Composition & Theory
Music Theory forms an integral part of each music student’s education at the University of Colorado Boulder, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Required courses for all undergraduate music majors include Music Theory (Semesters 1-4), Aural Skills (Semesters 1-4), as well as upper division electives in tonal analysis, post-tonal analysis, counterpoint, jazz theory, composition, and music technology. Graduate students may pursue study in advanced topics in music theory and analysis.
The Master’s Degree in Music Theory focuses both on core aspects of the discipline of music theory (Schenkerian Analysis, Post-Tonal Analysis, Pedagogy of Music Theory), and on electives that allow the student to develop other areas of specialty. The thesis document(s) require the student to conduct original scholarly research that responds to extant scholarship. Members of the music theory faculty at the College of Music offer a broad array of research specializations that include analysis of the music of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries; tonal music; post-tonal music; jazz; theories of rhythm and meter; analysis and performance; and intersections of literary and music theory. The Masters degree is intended to prepare students to advance to doctoral study.
Each year the Music Theory Department hosts presentations and classes by distinguished scholars. In recent years, guests have included Charles Burkhart, Joel Lester, Kofi Agawu, Elizabeth West Marvin, Steve Laitz, Robert Hatten, Alexandra Pierce, and Eugene Narmour. Colloquium Series
Recent Music Theory Highlights:
- Keith Waters’s book Studio Recordings of the Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-68 (Oxford 2011) has received numerous accolades: the 2011 Society for Music Theory jazz publication award, a Kayden Book Award Honorable Mention, a Certificate of Merit in the 2012 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Sound Research in Jazz music, a “best of 2011” book selection from the New York City Jazz Record, and an “editor’s pick” from Down Beat magazine.
- Keith Waters released Carolina Tracks, a collaborative recording with North Carolina’s finest jazz musicians. Proceeds will go to the North Carolina Jazz Scholarship Project.
- Daphne Leong has a new article on syncopation in Theory and Practice and a chapter on Bartok’s fifth string quartet in a forthcoming volume edited by Harald Krebs and Daniel Biró.
- Paul Miller has published an article in Perspectives of New Music, a book review in 20th century music, and an article in the American Music Research CenterJournal. He has new recordings with the Bethlehem Bach Festival and Vox Ama Deus in Philadelphia, and he is currently resident scholar and assistant concertmaster of the Boulder Bach Festival.
- Yonatan Malin joined the faculty in the fall of 2012. He is author of Songs in Motion: Rhythm and Meter in the German Lied (Oxford 2010), articles in Music Theory Spectrum and Music Analysis, and a chapter in Expressive Intersections in Brahms. Malin is currently editor of Music Theory Online – a Journal of the Society for Music Theory.
- 2011 MM graduate in music theory, John Peterson, was offered top prestigious doctoral fellowships by Indiana University, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Florida State University.
Undergraduate composition majors begin their studies immediately with individual private lessons and weekly attendance at composition seminars. The program aims to build a solid technical and musical foundation while faculty guide each student in exploring his or her unique creative voice. Composition majors also take courses in music history and literature, analysis, counterpoint, and orchestration, as well as participate in ensemble performance. Our students also enroll in a broad range of music technology courses, including courses in film scoring and multi-media performance.
MM and DMA graduate degrees in composition are available. Graduate composers are often commissioned to create works for faculty and local artists and ensembles, and their compositions have won recognition at prestigious international competitions. In addition to private studies with the faculty, majors interact in the weekly graduate composition seminar. Familiarity with current technology is also an essential component of the degree plan. Students also have access to the rich artistic and intellectual resources of a major research university. Graduate assistantships and other financial support are available on a competitive basis.
Student compositions are regularly performed on the Pendulum new music concert series. Students also have opportunities to compose or arrange music for a variety of performing forces, from small chamber groups to faculty-conducted large ensembles. Each year, the College hosts an impressive variety of guest composers and performers. Recent guests have included George Crumb, Leslie Bassett, John Harbison, Joan Tower, Judith Bettina, skin & bones, Michael Dougherty, Roger Reynolds, and many others.