The Music Department at Cal State Northridge offers a full range of opportunities to study the art of music composition at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Currently, we offer Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in composition designed for students interested in pursuing advanced studies in contemporary concert music. Scholarships ranging from $300 to $2000 per year are awarded at the end of the Spring semester for many incoming and continuing students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Over the past decades, the music compositon program at CSUN has achieved a solid reputation locally and at the national level. Our faculty composers have been featured in the most important music festivals of the world and our alumni have developed successful careers in the academia or the music business. Every semester, the composition students at CSUN have multiple opportunities to perform and record their music on campus, collaborate with professional ensembles and guest artists, and engage in research on contemporary music styles and techniques.
The Bachelor and Master of Music in Composition degrees are designed for students interested in writing contemporary concert or art music. While there are numerous styles and genres today that can be included in this category (in a general sense, all music written today and performed on stage for an audience can be described as such), this program is focused on analyzing and creating compositions that are emotionally fulfilling and intellectually stimulating, forward-looking, experimental, and non-commercial in nature. Our goals are to help all composition students discover their own artistic voices and search for new types of musical sounds that are inspiring and unique.
For audition purposes, compositions must all be original and be consistent with the contemporary art music ideals of melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, form, etc. Therefore, transcriptions and arrangements of other composers' works, commercial pop, rock, rap, techno, folk songs, New Age music, music using lead sheets rather than scores, etc., would not be within the scope of our program. Music which is influenced by these genres is acceptable, provided that the student recognizes the difference between pop-influenced art music and straightforward commercial pop music. Ethnic and jazz-influenced music reflecting the aforementioned contemporary art music ideals is acceptable. Furthermore, a few homework assignments or short pieces in Baroque, Classical or Romantic styles are acceptable as long as these works were conceived for a specific educational (technical or artistic) purpose. We encourage our students to discover and explore their own artistic identities and write music that describes our contemporary world.
The ideal composition student has a thorough knowledge of tonal harmony, four-part writing, and the traditional forms, is knowledgeable and interested in 20th century art music, is an accomplished performer on one or more traditional instruments, and has a desire to develop an original artistic voice.
- Performance audition with the appropriate applied area (keyboard, woodwinds, voice, etc.)
- On-campus interview with the composition faculty, to be scheduled during the same day the instrumental audition takes place; no previous appointment required.
- Portfolio of 1-2 works (freshmen) or 2-3 works (transfer students), written in different styles and for various combinations of instruments/voices and accompanied by recordings, if available.
- Brief biography and a list of references familiar with your work as a student or composer.
The portfolio of scores and recordings should be submitted during the on-campus interview with the composition faculty, or before. Most scholarhips will be awarded by late Spring, only after all the above four requirements have been met. For more information regarding the Bachelor of Music in Composition program and the sequence of required courses, please contact Dr. Liviu Marinescu.
Prospective students interested in pursuing a career in film scoring, song writing, or any other similar commercial media, should visit the Commercial and Media Writing Option page, or contact Prof. Elizabeth Sellers at (818) 677-4752 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out what recent graduates of the music composition program at CSUN are doing.