Composition and Sonic Arts

When you study Composition or Sonic Arts at NZSM, you have the choice of three specialisations to focus your Composition studies, each providing you with the opportunity to develop your unique composition interests and talents, and tailored to suit the individual requirements of your chosen specialisation:

  • Instrumental/Vocal : The creation of original music through the medium of a notated score. 
  • Sonic Arts: The creation of original music and sound art using electronic and digital technology.
  • Mixed: For exceptional students, this option is effectively a double specialisation – the creation of music through both Instrumental/Vocal composition and Sonic Arts.

Why study Composition at NZSM?

Students studying Composition at the NZSM join a programme unique in New Zealand.

Composition majors are encouraged to develop their individual creative voices. They are given opportunities to work in a range of areas. You will graduate with considerable technical command of compositional technique as well as broad historical, theoretical, and analytical knowledge of your discipline.

A BMus majoring in Composition with a specialisation in Instrumental/Vocal gives students a thorough grounding in all aspects of composition. The programme aims to give students the creative and critical tools required for a successful career as a composer. You will be encouraged to compose substantial works for a variety of musical media. Musical imagination and creativity are key concepts.

A BMus majoring in Composition with a specialisation in Sonic Arts gives students a thorough grounding in all major aspects of Sonic Arts. The programme is designed to give students the creative, technological, and critical skills necessary for a career in sound-based work, whether artistic or commercial. You will be facilitated in developing a wide range of skills as you create a diverse portfolio of sound-based work. Imagination and creativity are core to the pathway

See the performance opportunities available to NZSM students.

Take a look at photos from the NZSM Composition programme on our Flickr pages.

Opportunities within the Composition programme

With the largest composition faculty in New Zealand, we offer unparalleled opportunities for composers:

  • Weekly composer workshops for national and international guests, staff seminars, and student performances.
  • Close working relationships between composition and performance students.
  • Annual New Zealand String Quartet Workshop (open to all students).
  • Annual NZSM Composers Competition, sponsored by the Lilburn Trust.
  • Public performance and exhibition opportunities.
  • Collaborations with other creative arts disciplines in Wellington.
Opportunities for postgraduate composition students:
  • Two commission prizes from the NZSM Orchestra and other ensembles (Farquharawarded by the composition staff to outstanding graduate students).
  • Graduate students can discuss their work with the NZSM/CNZ Composer-in-Residence.
  • Graduate students can have works workshopped by the NZSM Orchestra .
Our staff

Our staff are some of New Zealand's best-known composers and sound-based artists, whose collective expertise covers all significant aspects of composition and sonic art:

BMus in Composition

Find out more about a Bachelor of Music in Composition.

Postgraduate degrees in Composition

Please see the Postgraduate Degrees page.