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Academic Excellence Conference to Feature Study on Music Composition Techniques

Geoff Edwards '18
Geoff Edwards '18

The Academic Excellence Conference, an annual event featuring a wide range of research presentations and performances by Keene State students, provides the campus community and public with an opportunity to learn about the compelling work being produced at the College.

Often, the research is based in the sciences or professional studies fields. This year, however, senior Geoff Edwards will be presenting research relating to music¬–specifically chromaticism–during the Classical and Romantic eras. Edwards had the chance to conduct his research as part of a SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Funded) grant.

The Chromatic Scale derives its name from the Greek word chrôma, meaning color. In this sense, chromatic scale means ‘notes of all colors’. Colors, in fact, are also made up from different frequencies, those of light waves. For several centuries, during the time of JS Bach, the music of the western world has been based on the notes of the Chromatic Scale.

According to, chromaticism is “the use of notes that lie outside the scale on which a passage is based. For instance, if a passage is written in the key of C major, the use of any note outside the C major scale (e.g. F sharp) constitutes chromaticism.”

Edwards’s research analyzes three piano works by three different composers, examining how techniques used in them relate to compositional techniques of today. He will share how those methods inform his own compositions.

“I planned on doing a theory project ever since I began at Keene State,” said Edwards. “I analyzed pieces myself using the techniques that previous theorists have used to find the techniques applied by each composer.”

“People view music as something that can only be performed. However, music is one of many topics that can be intensively researched and practiced. During the Academic Excellence Conference, I will give an oral presentation accompanied by PowerPoint, visual aids, and audio recordings to illustrate chromaticism and hear specific points within pieces. I will also have pictures of the sheet music for illustration.”

The Academic Excellence Conference will give Geoff an opportunity to polish his verbal skills when it comes to music.

“The AEC will allows me the chance to put my knowledge of music in touch with my desire to teach music theory in the future.”

The Academic Excellence Conference is just the start for Edwards. After completing his degree at Keene State, he plans to continue to a doctoral program in Music Theory.

The Academic Excellence Conference will be held on April 14 at Keene State, and is free and open to the public.

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