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Department of Music
Phone: (509) 963-1216
Fax: (509) 963-1239
music@cwu.edu

Close up image of sheet music being written.Music Composition at CWU

The Bachelor of Music in Composition Degree at Central Washington University is primarily intended for students with adequate knowledge/skills in the following areas:

  • High level of musicianship, demonstrated through performance on primary instrument
  • Basic understanding of music theory
  • Application of basic compositional techniques
  • Knowledge of significant composers and their compositional techniques
  • Creative potential

As many incoming freshman have not been exposed to all of the above, acceptance into the BM in composition at CWU cannot occur until the end of the first year of study.

Artful composition is not exclusively dependent upon creativity and/or originality. This element creates a composer’s “voice.” The compositional process is enhanced by one’s knowledge and understanding of “the Masters” of composition from centuries prior.

Composition Audition Requirements

The Bachelor of Music in Composition cannot be declared until the end of spring quarter of your first year of study.

Incoming Freshman with an interest in the Composition degree program need to first and foremost audition and be accepted on their primary instrument. The freshman year should be used to achieve a higher level on the applied instrument and acquire, and/or solidify, the necessary skill set (music theory) to become an informed, artistic, and more successful composer

Preparation

  • Students who intend to apply for the composition degree program should plan on taking MUS 120 – Introduction to Composition I (3 credits.) This course should be taken spring quarter. This would be a class for all interested composition students addressing topics such as phrase structure, melodic development, transitions, and would include small projects. This would also include discussion of current compositional trends.
  • All freshman would be encouraged to attend the Intermediate/Advanced seminar classes and studio recitals during the fall/winter quarters.

Formal admission into the composition program with permission of the composition program advisor, Dr. Martin Kennedy, would occur at the conclusion of this course. Students must demonstrate the appropriate level of proficiency on their major instrument and successfully complete the Freshman Music Theory Sequence with grades of at least a B-.

Until you have been officially accepted into the Composition degree program, students who desire this degree program should declare a Bachelor of Arts in Music. Changing your declared degree from the BA major to the BM in composition is a very easy process. Once you have permission to declare the composition major, it is simply a matter of filling out a new major declaration form in the Music office.

Transfer students

Transfer students may bypass MUS 120 with permission based upon composition submissions (2 or 3 short contrasting compositions) and sufficient audition on primary instrument. It will normally take transfer students 3 years to complete the degree requirements. A probationary year may be required before transfer students can officially declare a major in composition. Transfer students should visit our Transfer Student Information for Music Majors for very important information.

Note:
The Bachelor of Music in Composition degree has a strong performance component. There are two recital requirements:

  • a half recital on your primary instrument w/ MUS 364
  • a full composition recital w/ MUS420

For more information:
Dr. Martin Kennedy