The Department offers two principle courses in composition – MUSC 166 Introduction to Composition and MUSC 266 Advanced Composition. The Introduction to Composition course is offered once each year in either the fall or spring semester. The Advanced Composition course is offered both fall and spring semesters, may be taken multiple times for credit, and can satisfy a portion or all of the lesson requirements for the BM degree.

Writing projects in Advanced Composition are often linked with events in the department or on campus. In recent semesters, projects have included string quartets read by the visiting Arditti String Quartet, compositions for chamber choir read by the UNC Chamber Singers, saxophone quartets performed by members of the saxophone studio, electro-acoustic music premiered on a concert with works by visiting composer/performer Butch Rovan, and compositions paired with and performed next to art in the UNC’s Ackland Art Museum. In Spring 2009, the composition students jointly wrote a fanfare for the dedication of the new Kenan Music Building.

In addition to these course offerings, we invite and encourage composition students to take MUSC 332 Counterpoint, MUSC 167 Instrumentation, and MUSC 267 Orchestration. Students may also elect to take MUSC 169 Jazz Arranging for training in jazz scoring.

Students of any major may sign up for MUSC 166 Introduction to Composition without an audition, but must complete MUSC 131/MUSC 130 Music Theory and Musicianship Skills as prerequisites, and the MUSC 136 Keyboarding Skills 1 course is strongly encouraged for “non-pianists” in order to develop rudimentary keyboard techniques. Together these courses will help to provide the theoretical and technical background that will expand the harmonic palette and imagination, thus enabling the students’ capacity to compose harmony more effectively once they enter the Introduction to Composition class.

Prerequisites or “Strongly Encouraged” Courses Prior to Admittance into MUSC 166 Introduction to Composition

  • MUSC 131/MUSC 130 Music Theory and Musicianship Skills I (prequisites)
  • MUSC 136 Keyboard Skills 1 (strongly encouraged)

Principal Composition Course Offerings

  • MUSC 166 Introduction to Composition (prequisites MUSC 131/130, MUSC 136)
  • MUSC 266 Advanced Composition (for repeat credit – prerequisite MUSC 166)

Other Recommended Courses Related to Composition

  • MUSC 167 Instrumentation
  • MUSC 168 Basic Conducting
  • MUSC 267 Orchestration
  • MUSC 332 Counterpoint
  • For general information regarding the course offerings within the music department visit: