SFU Application

assignment #2 - composition

Due: week 11


For the second assignment, you will need to choose a musical idea, concept, parameter,  or process that you will reconfigure in a way that challenges/questions your preconceptions about that chosen aspect of the music. An ideal example is Linda Catlin Smith’s use of the poem Moi Qui Tremblais (see your notes from week 1) to reconfigure the musicians’ (and listeners’) relationship to and understanding of rhythm/meter/pulse. See also: assigned listening/scores of weeks 7-12.

Your piece will be an acoustic composition between 4-7 minutes in length and will witten be for (predetermined ensemble) or any subset thereof. You may also incorporate electroacoustic components to the piece should they be essential to illustrating your ideas. Your work will be performed during class hours in week 13.

Because the nature of this project will yield results that may not necessarily be immediately audible to a listener (as in Smith’s Moi Qui Tremblais) more emphasis in the grading will be placed on your ability to clearly illustrate your ideas in the rationale and score.

Assignment Components and Grading

Your assignment will be a digital package that will be delivered to (my email address) as a link that gives me access to a google drive folder containing all the components of the assignment. The folder should be labeled: class code_your name_assignment 2

  1. In the folder you will be required to have the following:
  2. Work Log - labelled: class code_your name_work log 2 (20%)
  3. Rationale - labelled: class code_your name_rational 2 (30%)
  4. Score - labelled: class code_your name_score 2 (45%)
  5. Rehearsal Itinerary - labelled: class code_your name_rehearsal 2 (5%)

All written materials should be .pdf files.

Work Log

The purpose of a work log is for you to be able to track the evolution/progress of your ideas, and bring a deeper understanding to your creative process and workflow.

The log is an informal document and can take any form you like. However, each entry should be dated. It is expected that you to make entries into the log prior to and after working on your composition. Please be cognizant that “working on your composition” should include research processes (such as reading, note taking, web browsing, creation research etc) and any imagining (work done in your head) that you do.

I am not looking for a list of topics that you googled, what I am after is a document that: reflects your process throughout the writing of the piece; illustrates how your ideas have changed from beginning to end; shows that you are doing research, illustrates that you are raising questions, formulating hypotheses, and revising your work/ideas as you come in contact with new materials, resources, inspirations etc.

A successful (read: achieving a higher grade and being more beneficial to you as a composer) work log will contain: regular entries, questions with speculated outcomes and follow up reflections, lists of resources accompanied by any notes/thoughts; and reflections on practical/aesthetic/conceptual/technical aspects of your process/piece.

Lastly, there is no minimum/maximum page requirement. However, the more material in your log that there is, the easier it will be for you to demonstrate all of the above.


750 words double spaced (minimum).

The rationale for the assignment is a formal paper. End notes should be in the Chicago Manual Style of citation.

I expect in you writing of the rationale, that you will connect the most salient aspects of your process/research (see work log) to the work itself, while demonstrating an exploration of the core of the composition assignment.

A successful rationale will address: the genesis of the work (what concepts are you interrogating? How did this interrogation catalyze your initial ideas for the piece? And so on...), questions that arose through the process, inspirations/connections to ideas/works/material etc, compositional tools employed, management of parameters, structure/form, orchestration, your intentions for how the listener may perceive the work, and any practical/ aesthetic/ conceptual/ technical aspects of your work. Please also include some reflection on how you would improve the piece if given the opportunity.


The score can be hand-written or done with engraving software but should strive to meet professional engraving standards.

Your score will be assessed on:

  1. Completeness and tidiness - page numbers, rehearsal letters, title page, notes, dynamics, etc. (15 marks), formatting - is everything where it should be? Do the page turns make sense? Are the bar numbers large enough for a conductor to see? Are measures crowded? And so on. (15 marks),  
  2. and quality of the composition - clear illustration of the ideas highlighted in the rationale, inventiveness. (15 marks)
  3. Advice: when working on engraving your score, you should reference pieces with similar orchestration or ways of operating for insight into formating. Should you find discrepancies between reference scores, make a choice and address your choice in your rationale.

Rehearsal Itinerary

Your rehearsal itinerary will give a breakdown for how you would plan to run a 45 minute rehearsal of your piece with the musicians.

A successful itinerary will have: an estimated breakdown (in minutes) of how the time will be used in rehearsal; identified areas/aspects of the piece that may require more focus; and a brief explanation (akin to program notes) of your piece for the performers.