Fall 2023

Composition I

Listed in: Music, as MUSI-269


Ravi Krishnaswami (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, some background playing an instrument or singing, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 10 students. Fall semester.

How to handle overenrollment: First years, majors and prospective majors, and Amherst College students given preference.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Students will develop skills of and in support of musical creativity. This includes exercises using a range of compositional techniques and materials, learning to write and notate for instruments and voices, understanding the role of interpretation of a score by a performer, and writing original pieces with and without models and guidelines. The course will include the study of a range of music from the past century, including music in the Western classical and African-American traditions and the American tradition of popular song. Work to be evaluated will include the exercises and compositions, as well as written responses to assigned repertory and readings, and participation in discussions of these and of the compositions of classmates.

MUSI 269 - LEC

Section 01
M 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM ARMU 007
W 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM ARMU 007


Other years: Offered in 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, Fall 2024