Composing for Improvisers: Analyses, Creation and Performance (MCO4129.02)

Kyoko Kitamura

This course is for students interested in investigating musical improvisation and composition through examining and performing works by contemporary composers. Students will also be guided to compose music at their own level. Basic ability to follow scores is encouraged, but not mandatory.

We will first examine and play through works by contemporary composers who incorporate both composed and improvised elements, including legendary American musician and thinker Anthony Braxton with whom Kitamura has had a decade-long association. Included are Braxton’s Language Music and Ghost Trance Music systems, Composition No. 101 and 56 among others. Students will perform, improvise and conduct excerpts of the works, then be guided to compose collectively and/or individually at their respective pace and level. The students’ works will be performed, giving life to the compositions and deepening the understanding of the process, culminating in a performance. The course will also touch on recent research in neuroscience and psychology regarding musical improvisation.


Learning Outcomes:
Learning Outcomes:
• Develop an understanding for the process of creating a musical work, from conception to performance.
• Explore the relationship between composition and improvisation, and the different ways of connecting the two.
• Through experiencing nonverbal musical exchanges, learn how to proactively listen and respond to each other.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: • Determination will be given to students who have Plans related to the course material. • Admission to the class will be based on the results of an audition, which will take place on November 10th, 11th, and 15th. Contact Michael Wimberly at for an audition appointment. If you are not able to audition during this time, future auditions will continue at the beginning of spring term. This course requires an audition to assess readers and non-readers of music notation. Please contact Michael Wimberly for further information.
Corequisites: Music Workshop, Theory, Vocalist, Instrumentalist
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 2
W 10:00AM - 11:50AM & W 2:10PM - 4:00PM (2nd seven weeks)
Maximum Enrollment: 8
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: All courses , Composition , Ethnomusicology , Fully In-Person , Updates
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