Jul 18, 2024  
Course Catalog 2020-2021 
Course Catalog 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Bachelor of Music: Composition

Course Requirements

For course requirements for the Bachelor of Music: Composition, please see the grid .

Major Status

Freshman Major Status is attained upon being accepted in the Conservatory as a Composition major.

Sophomore Major Status is attained upon completion of COMP 201, 202, 211, 222, 251, 252, and the successful completion of the Freshman Year Composition Jury.

Junior Major Status is attained upon completion of COMP 301, 302, 311, 332, 351, 352, the Sophomore Year Composition Jury, and the Performance Requirements.

Senior Major Status is attained following completion of 12 units of Private Study, COMP 431, at least one semester of COMP 350, two Junior Composition Juries, and at least 4 units of Composition/TIMARA/Jazz electives (see grid for more details).

Composition Juries

Composition Juries are end-of-semester meetings in which individual composition majors present their work to a jury made up of the faculty of the department.  These juries allow the department to monitor students’ progress not only in their compositional work, but in the area of their general degree progress as a whole.

There are five required juries: one each at the close of the Freshman and Sophomore years, one each at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters of the Junior year, and one in the Senior year.

The faculty determines whether the student is performing at a better than satisfactory level, a satisfactory level, or a less than satisfactory level. If the department determines that a student is not making appropriate progress within the major, the student may be refused continuance in the program. It may also be recommended that the student redefine their relationship to the program and seek an Individual Major, or a more liberal arts-based Musical Studies Major in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Performance Requirements

Performance of student compositions is central to the department’s curriculum and mission.  In February of every year there are three student-organized composition concerts–called Midway Concerts–one for all 1st-year majors (along with their TIMARA and Jazz Composition colleagues), one for all 2nd-year majors, and one for all 3rd-year majors.  Every student is required to have a piece on their respective concert and to partcipate actively in its production.  Students are also expected to assist in departmental concerts and rectials just as part of being a good citizen of the Conservatory.  This may include: moving and setting instruments for rehearsals and performances, preparing and distributing posters for performances, striking instruments after rehearsals and performances, and so on.

Senior Recital

The Senior Recital represents the culmination of the student’s work for the major. This normally takes the form of a 60-minute recital of original works, although the department is open to other possible formats for which official approval must be granted. 

Music Theory and Aural Skills Requirement

Students are expected to register for Music Theory and Aural Skills courses each semester until they have completed the requirements. Part or all of these requirements may be waived by placement examinations.

Normally, students will take Music Theory I-IV and Aural Skills I-IV concurrently. That is, a student will register for Music Theory I (MUTH 130 or 131) and Aural Skills I (MUTH 101) in the same semester, Theory II and Aural Skills II in the next semester, and so on. Under certain circumstances, with the permission of the student’s division director and the Music Theory division director, a student will be permitted to move forward in the Music Theory sequence beyond the corresponding Aural Skills course.

A student’s Aural Skills requirement must be completed before the senior recital can be scheduled. Double-degree students will resolve any conflicts with these expectations in consultation with their advisors.

Conservatory Writing Requirement

All entering Conservatory and Double-Degree students must complete a writing assessment, administered by the Conservatory Writing Committee.  Generally, this assessment takes place during Orientation week.  Students who enter the Conservatory midway through the academic year must complete this assessment by the end of the second week of classes of the Spring semester.

This assessment is graded on a Pass/No Pass basis.  Students who receive a passing grade on this initial assessment will have satisfied the Writing Requirement.  Students who receive a No Pass on this initial assessment must successfully complete a second writing assessment by the end of their second year.  For this second assessment, students must compile and submit to the Conservatory Writing Committee a portfolio comprising two pieces of persuasive writing and one reflective piece.  Types of writing that might be submitted include (but are not limited to) essays submitted for Oberlin courses (College or Conservatory), artistic statements, program notes, personal statements, and grant proposals.  The Conservatory Writing Committee will award each portfolio a grade of Pass or No Pass.  Students who receive a Passing grade will have successfully completed the Writing Requirement.  Students who receive a No Pass on this second assessment may revise and resubmit their portfolio one more time.  Students must receive a Pass upon resubmission in order to satisfy the Writing Requirement.

Students are expected to complete the Conservatory Writing Requirement by the end of their second year of study at Oberlin.  Students may not schedule their Junior Recitals until they have completed the Writing Requirement.  Conservatory students enrolled in degree programs that do not require Junior Recitals will not be permitted to enroll in upper-division courses (taken during the Junior year or later, according to the advising grids) until they have successfully completed the Writing Requirement.

Numerous campus resources are available to help students develop their writing skills and fulfill the Conservatory Writing Requirement.  These include Oberlin’s Writing Center and writing-oriented courses offered through the College of Arts & Sciences.  Additionally, it is expected that Conservatory students develop as writers as they progress through the first years of the Conservatory curriculum, in particular their musicology and music theory coursework.  To this end, students are encouraged to work closely with their Conservatory teachers (during office hours and the like) to hone their writing skills as they progress through these courses.  Students enrolled in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) sequence will prepare to fulfill the Conservatory Writing Requirement as part of their ESOL coursework.