THE COMPOSITION DEPARTMENT
The BMus degree in composition at the YST Conservatory is designed as a launchpad for a future generation of composers. It balances a structured training programme with space for students to discover and explore their own musical passions. It is a programme that helps students find a unique voice and begin to speak through their music with confidence. Some may decide to become film music composers, focus on work with theatre and dance, write experimental electronic music or cutting edge contemporary orchestra works, or compose for their own ensemble that blends instruments from diverse cultural traditions. Whatever their direction, the composition programme at YST aims to challenge students intellectually while supporting them in the pursuit of their dreams.
BACHELOR OF MUSIC
A major in music composition at YST Conservatory includes weekly private instruction with a composition mentor along with modules covering different aspects of contemporary composition. We offer modules in composing for orchestra, symphonic band, choir, and Chinese instrumental ensembles as well as modules in computer music and the analysis and history of contemporary music. Students also receive support for the development of necessary aural and rhythmic skills for contemporary composers as well as professional training in public presentation, writing programme notes, rehearsing with ensembles, and professionally presenting their music in score and recorded formats. Composition majors participate in the weekly Composers' Forum where they share their work and receive feedback from peers and mentors as well as learn about contemporary music through guest artist presentations and analysis of important contemporary works.
Composition majors compose for a variety of instrumentations, from solo instruments to large ensemble pieces and even orchestra. Projects involving electronics and computers are also encouraged and supported through modules on computer music. In the senior year, composition majors complete a Final Year Project, including a minimum of 25 minutes of music, publicly presented and recorded. As part of the Final Year Project, students offer a public presentation on their works.
COMPOSITION MODULE AREAS +
An introduction to the characteristics and capabilities of instruments in the symphonic orchestra along with effective usage of them in ensembles.
Wind Ensemble Arranging/Composition
An introduction to fundamental components of arranging and composing for wind ensembles through listening, score study, and scoring projects.
Writing for Chinese Ensembles
An introduction to writing for Chinese instruments in small and large ensemble settings.
An overview of various composition approaches to choral music of different styles.
Advanced Music Notation and Engraving
A study of the principles of modern music notation while developing advanced skills using notation software.
Early 20th Century Music
An introduction to the compositional ideas developed in the early 20th century, particularly in relationship to pitch organisation.
A study of new composition approaches from the past 50 years, focusing on electronic, chamber, and orchestral music from America, Europe, and Asia.
Music and Machines
An examination of the use of machines to create music in the last 100 years.
Music and Computing
An introduction to basic programming for music composition, using the Sonic Pi and OpenMusic programming environments.
Synthesis and Signal Processing
An exploration of techniques of digital synthesis and signal processing within the Max programming environment.
Virtual Instrument Sound Design
An introduction to instrument sound design using different forms of synthesis and sound processing with computers.
Interdisciplinary Electronic Arts Survey
An introduction to artistic collaboration between artists who use electronic media within the disciplines of music, dance, visual arts, theatre, and film.
An introduction to concepts and techniques of algorithmic music composition in the OpenMusic programming environment.
An investigation of changing relationships between humans and their surrounding sonic environments, primarily since the advent of electronic and electroacoustic media technology.
A hands-on project-based introduction to electronic audio circuits for artistic purposes, incorporating hardware hacking, circuit bending, and circuit building.
There are numerous performance opportunities for composition majors, and many opportunities to work with professional musicians. You can learn more about these opportunities here.
YST Conservatory maintains top-notch facilities specifically for the artistic development of its student composers. These include computer hardware and software, microphones, recorders, speakers, and even a piano exclusively for works with extended techniques. You can learn more about these facilities here.
Alumni of the composition department have gone on to successful careers in different areas of music.
Dr Chen Zhangyi ('09) continued on to a DMA at the Peabody Conservatory and has returned to Singapore and is currently part of the Composition faculty at YST Conservatory.
Dr Emily Koh ('09) continued on to a Ph.D at Brandeis University and is currently an Assistant Professor of Composition at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, University of Georgia.
Dr Diana Soh ('07) continued on to a Ph.D at the University at Buffalo as well as IRCAM. She currently resides in Paris and is a highly sought after composer with numerous commissions and performances.
Kahchun Wong ('11) continued on with studies in conducting at the Hanns-Eisler Musikhochschule. Following that, he won the Mahler Competition in 2016 and is now internationally active as a conductor of major symphony orchestras.
After graduating, Danny Imson ('13) was immediately offered a teaching position at a private high school in China where he worked for 3 years. He is now back in Singapore teaching composition at the School of the Arts, Singapore.
Joshua Cerdenia ('14) continued on at the Juilliard School, receiving a Master of Music degree. He is now living in New York City and working as a composer.
Composition and Contemporary Music Ensembles
The conservatory's ensemble dedicated to contemporary music, particularly works from the last 50 years. The module leaders aim to engage students with a diverse range of new approaches to composition, programming landmark works along with composers from diﬀerent regions and aesthetics concerns. Each semester students learn solo, chamber, and large ensemble pieces. All instrumentalists in the Conservatory are scheduled into at least one semester of OpusNovus which is also available as an additional free elective for those who might wish for further exposure to contemporary music.
In this module, students propose projects and select mentors to lead them in those projects. In that regard, it is like an independent study. Collaboratory exists for projects involving collaborative composition and improvisation (like activities in Collaborative Music Making), realisations of experimental works involving graphic, indeterminate, or text-based scores, and new works with electronics and live instruments.