As a composition major, you’ll develop your compositional personality through the study of a variety of composition techniques, instrumentation, and orchestration. Over eight semesters, while completing the college’s core music curriculum, you’ll build your portfolio through working with a diverse community of musicians, faculty, industry professionals, and visiting artists, gaining real world experience all while earning your bachelor’s degree.
The student majoring in composition will study tonal harmony, counterpoint, tonal and non-tonal compositional techniques, instrumentation, and orchestration. Music literature studied will emphasize the concert music repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries 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 chamber pieces in smaller and larger forms, a composition for solo voice or mixed chorus, and a composition for full orchestra.
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 student majoring in composition 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.
Meet the Composition Department
Berklee’s Composition Department is an open-minded program providing you the opportunities to find and develop your own compositional voice.
Program at a Glance
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; and
- Evaluate the historical, social, and cultural context of musical compositions.
There are no entrance requirements to declare this major.
There are 30 credits required for this major. To view the full program of study, which includes core music, liberal arts, and general electives, see sample curriculum for the bachelor's degree.
- ISKB-211: Basic Keyboard Techniques 1
- ISKB-212: Basic Keyboard Techniques 2
- CP-311: Advanced Counterpoint
- CM-221: Techniques of Tonal Writing
- CM-398: Directed Study in Composition 1
- MLAN-311: Analysis of Classical and Romantic Music
- MLAN-312: Analysis of 20th- and 21st- Century Music
- CM-231: Instrumentation and Score Preparation
- CM-311: Contemporary Techniques in Composition 1
- CM-312: Contemporary Techniques in Composition 2
- CM-441: Scoring for Full Orchestra
- CM-497: Directed Study in Composition 2
- CM-498: Directed Study in Orchestral Composition 3
- Approved Specified Electives
- Senior Portfolio