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Picture of students playing on stage

A wide range of acoustic and electroacoustic composition classes are taught at the University of Montana, by Patrick Williams and Simon Hutchinson, as a part of the Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Music degrees in Composition, the only accredited composition program in the state of Montana. In classes and lessons, students are encouraged to write music that interests and excites them, while they develop their compositional craft, learning new techniques and technologies.



In MUSI 180: Composition I, students begin working with scales, chords, and rhythms, to build melodies and harmonies into pieces for solo instruments, duos, trios, and quartets.
In MUSI 280: Composition II, students write for larger ensembles in longer forms, developing their compositional skills and style.

In composition lessons, MUSI 380 and 480, students are encouraged to explore new compositional techniques and deepen their personal style, eventually writing for large chamber ensembles, orchestra, band, and choir, and presenting a full recital of their compositions during their senior year.

Listen to student compositions from MUSI 180

Music Technology

Picture of students playing on stage

The Music Technology curriculum includes four classes in computer music composition, and a summer workshop in studio recording techniques and sound design.

In the first class, MUST 110: Digital Audio and Multitracking, students compose two pieces with recorded sound, using Peak and Digital Performer software, and study the theory and application of recording, editing, processing, mixing, and spatializing digital audio.

Listen to student compositions from MUST 110

In the second class, MUST 210: Sequencing, Synthesis, and Sampling, students develop digital synthesis and sampling instruments, in Absynth and Kontakt software, and compose MIDI-sequenced pieces, using Digital Performer, while studying the theory and application of sound synthesis and MIDI.

Listen to student compositions from MUST 210

In the third class, MUST 310: Interactivity and Digital Signal Processing, students compose two pieces of interactive computer music, the first controlling MIDI-generating algorithms with musical controllers, and the second controlling sound synthesis and digital signal processing, in MaxMSP.

Listen to student compositions from MUST 310

In the fourth class, MUST 410: Computer Music Programming, students compose a piece of computer-generated sound, programmed in Csound.

Listen to student compositions from MUST 410

For the summer workshop, MUST 195/495: Studio Recording Techniques and Sound Engineering, students learn how to record, mix, and master a session, using ProTools software.

Listen to student recordings from MUS 495

In addition to the core curriculum, two composition workshops are offered, as electives.

Picture of students playing on stage

For the acoustic Composers Workshop, MUSI 267/467, student composers meet weekly with a student Pierrot Ensemble, including flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano, that reads, critiques, rehearses, and performs their new compositions. For the electroacoustic composition workshop, MUST 227/427, students compose structured improvisations, notated with a combination of standard and graphic musical notation, which they rehearse and perform in the Mountain Electroacoustic Laptop Ensemble (MELEe).


Picture of students playing on stage

In the Spring, all composition students have their pieces performed and critiqued during the Composers’ Showcase, programmed alongside pieces by a visiting guest composer, and in the Fall, students have their pieces performed in a Composers’ Benefit concert, and present their computer music on the Mountain Computer Music Festival, along with pieces by a visiting guest composer. Students also perform their compositions in exchange concerts and telematic performances with students from other universities.

Counterpoint, MUSI 407, and Orchestration, MUSI 440, are also offered as a part of the composition curriculum.