Final Exam Schedule:

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Final date for submission of composition project A Day-May 30 / B Day- May 31


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 2 minutes, maximum 4. Provide a dramatic, thematic, harmonic and formal analysis. This is a composition assignment: no arrangements/orchestrations of anyone else’s work. However, I encourage you to base your composition on a “famous” composer’s style and concept for a given piece.  You are not restricted to Common Practice Period styles.


  • 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.


QUALITY: Make it something you are proud of, because it may be on Youtube! It doesn’t have to be complicated, just fun and “cool” by your definition. Listen to movie and TV themes and background music. Most of them are simplistic when compared to the music we’ve been studying.

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.

Another fun option: if you have friends who can perform your piece “live,” we can record it rather than using the Sibelius sounds.


  1. Concert Band
  2. Marching Band
  3. Choral piece in SATB form, with or without acct. MUST HAVE LYRICS. (Language of your choice.)
  4. Vocal Ensemble in four or more voices WITH accompaniment. MUST HAVE LYRICS. (Language of your choice.)
  5. Woodwind Quintet
  6. Mixed Woodwind Quartet
  7. Woodwind Choir
  8. Saxophone Quintet or Quartet using Sop., Al., Ten. and Bari
  9. Brass Quintet
  10. Mixed Brass Quartet
  11. Brass Choir
  12. Jazz Ensemble
  13. Concert Band
  14. String Quartet
  15. String Orchestra
  16. Full Orchestra
  17. Salsa
  18. Ska
  19. Pop group: instrumental – must have at least trumpet, sax, trombone, piano, guitar, bass, drums.
  20. Pop group: vocal – must have at least 4 harmonized vocal parts, piano, guitar, bass, drums.

Planning Your Composition

(more or less in order:)

  1. http://dwaynerice.com/a-process-for-music-composition
  2. http://clarkross.blogspot.com/2014/03/blog-index-organized-by-topic-mar2014.html
  3. http://www.artofcomposing.com/music-composing-process
  4. http://notes.noteflight.com/composing-starter-kit/
  5. http://www.slideshare.net/ChilaChoithoi/the-complete-idiot-s-guide-to-music-composition-michael-mille
  6. http://www.bsmny.org/exploring-music/features/practical-guides/a-beginners-guide-to-composing/
  7. http://tozier.net/dberlin/fanfare/youngcomp.htm
  8. http://www.trumpetguild.org/pdf/2013journal/GreatAmericanFanfare.pdf
  9. http://clarkross.blogspot.com/2011/04/i-love-it-when-plan-comes-together.html
  10. http://www.filmandgamecomposers.com/guides/the-process-of-film-scoring-richard-davis
  11. http://www.filmandgamecomposers.com/interviews/composers-roundtable-video-interview
  12. http://www.music-theory-made-easy.com/how-to-write-music.html
  13. http://activities.noteflight.com/
  14. http://www.uremusic.com/lessons/thinking-about-and-choosing-the-musical-form-for-a-composition-part-i.html
  15. http://www.vtmidi.org/AtoC.html
  16. http://www.artistshousemusic.org/node/5368/4625
  17. http://www.artistshousemusic.org/videos/the+process+of+composing  – Frank Ticheli Interview


When your Sibelius project is complete:

 email to johnjulian@misdmail.org 



Is your project ready for youtube?

  1. In Sibelius, export your file as “Audio” (wav format)
  2. Open Windows Live Movie Maker from “Start” menu
  3. Select and upload a video or series of photos for your composition
  4. Choose from various presentation templates
  5. Add your composition (“music”)
  6. Enter “credits”
  7. Save in WMA or other youtube compatible format
  8. Download to my flashdrive. I will upload to the AP Music Theory channel.


May 26:  

Final date for submission of composition performance (live or Sibelius/Noteflight)


score with detailed written analysis and description. 

If you have completed ALL the above….

  • Option – Begin a second project using the “film score” template in Sibelius. This can be an “arrangement” or an original composition. If you cannot find a piece, I will assign one to you. (You’ll want to find your own.)
  • Option 2 – Perform a complete analysis of one of your favorite pieces of music (any style). See the top of the page for analysis components.
  • Option 3 – If you have nothing to do, I will find a major analysis assignment for you.
  • May 25-26: Review for Final Exam
  • May 26 –  June 1: Final Exam

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.

  • May 15: Detailed written description of your “game plan,” what your planning to do, (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)

  • May 22: 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)



STRUCTURE – one example of many possibilities. Struct1

  1. How to Extend or Develop Musical Materials
  2. http://clarkross.blogspot.ca/2013/02/playing-with-expectations-part-three.html
  3. Form, analysis, motivic development