Over the past decades, the music composition 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. Scholarships ranging from $300 to $2000 per year are awarded at the end of the spring semester for many incoming and continuing students.
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 genres and 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.
Find out what recent graduates of the music composition program at CSUN are doing.