Jun 13, 2024  
Course Catalog 2023-2024 
Course Catalog 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Composition Major

Course Requirements

For course requirements for the Composition Major, 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

All BM students complete a core of music theory and aural skills classes, which includes the following: Music Theory I-II (MUTH 131 and 132), which prepares students to hear, perform, and communicate about multiple aspects of music in diverse repertoires; two additional music theory courses at the 200 level (MUTH 250-299), which include topic- and repertoire-based classes that are chosen in consultation with academic advisors; Aural Skills I-IV (MUTH 101, 102, 201, 202). Students are expected to register for one Music Theory and one Aural Skills course each semester until they have completed the core requirements. 

A music theory placement test score of 80 or higher is a prerequisite for MUTH 131. Students with lower scores must successfully complete MUTH 120 before taking MUTH 131. The placement exam may be taken five times.

Conservatory Writing Requirement

The Conservatory Writing Requirement is designed to help students develop the ability to do the following: communicate effectively in writing, understand writing as a process, engage in writing as a form of critical thinking, demonstrate rhetorical flexibility by addressing various audiences and purposes in their writing, and demonstrate awareness of the conventions and forms of writing in particular disciplines.

As noted in the Bachelor of Music Degree Requirements  section of this catalog, the writing requirement is as follows:

Students are required to complete one writing course, either Writing-Intensive (WINT) or Writing-Advanced (WADV). It is strongly advised that students complete this course by the end of the second year of study. The course must be completed at Oberlin, with the exception that transfer students may petition to count a transferred course with a comparable focus on writing toward this requirement. The petition to request transfer of credit toward the writing requirement can be accessed here. Taking a second writing course during studies at Oberlin is strongly recommended.

Courses carrying the Writing-Intensive (WINT) designation involve explicit instruction in writing, are generally limited in size to allow such instruction, and require multiple writing assignments. These courses are designed to help students develop, compose, revise, organize, and edit prose appropriate to the discipline or course. Courses carrying the Writing-Advanced (WADV) designation are associated with the major and aim at helping students develop as writers within a discipline, employing the conventions and styles appropriate to that field and demonstrating the depth and engagement with disciplinary issues and practices typical of knowledgeable practitioners.

Numerous campus resources are available to help students develop their writing skills, including Oberlin’s Writing Associates Program and the Writing Center. Conservatory students are encouraged to work closely with their Conservatory teachers to hone their music-specific writing skills as they progress through their degree requirements, with particular encouragement to engage in writing artistic statements, program notes, and grant proposals. Students enrolled in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) sequence will fulfill the Conservatory Writing Requirement as part of their ESOL coursework, specifically with the successful completion of ESOL 140 .