Composing for Improvisers: Analyses, Creation and Community (MCO4140.01) (new course code as of 11/7/2023)

Kyoko Kitamura

This course is for students interested in investigating musical improvisation and composition, and their connection to a musical community. The students selected for this course will form an ensemble. They will be guided to compose, at their own level, 1) for the ensemble, 2) for a part of the ensemble (duos, trios) and 3) for solo.

There is no right or wrong approach. The process will be just as important, if not more so, than the outcome. Through working together, examining and performing works by the students and other contemporary composers, the ensemble will develop a common vocabulary, which will allow the class to investigate the effects of community and music. Performance is also crucial to the learning process. Therefore, performances will be scheduled at the end of each seven weeks, as well as at select Music Workshops during the semester (to be decided by the class).

Basic ability to follow scores is encouraged, but not mandatory.


Learning Outcomes:
1. Learn the basics of conventional (e.g., Western notation) and alternative methods (e.g., graphic scores) of written musical communication.
2. Learn to compose works which incorporate improvisation, i.e., learn how to manage the balance of musical freedom and control by experimenting with the amount of decision-making agency given to each performer.
3. Develop an understanding of the self within a musical community, and what we can each do to make everyone be great.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Audition required - auditions will take place mid-November on Zoom. Contact Kyoko Kitamura at to set up an audition. Alternate audition contact Olivia Biro -
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
Tu/W 4:10PM-6:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 6
Course Frequency: Once a year

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Composition , Course Code Update , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Updates