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MM in Film Composition Curriculum
Master of Music in Film Composition
Admission to the MM in Film Composition program requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with at least a 2.50 (on a 4.00 scale) grade point average in last 60 hours of undergraduate course work. Degrees in music are preferred, but not required.
Two letters of recommendation and a portfolio of composition work must be mailed in with the downloadable application form or must be submitted after completing the on-line application. Official transcripts should be mailed directly to the school.
Submitted compositions should demonstrate competence in writing in a variety of music genres (complete scores and live or midi recordings required). We are looking for applicants who have an advanced level of composition skill and interest in a range of musical styles.
Graduation Requirements: Students must successfully complete all 56 quarter credits of the required curriculum and maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0. Additionally any courses with a grade of C- or lower may not count toward degree completion.
The Master in Music (MM) in Film Composition degree is a thorough immersion into writing music for Film, TV, video games, and other media and prepares graduates to enter those fields with the skill set, experience, and professional portfolio necessary to launch a successful career. Throughout the program, students will be guided every step of the composing process as they learn the art and craft, business, techniques and technology of writing music for film and media.
Classes required for the Master of Music (MM) in Film Composing—56-quarter Credits.
FS501: Foundations in Film Scoring (2)
Foundations in Film Scoring is an introduction to the aesthetics and technical aspects of film music, including the roles and functions of the members of the "music team". The course focuses on understanding the process of composing music for film, the effect of music on images, and other aspects of the film music as an integral part of film production.
FS502: Applied Music Composition (3)
Applied Music Composition covers advanced composition techniques applicable to the creation of scores that support particular dramatic effects – sadness, triumph, suspense, comedy, etc. Students will learn how to handle the unique compositional challenges presented by film, such as scoring under dialog and manipulating their compositions to fit a film’s nonmusical timing requirements while maintaining musical integrity.
FS503: Applied Music Composition 2 (3)
Applied Music Composition 2 introduces students to additional compositional techniques such as advanced harmonic systems including Modal Interchange, Chromatic Voice Leading progressions (CVL) and constant structure composition. Also advanced melodic writing concepts including kernel composition and manipulation and Out-of-Scale chromatics principles. Prerequisite: FS502.
FS504: Orchestration for the Studio Environment (4)
Orchestration for the Studio Environment covers orchestration specifically focusing on works to be recorded in a professional studio environment. There are a variety of techniques that work only in the studio and not in a concert hall, and vice versa. It is crucial that film composers understand how to take advantage of these differences and avoid the potential pitfalls of applying live-performance orchestration techniques in a recording-session context.
FS505: Film Composition Colloquium/Portfolio (2)
Film Composition Colloquium/Portfolio covers the business, legal and financial aspects of the film music industry. Topics covered include: intellectual property – how this is applied to film scores and who owns what; composer contracts - the kinds of contracts that are used in industry and the elements of these contracts; performing rights organizations - how they work and the path that performance royalties take; budgeting – elements to consider in creating a budget for a project. Students will also learn to create appropriate promotional material necessary to procure scoring assignments including creating demo presentations of the works recorded in the program. There will also be discussions on communicating with directors with little or no musical background and how to get your concepts across without musical vocabulary.
FS506: Directed Study in Film Composition (6)
In Directed Study in Film Composition, primarily private-lesson based, students compose the scores to six film projects. This class is the practical application of everything studied in the program.
FS511: MIDI Sequencing: Digital Performer (3)
MIDI Sequencing: Digital Performer covers fundamentals of MIDI sequencing; thorough study of the software program Digital Performer’s capabilities; extensive in-depth study and use of Digital Performer’s film-scoring capabilities.
FS512: MIDI Sequencing: Logic (3)
MIDI Sequencing: Logic covers thorough study of the software program Logic’s capabilities; extensive in-depth study and use of Logic’s film-scoring capabilities.
FS513: Synchronization: Auricle (1)
Synchronization: Auricle covers how to use the software program Auricle to make the essential calculations of film-scoring effectively and how to use Auricle to generate synchronization information in the studio.
FS514: Advanced MIDI: Virtual-Instruments (2)
Advanced MIDI: Virtual-Instruments covers effective methods for creating “mockups;” principles of synthesis, and sampling; and effective use of a variety of industry-standard virtual instruments. Prerequisite: FS512.
FS515: Advanced MIDI: Plugins and Synthesis (2)
Advanced Midi 2: Plugins and Synthesis covers fundamentals of proper music notation; thorough study of Finale’s capabilities; importing and exporting into Finale from other software; good practices in program use and parts extraction; extensive in-depth study and use of Finale’s film-scoring capabilities. Prerequisite: FS512.
FS521: Notation: Finale (3)
Notation: Finale covers fundamentals of proper music notation; thorough study of Finale’s capabilities; importing and exporting into Finale from other software; good practices in program use and parts extraction; extensive in-depth study and use of Finale’s film-scoring capabilities.
FS522: Notation: Sibelius (3)
Notation: Sibelius covers thorough study of Sibelius’s capabilities; good practices in program use and parts extraction; importing and exporting into Sibelius from other software; extensive in-depth study and use of Sibelius’s film-scoring capabilities.
FS531: Audio Recording and Mixing: Protools (3)
Audio Recording and Mixing: Protools covers fundamentals of audio recording and mixing; extensive in-depth study and use of Protools’ capabilities.
FS532: Studio Technology (2)
Studio Technology covers fundamentals of technology used in modern studio recording and how to use that technology effectively.
FS541: Conducting (2)
Conducting covers the fundamentals of conducting; the conducting, rehearsal and podium techniques necessary to run an efficient professional recording session.
FS542: Music and Audio for Games (2)
Music and Audio for Games is a thorough investigation into how music and sound operate in the video- game environment, with an emphasis on adaptive, interactive, non-linear composition methods. Students will have the opportunity to write music that is designed to be adapted to game play by special, video- game oriented audio engines and will learn to use current software that controls music and audio in game play through hands-on experience.
FS543: Songwriting for Film (2)
Songwriting for Film is an investigation of how structure, melody, and lyrics function together to create a well-written song. Students will also examine the ins and outs of writing songs for films, including how to tailor a song for a scene and what constitutes a successful End Credit song. Students will write a film-oriented song and receive instructor and peer feedback.
FS544: Film Music History (2)
Film Music History focuses on analysis of the style and function of music for film throughout film history, starting with silent-era films and covering scores up to the present day. Students will present an analysis of a seminal film score in class.
FS545: Ear Training (2)
In Ear Training students are trained to listen critically and with discernment to a variety of musical textures. Students do rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic dictation both in class and outside of class through online tutorials.
MACS: 509 Language of Film (4)
Language of Film provides an overview of film analysis through a study of basic elements of film structure including cinematography, editing, composition set design, color, and sound and the ways in which each contributes to a film’s meaning.