Composition Major

The student majoring in composition will study tonal harmony, counterpoint and fugue, tonal composition, 20th and 21st century compositional techniques, instrumentation, and orchestration. Music literature studied will emphasize the concert music repertoire of the 20th and 21st century, but also will include principal composers and styles from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The student will demonstrate mastery of these skills and concepts, as well as the development of an individual compositional personality and voice, by completing a portfolio of scores that will include (but not be limited to) a number of pieces in smaller forms, a tonal four-part fugue, a composition for solo voice or mixed chorus, a sonata in three movements, and a composition for full orchestra.

Watch faculty and students discuss the Berklee Composition Department in the video below:

The study of acknowledged masterpieces from different historical periods will develop in the student an individual aesthetic vision and the critical ability to recognize and discuss music of quality. The student will gain skills by working with performers, leading rehearsals, and conducting and/or producing performances.

The composition major will develop sufficient skills and knowledge to function as a composer of concert music and to gain entry to a graduate program in music theory or composition in order to pursue a career as a teacher, scholar, and practitioner of music theory and composition.

Watch student Michal Weiner discuss studying composition at Berklee:

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of a major in composition, students will:

  • Transcribe and analyze musical compositions in a variety of styles.
  • Orchestrate music for ensembles of varying size and instrumentation.
  • Synthesize and apply historical knowledge of compositional practices to the creation of original musical works.
  • Rehearse and conduct a performance of his or her own compositions.
  • Produce a recording of his or her own compositions.
  • Evaluate the historical, social, and cultural context of musical compositions.

Download the composition concentrate courses. Students are strongly encouraged to verify their course requirements with the Office of the Registrar.

Composition Links