Bachelor of Music in Composition
The bachelor's degree in Composition is a course of study that prepares a student for a professional career in music composition and arranging, with a focus on pre-professional training. Many students in this program go directly to graduate school.
As a student in this program, you will take challenging courses in music theory and history, performance pedagogy and literature, counterpoint and arranging, and conducting. By honing your talent on your primary instrument through several semesters of lessons, you will be prepared to perform in a range of formats. You will have the opportunity to perform in recitals, play in large and small ensembles, and compose and orchestrate pieces. Through developing your abilities and knowledge, you'll transform as a musician.
In addition, you may elect to travel to Vienna for a term abroad to study composition in one of the musical capitals of the world. Along the way, you'll benefit from numerous guest master classes and performances on campus, as well as from musical events and activities throughout the St. Louis community.
Composition students present a senior recital of original works and participate in numerous ensembles, including the New Music Ensemble. The composition program includes at least six semesters of study in music composition. While the primary focus is on contemporary concert music, you will explore many other styles and technologies such as jazz, electronic, computer, and MIDI applications. Film scoring is also part of the program.
Connect with Webster
- View the full faculty roster
- Email Kim Portnoy, music composition program head
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Spotlight on Composition Students
"My name is Chris Poetz and I’m a composer for film, television and video games. Originally I wasn’t going to be a composer; I was also accepted into the film department here at Webster and planned on doing that. However, the Department of Music offered me a wonderful scholarship, and it was too good to pass up. To this day, I am so glad that I decided to go with music and be a composer. The Department of Music became my home away from home. The composition program, though small, is very thorough and filled with extremely knowledgeable professors. The one-on-one mentorship that I received at Webster is the one thing that really benefited me the most. I developed so much as a composer and learned techniques that I will use for the rest of my life. Because of the education and the mentorship that I received, I was accepted into the Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program at the University of Southern California for the 2016-17 academic year."
- Listen to The Sunlight Hymn, an original a cappella composition.
"With minimal text," Chris notes, "this piece utilizes neutral syllables to create an atmospheric texture featuring harmonic dissonance and a three-note rhythmic ostinato. Singing in both concert choir and chamber singers I have often found that singing music on a neutral syllable has a unique way of drawing the listener’s attention to the harmonies more than the text. There’s a sense of freedom and beauty associated with singing on a neutral syllable that I find so compelling."
Listen to more of his music here.
"I got into music at 12 when I picked up a guitar. After about two years I started writing, and put together a band to realize my dream of becoming a rock star. As fate would have it, I’m not yet a rock star. But, as my bands came and went I learned the value of writing music that I enjoy listening to. I started a video game scoring company (Fat Bard) with my engineer and mentor during my senior year of high school and began to really dig into electronic music and MIDI composition when I entered Webster as a freshman. Webster was the obvious choice for me because of the small student/professor ratio, and I made the switch from performance to music composition to expose myself to new ways of thinking about writing and music itself. For me, music is a never-ending search for something new and exciting, and even if I’m the only one geeking out about it, that’s okay with me."
- Listen to Sheriff, described by the composer as "a spaghetti western influenced hard rock song that experiments with polymeter and timbral shifts."
- Listen to Optical Tweezers, the first theme from level 4 of the swipe platformer, Blitz Breaker. It features a fast-tempo uplifting melody with a modern spin on classic chiptune music.
Check out Zach's website to learn more about him and his music.
"My name is Rachel Seiler and I am a senior Songwriting major at Webster University. I am a local singer/songwriter in St. Louis and plan to move to Nashville, Tennessee after I graduate. The professors at Webster University have played such a major role in my life. Being a Songwriting major means that I am able to take private lessons and courses in theory, audio and music business. Webster gives a strong foundation that prepares each person to go out into the world. Some of my fondest memories have happened at Webster and some of my best relationships have been made at Webster. And I am forever grateful for that."
- Listen to Brave, a country song Rachel wrote and performs.
Department of Music
Department of Music Presents 'Wet Ink' YouTube Concert April 11
April 9, 2021
Community Music School Faculty Profile: Zena Ilyashov
March 31, 2021
2021 Messing Faculty Award Recipient: Stuart Chapman Hill
March 26, 2021
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