Teaching Musical Composition in the 21st Century

Martin Iddon, Scott McLaughlin and Mic Spencer, School of Music

In the past ten years, the world of composition has changed radically: young composers are increasingly concerned with gender, ‘race’, and ability, questioning the centrality of craft or value, seeing no reason to avoid the ‘popular’, asking what connection they can have with a wider social sphere.

They are less concerned with ideas of ‘high art’, or autonomy, or with being labelled ‘composers’ at all.

In this context, the project’s underpinning aim is to refresh of the taught curriculum in music composition at Leeds completely, revitalising modules at Levels 1, 2, and 5.

By extension this impacts upon one-to-one teaching at Level 3 and at PGR level. It ties composition teaching directly to the wider world of performance and to performance within the curriculum.

It achieves this through the development of a suite of podcast resources, workshop sessions with leading professional performers, a series of seminars and conferences focussing both on the teaching of composition and artistic practice more generally, and the publication of a textbook and of pedagogical research and reflection.

It commits to diversity through the integration of marginalised voices: female, black, gay composers are represented, and the importance of their subject positions to the music they compose(d) highlighted; other work is viewed through the critical lenses of, inter alia, whiteness, masculinity, and/or queerness.

It connects young composers with professional performers, and provides them with recordings of their music performed by leading instrumentalists, vital to securing their first commissions.

For more information contact: M.Iddon@leeds.ac.uk