Assignment Due Dates

All due dates count as classwork, homework and project grades.

I am severely worried about a few students who are trying  to “compose” without knowing the story they are trying to write and who do not look at the resources below to learn to craft a composition.  “Trial and Error” is inevitable, but being clear on establishing your moods, atmospheres and dramatic content will eliminate a significant amount of error.

Click here for Grading Criteria.

  • April 4: Detailed written description of your “game plan,” (this will change as you develop your composition), which can be emailed or paper, including but not limited to:
  • Moods/Atmospheres/Emotions/Drama/”Story”
  • Instrumentation
  • Style
  • Form, or “Structure”-  Click for examples:
  1. Form
  2. Form 
  3. Form 
  4. Form
  5. Symbols for Formal and Motivic Analysis
  6. If you are doing “game music,” film or tv scoring, a DCI or contemporary band piece, your form probably won’t fit into Baroque or Classical structures, but it WILL have sections large and small sections you can label: Symbols for Formal and Motivic Analysis
  • Tempi, or “tempos” if you’re from East Texas
  • timbre
  • texture
  • dynamics
  • rhythm
  • tempo
  • melody
  • harmony
  • tessitura (look it up)

  • April 17 (Thursday): Submit your ideas for drama, motifs, themes, sections, rhythmic patterns and harmonic resources. This is going to be your 2nd design draft.  Make sure your piece is “epic” in scope even if only 4 minutes long. Your “draft” score (sketch score) should be “epic” as well, including specific details from above and the Grading Criteria page.
  • Hailey had a great idea, so do this:

Print-out your entire piece (you should know by now about how long it will be and how you’re going to end the story)

  • Label what you’ve already written
  • Pencil-in what you anticipate happening next (a sketch score, or this sketch score, or “guide score“)
  • Label the drama, motifs, themes, sections, rhythmic patterns and harmonic resources you plan to use for the rest of your composition. CHECK YOUR COMPOSITION FOR THE 15 ELEMENTS ON THE Grading Criteria page.
  • Remember: Failing to plan is….sing along – you know the rest.



It happens to everyone eventually…

Help -


  • April 21-May 9:  AP practice exam. Take notes on strategy for each section.
  • April 25: First Draft in Sibelius or Noteflight.
  • May 2: Revised penultimate written description of your “game plan.”
  • May 9: Second Draft due
  • May 27-30: Final submission of composition performance (live or Sibelius/Noteflight) and score with detailed written analysis and description. Performance for class. Upload to youtube! (My 11 year old nephew can do it, so we can, too!)
  • June 2-3: Review for Final Exam
  • June 4-5: Final Exam


Select one of the listed formats and compose a piece in the style of your choice. If you want to use different instrumentation, let me know what you have in mind. It must meet the Grading Criteria.

Minimum length is 3 minutes, maximum 6.

Provide a dramatic, thematic, harmonic and formal analysis.

  • Dramatic – what moods or atmospheres are you conveying.
  • Thematic  – what are your main melodies and how they relate to each other and to the form of the piece to support the drama.
  • Harmonic – what chords, non-chords or harmonic patterns support and enhance your themes and drama.
  • Formal means “structural,” how your piece is constructed from the smallest motif to phrases and themes and sections to the entire piece.

Arrangements/Orchestrations of pre-existing material is fine, as long as it is completely re-made in your own image and meets the Grading Criteria.

QUALITY: Must be something you would pay money to hear. You have almost 2 months to work on this. Make it something you are proud of!

  1. The most interesting possibility: Find a video from Youtube or other video sources (family vacation?), delete (or just mute) the audio and create a soundtrack that supports and enhances the video. This can be done in Sibelius.
  2. Concert Band
  3. Marching Band
  4. Choral piece in SATB form, with or without acct. MUST HAVE LYRICS. (Language of your choice.)
  5. Vocal Ensemble in four or more voices WITH accompaniment. MUST HAVE LYRICS. (Language of your choice.)
  6. Woodwind Quintet
  7. Mixed Woodwind Quartet
  8. Woodwind Choir
  9. Saxophone Quintet or Quartet using Sop., Al., Ten. and Bari
  10. Brass Quintet
  11. Mixed Brass Quartet
  12. Brass Choir
  13. Jazz Ensemble
  14. Concert Band
  15. String Quartet
  16. String Orchestra
  17. Full Orchestra
  18. Pop group – must have trumpet, sax and trombone (or more winds), piano, guitar, bass, drums.


Planning Your Composition

(more or less in order:)

  17.  - Frank Ticheli Interview













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