Queen's University

Introduction to Vocal Composition [MUSC 152]

Introduction to Vocal Composition [MUSC 152/3.0]


Exploring the incredibly rich tradition and practise of vocal composition in western music, this course immerses students in the techniques of effectively creating music for the voice.

Through a broad and inclusive approach examining various styles and eras (including medieval chant, renaissance madrigals, oratorio, opera, art song, choral, solo, popular, folk, electronic and experimental) students will compare and contrast the idiomatic techniques of various genres while incorporating these techniques into their own “compositional toolbox”. Students will compose a number of works in various styles  for solo voice and 2- and 3-part arrangements.  Students’ own previous vocal experience and preferences are considered and exploration of each student’s own compositional voice is encouraged.  Learning is derived from a combination of lectures, composition assignments, in-class presentations and collective workshopping of students’ music, class participation as singers in group work, one ten-minute in-class presentation of a vocal composition topic of the students choice, and a final performance (either by the student or other performers) of one composition.

LEARNING HOURS:  136 (12L;24S;4G;96P)

PREREQUISITE:  MUSC 104/3.0, MUSC105/3.0 or MUSC P52/3.0 or permission of the School.

NOTE:  No prior experience with composition is required, but students must demonstrate a thorough understanding of the rudiments of music prior to enrolment.

EXCLUSION:  No more than 1 course from MUSC 152/3.0; MUSC 153/6.0.

INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Dean Burry



Composition is one form of artistic expression that benefits from time home alone, which works well given the fall conditions of remote learning.  However, sharing of students’ artistic work is a major component of this course.   A live ZOOM meetup hour will occur each week where the students and instructor can discuss compositional topics, ask questions and share works-in-progress. In-class presentations will be replaced by short videos/score submissions. Also, plans will be made for a LIVE public presentation and recording of the students’ compositions when full on-campus learning resumes.