Programs of study for composition majors are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills required for the fullest development of their individual creative gifts. Specialized courses for composers include counterpoint, instrumentation/orchestration, form and analysis, notation, score reading, operatic composition, and electronic music. In addition to studying with MSM’s expert faculty, composition students are given opportunities for response to present their work in master classes by world-renowned guest composers and performers.

The composition department supports live performance of student pieces. The department organizes composer concerts ten times each year, and students work with performance majors to prepare solo and chamber works. Every composition student writes an orchestral thesis piece at the end of the program of study, and all these pieces are rehearsed and performed in concert by MSM’s orchestras.

In addition to on-campus concerts of modern work and collaboration with students specializing in contemporary performance, composition majors can take advantage of the School’s location in one of the great capitals of new music. Study in New York City offers unparalleled opportunities for composers to experience live performance, from modern repertoire classics to the latest works from the cutting edge.

Facilities for Electronic Music Composition

Specific courses and degree sequence plans can be found in the Course Catalog.

Music Technology and Contemporary Media

Manhattan School of Music is pleased to announce a new choice of emphasis in the Composition MM program: Music Technology and Contemporary Media (MTCM). In addition to traditional composition and orchestration studies, the new curriculum features creative applications of technology to both concert music and commercial work. Students in this program engage in music composition, audio production, live performance, multimedia creation, and scoring and production techniques for film, TV, and multimedia. Software covered includes performance tools such as Max/MSP, Live, and Super Collider; DAWs such as Protools, Logic, Reaper, and Digital Performer; and video programs such as Final Cut, Jitter, and After Effects. Students will have the opportunity to explore the most current developments in electronic music technology.

Enrolled students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities and software. Composition/MTCM majors will also have the opportunity to collaborate one-on-one with student filmmakers enrolled in the Columbia University Film School, The School of Visual Arts, and other film schools around New York and the U.S. All students will take both courses and private studies with MSM faculty.

Interested students should contact program director Richard Sussman (see below) or the Manhattan School of Music Admissions Office directly at Students should submit a portfolio of work to demonstrate their readiness for graduate-level work. This portfolio should include at least one piece demonstrating the use of electronics in a creative way, and at least one piece demonstrating the use of acoustic instruments (with or without the use of electronics) in a creative way.

Recordings of the work samples may be excerpts from longer pieces. Each submitted recording should be approximately 3-4 minutes long, with a maximum of 10-12 minutes of recorded music total. Applicants must be able to demonstrate proficiency in at least one of the following (or similar) software applications: Max/MSP, pd, Super Collider, Kyma, Protools, Logic, Digital Performer, Cubase, Sonar, Ableton Live, etc. Application portfolios will be prescreened, and qualified applicants will be invited to come to MSM for an interview/audition.

The MTCM program provides students with a carefully balanced curriculum, giving them the opportunity for advanced and intensive study of both the purely creative and commercial aspects of music technology as used in todayʼs society. Students completing this course of study will acquire proficiency in a broad range of computer and other music technology techniques, as well as traditional composition and orchestration skills. MTCM graduates will acquire the necessary knowledge to achieve artistic as well as financial success in this exciting field.

The MTCM faculty currently consists of:
Richard Sussman, Program Director, Advanced Composition using DAWs, Film Scoring, Private Instruction.
Sam Pluta, Advanced Composition and Programming using Max/MSP, Super Collider and Reaper, Private Instruction
Todd Reynolds, Advanced Composition and Performing with Electronics using Max/MSP and Ableton Live, Private Instruction

Students with questions about this program are invited to contact Mr. Richard Sussman, MTCM Program Director at


General admission information
Composition Audition Procedures


J. Mark Stambaugh

Acting Department Chair

Composition Faculty

J. Mark Stambaugh  (Acting Chair of Composition)
Edward Green  (Composition, Jazz, Music History)
Sam Pluta  (Electronic Music)