Theory I Composition Assignment


The assignment is to write a short piece in the style of a Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven sonata for solo instrument and piano. The more your piece sounds like Mozart, Haydn, or Beethoven the better (without actually stealing their ideas!). Therefore, please refer to the examples in the book or those handed out in class as you craft your piece. You should use the following checklist as you complete your work:

  • Your piece will consist of at least two, eight measure periods in binary or rounded binary form.
  • Use only instructor-approved harmonic progressions. You may use sample progressions found in the textbook or construct your own. Chords are limited to primary chords only.
    • You may use inversions to provide shape and direction in your bass line, but do so carefully!
  • Make sure your progression includes appropriate cadences.
  • Write an suitable keyboard accompaniment.
    • Observe examples found in your anthology for possible accompaniment patterns.
    • Check with me for approval!
  • Write a melody to fit your chord progression.
    • Use non-chord tones only in the ways we have learned in class!
    • Make sure the rhythmic basis of your melody is logical and that rhythmic cadences coordinate with harmonic ones.
    • Be attentive to providing your melodic line with a nice contour/shape. Common shapes include the arch, the inverted arch, ascending, and descending.
    • Don't write anything that you couldn't sing! Use your ears when you write, not your eyes!
  • Notate your composition using Notepad or other notation software. Notepad can be downloaded for free at:
  • Provide an analysis of your piece. Include all of the unsual:
    • key
    • cadences
    • roman numerals
      • types of 6/4 chord
    • non-chord tones
    • phrases/periods
    • formal design (binary/rounded binary)
  • Composition is due on Wednesday, 12/4, none will be accepted after this date. Don't procrastinate. Entry into the Sweet 16 Composition Competition is limited to the first 16 compositions received no later than 12/2.

Grading will be based on the following:

  • 10 points - pre-approval of chord progression.
  • 10 points - notated with computer software
  • 30points - correct use of classical style features.
  • 20 ponts - overall effect! (creativity?)
  • 30 points - analysis.


Study the following sample for the correct setup for your instruments (your pieces will only use 1 solo instrument, not 2 as shown here), style of analysis, and basic style and complexity of writing. This example is actually representative of 2nd semester materials so ignore the clarinet part and any chords we haven't yet studied. If you want to experiment with more advanced harmonies, go ahead - just make sure you get my approval before completing your piece.