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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 writing scores for educational videos and short documentary films – both in collaboration with students from Communications; creating art songs for students in the voice studio; composing works paired with and performed next to art in the UNC’s Ackland Art Museum. In the fall of 2017, the composition students will be working on digital composition in conjunction with Jace Clayton’s residency at UNC. In the spring of 2018, the composers will pair with students in the piano studio to write new keyboard music.

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 265 Jazz Composition and 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 Keyboard Skills I 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, enabling the student to work with harmony more effectively once they enter Introduction to Composition. 

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: