Fall 2021

Composition I

Listed in: Music, as MUSI-269

Formerly listed as: MUSI-69

Moodle site: Course


Eric W. Sawyer (Section 01)


What does it mean to compose? What do you need to know in order to do it? We will investigate the practice of music composition across recent decades and create original work inspired by the music and techniques we encounter. We will study the use instruments and voices, how to provide a clear musical score for interpretation by performers, and how improvisation and technology can inform and become part of a composition. Students may bring any style or tradition to the table. The class will focus especially on three lineages through the twentieth century into the twenty-first: modern Western art music, instrumental music from the African-American tradition, and the gamut of American popular song. Each composition will be presented in class, with the assistance of performers from inside and outside the class. We will develop the skill of providing one another constructive feedback. The class will culminate in a concert performance of final compositions.Two class meetings per week.

Requisite: MUSI 111 or 112, and consent of the instructor. Limited to 10 students. Fall semester. Professor Sawyer.

If Overenrolled: First years, majors and prospective majors, and Amherst College students given preference.


Artistic Practice, Fine Arts for Non-majors


2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023