Program of Study
M. A. in Composition
Students are expected to take a minimum of two graduate-level seminars in the department per semester until the M.A. degree has been completed (end of fourth semester). For course descriptions, please see the course catalog.
At the discretion of the composition Graduate Advisor, courses may need to be taken to help meet the proficiencies required in the entrance exam's various subjects (harmony, counterpoint, sight singing, score reading, and dictation).
- Music 157B: Orchestration
- Music 156: Analysis
- Music 201A: Proseminar in Computer Music
- Music 203: Seminar in Composition (four semesters)
Before the "Application to Candidacy" can be filed, the student must have:
- met the entrance exam proficiencies as required by the Composition Graduate Adviser;
- submitted a portfolio of work completed during the student's graduate study at Berkeley;
- made a satisfactory grade (B or better) in Orchestration (157B);
- passed one foreign language exam.
M.A. Examination in music composition consists of an oral analysis of a short composition. The piece is given to the student twenty-four hours before the exam. If the student fails the exam, it may be retaken once, upon recommendation of the examining committee.
Ph.D. in Composition
- If entering at the PhD level:
- Music 203: Seminar in Composition (two semesters)
- Music 201: Introduction to Computer Music Composition
- New and continuing PhD students:
- Music 204: Studies in Musical Analysis
After two semesters of Music 203, all PhD students are expected to enroll in Music 299 every semester until they pass the qualifying exam.
Ph.D. students must take at least one additional course in musical analysis, criticism, history or ethnomusicology at the graduate level for which prose reports are required, such as Music 202.
Language requirement: In Composition, two languages pertinent to the student's area of expertise.
PhD Qualifying Exam
The Qualifying Exam Committee consists of four faculty members: two composers, one other faculty member within the department, and one outside member who must be a member of the Academic Senate. Students may suggest possible faculty to serve on the committee, especially the outside member, but it is the chair of the qualifying exam who has final responsibility for the committee. After the committee has been finalized, it is the student's responsibility to contact and meet individually with committee members to discuss the exam.
In addition to handling procedural matters, the chair of the exam is responsible for assigning the written portion, approving and assembling the six pieces and coordinating with the student to insure that all materials are made available to committee members at least two weeks before the exam.
The qualifying examination consists of a written and an oral part. The written part is to be carried out in a period of one week; it consists of an exercise in composition under certain given conditions, such as instrumentation. The oral part (three hours) takes place shortly after the successful completion of the written part. The candidate should be prepared to:
- Demonstrate a broad general knowledge of twentieth-century musical literature and its development.
- Assess the chief problems occupying composers in the present day.
- Discuss in depth six compositions. Three of the pieces are selected by the candidate, under advisement from the chair of the committee, and three by the committee. Most pieces will be chosen from the twentieth-century. The six compositions should be chosen and made available to all committee members at least ten weeks before the scheduled time of the examination.
- Discuss in depth the candidate's own personal creative work and be prepared to place that work in relationship to current and historical trends.
There is no formal prospectus. Instead students should work out a plan for their composition project in consultation with a member of the faculty. They should then prepare a description of approximately one page, specifying the length, medium, materials, text (where appropriate), and other salient features of the contemplated composition. This should be submitted to the Graduate Advisor for composition, and the student should be prepared to discuss this proposal at the qualifying exam.
The Doctoral Dissertation
In composition, the dissertation consists of a musical composition of recent conception and considerable scope. No further a priori qualifications are placed on the composition.