Draft in progress

Graduate Music Courses: MCO 5000–5999

Composition: Graduate

Composition Seminar
MCO 5115
/ 1 credit / Every semester
Group discussions and presentations of student works, together with analysis of music by a range of established composers, encompassing many different styles. Live performances and guest artists enhance class sessions.

Contemporary Trends in Jazz Composition
MCO 5180
/ 2 credits / Fall
Students write and perform their own compositions in the jazz vernacular and critically discuss each other’s work. In addition, various compositional models are analyzed, including compositions of Wayne Shorter, Kenny Wheeler, Andy Laverne, Bill Evans, John Abercrombie, and others. Compositions from the Great American Songbook are also analyzed with regard to thematic development and harmonic motion.

Jazz Composition Workshop
MCO 5190
/ 2 credits / Spring
Students write and perform for specific instrumental groupings and form ensembles designed to interpret their original work. Composers and performers are encouraged to give input and jointly engage in the creative process by sharing different viewpoints. These collaborations provide insight into the complete process of writing, arranging, and performing an original work from start to end.

Writing and Production Seminar I and II
MCO 5200
and 5210 / 2 credits (per semester)
I: Fall; II: Spring
Practical collaborations between writers and engineers/producers. Writers and producers are teamed with one another to produce high-quality demo recordings in the digital studios, within realistic professional time and personnel constraints. Emphasis is on the collaborative aspect of musical composition and production.

New Waves in Electronic Music
MCO 5250
/ 2 credits / Spring
A project-based study of trends in electronic music, including electronica, ambient, interactive electronics, and sound design. Students explore techniques employed by DJs, instrumentalists, and other musicians with an eye toward their own innovations. Includes both readings and historical studies as well as project-based music making.

20th-Century Orchestration
MCO 5340
/ 2 credits / Spring
A survey of the orchestration techniques of Debussy, Stravinsky, Webern, Bartok, Hindemith, Ellington, Gil Evans, and Quincy Jones. Brief projects based on each style.

21st-Century Technology and Performance Practice
MCO 5350
/ 2 credits / Fall
A hands-on investigation of creative uses of technology in 21st-century music making. Students learn from models of great works and develop innovative applications of the most recent technological developments through music performance.

Studio Composition Seminar
MCO 5400
/ 1 credit / Every semester
Group discussions and presentations of student works, together with analysis of music by a range of established composers, encompassing many different styles. Live performances and guest artists enhance class sessions. Grading is on a pass/no credit basis.

Melody Writing
MCO 5415
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
A practical study of the craft of writing contemporary melody. Analytical and creative focus on effective melodic practice, plus musical rhyme, dramatic pitch curve, repetition and excursion, bridge, prechorus and chorus writing, melodic psychology and hooks. Studies may include Franz Schubert, Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Billie Holiday, Carole King, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Randy Newman, and others. Prior musical accomplishment as a melodist and ability to read notation are required.

Lyric Writing
MCO 5420
/ 2 credits / Spring
A practical study of the craft of writing contemporary lyrics. Analytical and creative focus on effective musical structures, plus rhyme forms and schemes, line and unit densities, text and subtexts. Studies may include Langston Hughes, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith, Chuck D, Tupac Shakur, and others. Prior musical accomplishment as a lyricist and a desire to collaborate are required.

Advanced Songwriting
MCO 5430
/ 2 credits / Fall
Advanced analysis of lyrics, rhyme, emotional projection, melodic contour, and formal verse-chorus practice. For experienced composers and lyricists who desire to broaden their understanding of the craft. Students are expected to be highly motivated to learn and to explore high-level collaborations across disciplines.

Practical Techniques in Studio Composition
MCO 5445
/ 2 credits / Spring
An in-depth study of specific compositional devices that enhance the quality of a writer’s output, regardless of style. The course focuses on scale selection, melodic development, nontraditional harmony, dynamic markings, and contrapuntal devices to facilitate well-crafted composition. Projects include integrating classroom assignments into original works. The course objective is to synthesize cognitive and “ear” writing methods into one fluid process.

Seminar in Mixing and Engineering
MCO 5450
/ 2 credits / Fall
An advanced study of digital signal processors in the modern digital studio environment, focusing on their specific uses during the mix-down process. Engineers are immersed in real-world situations to foster technical and creative solutions within a typical engineer/client relationship. Emphasis is on the perception of the mind and the ear, mix techniques, and standard business practices.

Seminar in Studio Design
MCO 5455
/ 2 credits / Fall
A practical exploration of design options for the modern recording studio, including its growing role in video and film postproduction. Construction techniques, space design, acoustic treatments, and facility ergonomics are examined, and changes in studio facilities in the digital age are discussed. Students learn how to spec and budget their own midsize recording facility, accounting for all aspects of equipment, construction, HVAC, electrical, and overhead.

Seminar in Studio Arranging
MCO 5460
/ 2 credits / Fall
Advanced arranging skills for transforming music from its simplest rendering into complex orchestral and experimental arrangements. Class time includes projects using Pro Tools and MOTU Digital Performer as compositional/arranging platforms. Students alternately assume the roles of composer, musician, and engineer to develop collaborative communication skills from each of these points of view.

Seminar in World Music
MCO 5465
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
An overview of global musical styles with a special focus on African and Latin cultures. Emphasis is placed on understanding the present and historical practices of music making and why this music is relevant in the world-music scene today. Invited guests, together with video and audio recordings, provide additional insight into the sociological and practical relevance of these styles.

Seminar in Synchronization and Digital Media
MCO 5475
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
A hands-on seminar on advanced digital editing with a focus on the visual image. Studies include film sound and scoring, game sound, television sweetening, and Internet audio. Studies explore frame rates, video latency, troubleshooting, and various technologies and their relationship to working with sound for picture. Students also explore various delivery formats and media.

Seminar in Studio Scoring
MCO 5485
/ 2 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
A writing-intensive course geared toward meeting client deadlines, with a strong emphasis on the craft involved in creating music scores in the studio. Assignments include writing for television, film, advertising, spoken-word, and web-based situations. The composer as businessperson and current practices in the music business are also addressed.

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