Jul 13, 2024  
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog 
    
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog

Music — Composition Concentration, BMus

Location(s): WWU - Bellingham


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Department of Music, College of Fine and Performing Arts

111-113 credits

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, musicology, 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 introductory and advanced courses in the use of computer hardware and software.

 Contact Information

Program Coordinator
​Undergraduate Academic Advisor

Catherine Brown
Performing Arts 263
360-650-6280
Catherine.Brown@wwu.edu

Composition Area Coordinator
Charles Halka
Performing Arts 133
360-650-3711
halkac@wwu.edu

Department Chair
Timothy Fitzpatrick
Performing Arts 271
360-650-3772
fitzpat@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

careercenter.wwu.edu/connectmajorcareer

Admission

To begin a music major or minor and to enroll in core music classes, students must complete an Entrance Audition on their primary instrument or voice. Prospective composition majors must also submit a portfolio of previous work for faculty review. New music majors are advised to audition the same year they apply to WWU. Although we primarily admit students for the fall term, mid-year applicants are also accepted depending on space availability.

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


Upper-division Jury (Applied Lessons): Composition students must complete lessons at the 300-level. An upper-division jury is required to reach this level. It is recommended that students attempt this (an upper-division jury) 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. Charles Halka.

Keyboarding Proficiency: To fulfill the music degree program, all music majors must demonstrate keyboard proficiency. Proficiencies are assessed throughout the final quarter of the keyboarding sequence (either MUS 225B or 225C). Assessments can be individually arranged for eligible students.

Music Core Sequences


The music core sequence starts with 100-level courses in theoretical and analytical skills (music theory), aural skills, keyboarding skills (at either the 100 or 200 level, depending on the student’s piano level). After that, students take 200-level courses in those subjects, followed by a year of 300-level musicology courses. This sequence starts each Fall quarter and repeats the next academic year.

Music Composition Core Requirements


Composition Lessons (minimum 17 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 major requirements are fulfilled. Students will enroll in MUS 231 until being granted the 300-level through an upper-division portfolio. The timeline of the upper-division portfolio will be contingent on each student’s incoming status and experience with music theory and aural skills. Students who fail to reach the 300-level by the end of their sixth quarter in composition lessons will be placed on probationary status for the major. An additional portfolio review is required for entry into MUS 431. A minimum of nine credits must be completed in MUS 431. Students will enroll in MUS 231 (minimum 2 credits, maximum 14 credits) until being granted the 300 level through the upper-division Portfolio (MUS 331, minimum 6 credits).

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, musicology, theory, conducting, and survey courses.

Conducting


Upper-Division Musicology


We offer a musicology 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. Students 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 Browse Classes to plan their courses accordingly.

Primary Instrument Requirements


Music majors are expected to register for a minimum of 2 credits each quarter in applied instruction.

Brass


Applied Lessons (minimum of 18 credits, maximum of 42 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, maximum of 42 credits)

Brass students must enroll in a major ensemble each quarter until all major requirements are fulfilled. Students must attend ensemble auditions each year to be placed into the appropriate major ensemble. Advanced students may be asked to perform in more than one ensemble during any given quarter. However, only one ensemble per quarter may apply towards major ensemble degree requirements and the other ensemble will apply towards major or general electives.

Guitar


Applied Lessons (minimum of 18 credits, maximum of 42 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, maximum of 42 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. Advanced students may be asked to perform in more than one ensemble during any given quarter. However, only one ensemble per quarter may apply towards major ensemble degree requirements and the other ensemble will apply towards major or general electives.

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 major 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 18 credits, maximum of 42 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, maximum of 42 credits)

Percussion students must enroll in a major ensemble each quarter until all major 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. Advanced students may be asked to perform in more than one ensemble during any given quarter. However, only one ensemble per quarter may apply towards major ensemble degree requirements and the other ensemble will apply towards major or general electives.

Piano


Applied Lessons (minimum of 18 credits, maximum of 42 credits)

Piano students must enroll in applied lessons each quarter until all major 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, maximum of 42 credits)

Piano students must enroll in a major ensemble or piano accompanying according to the following schedule each quarter until all major requirements are fulfilled, regardless of completing the minimum credit requirement. Advanced students may be asked to perform in more than one ensemble during any given quarter. However, only one ensemble per quarter may apply towards major ensemble degree requirements and the other ensemble will apply towards major or general electives.

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 18 credits, maximum of 42 credits)

String 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, maximum of 42 credits)

String 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. Advanced students may be asked to perform in more than one ensemble during any given quarter. However, only one ensemble per quarter may apply towards major ensemble degree requirements and the other ensemble will apply towards major or general electives.

Voice


Applied Lessons (minimum of 18 credits, maximum of 42 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, maximum of 42 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. Advanced students may be asked to perform in more than one ensemble during any given quarter. However, only one ensemble per quarter may apply towards major ensemble degree requirements and the other ensemble will apply towards major or general electives.

Woodwinds


Applied Lessons (minimum of 18 credits, maximum of 42 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, maximum of 42 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. Advanced students may be asked to perform in more than one ensemble during any given quarter. However, only one ensemble per quarter may apply towards major ensemble degree requirements and the other ensemble will apply towards major or general electives.

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