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Composition Courses

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.