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MusicHB MUSM1015

MUSM1015   Instrumental and Vocal Composition 1

A one-hour class each week in Instrumental and Vocal Composition, Analysis, Instrumentation and Orchestration.

To gain a basic understanding of theories and practices of instrumental writing in the twentieth century.

Semester 1:
To compose two of the following three works:

  • a piece for solo string, wind or brass instrument.
  • a piece for non-harmonic instruments.
  • a piece for chamber ensemble of no more than six instruments. Any combination of instruments may be selected.
  • a work for chamber ensemble.

Semester 2:
To compose two of the following three works:

  • a work for chamber orchestra: an extension of the first semester's linear studies, i.e. a piece basically contrapuntal in nature.
  • a work for string orchestra:, a study in writing for a homogenous instrumental group showing consideration of the technical and colouristic capabilities of the instruments.
  • a work for standard symphony orchestra: the blending and juxtaposition of instrumental families.

Semester 1:
Various works will be used to illustrate the methods employed by a number of composers to replace the previously accepted functions of classical tonality (e.g. Debussy, Voiles, Estampes or Nocturnes as illustrations of major, minor, modal, whole-tone and pentatonic scalar construction; together with the use of quasi-tonal procedures, parallel chords, pedal points and chordal juxtaposition without tonal reference).

Semester 2:
The construction of phrases, sentences and periods from a basic motivic cell (e.g. Bartok, 5th String Quartet; Felix Werder, String Quartet No. 8) and a continuing study in variation technique from Bach to the twentieth century (e.g. Passacaglia form: Bach, Passacaglia in C Minor for organ; Purcell, Chacony Quartet for strings; Brahms, Symphony No. 4 final movement; Weber, Passacaglia Op. 1).

Instrumentation and Orchestration
Semester 1:
To complete an impressionist orchestration of a major piano work of Debussy (e.g. Jardins sous la Pluie). This will involve a continuing and more specialised study of instrumental and orchestral resources which will be assisted by occasional demonstrations of various instruments' characteristics, range, timbral variation, etc. by Faculty members from practical studies departments.

Semester 2:
To complete a pointillistic orchestration of a work by Webern (e.g. Three Pieces for Cello and Piano Op.11) and other studies in 'Klangfarbenmelodien' techniques.

Instrumental and Vocal Composition assignments-50%.
A three-hour written Instrumental and Vocal Composition examination (end of semester 2)-50%.

In addition to works mentioned in the 'Suggested reading for Composition students' [...], other materials will be chosen in consultation with the lecturers.


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