This page focuses on the course 21M.065 Introduction to Musical Composition as it was taught by Prof. Keeril Makan in Spring 2014.
This course is one of several introductory music subjects offered at MIT for which no prior formal training is assumed. It uses a hands-on approach to composition as a means to explore sound, listening and music.
Course Goals for Students
- Investigate the sonic organization of musical works and performances, focusing on fundamental questions of unity and variety.
- Use written composition assignments to develop musical ideas and notation methods that effectively transmit to performers.
In the following pages, Prof. Makan gives more details on how he teaches 21M.065 Introduction to Musical Composition_._
Every spring semester
The students’ grades were based on the following activities:
- 50% Sequence of 10 composition assignments
- 20% In-class participation
- 20% Final project
- 10% One-page responses to weekly listening and reading
Instructor Insights on Assessment
Read how Professor Makan made purposeful pedagogical decisions about the composition assignments.
Breakdown by Major
Students tend to be in the pure sciences, Math or Mechanical Engineering. This semester we had three Nuclear Science and Engineering majors for the first time. We have Music majors as well.
Typical Student Background
Typically 50% of students are able to read music, and 50% cannot. Many students who cannot read music play music in some way. Some students have experience singing with a cappella groups or are singers in other capacities. There are typically a few students who have backgrounds in electronic music.
There are also students with no training or experience in music. Those are often times the most interesting students—particularly those who think they don’t like music, and take the course to test that preconception.
In future iterations of this course, we may experiment with offering two sections: one section for students with some training and experience in music, and one for students without this background.
Limited to 18 students
How Student Time Was Spent
During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:
Met 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session. Class activities were a mix of lecture/discussion and student demonstrations of their composition assignments.
Out of Class
Reading and listening assignments and composition assignments. Occasional attendance required at concerts and composer forum events.