Music Theory and Composition

The composition and music theory concentrations are designed to bring qualified students to their highest level of creative and scholarly achievement and to prepare them for successful careers in composition, teaching and the music ministry.

Admission to either concentration is contingent upon the demonstration of outstanding creative and scholarly potential. Students pursuing the M.M. with a concentration in composition must present evidence of creative aptitude through the submission of a portfolio of representative works. Applicants for the music theory concentration must present examples of their analytical skills and writing ability. Scores on the School of Church Music Entrance Examinations in theory and music history as well as undergraduate GPA will also be considered in the admission process for both concentrations.

Both concentrations assume an undergraduate degree in theory or composition. Students without an undergraduate major in one of these areas may be accepted by meeting the requirements mentioned above and completing undergraduate requirements in the areas (including a senior recital for composition and a senior thesis for theory).

M.M. with Composition Concentration

  • private composition instruction
  • advanced orchestration, music technology and the theory of pedagogy
  • music theory or music history elective
  • composition thesis
Thesis Requirements

The thesis is an extended sacred work. It typically is a setting of a biblical or other religious text for vocal soloists, choir, and various combinations of instruments. 

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M.M. with Music Theory Concentration Highlights

  • theory pedagogy, music technology and Schenkerian analysis
  • music theory or music history elective
  • thesis
Thesis Requirements

The thesis demonstrates the student's abiliity to choose a worthy topic for analysis and research, to research and analyze thoroughly relevant works and materials and to write a scholarly document. The student will work with a major professor, normally the chair of the department, and with a second reader. Theses completed at Southwestern include:

  • "A Programmatic Analysis of Chromaticism in Johann Kuhnau's Biblical Sonatas"
  • "Cellular Procedures in Selected Sacred Choral Works of Francis Poulenc"
  • "The Use of Improvisation within Selected Sacred Choral Works of Dave Brubeck"

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D.M.A. with Composition Concentration

  • 4 semesters of private composition instruction
  • seminars in conducting, music history, music ministry and music theory
  • composition dissertation
Dissertation Requirements

The dissertation is an extended sacred work and is typically a setting of a biblical or other religious text for vocal soloists, choir and various combinations of instruments. A performance of the work is encouraged but not required. 

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Ph.D. with Music Theory Concentration

  • seminars in various areas of music theory, including analysis, history of music theory and contemporary notation
  • seminars in music history and music ministry
  • dissertation
Dissertation Requirements

The dissertation demonstrates the student's abiliity to choose a worthy topic for analysis and research, to research and analyze thoroughly relevant works and materials and to write a scholarly document.  Dissertations completed at Southwestern include:

  • "An Analysis of La Passion by Jean Langlais"
  • "Cellular Construction in Representative Sacred Works of Vincent Persichetti"

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