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Theory & Composition

Training musicians through outstanding instruction and mentorship.

The FSU College of Music features one of the largest and most distinguished theory and composition faculties in the United States.

We offer outstanding instruction and mentorship for music theory students and composition students at doctoral, masters, and undergraduate levels. Our program is one of the most successful in the country in terms of professional placement of doctoral graduates. Our masters and undergraduate alumni also find great success in further studies and professional directions.

Strong Support

Our students encounter new ideas, gain professional experience, and benefit from supportive, collaborative interaction with faculty and each other. Graduate teaching assistants meet regularly with faculty supervisors and gain valuable pedagogical experience from instructional opportunities and guidance from faculty, who observe their teaching and provide syllabi and other content.

Our music library offers one of the largest collections of musical scores and books in the southeast, including the Allen Forte Treatise Collection (67 original volumes dating from 1715 to 1894) and electronic access to many online resources. Our two electroacoustic studios—a smaller space focused on individual student exploration and a larger space for more sizable recording applications—house all necessary equipment to facilitate student learning, experimentation, and creativity.

Funding is available from several sources so students can travel to conferences and festivals, which we strongly encourage.

Professional Opportunities

Faculty members actively mentor students toward successfully participating in conferences and festivals and in other areas such as job applications and interviews. We welcome many guest composers and guest music theorists every year, who work directly with our students during their visits. Our biennial Festival of New Music introduces students to a special guest composer as well as over twenty other composers selected for the Festival through a highly competitive process.

Both the FSU Music Theory Society and the FSU Society of Composers meet on a near-weekly basis and are student-run, with assistance and oversight from faculty. Theory students elect two student co-chairs to organize all aspects of the annual FSU Music Theory Forum (a one-day peer-reviewed conference held every spring). The Society of Composers organizes multiple concerts for student compositions each semester.

Several of our masters and doctoral students have continued with studio lessons and performance opportunities, including in the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra and in over forty high-level ensembles on campus. Our area sponsors two ensembles, Polymorphia (our shape-shifting new music ensemble) and EChO (our Electric Chamber Orchestra).

The FSU Community

Florida State University offers the unique combination of a large comprehensive music program with caring personal support from faculty. Our faculty are full-time residential teachers who are extremely active and well-recognized in their profession and who also have extensive experience in instruction and student advising. Our students thrive in a supportive, tight-knit community of peers during their studies and join a sizable network of active and well-placed alumni upon graduation.

For more information about the Theory & Composition program, contact Evan Jones.

Theory & Composition Faculty

Evan A. Jones

  • Professor of Music Theory
  • Coordinator of Theory and Composition

Michael Buchler

  • Professor of Music Theory

Clifton Callender

  • Professor of Composition

Jane Clendinning

  • Professor of Music Theory

Julianne Grasso

  • Assistant Professor of Music Theory

Eren Gümrükçüoğlu

  • Assistant Professor of Composition

Rachel Lumsden

  • Associate Professor of Music Theory

William Peterson

  • Professor of Jazz Piano and Music Theory

Gilad Rabinovitch

  • Assistant Professor of Music Theory

Nancy Rogers

  • Professor of Music Theory

Liliya Ugay

  • Assistant Professor of Composition

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

  • Marie Krafft Distinguished Professor of Composition
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Undergraduate Programs

Bachelor of Music in Composition
  • Individual lessons with highly qualified instructors, including with faculty members for all juniors and seniors and for select freshmen and sophomores.
  • Gain a broad exposure to a wide range of musical repertoire and knowledge through required and elective coursework taught by distinguished faculty members.
  • Participate in regular meetings of the FSU Society of Composers, featuring presentations by faculty, students, and other guests.
  • Cultivate connections with hundreds of student performers.
  • Hear your music performed on Society of Composers recital programs and other concerts.
  • Compose a piece as your undergraduate thesis under the guidance of your major professor.

Program of Study

Bachelor of Music in Music Theory
  • Gain a broad exposure to high-level concepts in music theory and analysis through a rich variety of required and elective coursework taught by distinguished faculty members.
  • Participate in regular meetings of the FSU Music Theory Society, featuring presentations by faculty, guest scholars, and fellow students.
  • Attend regional and national conferences with support for travel costs (transportation provided at no cost to some conferences).
  • Author a thesis guided by a faculty advisor of your choice.

Program of Study

Graduate Programs

Master of Music in Composition
  • Individual lessons with renowned faculty members.
  • Masterclasses with guest composers.
  • Gain a broad exposure to a wide range of musical repertoire and knowledge through required and elective coursework.
  • Participate in regular meetings of the FSU Society of Composers, featuring presentations by faculty, students, and other guests.
  • Cultivate connections with hundreds of student performers.
  • Hear your music performed on Society of Composers recital programs and other concerts.
  • Compose a piece as your masters thesis under the guidance of your major professor.

Program of Study

Master of Music in Music Theory
  • Gain a broad exposure to a wide range of theoretical knowledge and musical repertoire through required and elective coursework and “independent study” projects with renowned faculty.
  • Students choose between two tracks, thesis and non-thesis; in both cases, students select their own major professor. Students pursuing the non-thesis track are nonetheless afforded opportunities to author scholarly projects in and outside of coursework.
  • Participate in regular meetings of the FSU Music Theory Society, featuring presentations by faculty, guest scholars, and fellow students.
  • Attend regional and national conferences with support for travel costs (transportation provided at no cost to some conferences).

Program of Study – Non-Thesis Track

Program of Study – Thesis Track

Doctor of Music in Composition
  • Individual lessons with renowned faculty members.
  • Masterclasses with guest composers.
  • Gain a broad exposure to a wide range of musical repertoire and knowledge through required and elective coursework.
  • Participate in regular meetings of the FSU Society of Composers, featuring presentations by faculty, students, and other guests.
  • Cultivate connections with hundreds of student performers.
  • Hear your music performed on Society of Composers recital programs and other concerts.
  • Compose a piece as your doctoral dissertation under the guidance of your major professor.

Program of Study

Doctor of Philosophy in Music Theory
  • Gain a broad exposure to a wide range of theoretical knowledge and musical repertoire through required and elective coursework and “independent study” projects with renowned faculty.
  • Author scholarly projects in and outside of your courses; present your research for your fellow students and pursue opportunities to do so at professional conferences.
  • Participate in regular meetings of the FSU Music Theory Society, featuring presentations by faculty, guest scholars, and fellow students.
  • Attend regional and national conferences with support for travel costs (transportation provided at no cost to some conferences).
  • Select a dissertation topic and an advisor of your choice, or two co-advisors. Faculty members can advise on a great range of subject areas and are strongly supportive of students’ individual interests.
  • Our Ph.D. graduates have an extremely enviable placement record going back for many years.

Program of Study

Specialized Studies Programs

Specialized Studies - Music Theory Pedagogy
  • Recommended for students pursuing doctoral degrees in music outside of Theory/Composition.
  • Gain exposure to theoretical and pedagogical knowledge through required and elective coursework with renowned faculty.
  • Prepare to instruct class meetings of several different theory and aural skills courses at FSU under faculty supervision.
  • Successfully complete (freely repeatable) exams in musical skills necessary for classroom teaching.

Program of Study