University of Pittsburgh

Composition Track

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Music BA Curriculum   42 credits

Composition Track

Dr. Eric Moe –


This track is intended for students interested primarily in creating music—of any genre, acoustic or electroacoustic. A solid background in music history, music theory (including tonal harmony and 20th-21st century techniques) and musicianship is essential for composers, as is competence on an instrument or voice. Students will have the opportunity to hear their music read or performed by guest performers and ensembles as well as groups such as the University Orchestra. Students will create a final portfolio of their compositional work. They will develop their individual musical voices through close mentorship by faculty.


Prerequisite course:   

MUS 0100         Fundamentals of Western Music           (3 cr.)


Required Core Courses for all Music Major tracks - 21 credits


MUS 0411 Theory 1 (3 cr.)

MUS 0412 & 0416 Musicianship 1&2 (2 cr.)

MUS 0222 Music History 1 (3 cr.)

MUS 1310 Intro to Global/Popular Music    (3 cr.)

MUS 0711 History of Jazz, or (3 cr.)

MUS 1326 African American Music in the US

*MUS 1904 Senior Seminar  (3 cr.)

MUS 1903 Senior Project (1 cr.)

**Performance: 3 semesters (3 cr.) 


Composition Track additions = 21 credits:


MUS 0415 Theory 2 (3 cr.)

MUS 0417 Theory 3 (advanced tonal harmony)  (3 cr.)

MUS 0419 Theory 4 (20th-21st c. techniques) (3 cr.)

MUS 0224 Music History 2   (3 cr.)

Composition (two courses)  (6 cr.)

MUS 1421 Composition 1, MUS 1422 Composition 2, MUS 1431 Instrumentation & Orchestration, MUS 1441 Electronic & Computer Music 1, MUS 1442 Electronic & Computer Music 2

Elective from 1200, 1300, 1400*** (3 cr.)

         (Additional private lessons for 3 credits can be taken instead of the elective)


Prerequisite course:  Music 0100 must be passed with at least a “B-” grade before a student is accepted as a Music Major. 


* The Senior Project may consist of a recital, a paper, an oral presentation, or other culminating project suitable to the interests and abilities of the student.  Ambitious Senior Projects could be taken as a “Special Topics-Directed Research” for 1 credit.


* Senior Project: Each student plans a Senior Project under the guidance of a faculty member, and signs a written agreement signed by the faculty members and submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Studies that maps out the project from beginning to completion.  The project might grow out of or result from the Senior Seminar.


The Senior Project should showcase the student’s strengths and interests, whether it is:

1) performing a solo recital;

2) performing in a chamber ensemble recital;

3) having an original composition performed;

4) presenting a research paper, in either written or oral form; or

5) other type of project.


The faculty member may be regular full-time faculty, or a part-time instructor of performance or ensembles employed by the University to teach in the Music Department.  The faculty member will guide and monitor the quality of the Senior Project.


The more ambitious student who wishes to prepare and present a solo recital for 1-3 credits (registered as “Special Topics-Directed Research”) would write a biographical sketch of each composer represented on the recital program, write program notes, find and pay an accompanist, reserve a recital venue, and publicize the event (i.e. do sufficient work to justify the number of credits).


**Performance: Includes private lessons and/or ensemble participation.  Must include at least one world music ensemble: MUS 0549 Tabla, MUS 0615 Carpathian, MUS 0660 African Drumming, MUS 0690 Gamelan


***Elective from: MUS 1222 Medieval & Early Renaissance, MUS 1224, Later Renaissance & Baroque, MUS 1226 Classical & Early Romantic, MUS 1228 Late Romantic & Early 20th Century, MUS 1230 Music since 1945, MUS 1242 Major Composer, MUS 1252 History of Performance Styles, MUS 1332 Music in Latin America, MUS 1340 Music in Africa, MUS 1352 Music in East Asia, MUS 1421 Composition 1, MUS 1422 Composition 2, MUS 1431 Instrumentation & Orchestration, MUS 1441 Electronic & Computer Music 1, MUS 1442 Electronic & Computer Music 2


NOTE: Majors may accumulate up to 60 credits in additional elective music courses that count towards graduation from the 1200, 1300, 1400 series listed above.


Departmental Honors: To graduate with "Departmental Honors," a student must earn a minimum 3.25 QPA overall, a minimum 3.50 QPA in the music courses with no grade lower than a B-, take the Department's Honors course (Senior Seminar MUSIC 1904 or other designated course) and complete a Senior Project for at least one credit.

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