NDSU Composition


You’ve been directed here because of your interest in the NDSU composition curriculum. This page addresses some of the FAQs and lists other pertinent information in one place so I don’t forget to mention it.


Composition at NDSU consists of two courses:

MUSC 366 is a 1-credit introductory composition course which takes the format of individual half-hour lessons or group masterclasses, depending on semester and enrollment. Students normally take at least two semesters of MUSC 366.
MUS 366 requires MUSC 231 (Music Theory IV), except in certain circumstances.

MUSC 466 is a 1-credit individual lesson reserved for those students who have completed the 366 sequence.
MUSC 466 requires two semesters of MUSC 366 (Composition) without exception.


  • What equipment/resources do I need for Composition?
    • The composition sequence requires a scorewriting or notation program such as Sibelius, MuseScore, Finale, Dorico, Notion, NoteFlight, or something similar.
    • The composition sequence also works from Alan Belkin’s book Musical Composition: Craft and Art.
  • What sort of music will I get to write?
    • This course sequence focuses on writing for standard orchestral or band instruments, voice, and piano, in styles chosen by the students. Courses are more focused on art music composition than singer/songwriter/rock styles.
  • What if I’ve never used a notation program before?
    • If you feel comfortable learning new software while learning how to compose, then go for it. MUSC 366 does go through some exercises to help your familiarity with notation software, but starting with zero experience is not advised. Students that have completed the theory sequence generally have no issues.
  • What if I’ve never composed before? Is composition right for me?
    • As individual lessons, the NDSU composition sequence is designed for all skill levels: Students who have previous writing experience should find the information useful, and students who are new to composition will be walked through the creative process.
  • What if I’ve composed before? Can I skip directly to MUSC 466?
    • Great! No.

Course Permissions

Signing up for the composition courses requires an ePermit, available by filling out the form linked below.