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Music 103 Composition/Analysis Project:

Guidelines for Instructors

Here are some guidelines for preparing your students to do the Composition/Analysis Project.

The document titled COMPOSITION/ANALYSIS PROJECT should be distributed to the students as the basic
instructions for the project. You may also give special instructions of your own, so long as the basic instructions
are retained.


Do not expect a professional-level product. Remember, this is an introductory course. (About the Assessment
Levels, see below.)


In terms of grading, the emphasis should be on the melody (does it fit with the harmonies, are passing and
neighboring tones used correctly, are the rhythm requirements met and done correctly, etc) and on compliance
with the instructions (including any special instructions you have given).


Regarding harmonic progressions: For 8 measures with 2 chords per measure except the last, the student will need
to write at least 15 chords. You can provide a great deal of guidance on this, so long as there is still room for the
student to make creative choices.
For example, you could provide a number of basic building blocks such as:
I V7 I
I ii6 V I
I IV ii6 C6/4 V7 I
The student can stitch these together in various orderings to make longer progressions, with the starting and
ending tonics either elided or prolonged with I6. The student will then write a melody that fits with the
harmonies, including some PTs and NTs and a variety of rhythms.
Or, less preferable but possible if time is short, you could provide 3 or 4 complete chord progressions and let the
students choose one. For example:
I V | I IV | I6 ii6 | V V6 | I I6 | IV ii6 | C6/4 V7 | I (PAC)


It is possible for the composition to be a song. The student would choose (or write) a verse or two and set it to
music. In this case, the verse should be submitted for prior approval to make sure that (a) it is a good length for
the project, and (b) it is not inappropriate. The textbook has several examples of texts for setting.


Resolution of the chord seventh is optional. It is covered in the supplementary lesson to Chapter 6. If you cover
it in class, it should be part of the grading criteria. If you dont get to it in class, then the seventh may be
emancipated! The Composition/Analysis Project instructions (third bullet from the bottom) should be modified
to reflect whether you did or did not cover resolution of the seventh.


Time permitting, consider having the students submit a draft of their composition. The draft would not be graded,
but would be returned with comments and feedback. This is a great way to vastly improve the quality of the final


Regarding the Assessment Levels: These were developed to apply to the visual arts (e.g. painting). They have
been minimally adapted to apply to musical composition, but the two arts are not really comparable since music
requires its own highly complex language which must be learned before a work of art can be created.
Therefore, use your judgment! Grading should be based on how well the student has learned and applied what
you have taught.