Boston Conservatory at Berklee's composition program helps creative musical artists realize their vision, while also giving them the tools and skills needed to sustain their careers.
The composition program's curriculum provides a strong foundation in music history, theory, and compositional method. Students are given ample opportunities to hear their work performed and hone their compositional skills by working with their peers to realize their creations. Each year, Boston Conservatory at Berklee premieres more than 180 student compositions, featuring chamber works, large ensemble works, vocal music, and more. Students gain experience in the entire process of writing, rehearsing, and experiencing the premiere of their original work, giving them valuable first-hand experience collaborating with peers while also establishing relationships that they will draw on in the future.
Students are supported by a diverse faculty of esteemed composers who encourage students to explore and experiment, while also helping them to better communicate artistically. Through the exploration of various styles and aesthetics, students develop the ability to realize their own artistic goals.
What It Takes to Succeed
Students in the Conservatory's composition program are hands-on learners with the creative drive, curiosity, and openness to be fully immersed in a world of music, culture, and technology. The Conservatory's multidisciplinary environment and prime location in the culturally rich city of Boston provides composers with endless inspiration and a multitude of opportunities to experience and work with local singers, dancers, actors, and instrumentalists.
The first two years of the B.M. of Composition program are designed to help students understand music on a contextual level: why composers may have written certain pieces and how the politics and cultures of their times influenced their work; how to analyze the technical constructs of music; and how to embody music in order to translate ideas into actual musical works. At the same time, students study orchestration, conducting, score reading, and more. This helps them to build the framework for how to write for a variety of instruments, as well as how to best communicate their vision to performers.
In their final year of study, composition students complete a senior thesis, in which they are tasked with creating substantial work demonstrating their command of the craft of composition. Graduating students also present a full-length recital of their original compositions, which they are solely responsible for producing.
The Bachelor of Music in Composition requires students to complete 126 credits, consisting of the course requirements listed below. View the Sample Curriculum by Semester for additional details.
- M-SK 1101 Harmony & Counterpoint 1 (2 credits)
- M-SK 1102 Harmony & Counterpoint 2 (2 credits)
- M-SK 1103 Ear Training 1 (2 credits)
- M-SK 1104 Ear Training 2 (2 credits)
- M-SK 1105 Time & Rhythm 1 (1 credit)
- M-SK 1106 Time & Rhythm 2 (1 credit)
- M-SK 2101 Harmony & Counterpoint 3 (2 credits)
- M-SK 2102 Harmony & Counterpoint 4 (2 credits)
- M-SK 2103 Ear Training 3 (2 credits)
- M-SK 2104 Ear Training 4 (2 credits)
- M-SK 2601 Piano Class 1 (1 credit)
- M-SK 2602 Piano Class 2 (1 credit)
- M-SK 719xx Applied Theory and/or M-LT 711xx Theory & Musicology electives (6 credits total, 2 credits each)
- M-AP 0009 Applied lessons (24 credits total, 3 credits each)
- M-AP 0091 Applied Concentrate lessons (2 credits total, 1 credit each)
- M-EN xxxx Ensemble electives (4 credits total)
- M-PR 0009 Concert & Recital Attendance (0 credit, completed four times)
- M-SK 0009 Recital (0 credit)
- M-SK 0301 Orchestration 1 (1 credit)
- M-SK 0302 Orchestration 2 (1 credit)
- M-SK 0391 Electronic Music 1 (1 credit)
- M-SK 0392 Electronic Music 2 (1 credit)
- M-SK 0991 Conducting 1 (1 credit)
- M-SK 0992 Conducting 2 (1 credit)
- M-SK 1301 Instrumentation & Notation 1 (1 credit)
- M-SK 1302 Instrumentation & Notation 2 (1 credit)
- M-SK 71912 Score Reading 1 (2 credits)
- M-SK 71913 Score Reading 2 (2 credits)
- M-ST 0309 Composition Seminar (8 credits total, 1 credit each)
General Education and Liberal Arts
- C-PR 1001 Introduction to i-Pad Media Technology (1 credit)
- M-LT 1103 Musicology 1: Music and Culture – Understanding Music in Context (2 credits)
- M-LT 1104 Musicology 2: Music and Narratives of Western Classical Music – Ancient Greece through the Renaissance (2 credits)
- M-LT 2103 Musicology 3: Humanism and the Western Classical Tradition – Baroque through Classical (2 credits)
- M-LT 2104 Musicology 4 (2 credits)
- M-LT 3101 Musicology 5 (2 credits)
- M-LT 3102 Musicology 6 (2 credits)
- L-CM 1301 Introduction to College Writing (3 credits)
- L-CM 1302 Literature Topics (3 credits)
- L-CM 739xx Liberal Arts elective: Arts & Humanities (3 credits)
- L-CM 749xx Liberal Arts elective: Social Sciences (3 credits)
- L-CM 759xx Liberal Arts elective: Math/Science (3 credits)
- L-CM 7x9xx Liberal Arts electives (12 credits total, 3 credits each)
- Xxxxx General electives (4 credits total)
What You Will Learn
Upon successful completion of the B.M. in Composition, students will:
- communicate clearly and effectively as creative musical artists as an outcome of private instruction, coursework, and artistic collaborations with their peers and guest artists, as well as exposure to a wide variety of contemporary repertoire;
- comprehend and analyze musical works from the Western classical tradition, with an understanding of the context in which those works were created;
- demonstrate an embodied understanding of the mechanics of music through their study of ear training, keyboard harmonization, time/rhythm studies, ensemble experience, and music theory;
- clearly and accurately notate their musical ideas using conventional musical notation;
- demonstrate entrepreneurial acumen through organizing, collaborating, and communicating with fellow artists in the creation of performances of their works;
- navigate the basics of electronic music;
- present a portfolio of video- and audio-recorded performances of their music;
- speak and write clearly and concisely about their work to audiences of varying familiarity with new musical works through their experience speaking during performances, creating program notes, presenting their work to their peers in seminars and studio classes, as well as to the faculty during juries.
Your Boston Conservatory education gives you a strong foundation as a composer, preparing you to work at the highest level with large and small ensembles and solo performers, collaborating on commissioned works, writing and working in many facets of the music industry, or continuing your studies at an advanced level. In addition, the skills gained through this program are transferable to any field in which creativity, organization, communication, and the ability to synthesize ideas are essential.