Bachelor of Music in Composition
The BM 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.
You'll take courses in music theory and history, performance pedagogy and literature, and conducting. You'll hone your talent through several semesters of lessons on your primary instrument. You'll perform in recitals, play in large and small ensembles, learn to compose and orchestrate pieces, take counterpoint and arranging classes, and find yourself a changed musician at the end of four years of study. You may elect to travel to Vienna for a term abroad (legacy site link) in one of the musical capitals of the world, studying composition in Europe's musical capital. You'll benefit from numerous guest master classes and performances on campus, as well as from musical events and activities within our larger community of Saint Louis.
Composition students present a senior recital of original works and participate in numerous ensembles, including the New Music Ensemble (legacy site). 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.
For more information, email Kim Portnoy, music composition program head.
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 by Chris.
Chris' notes: "With minimal text 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 Chris' 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 written and performed by Rachel.
Become a Gorlok
Whether you’re seeking an undergraduate or graduate degree, we'll help you achieve academic excellence preparing you for future career successes. The first step is to fill out our application.
Learn more about our accreditation, which applies to all of our campuses, regionally and beyond.
Find out how we support the more than 50% of undergraduates who transfer into our community.