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BA in Music: Composition Track

To declare a music major in the Composition Track, students must first take MUS 121 Theory and Analysis I, and one semester of MUS 349R Composition. Upon completion of these two courses, students may complete a Music Major Track Selection form online and submit a portfolio of their work for approval by the Composition faculty.

Because space is limited in required Composition courses (MUS349) each semester, students interested in pursuing a Composition Major should contact the Composition Faculty (Dr. Adam Mirza and Dr. Katherine Young) as early as possible to convey their interest.

Before enrolling in MUS349 for the first semester, students will be asked to submit 1-3 short work samples (scores, recordings, electronic pieces, midi realizations are all fine), along with a 250-word statement about their interest in composition and musical background. If students do not have work samples, the statement will suffice. Students should also schedule an introductory meeting with Dr. Mirza or Dr. Young.

We look forward to creating new music with you at Emory!

Please be in touch with any questions by contacting Dr. Adam Mirza or Dr. Katherine Young.

Theory/Analysis (18 hrs)

  • MUS 120 (1 credit)
  • MUS 121 (4 credits)
  • MUS 122
  • MUS 221
  • MUS 222

Composition (14 hrs)

  • MUS 349R (4 semesters)
  • MUS 445 Orchestration
  • MUS 347 Electronic Music

History/Culture (6 hrs)

  • MUS 200 Music, Culture, and Society
  • History & Culture Category A or B: choose one course

Performance (4 hrs)

  • Choose any combination of MUS 300 or 301 courses, and/or MUS 320 Applied Music

Electives (3 hrs)


  • MUS 444 Counterpoint
  • MUS 350 Music since 1945
  • MUS 367 Computer Music Composition

Optional: If approved, a student may present a recital of original compositions during the junior or senior year. Students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher may submit a proposal to present an honors recital in the music composition track. See Honors Program guidelines for detailed information. 

Composition Area Activities

The Composition track of the Music major is centered on four semesters of MUS 349 Composition. Students meet weekly with the instructor on their individual creative projects. The class also meets as a group in seminar for guest talks, workshops (notation software, instrumentation, professional development), reading sessions, and student presentations of work-in-progress.


Students taking composition lessons have their work presented each semester. We are proud of our ongoing collaboration with the resident Vega String Quartet, who offer professional reading sessions of student work. Student composers are encouraged to collaborate with each other and with student performers. There are also possibilities for students to create acoustic or electronic music in collaboration with film, theater, and dance students. Composition students also have the opportunity to work with special guest artists who visit Emory for residencies, workshops and other productions.

Recitals & Honors Projects

Juniors and seniors may present composition recitals, including an Honors Composition recital, which serves as a capstone to their Music Major at Emory. Honors projects give students the opportunity to hone the professional skills necessary to make a creative life after Emory: grant-writing, scheduling, rehearsing performers, and concert production.


  • Composition lessons (MUS 349R) are supplemented by two required courses and several electives.
  • Orchestration (MUS 445) introduces students to techniques of writing for acoustic orchestral instruments and develops their notation skills in the software Sibelius.
  • Electronic Music (MUS 347) explores the theory, history and practice of creating electronic music.

A rotating set of electives offer advanced approaches to acoustic and electronic music:

  • Counterpoint (MUS 444) provides practice in polyphonic writing techniques from the Renaissance to the 21st century.
  • Live Electronic Music (MUS 385), students learn basic coding to build digital electronic instruments using the software Max MSP, which they then use to perform in a class laptop ensemble.
  • Special Topics: Mediated Sound (MUS 370), students learn professional recording techniques and the digital audio software Reaper to create a sound installation presented on campus. 
  • Special Topics: Improvisation in/as Composition (MUS 370), open to composers and performers, introduces techniques of improvisation across genres, and explores approaches to incorporating improvisation into notated works.
  • Special Topics: Hip Hop Composition (MUS 370) Atlanta DJ Dion Liverpool (aka DJ Rasta Root) teaches students to collaboratively create hip hop tracks over the semester as producers, instrumentalists and rappers.