Composition and Sonic Art B
Composition and Sonic Art B 2024-25
School of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 2
This module is an introduction to composition, including notated composition for instruments and voices, and studio-based composition using technology. You will learn about the music of a wide variety of composers and creative approaches, drawing out techniques that you can apply to your own compositions. You will be equipped with the technical insights you need to work confidently as a composer, including skills with instruments, notation, compositional processes and studio technology. You will be assessed through a variety of technical composition exercises, and through completing short compositions.
This module is complementary to Composition and Sonic Art A, but independent from it. Depending on the programme of study, you may take either A, or B, or both.
Compositional techniques: - Non-tonal Harmony - Formulas and shapes - Harmonic sonorities - Avoiding Rhythmic gridlock - Texture - Timbre - Degrees of Freedom - Improvisation
Style Studies: - Minimalism - Neo tonality - Total Serialism - Installations - Glitch and Plunderphonics - Soundscapes and Acoustic Ecology
Instruments: - Brass - Strings (extended techniques) - Voices
Studio techniques: - Working with Max - MIDI - Interactive technologies - Spectral audio processing
Excellent (A): The distinguishing quality is the creation of a compelling, engaging and aesthetically satisfying overall outcome through sustained musical imagination and technical command The composition exhibits a majority of the following: a coherent, tightly constructed global structure; a cogent, convincing and sustained musical argument, constructed through the exploration and development of the full potential of musical ideas and materials; musical ideas conceived and articulated with evident flair and imagination, and some degree of originality; an entirely appropriate (but not necessarily equal) balance of unity and diversity, such that interest and coherence are sustained throughout; distinctive, creative and idiomatic use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources; confident, fluent and discerning use of appropriate technical means; evidence of acute sensitivity to the effectiveness of, and assured control over, the shaping of phrases and gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures, and the combination, juxtaposition and relationship of ideas and materials; impressive presentation, with excellent attention to detail and full consideration of the practicability of performing materials (whether for live performance or the realization of electroacoustic presentation).
Good (B): The distinguishing quality is the creation, technical realisation and organisation of imaginative musical ideas to create an aesthetically convincing overall outcome. The composition exhibits a majority of the following: a well articulated and effective global structure; a clearly discernible musical argument, constructed through the exploration and development of musical ideas and materials; imaginatively conceived and articulated musical ideas; unity and diversity well balanced, such that the composition achieves a good degree of interest and coherence; appropriate and effective use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources contributing to creative ends; assured use of appropriate technical means; good sensitivity to the shaping of phrases, gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures, showing an appreciation of their overall effect on the musical outcome; presentation of a good standard, with good attention to detail and some evident consideration of the practicability of performing materials.
-another level-(Grade C- to C+.) The main quality meriting a mark in this category is the creation and technical realisation of musical ideas to achieve an effective overall outcome. Factors which may limit a mark to this level include: a global structure not always fully supportive of or supported by the material of which it consists; intermittent lapses in the cogency of musical argument; some aspects of musical ideas left unexplored or under-developed; invention present but limited; mixed success in the effective juxtaposition and relationship of ideas and materials; some imbalance in unity and diversity (especially though overuse of material without development); occasional inappropriate use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources; technique solid but not always assured and fluent; intermittent and limited musical shaping and control of phrases, gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures; some presentational lapses, with some limitations as to the practicability of materials in performance.
Threshold (D): The crucial element is the creation of musical ideas. Factors which may limit a mark to this level include: a simplistic or over-complex global structure not supportive of or supported by the material of which it consists; musical argument only intermittently discernible with only limited exploration of materials; musical ideas few and/or of questionable value; an imbalance in unity and diversity at the expense of sustained interest (especially through uncritical repetition of material verbatim); variability in the appropriateness of the use of instrumental, vocal, sonic and/or technological resources; technique restricted to a rather basic level; some basic, though not always successful, attempts to achieve musical shaping and control of phrases, gestures, pacing, tempo, dynamics, sonorities and textures; mostly adequate presentation, though with some significant lapse, and materials that may need some revision to be of practical use in performance.
- Apply an understanding of orchestration and/or music-technology tools to composition and/or sonic art.
- Demonstrate an appreciation of a variety of art-music and/or sonic art genres.
- Demonstrate competence in the use of instrumental/vocal resources and/or technological resources/tools.
- Produce imaginative creative outcomes through the development of musical and/or sonic ideas and materials.
Coursework 1. Compose a piece for specified instruments (typically flute, viola and harp or flute, harp and vibraphone), 2-3 mins in length, according to a stated compositional brief (e.g. using a limited number of intervals, exploring harmonic sonorities etc.). An extended brief is provided in the module handbook.
Coursework 2. Create a Max patch that is able to take input from a live source (a voice or instrument playing into a microphone). The patch must also fulfil several stated criteria provided in the assignment brief, e.g. incorporation of delay etc.
Main Assignment. Short composition from a stated brief given in the module handbook, 3-4 mins in length. Typically two options are provided. (1) A composition of 3-4 mins, for up to 8 instruments of your choice, exploring a limited number of compositional techniques. Additional criteria are provided in the assignment brief; a written commentary of no more than 300 words must also be submitted. (2) Compose a piece of 3-4 minutes duration for solo instrument or voice with live processing using a Max patch you have created yourself. Additional criteria are provided in the assignment brief; instructions for using the patch must be included.