Spring 2021 - CA 146 D100

Introduction to Music Composition and Theory II (3)

Class Number: 8068

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    CA (or FPA) 140 and 145.



A continuation of CA (or FPA) 145 where students compose short works for instruments within given parameters that address specific compositional issues. Analysis of a wide range of music, score reading and recorded music of selected compositions will be included. Students with credit for CA (or FPA) 244 may not complete this course for further credit. Students with credit for FPA 146 may not take this course for further credit.


This course is a continuation of CA 145 that will examine experimental methods of creative composition in diverse contexts. This will be a hands-on sound and music-making experience facilitated through the exploration of digital audio workstations, composing for performance featuring objects and DIY instruments, approaches to music annotation/scoring/scripting, as well as exposure to new work and artists via in-depth analysis and discussion.

NOTE: Unlike historic versions of this course, this course will NOT focus on western Classical theory or instrumental writing as its foundation. Rather, students will develop creative modes of expression in conversation with a diverse array of contemporary practices.

Students will be required to attend the weekly lecture as well as a seminar where the practice of composition will be discussed.


  • On-time Attendance + Participation (Weekly Lecture + Seminar) 10%
  • Weekly questions for Guest Artists 15%
  • Listening Journal + Analyses (Assigned weekly) 25%
  • Creative Project A 10%
  • Creative Project B 10%
  • Creative Project C 15%
  • Creative Project D 15%



Each week students will be provided with introductory work and resources for the Guest Artist (or student presenter) who is presenting the following week.

After carefully reviewing this material, students will prepare 3 questions for the presenter. These will be submitted on Canvas every Monday by 6pm. 

Grading will be done on a scale of 0-3:

3 = questions demonstrate a careful review of the artist’s work with thoughtful engagement;

2 =  questions suggest some review of the artist’s work, but aren’t particularly thoughtful;

1 = questions are very general and don’t demonstrate research or consideration of the artist;

0 = no questions submitted.

NOTE: Late submissions will be graded at a 50% reduction


Always listen on headphones or external speakers -- no laptop/phone/tablet speakers.

Listen to the work with full attention at least 3 times. 

Journal responses should consider each piece on its own terms. Avoid opinion-based statements such as “I like / I don’t like.” Instead, aim to observe things that strike you about the piece. Questions to consider include:


   What are its unique characteristics?

   How are those elements active within the piece?

   What impacts/experiences/impressions do they contribute towards, and how?


Choose at least one specific point in the piece to discuss in closer detail.

You will be graded on how thoughtfully you consider these creative elements and in what resolution of detail.

250-350 words each week submitted via CANVAS.


  • Growth over the course of the term
  • Originality / creativity
  • Dimensionality (attention to multiple facets of a work that could include time, form, concept, colour, orchestration, density, pacing, pitch, rhythm, or other aspects unique to the work)
  • Attention to detail (creative and practical)




- Computer (laptop or desktop)

- Internet connection

Software appropriate to project needs

- Headphones (preferably over-ear as long term exposure to in-ear is not advised and we’ll be doing a lot of listening)

- Additional resources appropriate to your intended compositional work and process (faculty are happy to consult and advise on this question)

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).