applicants are not recommended or guaranteed to be granted an audition. Students electing to begin in a quarter other than Fall should seek advisement through the Program Coordinator before requesting an audition. cfpa.wwu.edu/music/auditions

Declaration and Advising: All incoming music students will receive advising and curriculum planning with the Program Coordinator during orientation sessions and/or by appointment. Declaration is required to access all academic coursework. Overrides will be entered prior to orientation and/or by appointment to obtain access to all program restricted courses before declarations have been processed. Please see below for more details. 

  • Freshman: Freshman will declare their music major during Fall Advising & Orientation. Students who intend to double major may be placed into another advising session if deemed appropriate by the Program Coordinator. Students intending to double major will be asked to notify the Program Coordinator before Fall Advising & Orientation. These students will receive an email prior to Fall A&O with specific instructions for Music registration and declaration.
  • Transfer: Transfer students will declare their music major during Transition Orientation, Transitions, or by appointment with the Program Coordinator. Declaration is required to obtain access to all major restricted courses. Overrides will be entered prior to Transitions, or by appointment to give preliminary access to major restricted courses before major declarations are processed. 
  • Returning Students: Returning students will declare their music major by appointment with the Program Coordinator. Returning students should contact the Program Coordinator prior to registration in order to obtain access to major restricted courses.  

Graduation Timeline: Due to the sequential nature of our core curriculum, we strongly recommend that all students considering a Bachelor of Music degree (BMus) in Performance, Composition, History & Literature, and Music Education begin our music core sequences the Fall quarter of their first year. These majors are designed around a curriculum that takes approximately four years to complete. Additionally, the Music Education degree has an approximate graduation timeline between year four and five. Please note, the approximate graduation timeline does not apply to all students, and is dependent on each student’s incoming status, eligibility for placement exams, and academic progress within the department.

Placement Exams: Placement exams in Music Theory, Aural Skills, and Keyboarding are given only to students who have successfully passed an Entrance Audition on their primary instrument or voice. All auditioned students are eligible for placement exams if they meet the following eligibility requirements. 

Eligibility:

Theory and Aural Skills (Ear Training): Students are eligible to complete placement exams if they have successfully completed the AP Theory Exam with a 3 or higher, or have successfully completed college level courses in the corresponding subject at another institution. 

Keyboarding (Class Piano): Students are eligible to complete the keyboarding placement exam if they have successfully completed college level class piano courses at another institution. Those that have completed piano lessons will not be eligible to test out of our sequence without the completion of class piano at another institution. These students will instead be placed into an advanced keyboarding sequence.

Scheduling: Placement exams are scheduled each Fall quarter before term begins. Those that are attempting to start a major in Winter and Spring quarter will be given placement exams on an individual basis contingent on faculty and room availability. Students attempting to start the major Winter or Spring quarter should contact our Program Coordinator as soon as possible to determine eligibility and to schedule exams. Study materials are available on request after a successful audition. Contact Program Coordinator for more details.

Placement Exam Advising: Students should be advised that they are not guaranteed to enter at their expected level. Students must complete the entire core sequence of theory, aural skills and keyboarding as a pre-requisite to all upper division core requirements. All credits received in theory, aural skills, and keyboard skills previously at other institutions will be transferred at the level for which it was earned, and may apply toward fulfillment of elective requirements for the major in music or in music education. Students may be required to repeat theory and/or aural skills/keyboarding skills courses previously taken at another institution.

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for all Music Major and Minor courses. A minimum GPA of 2.5 in music courses is required for graduation with a degree in music.

Requirements


Music Non-Course Requirements


Concert Attendance: Attendance of at least 5 pre-approved concerts every quarter until all degree requirements are fulfilled. Approved music department events only, including mainstage operas, and performances in PAC 16. Students must bring their Western ID card to check in and out to receive credit. Those without a Western ID card will not receive credit.

Upper Division Jury (Applied Lessons): Composition students must complete one upper division jury as partial fulfillment of the degree program. It is recommended that students pass an upper-division jury to advance to the upper-division instruction (300-400) level by the end of their second year. Jury schedules, including frequency and repertoire, are determined by each area of study. Students will schedule their upper division jury according to area policies, and under the advisement of their applied instructor. 

Upper Division Portfolio (Composition Lessons): Composition students will submit an upper division portfolio to reach the 300 and 400 level of composition lessons. Portfolio schedules, including repertoire, are determined by the composition area. Students should refer all questions to the composition coordinator, Dr. Hamilton.

Keyboarding Proficiency Exam (KPE): All Music Majors must successfully complete the Keyboarding Proficiency Exam (KPE) as partial fulfillment of the degree program. The exam is administered at the conclusion of the two-year keyboarding sequence. (MUS 121B-221B) Students placed into the advanced keyboarding section will complete the exam after the first year of keyboarding courses. (MUS 121B-125B)

Music Core Sequences


The music core sequence is comprised of courses in aural skills, keyboarding skills, theoretical and analytical skills, and music history that progress in a three-year sequence. Core music sequences begin Fall quarter and will not repeat until the next academic year. In the first two years, students must concurrently enroll in one course each of aural skills, keyboarding skills, and theoretical and analytical skills each quarter. If a student does not meet the university prerequisite grade requirement of a C- or higher, they may continue to enroll in the other core sequence courses they have successfully passed. Students who are eligible for placement exams will enroll in core sequences under the advisement of the music advisor. Students will be placed into a beginning, intermediate, or advanced section of keyboarding skills according to their piano experience. Those with significant piano experience and piano major/minors will be placed into the advanced keyboarding section, and will not be required to complete the second year keyboarding skills sequence along with remaining core music courses (MUS 221B, MUS 223B, MUS 225B). Students may enroll in the Music History sequence (MUS 341, MUS 342, MUS 343) after successfully completing all theoretical and analytical skills courses (MUS 122-226) with a C- or higher. Please see our example PDF for course planning.

Music Composition Core Requirements


In addition to the music core requirements, music composition students must complete additional courses in conducting, upper-division music theory, upper-division music history, electives in electro acoustic and computer music, as well as a culminating senior thesis or recital. Students may enroll in MUS 351 Basic Conducting after successfully completing all music core sequences in theory, aural skills, and keyboarding with a C- or higher. Students may enroll in any upper-division music theory course after successfully completing all music theory core requirements with a C- or higher (MUS 122-226). Students may enroll in any upper division music history course after successfully completing the history sequence with a C- or higher (MUS 341-343). 

Composition Lessons (minimum 21 credits)


Students will register for composition lessons with the permission of the composition faculty. After receiving permission, students will enroll in composition lessons each quarter until all degree requirements are fulfilled. A minimum of three credits must be completed in MUS 431. Students will enroll in MUS 231 until being granted the 300 level through the Upper Division Portfolio. 

Electroacoustic Music and Electives


Electives (5 credits selected under advisement)

Any additional music courses may apply towards electives, including MUS 232, MUS 432, additional chamber music, history, theory, conducting, and survey courses.

Conducting


Upper-Division Music History


We offer a Music History Seminar on various topics each quarter (MUS 442). MUS 443A-F are accepted substitutions.

Senior Project


Chamber Music


Composition students must complete one course of chamber music as partial fulfillment of the degree program. Student may choose to register for multiple groups, or the same chamber course to fulfill this requirement. Students may participate in a chamber music ensemble not associated with their primary instrument. Some ensembles may require an audition, and may not be available every quarter. Students should use Classfinder to plan their courses accordingly.

Primary Instrument Requirements


Brass


Applied Lessons (minimum of 12 credits)

Brass students must enroll in applied lessons each quarter until the last year of study where students focus solely on composition lessons. A minimum of three credits for applied lessons must be completed in 314F-J. Brass students will register for applied lessons on their primary instrument. Instrument sections are indicated F-J. Students will register for the 200 level of applied lessons until passing an upper-division jury.

Major Ensemble (minimum of 18 credits)

Brass students must enroll in a major ensemble each quarter until all degree requirements are fulfilled. Students must attend ensemble auditions each year to be placed into the appropriate Major Ensemble.

Guitar


Applied Lessons (minimum of 12 credits)

Guitar students must enroll in applied lessons, and a major ensemble each quarter until the last year of study where students focus solely on composition lessons. A minimum of three credits for applied lessons must be completed in MUS 316. Students will register for the 200 level of applied lessons until passing an upper-division jury.

Major Ensemble (minimum of 18 credits)

Guitar students must enroll in a major ensemble and guitar ensemble according to the schedule below, until the last year of study where students focus solely on composition lessons. Guitar students will enroll in a major ensemble each Fall quarter, followed by Guitar Ensemble Winter quarter (MUS 282), and Guitar Ensemble Spring quarter. Guitar students have the option to simultaneously enroll in a major ensemble winter and spring quarters, but it is not required.

Major Ensemble Courses (minimum of 6 credits)

Guitar students will complete an instrumental or choral major ensemble each fall quarter, followed by enrollment in MUS 282M, Guitar Ensemble, winter and spring quarters until all degree requirements are fulfilled. Guitar students may continue to enroll in a major ensemble alongside Guitar Ensemble winter and spring quarter.

Guitar Ensemble (minimum of 12 credits)

Percussion


Applied Lessons (minimum of 12 credits)

Percussion students must enroll in applied lessons each quarter until the last year of study where students focus solely on composition lessons. A minimum of three credits for applied lessons must be completed in MUS 314K. Students will register for the 200 level of applied lessons until passing an upper-division jury. 

Major Ensemble (minimum of 18 credits)

Percussion students must enroll in a major ensemble each quarter until all degree requirements are fulfilled, regardless of completing the minimum credit requirement. Students must attend ensemble auditions each year to be placed into the appropriate Major Ensemble.

Piano


Applied Lessons (minimum of 12 credits)

Piano students must enroll in applied lessons each quarter until all degree requirements are fulfilled, regardless of completing the minimum credit requirement. A minimum of three credits for applied lessons must be completed in MUS 312. Students will register for the 200 level of applied lessons until passing an upper-division jury.

Major Ensemble (minimum of 18 credits)

Piano students must enroll in a major ensemble or piano accompanying according to the following schedule each quarter until all degree requirements are fulfilled, regardless of completing the minimum credit requirement.

Major Ensemble Courses (minimum of 6 credits)

Piano students will enroll in three consecutive quarters of a major ensemble, with the remainder of their major ensemble requirements fulfilled with Piano Accompanying (MUS 276/476). Students who do not audition into another ensemble must enroll in MUS 271.

Piano Accompanying (minimum of 12 credits)

Students will register for MUS 276 until receiving permission to enroll in MUS 476.

Strings


Applied Lessons (minimum of 12 credits)

Strings students must enroll in applied lessons each quarter each quarter until the last year of study where students focus solely on composition lessons. Strings students will register for applied lessons on their primary instrument. Instrument sections are indicated A-E. A minimum of three credits for applied lessons must be completed in MUS 313A-E. Students will register for the 200 level of applied lessons until passing an upper-division jury.

Major Ensemble (minimum of 18 credits)

Strings students must enroll in a major ensemble each quarter until the last year of study where students focus solely on composition lessons. Students must attend ensemble auditions each year to be placed into the appropriate Major Ensemble.
 

Voice


Applied Lessons (minimum of 12 credits)

Voice students must enroll in applied lessons each quarter until the last year of study here students focus solely on composition lessons. A minimum of three credits for applied lessons must be completed in MUS 315. Students will register for the 200 level of applied lessons until passing an upper-division jury.
 

Major Ensemble (minimum of 18 credits)

Voice students must enroll in a major ensemble each quarter until the last year of study where students focus solely on composition lessons. Students must attend ensemble auditions each year to be placed into the appropriate Major Ensemble.
 

Woodwinds


Applied Lessons (minimum of 12 credits)

Woodwind students must enroll in applied lessons each quarter until the last year of study where students focus solely on composition lessons. A minimum of three credits for applied lessons must be completed in MUS 314A-E. Students will register for the 200 level of applied lessons until passing an upper-division jury.

Major Ensemble (minimum of 18 credits)

Woodwind students must enroll in a major ensemble each quarter until the last year of study where students focus solely on composition lessons. Students must attend ensemble auditions each year to be placed into the appropriate Major Ensemble.

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