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kly45

Audition Pieces

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Hello everyone not been here for ages but still busy writing ;)

I have recently been asked to audition to a university with composition being my first study. They want me to bring in my own work but I just want to ask what do you guys think are the best things to send in.

more traditional forms/systems like fugues and sonatas

Atonal music

or more experimental stuff

or a mix of everything?

And obviously I can compose but I also need to learn allot (that's why I need to take the course!)so will they pick up on bad points on my pieces and punish me for this?

Also if anyone could tell their own stories of what they used to audition to composing courses it would be a great help.

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I think any piece that demonstrates your willingness to expand your musical horizons makes a good portfolio piece. Since composition's such a subjective thing, what most places look for is your ability to learn new things and synthesize them (as necessary) into your music.

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Guest John Pax

I would think they would want to see that you can write in traditional forms with like fugues and sonatas and can also write atonal/experimental music.

I'd go with a mix.

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I don't know how it is in the US, but around here I've never heard of any university that asked composition students to display traditional fugues and sonatas. Only theory students have to write such style exercises here (and even then it's primarily things like Palestrina-style motets) - and not as an audition requirement. I, at least, haven't ever written a single fugue or sonata, nor does it appear I will do so before I get my Master's. And none of my professors ever considered asking me to write anything like that.

The point of composition auditions is generally less about "technique" (especially not 17th century technique), but about seeing a personal, creative approach, into which some thoughtful work was put. What always comes as a plus is a general awareness of the historical and contemporary environment you are in, i.e. being a bit aware of what has been done in what ways and having some opinions on that. If your music even reflects that to some degree, great. But "reflecting a historical environment" exactly doesn't mean just writing pieces in the style of Mozart. It can be influenced by Mozart, of course, but in the mind of a composer living in 2010, surrounded by music written in 2010. (Which doesn't mean anything specific musically - it's just something to keep in mind).

Send in what represents your musical ambitions right now, the musical questions you are currently working on, maybe your most "personal" works (i.e. pieces that show something -you- are doing in a specific way, and aren't just exponents of a "style"). And, of course, pieces you feel comfortable and/or proud of displaying. Don't think too much about showing them some technical prowess, as it might easily backfire.

(If things are quite different in the US, I take back everything I said. I can't argue for the whole world, obviously.)

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I dont think you need atonal stuff or fugues, but your portfolio needs to show growth and range. Like Christopher said, it needs to show that you are willing to expand. Dont write things just to impress them, they can pick up on that really fast.

You will learn the traditional forms like sonata and fugues in college, and you will learn how to write atonally, so I dont think it is necessary, but if you have them put them in.

Of course just ask them school what they are looking for, some school are specific as to what they want in a portfolio.

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(If things are quite different in the US, I take back everything I said. I can't argue for the whole world, obviously.)

Great response, and it holds true for the U.S. as well. Many schools ask for a large ensemble work, though.

Bring in what you feel is your best work, and be able to talk about it. If the pieces are for varied ensembles and use varied compositional techniques that's even better.

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