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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Composition
Module Code MC519
School 59
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Sean Doherty
Semester 2: Sean Doherty
Autumn: Sean Doherty
Module TeachersSean Doherty
NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Coursework Only

In this module, students will gain a detailed knowledge of a range of creative approaches to the craft of choral composition. They will build a critical awareness of current issues and trends in choral composition and arranging through a variety of practical composition exercises, seminar presentations, and workshop performances. Students will be exposed to a wide variety of compositional styles through active-listening tasks, and will engage with current trends in contemporary choral music so that they can make informed judgments about their own creative expression through composition.

Learning Outcomes

1. Apply the accepted conventions in the notation of choral music to a professional standard.
2. Employ a range of creative approaches to the craft of choral composition, informed both by a wide variety of historical models and by contemporary compositions, across various genres and ensemble types.
3. Use advanced theoretical understanding and practical competence to identify the elements of an effective choral composition in diverse compositional contexts, including music appropriate for ensembles ranging from unison children’s choir to professional adult choir.
4. Display a critical awareness of current issues and trends in choral composition and performance.
5. Explore innovative approaches to choral composition and develop individual insights into the theory and practice of vocal music, and use these insights as a foundation for future creative outputs.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Workshop2Composition Workshop
Independent Study38Independent study: music listening
Independent Study38Independent study: research
Independent Study150Independent study: composition
Total Workload: 250

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

The idiomatic notation of choral music: expression marks and technical instructions; syllabic slurs; phrasing and breathing points; placing tuplets; enharmonic spelling; text placement; word division; extenders; hyphens; alternative text underlay; qualifying text sounds; two-stave SATB layout; choral reduction; score layout; page layout

Creative approaches
Incorporating aleatoric techniques: levels of indeterminacy, improvisation, open score, and the Contemporary Music for All movement (CoMA)

Range of Contexts
Considerations for ensemble types: range limitations, tessitura; SATB (div.), SSAATTBB, Double Choir, TTBB, SSAA, SAB; Compositional priorities when composing and arranging for young voices

Issues and Trends
Experimental composition for voices: incorporating extended vocal techniques and gesture

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Music CompositionComposition Exercises40%Every Second Week
Music CompositionComposition Portfolio (5–10 minutes of music with 2000-word commentary)60%Sem 2 End
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Cope, David: 1997, Techniques of the Contemporary Composer,
  • De Quadros, André: 2012, The Cambridge Companion to Choral Music,
  • De Quadros, André: 2018, Focus: Choral Music in Global Perspective: Traditions and Repertoires,
  • Gould, Elaine: 2011, Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation,
  • Henson, Blake, and Gerald Custer: 2013, The Composer’s Craft,
  • Hines, Robert Stephan: 2001, Choral Composition: A Handbook for Composers, Arrangers, Conductors, and Singers,
  • Hurty, Jon: 2018, Improvisation for Choirs: Building Community Confidence and Creativity,
  • Roma, Catherine: 2006, The Choral Music of Twentieth-Century Women Composers: Elisabeth Lutyens, Elizabeth Maconchy, and Thea Musgrave,
  • Shrock, Dennis: 2009, Choral Repertoire,
  • Stone, Kurt: 1980, Music Notation in the Twentieth Century: A Practical Guidebook,
  • Strimple, Nick: 2002, Choral Music in the Twentieth Century,
  • Warburton, Annie: 1981, Melody Writing and Analysis,
Other Resources

35341, Score, Contemporary Music Centre, 2012, Choirland: An Anthology of Irish Choral Music, 35342, Score, Oliveros, Pauline, 1961, Sound Patterns, 35343, Score, Monk, Meredith, 1970, Change, 35344, Score, Weeks, James (ed.), CoMA, 2018, partsongs,
Programme or List of Programmes
MACSMA in Choral Studies
MPTPMPhil (Theology, Philosophy & Music)
TPPMMaster of Arts

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