The Composing Performer

Written approval of program director
Electable by: 
All graduate students
Required of: 
None; elective course for all graduate students
Semesters Offered: 
Fall, Spring
Boston Campus
Valencia (Spain) Campus
Courses may not be offered at the listed location(s) each semester. Consult for specific term availability.

In this genre-inclusive course, composing performers explore a palette of colors as they assemble ensembles to play their music. Students examine well-known composing performers from a variety of genres, analyzing how they put together bands and wrote for specific musical personalities, choosing their instrumentation and performers to create a specific sound. Exploring these sounds and writing for unique musical personalities creates an intimate and meaningful dimension to the music, as well as a personal sound for the composer. Students listen to and analyze music from many genres and cultures, examining the various orchestrations and compositional techniques that help the composing performer create a signature sound. Students create their own works, developing compositional skills through writing, playing, listening, analyzing, transcribing, arranging, reading, and improvising. Students explore, compose, and improvise in a wide variety of musical styles including jazz, global, and classical. Topics of exploration include: melodic construction; rhythm; melodic and rhythmic counterpoint; harmony; instrumentation and arranging; musical form; use of non-musical sources as inspiration for composing; and the relationship between composition and improvisation. Students should be prepared to play their own and other class members' compositions during each class session.

Course chair: 
Marco Pignataro (Boston), Casey Driessen (Valencia)