Music 2: Moving on with Composition

Course Level: 2 (HE5) | HE Credits: 60 | Approx. Duration: 15 months at 10hrs/week


This course aims to engage you in advanced techniques of music composition, giving you the opportunity to develop your fluency in the language of music, extend your abilities in composition and help you build up your portfolio of work. It widens your harmonic vocabulary, introduces you to choral and instrumental writing (both chamber and orchestral) and analyses and looks for inspiration at the music and styles of other composers. You will write an extended work for voices and instruments, usually choir and orchestra. The course is for students wanting to build on the basics of composition learned in Composing Music 1.

The music of established composers is presented throughout the course, always in order to make or emphasise some musical point within the text. The understanding of harmony is developed to include borrowed chords and chromatic harmony. Contrapuntal techniques are introduced. There is consideration of writing piano accompaniments. Composing instrumental music (Chamber and orchestral) and choral music complete the second half of the course. To study this course, you will need a music software package with which to compose music and listen to the playback and that is capable of accessing the Sibelius files which come with the course materials.


The course aims to help you:

  • A1 understand and use complex rhythmic, melodic and harmonic ideas in your own compositions;
  • A2 understand and use various accompaniment styles and contrapuntal techniques;
  • A3 broaden your understanding of composition and scoring choral music, understand the techniques of composing for orchestral instruments
  • A4 learn about the evolution of styles of music, and reflect critically on this in your learning.


On successful completion of the course you will:

  • LO1 Demonstrate complex rhythmic, melodic and harmonic ideas by using them in your own compositions using various accompaniment styles and contrapuntal techniques (A1, A2)
  • LO2 Demonstrate an understanding of the ranges and techniques of composing for orchestral instruments, (A2)
  • LO3 Compose pieces for orchestra analysing and drawing inspiration from the scores and performances of the works of other composers (A3)
  • LO4 Demonstrate an extended knowledge of the evolution and styles of music in a critical review and reflect this in your compositions (A4)

Course content

  • Detailed discussion of extended harmonies
  • Contrapuntal part writing
  • The use of miniature scores
  • The development of the orchestra and its instruments
  • Musical form
  • Analysis of major pieces of work.