SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts


Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 2, Year 3 or Year 4
Taught in:
Term 1
This specialist course is not suitable for beginners and students who wish to take it will be expected to demonstrate expertise and experience in the skills that are required by submitting a portfolio containing either a larger work or two or more smaller works (preferably in contrasting styles), either in the form of musical notations and/or CD/minidisc/DVD/video recordings.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate a practical knowledge of compositional techniques connected with several genres of music that can be defined in some way as 1. Asian or African 2. linked to one of the Asian or African diasporas, or resulting from 3. a fusion of different Asian and African musics with each other, or 4. a fusion of Asian or African musics with elements derived from Jazz or Western Popular or Classical idioms. This will be demonstrated through the composition of pieces which may be acoustic, electronic, and/or a combination of both and may incorporate visual elements, dance or theatre. Students should be able to demonstrate their mastery of technique, creativity and originality, describe and justify their compositional intentions and present their materials clearly and accurately.


  • One hour per week

Scope and syllabus

During the Autumn Term, the course will be structured around five “mini-exercises”, each one focusing on a different specific musical parameter (improvisation, melody and modality, recitative rhythm and metre, harmony (in its broadest sense), timbre and texture. These will help develop the basic skills needed to approach the three set coursework elements.

The three formal coursework assignments consist of a set exercise plus commentary, a short free composition plus commentary, and a more substantial free composition plus commentary. In these exercises, students will be encouraged to engage creatively with traditions which have been hitherto unfamiliar to them.

During the Autumn Term, students will be expected to share their “mini-exercises” with each other within the class as a whole. In the Spring Term, the focus shifts to a more one-to-one, or small group tuition to guide students with their individual projects. There may also be opportunities to invite recognised composers who have used intercultural materials in their music to speak to the class.

Method of assessment

  • One 2-3 minutes composition and a 500 words commentary (worth 30%)
  • One 8-10 minutes composition, a 1 000 words commentary and a performance in May/June (worth 70%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules