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MUSIC 4Z03 Composition

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. William Renwick


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 409

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23671


Office Hours: Thursday 9:30-10:30; Friday 9:30-10:30

Course Objectives:

This course provides students with opportunities and experiences in musical composition.  Students who successfully complete this coures will be able to create coherent and well designed small musical compositions.  They will also develop a broader and deeper understanding of musical structure and will be able to critique the compositional work of others.

This course combines a seminar/workshop experience with self-directed study. Students are expected pursue ongoing creative and analytical work, to participate fully in the class discussions, and to demonstrate ongoing production of music.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

All required materials will be made available in class or on Avenue to Learn

Method of Assessment:

8 weekly assignments: 6% each; total 48%

Assignment number:       given:              due:

1                                  Jan 10              Jan 17

2                                  Jan 17              Jan 24 

3                                   Jan 24             Jan 31

4                                   Jan 31              Feb 7

5                                   Feb  28            Mar 7

6                                   Mar 7               Mar 14

7                                   Mar14               Mar 21

8                                   Mar 21              Mar 28

1 independent composition project: 32%

Assigned Jan 17; due Thursday April 5

Class participation and preparation: 20%

Total 100%

Students in the course will receive a grade of at least 10% by march 16, 2018.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Each assignment will focus on a different aspect of musical design, such as interval, mode, rhythm, contrast, register, counterpoint, region, etc.  Samples from the repertoire will be discussed as models of composition.

Other Course Information:

Assignments are usually given on a weekly basis, due the following week. The term project will develop over the course of the term; students are expected to demonstrate continuing progress and development throughout the term. Always keep your marked assignments as a record of your work.