Composition - Theory

Composition-Theory prepares students for careers in composition and teaching, as well as for graduate study in composition or music theory. This major offers comprehensive course work in music theory and composition, with specialized courses in orchestration, music formalization, experimental music, jazz arranging, electronic music, and computer music. For more detailed information regarding the Bachelor of Music degree and specific course requirement for the BM in Composition-Theory, please visit the official course information website.

Recognized internationally for its innovations, diversity, and exceptional instruction and performance resources in contemporary music, the Composition-Theory Division is one of the nation's largest composition departments. In composition, we offer degrees in the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts. Our students develop active careers in composition and participate regularly in workshops, summer programs, and other performance and study opportunities. Many of our graduates hold teaching positions at schools around the country.

Composition-Theory at the University of Illinois School of Music maintains exceptional standards in composition, research, and the performance of new music. Our world-renowned faculty supports a lively, thoughtful, and intelligent culture that includes cooperative experimentation and enlightened, if sometimes controversial, approaches to music composition and research; our faculty and students write music characterized by a diverse range of aesthetics and techniques. As a result, our students enjoy a broad perspective and comprehensive knowledge of emerging trends.

In an effort to provide a fertile ground for creativity and learning, the Division sponsors numerous new music concerts featuring works by students, faculty, and guests from the United States and abroad. Each year, the New Music Ensemble performs several student works; the University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra performs at least one student work; and students may compete for the 21st Century Piano Commission Award, a collaborative opportunity for composition and piano students culminating in a recital presented in the Great Hall of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. A vibrant performance scene of student-organized concerts, improvisations, and community venues for music exists both on and off campus. Undergraduate and graduate students present their own compositions in degree recitals and concerts. Additionally, a weekly Composers' Forum encourages students to exchange ideas with other students, performers, and guest composers.

Considered a leader in contemporary music, our electro-acoustic section includes the University of Illinois Experimental Music Studios (EMS)—the first of their kind in the western hemisphere when they were founded in 1958. Today, EMS has ten specially designed studios for generating, processing, and recording sound. Founded in 1984, the EMS Computer Music Project (CMP) offers a Linux-based computer lab for teaching computer music and acoustics, promoting research in computer sound synthesis and analysis, computer assisted composition, and music notation and printing. In addition, the School of Music maintains two Computer-Assisted Music Instruction Labs (CAMIL I and II) supplied with recent Macintosh computers, high-quality audio and video systems, and network user accounts to support both classes and individual projects in music composition, theory, history, and education.