Composition Class Assignments for 9.14.2018

Composition Class Assignments for 9.14.2018

It was my pleasure to see all of you in class last Friday, and I trust we’ll have a great semester together.

Your first assignment is to write 8 measures of anything, preferably in a major key, but you can branch out if you’d like. If you need me to play it from my computer, please send it to me by Thursday evening. Otherwise, I’ll assume you have the means to perform it however you choose.

Some links to free notation software are below. Each have pros and cons. Be sure whichever one you choose you can save the score as a PDF and save a playback file to .mp3. That will help sharing be much easier.

We spent a good chunk of time in class discussing how to listen objectively. It’s not really enough to say whether you liked something or not. Listening objectively looks for elements that add to or detract from a composition, regardless of your subjective feelings about it. This can be tough to do, but it’s an important skill to learn. We listened to three very different compositions:

Short Ride on a Fast Machine

Sonatina in C, mvt. 1 (a different recording than what we heard Friday)

Der Mondfleck (You can listen to the whole work here.)

One question we didn’t get to was “What can I learn from this?” Please write a couple of paragraphs examining each of these pieces and what you can take away as objective listeners working to get better at both listening and then composing. You can bring your responses to class next week and we’ll discuss them.

As I mentioned, our loose plan is to take a look at various instruments and then compose some works using those instruments. The main types we’ll look at are:





keyboard instruments


I’m not sure what order we’ll go in exactly, but we will start with the voice so that can give me some time to get players scheduled to join us in class to discuss their instrument. The general pattern will be to learn about the instrument in class, then the next week a composition will be due, spending two weeks total on each instrument type.

If you have any questions, please email me, and I look forward to seeing you in class next Friday.

My musical happy moment this week is this fantastic performance of Darius Milhaud’s Scaramouche at this year’s BBC Proms.


Heather R. Nelson, PhD

Singing Voice Specialist

Voice Teacher