Music Composition

Music Composition Faculty

Dr. Hiu-Wah Au
Associate Professor of Music Theory
Room 222, Broyhill Music Center
(828) 262-7786
Dr. Nicholas Cline
Dr. Nicholas Cline
Assistant Professor of Music Composition and Theory
Room 421 Broyhill Music
(828) 262-6443
Dr. Andrew Hannon
Assistant Professor of Music Composition and Theory
Theory Area Coordinator
Rm 318, Broyhill Music Center
(828) 262-6664

Mission Statement

The Master of Music in Performance degree in the Hayes School of Music is based on the pillars of performance, entrepreneurship, scholarship and pedagogy, relevance, and wellness. These fundamental pillars support musicians in developing versatility and leadership for successful and independent performance careers in the 21st century. Close mentorship between the student and the faculty is central to the program, which facilitates exceptional opportunities to excel in the art of music.


The Masters in Music Composition is a two-year sequence during which students develop their craft by composing for a variety of instruments and ensembles.  Masters students refine their compositional skill and personal voice through the creation of new works, collaboration with peers, and study of contemporary music. The composition program at Appalachian State embraces eclecticism and a diversity of stylistic influences and interests. 

Masters students have individual weekly lessons and participate in the Composition Forum. Presentations of original work by students, faculty, and guest artists are an important part of the forum experience.  Forums also include group improvisation, professional development activities, and lecture/discussions.  Masters students are expected to begin their professional career through entering competitions, attending conferences and summer programs, developing a website, and collaborating with ensembles. 

Program Highlights

  • Investigate current compositional techniques, performance practices, and repertoire

  • Explore digital audio techniques and computer music in the Electronic Music Studio with access to recording studios and the multichannel Dolby Atmos Control Room

  • Composition students have the opportunity to present their music through composer forum concerts as well as performances by Hayes School of Music ensembles and visiting artists. Recent guests include ~Nois saxophone quartet, trombonist William Lang (loadbang), and Allison Loggins-Hull.

  • Small class sizes in a supportive student and faculty community

  • Location in the Blue Ridge Mountains with a vibrant regional culture

Assistantships and teaching opportunities may be available. See below for further details.

Contact Dr. Nicholas Cline at for more information or to schedule an interview.

Admissions Information

Information for entrance into the graduate program in Fall 2024.

General Admission Requirements for graduate music programs in the Hayes School of Music.

Graduate Audition/Interview Requirements and instructions for applying the composition program.

All application materials must be submitted by February 1, 2024 in order to receive priority consideration for assistantships. Please see information below regarding the Tui St. George Tucker Award in Composition, a full assistantship with generous stipend.

An undergraduate degree in theory/composition is not required. Many of our incoming graduate students have either earned a BA or BM in theory/composition or studied composition at the undergraduate level for several semesters.

Degree Course Requirements

Course Requirements for the Master of Music in Performance Semester Hours Required (minimum): 32 to 35 - varies by concentration - see below. 

Course Requirements for students who entered the program before Fall 2022 can be found here.

Required Courses
  • AMU 6xxx: Applied Music (2+2+2+2 = 8)
  • MUS 5018: Applied Area Literature – topics depend on concentration (2)
  • MUS 5120: Music Research for Performers (2)
  • MUS 5130: Seminar in Music History, Culture, and Analysis (4)
  • MUS 5140: Performers Symposium (1+1+1+1 = 4)
  • MUS 5150: Artist Portfolio (1)
  • MUS 5960: Community Engaged Performance (1)
  • MUS 5998: Master of Music in Performance Recital (1)

Music Composition Concentration (Code: 558Z) 
Semester hours required for the degree (minimum): 32

  • MUS 5100: Performance Ensemble (1+1=2) 
  • MUS 5602: Music Theory Pedagogy (3)
  • MUS 5999: Thesis (2) plus  2 hours of electives chosen in consultation with an advisor, OR
  • 4 s.h. of music electives chosen in consultation with an advisor

Assistantships and Scholarships

View general Assistantship and Scholarship information

For Fall 2024, we have a full assistantship available through the Tui St. George Tucker Award in Composition. We seek creative student composers to join our vibrant community. This award includes full tuition funding (in-state or out-of-state) and a generous 9 month stipend for two years of study as well as opportunities for additional funding to support research and creative work.

These assistantships carry duties to support development and digitization of the Tui St. George Tucker Digital Collection. In addition to skill as a composer, we are seeking applicants with experience in and/or desire to learn about the process of archiving and digitizing musical scores, proficiency in a professional music notation software, and knowledge or interest in professional music preparation practices and digital collection management.

Tui St. George Tucker (1924-2004) was a virtuoso recorder player and a composer based in New York City and Blowing Rock, NC where she and her partner, Vera Lachmann, spent their summers. Her musical circle included John Cage, Fluxus artist Jackson Mac Low, German-born pianist Grete Sultan, who was a mentor to Cage, Johnny Reinhardt, Martha Bixler, as well as many others. Her musical style is eclectic, embracing tonality, microtonality, and dissonant counterpoint with influences from early music, jazz, and folk idioms. Her body of work includes music for recorders, piano, organ, solo voice, chorus, and chamber ensembles.

Tui St. George Tucker