Composition

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The SF State Composition Studio envisions a world of art without boundaries or borders. We recognize that music—whether intended for a game, the screen, or the concert hall—has the same basis in invention and creativity.

Composition class in the studio

A successful composer must not only develop skills in theory and musicianship but must cultivate a fertile creative soil through a broad liberal arts education. Our rigorous music curriculum paired with the university’s general education program and rich cross-disciplinary, collaborative opportunities makes the composition program at SF State a uniquely powerful educational resource.

Prepare for your future with a curriculum that is geared toward the state of the art and explore new and exciting career opportunities available to the 21st century musician. You will get an opportunity to build your portfolio and demo reels with expert mentors, world-class performers and the latest in recording technology. The School also offer chances to collaborate across campus with student filmmakers, game designers, performers, engineers, poets, dancers, and animators.

Students pursuing a B.A. or a B.Mus degree can focus on the following areas of study:

Videos

Composition Scoring for Games and Films 1

Concert Music and Experimentation

Our faculty are among the leading voices in contemporary concert and experimental electronic music and are regularly commissioned and performed by top new music ensembles. The School of Music hosts some of these leading ensembles for residencies every year. Past artists include JACK Quartet, Splinter Reeds, Loadbang, Mivos Quartet, and many others. This program provides Composition students with the unique opportunity of writing for and collaborating with these world class musicians. 

The School of Music also has a partnership with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (SFCMP). Each year our students have a chance to write for members of this top-notch local ensemble and one student is selected, on a competitive basis, for a year-long paid production associate position with SFCMP.

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Game Scoring

We are proud to be one of the first universities in the nation to offer a Bachelor's degree with a focus in Scoring for Games. Positioned in the Bay Area, the heart of the video game industry, our program is designed to prepare you to take the next step into this growing industry. Our students learn what it takes to be a member of a game design team as they work on co-lab projects with game design students in the computer science department at SF State and the Games and Playable Media department at UC Santa Cruz.

Our award-winning faculty have years of experience working in the game industry and developing pioneering educational resources.  Throughout the program our composers have the opportunity to not only develop their music but also learn cutting edge industry-standard software such as Logic Pro, Unity, Pro Tools, FMOD, Wwise and Abelton.  Students who are enrolled in our Bachelor of Music program also receive additional benefits such as private lessons, portfolio reviews, internship opportunities, and studio access.  

SF State News - Game on: School of Music maestros create soundtracks for interactive media

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Film Scoring

Our Bachelor's degree with a focus in Scoring for Film is the only program of its kind in Northern California. It resides next door to the SF State School of Cinema which has been rated among the "Top 25 Film Schools" by The Hollywood Reporter every year since 2014. Our student composers enjoy the guidance of industry veterans who use their years of experirence to teach the collaborative art of film scoring.

In class we concentrate on the art of scoring to picture. Students learn how to work with digital audio workstations and sample based programs like Pro-Tools and Logic as well as integrating live musicians and ensembles. Our students work with ensembles large and small—from string quartets to large orchestras. They also work closely and collaborate with the SF State School of Cinema undergraduate and graduate student directors on everything from experimental to narrative films to give our composers real world experience.

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Composition class led by Prof. Horowitz
The Alexander String Quartet workshops pieces by game scoring students, under the direction of Steve Horowitz

The Studio

Our composition, game, and film scoring students have access to state of the art equipment and a contemporary studio space. The newly renovated Electronic Music Studio (aka Egret Studio) features Focal Twin6 monitors, Dynaudio 8.1 surround, the latest from Abelton, Logic, Max and Unity, a Moog Sub 37, a collection of Euro-rack modules and a vintage Serge synth as well as an 80 inch HD TV. All of this is housed in an acoustically treated space complete with red couch and shag carpet!

Electronic Music Studio panoramic view

Your Mentors

Steve HorowitzSteven Horowitz is best known for his original score to the Academy Award nominated film Super Size Me. Active in the Bay Area as a composer, bass player and teacher. Steve is also a Grammy winning engineer and the Webby and Kid Screen Award winning audio director for Nickelodeon Digital where he has worked on hundreds of popular games. The artist behind twenty-six albums of original music, Horowitz has received performance underwriting and commissions from various groups such as Meet the Composer, the Lab SF, The Kitchen NYC, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Music at the Anthology (MATA, executive producer Phillip Glass), The Astoria Symphony, Flux String Quartet, and the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. Steve received his BFA from the California Institute of the Arts where he studied with Morton Subotnick, Mel Powell, and Michael Jon Fink.

 

Benjamin SabeyBenjamin Sabey’s experimental electronic, chamber and orchestral music has been described by Gramophone as revealing, “a brilliant technique and a keen ear for sound, timbre and arc.” Recent awards include two Barlow Commissions for the Mivos Quartet and the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart as well as the Royaumont Prize of Domaine Forget in Paris. He has recently been a featured composer at the Ultraschall festival in Berlin and the SoundOn and NWEAMO festivals in San Diego. Sabey holds a Ph.D. from the UC San Diego where he studied primarily with Roger Reynolds.