The final project is in 2 parts: A larger-scale group composition project and a 3-page theoretical statement. Students may work in groups of 2-4 and will be involved in the composition and performance of their pieces. The pieces must include many different techniques covered in the class. The theoretical statement must describe the ways in which your composition responds to the various aesthetic positions covered in class and demonstrate the techniques used to convey this response. You will need to perform them in class on the day of the final exam.
Here are some further guidelines to help you along:
You have considerable leeway on the sort of piece you write, provided that it makes use of some of the techniques covered in the class:
free/serial atonality, chance, improvisation, electronic manipulation, extended techniques, process, minimalism, noise/silence, quotation, spectral approaches to form, etc.
Your theoretical statement should:
- present a brief analysis of your composition (i.e., lay out the the techniques, form/process, aesthetic of the piece)
- address the reasons you chose the techniques in your piece. In particular, ask yourself how your use of these techniques is similar/in contrast to the way other composers used them.
- describe the ways that the choices you make act as a critique of the styles/aesthetics excluded from your choice.
Frame the question of why you did what you did and why you did NOT do other things that would have been possible. You could go into some detail here — what is it that you like/find interesting about the music you are using as a model, what do you find problematic in the music that you did not like? You will want to back up your criticism with specific examples from the music we looked at. In addition, you should refer to the specific techniques you use in your composition to address these questions.
The compositions and written statements will be ranked from highest to lowest quality based on several factors (listed below). We will set a range by which to scale the grades for the projects (for instance, 4.0 for the highest-ranked project, 2.5 for the lowest-ranked project). The top and bottom scores of this range will vary depending on the quality of the projects you submit. The grades will then be determined based on rank and the corresponding score within this range.
The criteria to determine the ranking are given below.
originality of conception
how original are the ideas in the piece; does the piece creatively combine different techniques, aesthetic principles; does the piece have any new or unique techniques
scope of composition
length, profundity and formal cohesiveness of the piece
complexity of technique
how much thought and skill do the techniques take to implement; In the case of improvisation, how well are the guidelines for the improv set up; how well is the improv carried out as an ensemble
how fluid and well-rehearsed is the performance; in the case of improvisation, what is the quality of the individual improvs
For the written portion, the requirements are listed above. These are in addition to the requirements as laid out in the writing rubric.