Types of Comps Projects

Comps projects may arise from course work, recitals, and/or independent study. The project may be:

  1. A thesis-driven research paper of substantial length on a theoretical, historical, ethnomusicological, critical, or performance-related subject.
  2. A lecture/performance consisting of a performance of and lecture on a significant work or works, accompanied by a paper of moderate length.
  3. An original composition accompanied by a related paper of moderate length.

Comps projects require careful planning — not all students will be able to undertake a comps project in the area of their special interest. The student's choice of courses during his or her first, sophomore, and junior years will have an impact on what comps projects may be open to him or her. Good communication between student and faculty members, especially those faculty members who may serve as comps adviser(s), is essential.

As can be seen, all comps tracks involve written work to a significant degree. In each paper an examination of some secondary sources is expected, although the number of secondary sources will vary depending on the nature of the project. In all projects, what is expected is a well-written paper as well as (where appropriate) a carefully prepared performance or composition.

The Department offers many classes and performance opportunities which will prepare the student for his or her comps project. The following list illustrates likely courses of study beyond the music major required curriculum for various comps projects:

  • A paper on a Musicological subject
    Relevant area courses such as Introduction to Opera (120), Symphonies from Mozart to Mahler (122), History of Jazz (130); History of Rock (136); relevant applied study; Independent Study (291/391)
  • A paper on a Theoretical or Analytical subject
    In addition to the required courses in theory and Music Since 1900 (303), the courses in particular areas of musical literature may be helpful: for example, The Blues from the Delta to Chicago (131), Introduction to Opera (120), and The Piano: Uses and Abuses (125)). Likewise, courses in Ethnomusicology (e.g., 245), and in subjects such as Introduction to the Perception and Cognition of Music (227) may also be useful; relevant applied study; Independent Study (291/391)
  • A paper on an Ethnomusicological subject
    Additional area courses in Ethnomusicology and Musicology; courses in Anthropology, Sociology or Area Studies (such as African/American Studies, Latin American Studies, Asian Studies, etc.); relevant applied study and/or ensembles (such as African Karimba, African Mbira, West African Drum, Chinese Instruments, American Folk Instruments); Independent Study (291/391)
  • A Composition project and paper
    Composition (285/286)
  • A Solo Lecture/Performance project and paper
    Intensive study on one's instrument or voice (that is, a year or more of 2-credit lessons); relevant area courses such as The Piano: Uses and Abuses (125); Independent Study (291/391)
  • A Conducting Lecture/Performance project and paper
    Conducting (128); relevant area courses such as Symphonies from Mozart to Mahler (122); Independent Study (291/391)