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Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition

Program of Study

At least 18 hours of work must be in Composition. Several appropriate elections are required in each of two related cognate fields. Because the awarding of the doctoral degree is based not upon completion of a specified number of credit hours but rather upon demonstrable skill and proficiency in the major and cognate fields, many variations on the usual pattern of elections will be acceptable, especially in those cases in which the student pursues independent study or works on special projects or research. After consultation with the advisor, the student should undertake various course elections that will help him or her to prepare for the general preliminary examinations.

  1. Language Requirement. To meet the language requirement for the doctoral program in composition the student may either
    1. demonstrate reading proficiency in two languages at the basic level or
    2. demonstrate reading proficiency in one language at the basic level and, in lieu of a second language, elect an approved sequence of eight additional hours in a related music or non-music field (e.g., advanced electronic music, conducting, computer science).
  2. Course Requirements
    • Composition 891, 892, Doctoral Studies in Composition (4 or 6 hrs. each). Each may be repeated for a total of up to 12 hours credit. This course is the core of the student's work.
    • Composition 850, Advanced Seminar in Composition (1 hr.). Must be elected concurrently with 891 or 89; 990 or 995 if in residence.  In semesters in which Composition 504 or 506 are offered, these may substitute for Composition 850.
    • Composition 515, Introduction to Electronic Music (2 hrs.); 516, Seminar in Electronic Music (2 hrs.); and 526, Advanced Studies in Electronic Music (2-4 hrs.). It is expected that graduate students will elect these courses at either the master's or the doctoral level
    • Musicology 503, Bibliography of Music (3 hrs.). This course, which should be elected in the first term of enrollment, is designed to provide the student with an acceptable command of basic research techniques, including the mechanics of scholarly investigation and the ability to deal with musical and historical sources and with bibliography.
    • Composition 990, Dissertation/Precandidate (1-8 hrs.), and 995, Dissertation/Candidate (8 hrs.). These courses are for the student who consults with his or her chairman while preparing a doctoral dissertation. They may be repeated.
    • Composers will also elect a variety of courses dealing with music theory and the various periods of music history. Such courses constitute essential preparation for the preliminary examinations. Fifteen hours of course work or five courses totaling a minimum of twelve hours must be completed in musicology and music theory, including one musicology (MHM) course at the 600-level. Music performance may also be elected. Elections should include other courses in music, related fields, and languages that will help to satisfy the student's needs and requirements.
  3. New Student Review. All new students admitted to the doctoral program in Composition will be reviewed by the Composition Department at the end of their first year. They must have satisfied at least one of the language requirements by that time and must give evidence in their scores and course work of the ability to continue effective doctoral work in the major and related fields through the dissertation
  4. During the second year of doctoral study (3rd and 4th terms) the student shall develop a list of ten works in close consultation with his or her principal teacher, and/or oral prelim chair, if not the principal teacher . These works should be studied both analytically and historically. The oral preliminary examination will be based on these scores.  It is recommended that the oral preliminary examination in composition be taken in the candidacy grace period of the 5th term.
  5. Major Field Requirement. Before being admitted to candidacy each student must submit to his or her advisor the scores of the works completed during the student's doctoral studies. Tapes of performances should also be submitted when possible. These works may be in any form and for any combination of performers. They should total approximately sixty minutes of playing time.
  6. Cognate Fields. Each doctoral student in composition must elect work in two cognate fields, the first of which is a combination of music theory and musicology. This must include a total of at least 15 hours of graduate course work in music theory and musicology or at least five courses totaling a minimum of 12 hours. The second cognate may be any related field of special interest to the student, such as performance or a field of the Humanities. The second cognate requirement may be satisfied through course work elections or through a combination of recitals, projects, papers, and course work approved by the composition advisor and an advisor in the cognate field. Performance is recommended if the student has already arrived at a high level of proficiency. Studies in nonmusical fields should relate to the student's interests as a composer and musician. They should provide broad knowledge, insight, and awareness of the relationships between music and other relevant disciplines.

Residence Requirement

At least one academic year of full-time residence is required.

Requirements for Candidacy

  1. Pedagogy. Every doctoral student in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance must satisfy the pedagogy requirement during the first two terms of enrollment. A list of courses that satisfy this requirement may be found in the Handbook for Rackham Students in Music, Dance, or Theatre.
  2. Each doctoral student in composition must take the written general preliminary examinations in music theory and music history (or the coursework alternative) that are required of all D.M.A. students.
  3. Preliminary examinations, both oral and written, are required prior to admission to candidacy. These examinations cover not only the student's field of specialization and the cognate fields, but also the broad general field of music and the relationships between music and other disciplines. These examinations are not necessarily based upon the specific individual courses taken by the student, although course work will be exceedingly helpful in preparing for the exams. They are intended to explore the student's breadth of knowledge, ability to acquire information independently, and maturity of judgment.

    During the first year, each doctoral student is given a list of 60 to 75 works from which to choose or be assigned ten works on which to be examined at the general oral preliminary examination. These works should be studied both analytically and historically. The oral preliminary examination will be based on these scores.
  4. The major field examination, consisting of a review by the Composition Department of the scores and tapes submitted in fulfillment of the major field requirement, is also administered. Scores will be accepted or rejected by the Department on the basis of their maturity and originality

Candidacy will be conferred upon completion of these requirements and examinations. A dissertation committee must have been appointed by the time candidacy is achieved.

Dissertation Requirement

The dissertation in composition will consist of a score of major proportions in which the candidate finds ample opportunity to demonstrate strength of imagination and maturity of craft and musical language. The composition may be for an ensemble other than symphony orchestra, provided that the candidate has previously submitted scores that convince the Composition Department of his or her secure command of the orchestral medium.

The writing of the student's dissertation composition will be supervised by a dissertation committee appointed after the preliminary examinations have been passed./p>

Final Oral Examination

A comprehensive oral examination on the candidate's dissertation and field of specialization will be conducted by the dissertation committee following completion of the dissertation.

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