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DMA in Composition

Photo by Steve DiBartolomeo

The Music Department at UCSC is internationally recognized as one of the premier centers in the United States for composition, performance, research, and scholarship. The department offers graduate programs in composition (M.A., D.M.A.), in ethnomusicology and cross-cultural musicology (M.A., Ph.D.), and in performance practice, including conducting (M.A.). 

Graduate students in the composition program pursue various and intersecting areas of emphasis such as algorithmic/computer-assisted composition, world music composition, collaborative composition in music, and other contemporary practices. Faculty and students interpret such areas in flexible, overlapping and interconnected ways that incorporate an extraordinarily wide variety of approaches and aesthetics.

The UCSC composition program is perhaps best known for our innovative faculty and for our provocative annual festivals and conferences. Our annual April in Santa Cruz Festival of New Music and our internationally acclaimed Pacific Rim Festival of New Music bring to campus a wide variety of distinctive musical voices and provide highly visible venues for the performance of graduate student compositions. Other recent notable events include Festivals of Global African Music, a Festival of Music for Gayageum and Western Instruments, our long-standing Workshop in Algorithmic Computer Music (WACM) and a Symposium on New Directions in Opera that featured the premiere performance of an opera by Lou Harrison.

Program Learning Outcomes for the DMA program:

DMA graduates will demonstrate:

1) mastery of the creation and performance of compositions
2) mastery of techniques of musical composition
3) mastery of critical and analytic thinking about musical language
4) mastery of critical thinking about music’s cultural context
5) mastery of oral and written communication skills about music
6) independent research skills


Course requirements - DMA