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Why Composition?

Why Go To School For Music Composition?

You are musically creative and inquisitive, and like to be challenged with new ideas. You have a great desire to hear your music played and are considering a career in composition, but you wonder. . . 

What can I do with a Bachelor of Music with a specialty in composition?

A Bachelor of Music in composition at our school provides the fundamental knowledge and technique related to the art of composing. It is the key to pursuing composition independently or at the graduate level. Although teaching at the college level is one possible goal of a composition major, many other paths are open. Whatever direction you take, your composition portfolio (scores and recordings) will be the key element to future success.  See what our graduates are doing with a Bachelor of Music in Composition degree.

What tools does a composer need today?

Besides the creative and technical skills of composition and orchestration, a composer needs to be fluent in the musical tools of technology, including computers, digital audio, MIDI, and interactive live performance. To master these tools, music composition school students have full access to the Conservatory Computer Studio for Music Composition (CCSMC).

What is the possibility of getting my music performed and recorded?

Throughout the year, students are paired with ensembles for which they compose. Once the composition is completed, the work is rehearsed and performed, giving the students the experience of hearing their work in concert setting. Finally, with the assistance of the Composers' Club all compositions are professionally recorded so that as early as their first semester, composition students begin to build their portfolios.

How can I pursue my interest in film music?

While film music can be a very lucrative profession, it is also a highly competitive one. Specific study in film music production is normally done at the graduate level after completing intensive study in the art of composition, computer music techniques and orchestration. Composition study at the Conservatory will give you the skills and creative techniques to pursue whatever area of specialty interests you.

What is the composition program like?

Our school's music composition program is strongly anchored in the European tradition, developing skills through real integration of ear-training, harmony, counterpoint, and orchestration. By the inclusion of world music and computer music, it also honors our American heritage of experimentation and forward vision giving composition students the experiences they need to prepare them for the 21st century.

With whom would I be studying composition?

The Conservatory of Music is proud to count among its rank a composer very active on the national and international scenes, Professor Robert Coburn.

What are the opportunities to hear all kinds of music at Pacific?

The Conservatory is itself a very active cultural center, presenting more than 150 concerts every year, including performances by world-renowned guest artists and ensembles. Finally, students and faculty take advantage of the Conservatory's location within easy driving distance to the San Francisco Bay area to experience musical events not available on campus.

Music Beyond Performance is a presentation of new works by artists who create experiences mediated by technology resulting in pieces of "fixed media" to be performed without performers and experienced only within specially equipped venues. All performances occur at the Recital Hall of the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music. Initially featuring compositions in 8-channel audio this series now focuses on works that integrate sound and image. Pieces are selected through an open call for works announced each year in the late spring.

What is the admission process and what role does the audition play in it?

All students who apply for admission to the Conservatory play or sing an audition on their principal instrument or voice. This is one of the primary ways in which each applicant's musical abilities are assessed, and it is a major factor in determining your admission to the Conservatory of Music. Student composers wishing to enter the B.M. degree in composition are also required to submit scores of their music accompanied by recordings when possible. These scores are reviewed by the composition faculty and provide the basis for determining admission to the degree program in composition. If you have questions about your music and/or what type of scores might be best to submit please contact Dr. Coburn  for guidance.