Program in Music (BFA Only)

The Herb Alpert School of Music (HASOM) at CalArts works towards developing the entire artist and focuses on individual pathways. The faculty are interested in seeing and hearing application materials that offer a sense of who you are as an artist. You are required to submit an online portfolio that showcases your work as a creative artist at this point in your life. Applicants from a wide range of backgrounds and interests are encouraged to apply. 

Students may enter the school with a declared specialization, or they may enter as a music artist, and then develop their specialization over their first two years. The specialization must be declared prior to the BFA 3 Year. The specializations are listed below:

  • Composition & Experimental Sound Practices
  • InstrumentalArts
  • Jazz
  • Music Technology (MTIID)
  • Perfomer-Composer
  • VoiceArts
  • World Music Performance
  • Musical Arts/Experimental Pop

Portfolio/Audition Guidelines

The portfolio submission should reflect your primary areas of interest and artistic strengths. Examples include: instrumental performance, vocal performance, jazz, composition and experimental sound practices, music technology, world music performance, performer-composer integration, musical arts/experimental pop, cross-disciplinary approaches, and other combinations of disciplines involving music.

You must submit a digital portfolio containing at least 3-5 works submitted via the portfolio section of the CalArts Application. Materials to upload may include: recordings, videos, appropriate media documents, scores, writings, and any related materials that further illuminate your work. You may also link to media from YouTube, Vimeo and SoundCloud. Applicants for VoiceArts must include ONE classical song or aria in their portfolio/audition.

The faculty are especially interested in reviewing work that emphasizes:
  • Applicants own original compositions documented through scores or other appropriate media.
  • Performances demonstrating strong technical skills in extant musical literature and any, if appropriate, any original work including improvisation.
  • Innovative performance practices.
  • Skills with music technologies including novel and innovative uses.
  • Interdisciplinary work.
  • Artwork beyond music that broadly informs your larger musical practice.

The portfolio can duplicate the audition, and the audition is a chance for us to get to know you in person and answer any questions. There are no specific repertoire requirements for the audition, however we would prefer to see what you consider your strengths. 

Portfolio Submission Guidelines

1. Please include what you consider to be your 3 strongest submissions first (entries 1, 2, 3)

2.  For those submitting applications for the following specializations: Musical Arts/Experimental PopComposition & Experimental Sound Practices, and Performer-ComposerFor submissions 1, 2 and 3, please include a PDF that details the following:

How did you make this? Did you record and produce this yourself or in a professional studio? If you recorded and produced this yourself, please tell us about your process. 

3. For each track/part/instrument, please answer the following questions:

Is this a recording of an instrument that you (or someone else) played / a sample or pre-recorded loop / or a midi-generated performance? If it is a sample or pre-recorded loop, did you create it yourself? If so, how?

You must include a detailed Artist Statement that outlines your goals as a music artist, your background in studying music, particular interests in studying music at CalArts, and potential areas of Specialization. In your Artist Statement, be sure to also include the following:

  1. Describe briefly your main interests in music right now.
  2. Describe other musical interests you are involved in.
  3. Describe the materials you will submit in your digital portfolio and how they demonstrate your musical interests.
  4. Describe what you would like to learn at CalArts. 
  5. List any Specializations among our offerings that you are particularly interested in, including any combinations of Specializations that you might like to create for yourself while at CalArts.