The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music offers one of Australia’s most innovative and comprehensive music composition programs, embracing many of today’s approaches to music-making: studio-based composition, chamber composition, community composition, jazz composition, composition for film and television, experimental composition and sound art. Our composition students are part of a lively, creative community that investigates music through traditional approaches and new technologies.

Opportunities for our composers include performance residencies with leading local and international performers as well as the Monash New Music Ensemble under the direction of Tristram Williams. Our composition students develop their original work under the guidance of active and well-established composers. Visiting practitioners of new music present their approaches and methods in weekly composition seminars.

Music composition is a specialisation in our Bachelor of Music and related double degrees. At the graduate level the School offers a Research Masters and a Doctor of Philosophy in music composition. The School conceives of music composition as an art form embracing any musical style, and as a form of research characterised by exploration and reflective practice.

Our Creative Community

A vibrant and creative composing community has evolved in the School that includes composers working in many areas of music. This highlights our approach that allows for expression and exploration in a wide range of musical styles and genres. Staff and students in the composition program are involved in many projects, and present their work in the wider community. Types of works created and performed in the School include:

  1. notated compositions for solo instruments, chamber groups and large ensembles
  2. electronic works for spatialised sound
  3. computer-generated compositions (including the creation of software with Max/MSP and Pd)
  4. music for film, dance and drama productions
  5. improvisation-based works
  6. sound installations
  7. works that combine the above

Activities of composition students include the collaboration with performance ensembles and individual performers within the School. The School aims at the integration of composition, music studies and performance, and encourages a high level of creative interaction among students and staff.

Find out about our Bachelor of Music, and about studying a music major

  • Melbourne trombonist James Macaulay has taken out top honours at the 2017 National Jazz Awards, with trumpeter Niran Dasika as runner up. Both are graduates of the Sir Zelman Cohen School of Music. Current student, trombonist Josh Bennier was also amongst the top ten. The Awards were presented at the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues in early November. Designed to… Read more
  • The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music are offering four Emerging Music Prizes valued at $500 each. To be eligible, you must be  21 years or under as of December 31st, 2017 and not be currently enrolled in a tertiary institution.  Monash University Emerging Jazz Composer Prize – $500 Monash University Emerging Jazz Performer Prize –… Read more
  • Finalists for the Australian Music Centre's 2017 Art Music Awards were announced last week, and staff and students from Monash University's Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music feature heavily. The prestigious awards are presented in 11 categories, from large-scale symphonic pieces to instrumental works and experimental projects, and reflect the diverse, high-quality and flourishing Australian music… Read more
  • German conductor and composer Jobst Liebrecht has been invited by the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music to present his second composition residency program. This follows his successful first residency in 2015. Jobst will be developing new works with the School's undergraduate composers during the the first half of Semester 2, 2017.  Liebrecht studied in Munich… Read more
  • 2016 has marked the beginning of a collaboration between the MSO and Monash University with the introduction of the Pizzicato Effect Prize for Composition. The Pizzicato Effect is the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s flagship community music program providing free instrumental tuition to children in Grades 3+ living in the City of Hume council area. It currently caters… Read more
  •     The Australian-German production, Vom Anderen Ende (From the Other End) is a Berlin-based concert series that features the State Youth Ensemble for New Music Berlin performing new works by both established and emerging composers. For the first time, an Australian-German program is at the centre of the Autumn season of 2016. The Sir Zelman Cowen… Read more
  • The winners of the Australian Music Centre‘s 2016 Art Music Awards were announced tonight in a ceremony at Melbourne's Plaza Ballroom. Staff and students from Monash University were among the awardees.  Director of the Monash Academy of Performing Arts, Professor Paul Grabowsky in collaboration with Daniel and David Wilfred of the Young Wägilak Group of East Arnhem Land won ‘Jazz Work of… Read more
  • Professor Paul Grabowsky and the Monash Art Ensemble, in collaboration with David Yipininy Wilfred, the traditional djunggayi (manager) of the manikay of the country of Nyilipidgi, and his brother Daniel Ngukurr Boy Wilfred, last month released their latest album Nyilipidgi, through ABC records. Nyilipidgi, the latest release to come out of Monash University's Sir Zelman Cowen… Read more
  • Finalists for the Australian Music Centre‘s 2016 Art Music Awards were announced last week, with staff and students from Monash University's Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music featuring heavily. The prestigious awards are presented in 11 categories, from large-scale symphonic pieces to instrumental works and experimental projects, and reflect the diverse, high-quality and flourishing Australian… Read more