Students majoring in theory/composition at Lawrence reap the benefits of a comprehensive course of study that blends these two interrelated disciplines. Intensive coursework in tonal harmony, twentieth-century techniques, counterpoint, form and analysis complements private lessons in composition, small seminars in orchestration and frequent studio recital on which students present their original musical works. 

Building on the foundation established by the core curriculum, the department offers a rich variety of upper-level courses in music theory and analysis. In addition to providing thorough instruction in 16th- and 18th-century counterpoint, these courses introduce students to more advanced topics of theoretical inquiry, such as Schenkerian analysis, tonality after the common practice, pitch-class set theory, and performance and analysis, while also engaging analytically with specific repertoires, such as minimalism, film music, and the music of eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Students at the Lawrence Conservatory acquire a strong foundation in music theory and analysis through the five-term music theory core sequence. By taking courses concurrently in written music theory, aural skills and sight-singing, students gain a deep and comprehensive understanding of tonal harmony, counterpoint, harmonic and formal analysis, and twentieth-century techniques.

Through private and class instruction in composition and music theory, the department also serves the needs and interests of non-music majors, offering courses in music fundamentals, fundamentals of composition and electronic music.

In addition to the regular degree program in theory/composition, the department offers a jazz-emphasis track for students interested in jazz composition. Please visit Jazz & Improvisational Music for more information on our jazz program. Other possible courses of study include student-designed majors; in recent years, Lawrence students have designed majors in musical theatre, film scoring and music theory/history.

Composition Studio

Learn more about the Composition Studio and composition studies at Lawrence.

Music Theory Course Pages

Current Lawrence students can visit the Music Theory Course Pages (on campus access only) for important materials such as lecture notes, assignments and musical examples for core curriculum courses.


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