At the Piano
Davide Verotta Composer

Composition Workshop (2017)

This group class introduces and develops compositional skill and help aspiring composers to find their creative voices. The class has a strong emphasis on composing music: students will be assigned compositional exercises, describe and discuss their work with the class, and work on a final project of up to two/four minutes length. The teaching component of the class includes the description of the basic elements and tools of musical composition (rhythm, melody, counterpoint, harmony), an introduction to musical structures and forms, elements of musical analysis, as well as guided listening and discussion of examples from the music repertoire of our time and of the past.

This Web page will be updated weekly, for previous workshops click here



Class Material

Assignment Due

Workshop I - Syllabus


Overview of the class. Compositional Process. Components of Composition. Musical Shape and Form.

Phil Glass, listen to Koyaanisqatsi (youtube)

Fryderyk Chopin, listen to Mazurka Opus 6 No. 1 in F# minor. Download score



2 Melody – Types of melody. Phrases and Periods. Hand out (Phrases, Periods, Chopin's Mazurka Graphic Analysis) Write a short melody (2-6 measures in 4/4) using only quarter or half notes). Analyze Fryderyk Chopin Mazurka Opus 6 No. 1 in F# minor: only identify the melody, sections that repeat, try to identify a structure for the piece. Optional: bring to class one of your compositions.
3 Melody - The Tonic Pitch - Scales - The Variation Principle Hand out (Building a Melody and its Variations). Early use of Variations William Byrd Sellingers Round, download score here. Write one phrase (melody) and at least one period of the contrasing or continuous elaboration type.
4 Melody - Harmony Graphic analysis of Chopin Mazurka Op.6 No.1 and harmonic analysis of Schubert's Das Varden from Die schöne Müllerin. Dowload score and listen here. Write a small set of variations of a melody you composed.
5 Melody - Harmony Schubert's Wohin from Die schöne Müllerin. Dowload score and listen here. Write a different acconpaniement to Das Varden. Write a different melody to Das Varden. Harmonize one of the melodies you composed.
6 Melody - Harmony Analysis of Shubert's Wohin, download the analysis here. Analyze Wohin. Harmonize one of the melodies you composed.
7 Melody - Harmony Luciano Berio: Folk Songs V. A la femminisca (rolling score). Download score and reductions here. Write melodic and harmonic variations of the piece you composed.
8 Variations Mozart first movement of Sonata KV331 Start to work on Final Project
9 Phrases and Periods: Harmony variation, cadences. Donwload literature examples here Continue work on Final Project

Besides Pencil & Paper and a good eraser, below is a list of useful software, and some Web-sites. If you need music paper click here to download.

Notation Software
Finale or Finale Print Music: (recommened, Finale Print Music is enough for this class)
Sibelius: (not recommended unless you have it already)
Musescore: (not as good as Finale or Sibelius but it is free)

Music Editing
Garage Band: For windows:

Logic Pro:

Final Cut: or similar video program that provides control on the audio tracks.

Musical Scores
International Music Score Library Project:




at the piano