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Norges musikkhøgskole Norwegian Academy of Music Search

Jazz Com­pos­i­tion

  • Year of study: Two semesters, fall and spring.
  • Final assessment: Portfolio assessment.
  • Prerequisites: 120 ECTS obtained from music subjects and accepted submitted material.
  • Language of instruction: Norwegian/English.

Course description

The course deals with composition, arrangement, instrumentation and rehearsals for performance when composing for large jazz ensembles.

The course is a part of the continuing study in jazz composition and can be chosen as an elective by students in other Academy programmes as well.

Applicants must provide documentation of solid knowledge of jazz harmonics and experience and skill in jazz composition.

There is a limited amount of places. Students must apply for admission. Submitted with the application, 2-3 samples of the applicant’s work, both scores and audio material (mp3 format). Maximum duration: 20 minutes. Please upload the material in the application form for elective courses.

Responsible department: Jazz, Improvised Music and Traditional Nordic Folk Music Department.

Course coordinator: Helge Sunde.

Learning objectives

On completion of the course, students are expected to

  • be able to use their technical composition skills and creative work methods to create an artistic expression
  • have knowledge of compositional techniques, and relevant arranging and instrumentation techniques for large jazz ensembles
  • show basic skill when leading a rehearsal of their own work
  • show a reflective attitude to their role as composers


  • Composition techniques.
  • Arranging.
  • Instrumentation.
  • Discussions on composition.
  • Basic ensemble leading.
  • Rehearsal techniques.


Coursework will include classes led by a teacher, as well as individual studies. Tuition will be a combination of individual supervision and 4 group gatherings over 2 to 3 days over the course of 2 semesters. Web-based supervision is possible.

Each group gathering will focus on a certain type of ensemble. Students will compose pieces or sketches in advance and test them out in class. Afterwards, there will be an evaluation in plenary as a masterclass. Students will also present their projects in gatherings and teachers will hold lectures. Gatherings will also include guest lecturers like Olivier Benoit, Steffen Schorn, Erlend Skomsvoll, Eyolf Dale, Eivind Buene, Eirik Hegdal.

Students will work with ensembles like the Academy Big Band, string quartets and The Norwegian Wind Ensemble.

For an overview of recommended amounts of instruction and organisation, please see Organisation under the description of the individual study programme.

Students have registered automatically for instruction/supervision and assessment in the course in accordance with the study progress requirements set out in the individual education plan.

Course requirements

1. Mandatory attendance

Attendance and active participation in class are mandatory. Students are expected to be present during rehearsals/recordings of their music and during the following evaluation.

2. Presentation of student compositions

Students must present their compositions in two group gatherings. A group discussion of the presentation will follow.

Final assessment

All course requirements must be approved prior to obtaining a final assessment.

Assessment is based on learning objectives. The final assessment is given as a pass/fail mark, which is based on the student’s portfolio. The portfolio will be assessed by two internal examiners.

Exam portfolio

Students will assemble an exam portfolio consisting of:

1. Reflection essay:

  • Students will write a personal reflection essay (minimum 1500 words) on their role as composers in relation to the experience and knowledge acquired through the course.

2. Three musical pieces:

  • The exam portfolio should include 3 works. One may be an arrangement, while the others must be original works. Documentation of the pieces must be both scores and audio recordings.

Deadline: Two copies of the exam portfolio must be submitted to the exams office by 15 June in the second course semester.

New assessment

In the case of re-assessment, the same procedures apply.

Study component

Published: Apr 3, 2020 — Last updated: Feb 3, 2021