Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Karen Bottge


Students of composition develop two skills simultaneously: craft and creativity. Since students are more naturally inclined to focus on one of these skills over the other, finding the proper balance is an educational challenge. An effective pedagogical system for composition cultivates both of these necessary skills.

Imitation was a preferred pedagogical approach during the Classical period. In his 1848 book School of Practical Composition, Carl Czerny instructs his readers to apply the extensive rules of composition by strictly following a compositional model. Although this methodology lost favor during the nineteenth century, the imitative techniques presented by Czerny are flexible enough for learning to compose in musical styles beyond the Classical period. Through model-centered instruction, students learn to solve compositional problems by discovering how eminent composers overcame comparable difficulties. By engaging in the process of imitation, students create and test theories of composition based on their understanding of the model works they are studying. From developmental writing to establishing thematic unity, compositional modeling provides students with a practical method to engage with the most challenging aspects of composition.

This study addresses various approaches towards choosing an appropriate compositional model, including the artistic opportunities available when imitating programmatic music. Another feature of this study involves surveying multiple works that belong to the same compositional lineage and searching for a variety of possible extended family connections. Finally, this dissertation presents a tutorial on incorporating two model works into a composition with a more modern musical style. This demonstration displays compositional modeling’s ability to create a unique blend of disparate models and help the student find a distinctive compositional voice.

This dissertation reveals the pedagogical power of compositional modeling by demonstrating its ability to reunite craft and creativity and unlock those mysterious aspects of artistry resistant to being analyzed and distributed in a modern academic setting. Compositional modeling creates a timeless bond between the teacher and the student, and it is this kind of enduring apprenticeship that can pass on the mastery of technique and inspire the creativity needed to lead student composers to reach for the excellence of their models and beyond.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)