This Course at MIT

This Course at MIT pages provide context for how the course materials published on OCW were used at MIT. They are part of the OCW Educator initiative, which seeks to enhance the value of OCW for educators.

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 21M.065 Introduction to Musical Composition as it was taught by Prof. Keeril Makan in Spring 2014.

This course is one of several introductory music subjects offered at MIT for which no prior formal training is assumed. It uses a hands-on approach to composition as a means to explore sound, listening and music.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Investigate the sonic organization of musical works and performances, focusing on fundamental questions of unity and variety.
  • Use written composition assignments to develop musical ideas and notation methods that effectively transmit to performers.
 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

None

Requirements Satisfied

HASS-A

Offered

Every spring semester

The Classroom

  • Photo of classroom showing a grand piano and about 25 movable chairs/desks in rows.

    Lecture

    The classroom features a piano, audio system, and music staff chalkboards.

 

Assessment

The students' grades were based on the following activities:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by a sequence of 10 composition assignments. 50% Sequence of 10 composition assignments
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by in-class participation. 20% In-class participation
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by the final project. 20% Final project
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by one-page responses to weekly listening and reading. 10% One-page responses to weekly listening and reading
 

Instructor Insights on Assessment

Read how Professor Makan made purposeful pedagogical decisions about the composition assignments.

Student Information

17 students took this course when it was offered in Spring 2014.

Breakdown by Major

Students tend to be in the pure sciences, Math or Mechanical Engineering. This semester we had three Nuclear Science and Engineering majors for the first time. We have Music majors as well.

Typical Student Background

Typically 50% of students are able to read music, and 50% cannot. Many students who cannot read music play music in some way. Some students have experience singing with a cappella groups or are singers in other capacities. There are typically a few students who have backgrounds in electronic music.

There are also students with no training or experience in music. Those are often times the most interesting students—particularly those who think they don't like music, and take the course to test that preconception.

In future iterations of this course, we may experiment with offering two sections: one section for students with some training and experience in music, and one for students without this background.

Enrollment Cap

Limited to 18.

 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

3 hours per week

Met 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session. Class activities were a mix of lecture/discussion and student demonstrations of their composition assignments.

 

Out of Class

9 hours per week

Reading and listening assignments and composition assignments. Occasional attendance required at concerts and composer forum events.

 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due date. No session scheduled.
2 No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due date. No session scheduled. Artist in residence session; forum discussion. Concert or talk scheduled outside of class time.
3 No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled.
4 No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due date. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled.
5 No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due date. Forum discussion. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled.
6 No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due date. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled.
7 No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled.
8 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
9 No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due date. No session scheduled. Artist in residence session; forum discussion. Concert or talk scheduled outside of class time.
10 No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due date. No session scheduled. Class session; assignment due date. No session scheduled.
11 No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled.
12 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Class session scheduled. No session scheduled.
13 No session scheduled. Assignment due date. No session scheduled. Individual meetings; forum discussion. Concert or talk scheduled outside of class time.
14 No session scheduled. Individual meetings; assignment due date. No session scheduled. Class session; project presentation. No session scheduled.
15 No session scheduled. Class session; project presentation. No session scheduled. Class session; project presentation. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when class sessions are held. Class session
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when forum discussions are held. Forum discussion
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when assignments are due. Assignment due date
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when student presentations are held. Project presentations
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when Artist in Residence sessions are held. Artist in Residence session
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when individual meetings are held. Individual meetings
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when concerts or talks are held. Concert or talk held outside class hours
 

Instructor Insights

Listening is one of the greatest gifts we can give to somebody.

—Prof. Keeril Makan

In the following pages, Prof. Makan gives more details on how he teaches 21M.065 Introduction to Musical Composition.