The music department comps is a significant one-term project modeled on Carleton’s independent study. As such, it allows the student to spend a term in dedicated research or creative activity on a topic or musical work of particular interest to them. It also affords the opportunity for the music major to draw upon a wide range of prior study.

Each comps project is designed and conducted by a student and his/her primary comps adviser. There is no specific set of requirements for any comps “track,” but rather each individual project is designed according to the needs of the student and the project’s goal.

Comps Type

The music major comprehensive exercise may consist of either:

  • A Research Paper
  • A Performance, or
  • A Composition

All three involve projects for which the student should have a suitable background of prior classes, lessons, and other relevant activities and experience.

Primary Comps adviser and Second Reader

The primary comps adviser plays a key role in each student’s comps project. The primary adviser may be any faculty member of the music department (both full-time and adjunct faculty may serve as comps advisers). The student will first work with their primary adviser in developing a suitable comps topic/project, and then in framing the formal comps proposal.

During your comps term (usually either fall or winter of your senior year), you will meet regularly (typically weekly) with your adviser on your project. Previous coursework and/or lessons with your adviser is recommended, and is usually the case.

A secondary reader is also chosen as both an additional resource for the student, and she or he will assess the final comps project in conjunction with the faculty adviser. To help maintain coordination with the department, at least one of the comps adviser/reader pair must be a full-time faculty member of the department.

Qualifications for your proposed project

Document your background and preparation for your project (above and beyond the core courses taken by all music majors). This might include, for example:

  • Previous independent study
  • Relevant courses within or beyond the music department
  • Years of applied study
  • Prior recital or other relevant performances, or
  • A portfolio of compositions