Composition Emphasis Guidelines

Music majors who wish to pursue a concentration in theory/composition should plan to complete:

  • All of the course work required for the music major
  • Music 238: Composition Workshop (offered each fall), and 3 or more semesters of Music 338: Composition, Private Lesson (1 credit, offered every semester)
  • These additional courses (none are officially required but all are strongly encouraged):
    • Music 356: Electro-Acoustic Music (2 credits, offered alternate years)
    • Music 454: Modal Counterpoint (2 credits, offered alternate years)
    • Music 371: Orchestration (2 credits, offered alternate years)
    • Music 455: Analytic Techniques (2 credits, offered alternate years)
    • Music 469: Advanced Ear Training (2 credits, offered intermittently)
    • Other recommended courses: Music 135, 247, 248, 351 and 353
  • 3 general recital appearances during the junior year (in special cases, a composition student may present a 1/2 recital on an applied instrument or voice, but it must be during their junior year)
  • A senior project in the form of an extended composition with an essay. Performance or reading of this piece constitutes the public presentation
  • A 1/2 or full composition recital, to be given in the senior year. As part of the recital, students coach, conduct, and perhaps perform on several of their own compositions

How students enter this track

  • Students begin the process by applying to the composition faculty no later than the end of their 4th semester at Luther. The application includes a transcript of music courses, a letter of commitment from their applied lesson teacher, and a written essay that details their reasons for choosing to focus on composition.
  • Upon receipt of these materials, students meet with the composition faculty to determine how to finish all requirements by graduation, and if a focus on composition is in the student’s best interest.
  • Approved students are encouraged to enroll in Music 238: Composition Workshop, which is offered every fall.
  • During their final semester of study, composition students schedule a composition recital and spend that semester preparing for its presentation. All works featured on the recital require approval by the composition faculty. The recital may include the work that constitutes the student’s senior project.

Additional Notes

  • Once students embark on this concentration, they are highly discouraged from participating in more than one ensemble and enrolling in more than one applied lesson.
  • Students must complete their degree recital requirement in their junior year (composition recitals do not satisfy this requirement).
  • Extra-curricular activities must be limited in order for all academic requirements to be met while maintaining room in one’s schedule for dedicated time to compose. A student with a composition emphasis should plan on devoting 8-10 hours (minimum) per week to composition and related pursuits (listening, analysis, concert attendance, etc.).