The composition classes are divided into two sections: an individual lesson of 1 hour every two days and a seminar in English every other day. The content of the one-to-one lessons will vary according to the student’s level and will be aimed at creating a new composition during the course, to be performed at the final concert (performers and time permitting). Diverse composition techniques will be studied according to the student’s aesthetic preferences from traditional tonal harmony to more elaborate musical expression. Students will learn about musical scripting software, particularly using Sibelius notation software. The seminars will study in some detail the most significant influences on contemporary music including :
The development by 19th-century composers of a musical style that would express the characteristics of their own country. They did this by including tunes from their nation’s folk music, and taking scenes from their country’s history, legends, and folk tales, as a basis for their compositions. Nationalism was encouraged by governments in the early 20th century for propaganda purposes in times of war and political tension.
Composers of nationalist music include Jean Sibelius, Edvard Grieg, Antonin Dvorak Carl Nielsen, Zoltán Kodály, Aaron Copland, Edward Elgar, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Stephen Foster.
As its name implies, Neo-Classicism was a kind of “new classicism”. It combined musical elements from the Classical Period with the newer trends that were emerging early in the twentieth century. These classical elements included tonal centers, clarity of form, and melodic shape. To these (and many other) classical elements, neo-classicists added such modern flavourings such as quirky rhythms, spiky dissonances, and large amounts of chromatics.
The neoclassical movement was fairly widespread, with many composers from all over Europe (and the U.S.) contributing to the sub-genre. Some of the more recognized neoclassical composers are Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith, Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, and Aaron Copland, to name only a few. The motivation for the neoclassicism was simple: the heavy musical experimentation of the early part of the century left some composers wanting to “reconnect” with musical tradition. They did this, but at the same time held on to musical aspects that they had been developing during the Modern Period. The aim was not to revive old musical idioms but to simply acknowledge tradition.
While neoclassicism was a reaction against the chaotic musical period from 1910 to 1920, so too was Arnold Schoenberg’s new twelve-tone method. Both tried to bring control over the previously wild music of the 20th century. The difference is that the twelve-tone method did this by creating an entirely new musical language, while neoclassicism did it by revisiting tried-and-true musical heritage.
A French movement in the late 19th and early 20th cent. It was begun by Debussy in reaction to the dramatic and dynamic emotionalism of romantic music, especially that of Wagner. Reflecting the impressionist schools of French painting and letters, Debussy developed a style in which atmosphere and mood take the place of strong emotion or of the story in program music. He used new chord combinations, whole-tone chords, chromatics, and exotic rhythms and scales. In place of the usual harmonic progression, he developed a style in which chords are valued for their individual sonorities rather than for their relations to one another, and dissonances are unprepared and unresolved. Although conceived in reaction to romanticism, musical impressionism seems today the culmination of romanticism. Its influence was widespread and is evident in the music of Ravel, Dukas, Respighi, Albéniz, de Falla, Delius, C. T. Griffes, and J. A. Carpenter.
Twelve-tone technique or dodecaphony,
Twelve-tone technique is a system of musical composition devised by Arnold Schoenberg. Music using the technique is called twelve-tone music. Josef Matthias Hauer also developed a similar system using unordered hexachords, or tropes, at the exact same time and country but with no connection to Schoenberg.
Schoenberg himself described the system as a “method of composing with 12 notes which are related only to one another”. Schoenberg invented the twelve-tone techniques, which is a method of composition based on a fixed order of the twelve chromatic tones (Benward, 303). It is a system in which the twelve pitch classes are placed in a specific order, forming a set that then become a compositional tool (Sadie, 286). It was developed around 1920 as a means of providing a coherent basis for complete chromatic music.
The basic difficulty in composing in atonal idiom is intelligent control of melodic and harmonic forces. “There are ways of harnessing these forces by contrapuntal and harmonic means that are similar to those used in the early development of Western polyphony” (Marquis, 185). However, these ways are much more complex than the tradition Western polyphony. Therefore, Schoenberg invented the matrix system to help composing.
In music, the minimalist movement was, like minimal art, a reaction against a then-current form, with composers rejecting many of the dry intellectual complexities and the emotional sterility of serial music and other modern forms. Generally, minimalist compositions tend to emphasize simplicity in melodic line and harmonic progression, to stress repetition and rhythmic patterns, and to reduce historical or expressive reference. The use of electronic instruments is common in minimalist music, as are influences from Asia and Africa. Among prominent minimalist composers are Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and John Adams.
Musical analysis and listening will also be an important aspect of the course, stimulating debates and encouraging students towards their own creativity.