Commercial Music

BA single honours Music: Commercial Music 2018/19

Year of entry

Our Commercial Music course gives you the opportunity to develop your performance and production skills in a popular music context. You can choose to specialise in either performance or sound production with a range of other options closely allied to each specialism.

You may explore areas including:

  • performance or sound production (as a specialist pathway)
  • song writing
  • music publishing
  • live sound
  • music for media and film
  • record label management
  • online promotion

You will be taught by a dynamic team of tutors, many of whom work as performers, songwriters, music producers and composers, who are dedicated to enabling you to enhance your skills as a musician.

Great news!

We now have planning permission to build a new £12m arts facility in Canterbury, equipped with the latest technology and bespoke learning spaces for our arts and humanities students. We expect our new arts building to open on the main campus in September 2018, with building work starting this summer.

Find out more about these specialist facilities in our video.

100% of our Commercial Music students were satisfied with the quality of their course.

National Student Survey 2017

Our Commercial Music course is designed for creative students wishing to develop their performance and/or sound production skills in a predominantly popular music context. You can choose to specialise in either Performance or Sound Production and there are a range of options which you can take as you progress through the course, closely allied to each specialism. Weekly individual instrumental and vocal tuition is provided for all students taking Performance in years one, two and three.

Most of our modules are built on practical creativity with a strong emphasis on your development as a practitioner in commercial music and a particular emphasis on the composition, performance and production of music for commercial application. In addition the course aims to motivate you to study the social significance of music as a cultural practice, and to gain an awareness and understanding of the breadth of activity encompassed within the music industry.

Ethan Maltby , Associate Tutor, has written shows for stage that have toured UK and European theatres as well as writing music for both the FA and UEFA cup finals.

Top reason to study this course

Commercial Music at Canterbury Christ Church University is taught by a dynamic staff-team of tutors, many of whom work as performers, songwriters, music producers and composers, who are dedicated to enabling you to enhance your skills as a musician in Commercial Music.

“Choosing to Study Commercial Music at Canterbury Christ Church University has been a fantastic decision. From day one it enables you to gain a further understanding of the commercial music industry, whilst developing the skills needed to become a part of it. University has given me the confidence and the platform to perform original music and advance my skills in a professional working environment.”

Oliver Lavery  year two student

You can study French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish as part of, or alongside, your course.

more info

In year one you start with a firm basis in Performance (which includes weekly one-to-one instrumental/vocal tuition) or Sound Production, alongside modules in Audio Sequencing and Recording , Commercial Music in Context and an optional module in either Music Industry Fundamentals or Songwriting . You will also take an additional option module in either Notation in Practice or Sound Structure (performance students would normally take Notation in Practice and sound production students would normally take Sound Structure ). After this, you continue with your specialist pathway of Performance or Sound Production in years two and three, and can then choose from a range of optional modules.

Steve Lamacq (6 Music Recommends) said of one of our members of staff that his recent album with his band The Chap was "one of my albums of the year.”

Core modules

Year 1

  • Audio Sequencing and Recording
  • Commercial Music in Context

Likely optional modules include: Performance, Sound Production and Music Industry Fundamentals.

Audio Sequencing and Recording

This module is designed to provide you with a grounding in the applications and techniques of MIDI and audio sequencing. The module will focus on commercial music recording and production methods and will relate, for example, to the practical production of demo-format recordings required for Songwriting. Through in-class exercises and project work you will develop a practical ability in the use of sequencing software and the skills to produce stereo masters that combine MIDI and audio sources in an effective and creative way.

Commercial Music in Context

The aim of this module is to provide you with an understanding of the historical and cultural context of a range of styles and genres of commercial music. These will be considered by tracing the development of constituent strands of music to the present day. In addition, recorded examples from each style will be considered analytically in order to identify their salient characteristics and their relationship to other styles. The module focuses upon Anglo-American popular music since 1950 and introduces a number of simple conceptual frameworks that will enable you to discuss popular music with more confidence and precision. It also aims to foster your ability to utilise an appropriate vocabulary when discussing and writing about musical concepts and equip you for more detailed study at subsequent levels.

Year 2

Popular Music Analysis

Likely optional modules include : Performance, Sound Production, Melodic Improvisation in Theory and Practice, Creative Sound Design, Music Enterprise, Music in the Media, Live Sound, Songwriting and Online Promotion.

Popular Music Analysis

Popular Music Analysis builds upon the knowledge gained at level one in Commercial Music in Context, introducing you to more advanced forms of textual and cultural analysis. Musical material will be analysed in greater depth, with a particular interest in musical style as it relates to individual artists and genres in popular music. The module aims to develop your ability both to to identify and relate key musical characteristics, patterns, and traits in popular music works.

Year 3

You will continue with your specialist pathway, choosing from the likely optional modules set out below:

Performance , Sound Production, Studio Composition, Jazz: Performance, Arrangement and Composition, Film Music, Music Business Futures, Songwriting, Repertoire and Styles, Music in the Media, Sound Art, Independent Project.

Likely optional modules

This is an illustrative sample of some of the options we offer. Please note that not all optional modules will run each year.

Year 1

Performance 1A

This module enables you to develop skills in performance through the study of a specialist instrument (including voice). Alongside the development of instrumental skills you will gain rehearsal and performance experience by participating in student and staff-run ensembles, which aim to encourage development and refinement of your theoretical knowledge and practical skills across a range of musical styles.

Performance 1B

Building on Performance 1A, Performance 1B enables you to continue to develop skills in performance through the study of a specialist instrument (including voice). Alongside the development of instrumental skills you will continue to gain rehearsal and performance experience by participating in a student ensemble.

Sound Production 1A

This module provides you with a grounding in studio recording techniques. Complementing the software-based sequencing and mix emphasis of Audio Sequencing and Recording, Sound Production 1A focuses specifically on studio recording practice, including studio set up, microphone technique, use of a mixing desk, and signal processing, as well as relevant theoretical principles related to acoustics and electronics.

Sound Production 1B

This module provides you with a further grounding in studio recording, processing and mixing techniques. Sound Production 1B expands on techniques discussed in Sound Production 1A and the software-based sequencing and mix emphasis of Audio Sequencing and Recording. The main focus is on microphone technique, use of a mixing desk, audio routing and effecting, as well as software based processing, mixing and mastering.

Music Industry Fundamentals

The aim of this module is to enable you to gain a broad understanding of the background, structure and organisation of the music industry and to give you a foundation for determining your own potential role within it. This includes the concepts of intellectual property and copyright, the development and production of recorded music and the marketing and distribution of finished product together with the requirements regarding performance and promotion. Also included is an examination of both the operation of major and independent record companies and DIY releases together with the marketing of music from both composers and performing artists. The module introduces you to the legal framework within which music is composed, performed, recorded and licensed through a consideration of copyright and publishing and of the industry bodies that exist to support, promote and protect the composition, performance and recorded rights owners.

Notation in Practice

This module aims to provide a thorough grounding in musical theory and familiarise you with the basic principles of computer music processing in the production of scores using Sibelius as a score-writing tool. Allied to this theoretical approach, you will be expected to rehearse and perform your own music in a variety of workshop sessions that emphasise the importance of notation within a practical musical environment.

Sound Structure

This module gives you grounding in the theories and practices used to analyse a range of audio examples and to enable you to become fluent in your ability to recognise the sonic characteristics of recordings and performances. You will be introduced to techniques used to analyse and document the development of sound in time, including spectral analysis, graphic representation and aspects of musical notation. The sonic characteristics of different materials will be explained, along with the basic principles of spectral morphology.

Songwriting 1

This module aims to introduce you to songwriting as a process, encouraging the development of an individual style over the duration of your studies. In addition to informing you about well-established ‘traditional’ songwriting models and common structures, contemporary songwriting practices and considerations of arrangement, performance and production will also form part of the module.

Year 2

Performance 2A

Building on the skills acquired in Performance 1 this module enables you to further develop skills in performance through the study of a specialist instrument (including voice). Alongside the development of instrumental skills you will gain rehearsal and performance experience by participating in staff-run and student ensembles, which aim to encourage development and refinement of theoretical knowledge and practical skills across a range of musical styles.

Performance 2B

Building on the skills acquired in Performance 2A this module enables you to further develop skills in performance through the study of a specialist instrument (including voice). Alongside the development of instrumental skills you will continue to gain rehearsal and performance experience by continuing to participate in at least one staff-run ensemble, which aims to encourage development and refinement of your theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Additionally, evaluation of performance technique through peer observation and self-evaluation will feature within the module.

Sound Production 2A

This module aims to provide comprehensive coverage of the theory and practice of multitrack studio recording and production. You will have the opportunity to gain an understanding of the scientific principles that underpin sound production and develop the skills to use a recording studio environment, offering an analysis of equipment, technique and procedure.

Sound Production 2B

Building on Sound Production 2A this module aims to continue to provide comprehensive and analytical coverage of the theory and practice of multitrack studio recording and production. You will have the opportunity to expand further on your understanding of the scientific principles that underpin sound production and develop the skills to use a recording studio environment, offering an analysis of equipment, technique and procedure. Pre- and post-production processes are included in the practice of multitrack recording. You will be expected to start gradually developing a more individual approach as you explore studio production techniques both from a musical and technical perspective, while adopting the respective roles of artist, engineer and producer.

Melodic Improvisation in Theory and Practice

This module aims to enable you to develop skills in improvisation techniques through the study of theoretical concepts and practical application through a consideration of a variety of approaches to improvisation. In addition you will be required to analyse improvisations and will transcribe solos, developing aural and notation skills.

Creative Sound Design

This module aims to provide you with a substantial practical overview of studio-based approaches to sound design and electronic composition. A broad and diverse approach will be taken, emphasising, for example, the influences of dance music and film sound, academia, the avant-garde and the commercial music industry on the shaping of the contemporary studio composer, and you will be encouraged to reflect on these influences within a creative portfolio of works.

Music Enterprise

The aim of this module is for you to develop an understanding and appreciation of how music and the music industries, in various guises, can generate income. It considers the various elements that contribute to ensuring that composing, performing and recording rights are managed effectively and fairly and includes focuses on music publishing, entertainment law and copyright, performance and recording, venue and tour management and record label management.

Music in the Media 1

The aim of this module is to give you an introduction to the skills, approaches and insights needed to produce music for the media. You will develop the ability to compose music that enhances moving images and will learn to engage those stylistic conventions and techniques most commonly encountered in bespoke media music. You will develop those sequencing and arranging skills needed in the production of smaller-budget media music and will also be presented with opportunities to develop skills in sound design that may be used alongside or as an alternative to more traditional compositional skills.

Live Sound

This module provides coverage of the methods and processes undertaken when mixing audio for live performance band settings. Through addressing the principles of audio signal paths, processing and mixing for both audience and performers, you will explore the application of appropriate hardware in the live sound environment, supported by an overview of audio, technological and engineering discipline and theory. You will be introduced to criteria informing technical and aesthetic choices in the production of audio for live performance and opportunities will be available for the practical application of live sound skills within course performances.

Songwriting 2

Songwriting 2 builds on the work completed within Songwriting 1 through the study of more advanced and extended songwriting models, whilst encouraging you to develop their own distinctive ‘voice’ within your creative work. The application of technology within the compositional process will be explored as a means to extend beyond traditional songwriting models and you will also develop an awareness of music from other contemporary genres as a means to further expand the diversity of influence applied within their songs and arrangements.

Online Promotion and Website Design for Musicians

This module is designed to introduce you to methods by which music-based media can be promoted using online digital multimedia. Traditional, current and emergent media are reviewed as you explore graphic and visual representation of musical subject and style in the context of online promotion.

Year 3

Performance 3A

This module has a particular focus on studio technique, whilst continuing to develop your live rehearsal and performance technique in staff-run ensembles. As with Performance 2, the study of a specialist instrument or voice is the central core activity, and you will develop skills for studio performance within a recording session. The development of instrumental skills is supported by a further extension of rehearsal and performance experience through participation in staff-run ensembles.

Performance 3B

The aim of this module is to further develop skills in live performance, and your study of a specialist instrument or voice continues to be the central core activity. The development of instrumental skills is supported by a further extension of rehearsal and performance experience through participation in at least one staff-run ensemble.

Sound Production 3A

The aim of the module is provide you with the opportunity to focus on creative studio technique and develop an integrated approach to the session end-product: a definitive master demonstrating a distinctive approach to recording and production.

Sound Production 3B

The aim of the module is to provide you with continued opportunities to focus on creative studio technique and develop an integrated approach to the session end-product: a definitive master demonstrating a distinctive approach to recording and production. You will continue to explore the role of the producer (artist-, engineer-, composer-, arranger-producer) in the generation of multitrack recordings to a commercial standard, informed by an awareness of established, current and emerging global production styles.

Studio Composition

This module aims to develop your ability to conceive and realise original compositions through creative use of the music production studio. You pursue individual areas of interest in technology-based music composition, devising creative ideas and the work of contemporary composers and producers in various genres is considered, with a particular emphasis on how methods of production (including studio process, collaboration, and relevant technologies) influence the creative output.

Jazz: Performance, Arrangement and Composition

This module builds upon the work done in Melodic Improvisation in Theory and Practice at level two by developing aspects of composition, arranging, improvisation and performance techniques in jazz-based styles. You will perform, discuss and analyse a range of musical examples taken from the breadth of the genre, and jazz theory, arrangement and notation skills are further developed through the practice of writing and presenting music appropriately for this styles.

Film Music A

The module aims to give you an understanding of the process of writing music for film and you will be introduced to the development of the language of film music, film scoring techniques and to broader cultural and critical issues. The module covers a variety of composers working in the industry today with a focus upon the detail of influential works and practical exercises, extending further the creative and technical skills developed during level two of the course within modules such as Music in the Media and Songwriting 2.

Film Music B

Continuing from Film Music A, this module aims to develop your understanding of the language of film music, film-scoring techniques and the broader cultural and critical issues. You will develop composition, production, and software techniques and apply these skills to the creation of music for film. Practical exercises extend further the creative and technical skills developed during Film Music A and you will also be required to produce a show-reel of your work and supporting documentation, as if presenting to an agent or client.

Music Business Futures

The aim of this module is to develop a clear and deep knowledge of the current music industry informed primarily by investigation and practice. The module focuses in detail on the many new and emerging technologies available for promotion, discovery, distribution and consumption of music via the Internet and mobile networks that are currently being explored within the industry. The changing attitudes to copyright law is considered in the context of music copyright control in the digital age, plus online product marketing and music publishing in order to provide a ‘digital sense’ of real-world music business activity.

Songwriting 3A

Songwriting 3A aims to provide you with the opportunity to extend and enhance a personal songwriting style whilst fostering an awareness of songwriting in a commercial context. In order to develop your practical, creative and technical skills in songwriting the module engages you with projects such as the completion of an e.p. (extended play). The emphasis of the module is upon encouraging and facilitating creativity and individuality whilst aiming to achieve a convincing level of competence in songwriting and arranging.

Songwriting 3B

Songwriting 3B aims to provide you with the opportunity to extend and enhance a personal songwriting style whilst fostering an awareness of songwriting in a commercial context. In order to develop your practical, creative and technical skills in songwriting, the module builds upon the work done in Songwriting 3A by engaging you with more substantial projects, such as the completion of an album. This module also requires you to present your songs in a live setting.

Repertoire and Styles

This module aims to enable you to become increasingly confident and flexible practitioners in a broad range of popular music performance styles. It aims to consider a range of musical styles not previously covered in performance modules at levels 4 and 5, and to develop skills further in the rehearsal and performance process. The module will provide a theoretical consideration of stylistic traits and appropriate performance techniques, as well as improvisational and compositional approaches within the selected musical styles.

Music in the Media 2

The aim of this module is to develop skills related to the creation of music and sound for various forms of media. Concepts and practices introduced in Level 5 Music in the Media 1 are extended and applied to the creation of a body of work that reflects your individual areas of interest. You will develop composition, production, and software techniques and apply these skills to the creation of music for various forms of media. Through the use of industry briefs, you will develop the ability to work under time constraints, to specific creative guidelines.

Sound Art

This module includes a strong emphasis on emergent forms of sound design, and alternative approaches to composition will be explored. You will be introduced to a range of skills, such as formulating project proposals and creating documentation, whilst new developments in Sound Art are discussed through a variety of lectures and practical demonstrations. You will also be encouraged to collaborate with visual media artists, such as photographers or web designers, in the creation of a mixed-media work.

Independent Project A and B

The module will enable you to undertake a substantive project which may be practical with an accompanying reflective commentary or research based in the form of a dissertation. The module is taught in two parts. Independent Project A focuses on developing research skills though the presentation of a written research plan, annotated bibliography and literature review and contextualisation whilst Independent Project B allows you to develop the work in practical or written form. If you take Independent Project A you would generally be expected to take Independent Project B in order to see your project through to completion.

“Taking the sound production pathway of Commercial Music at Christ Church was a very positive experience for me that has thoroughly developed my production and soft skills. The tutors are exceptionally talented and will always endeavour to push students to their full academic and practical potential. It is because of this that I am now a self-employed music producer and audio engineer, with projects in both the studio and live environment.” ,

Joshua White Commercial Music graduate (Sound Production pathway), 2015

The Commercial Music course aims to prepare you as a creative practitioner in performance, production or commercial composition (as a songwriter, or for media, for instance). Graduates have, for example, gone on to work as freelance performers and producers, songwriters, web designers, live sound engineers and freelance instrumental and vocal tutors. Some graduates have elected to continue their education by progressing on to Masters’ degree qualifications and others have decided to train to teach in schools or further education.

Tuition Fees for 2018/19 have not yet been finalised - please read the 2018/19 Tuition Fee Statement for further information regarding 2018/19 tuition fees and year on year fee increases.

Fees

Additional course costs

Although we aim to minimise any additional costs to students over and above the course tuition fee, there will be some additional costs which students are expected to meet.

Costs applicable to all students

CategoryDescription
Text books Own purchase text books
Travel to other sites Where travel to other sites is required, this will be payable by the student
Library Fees and Fines Where students fail to return loaned items within the required time they will be responsible for the cost of any Library Fees and Fines applicable
Printing & Photocopying The cost of printing and photocopying undertaken by students to support their individual learning are payable by the student
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire / photography are additional costs payable by the student

Course specific costs

CategoryDescription
Kit

With the exception of pianists and drummers, students studying performance modules will be required to supply their own musical instrument and meet any associated maintenance or insurance costs themselves. It is also recommended that drummers have their own cymbals, and that vocalists have their own microphone for rehearsals.

It is recommended that students studying sound production modules should have their own headphones and a portable hard-drive with at least 500GB capacity.

General principle policy

The University’s general principles policy for additional course fees are set out here

CategoryIncluded in the tuition feeAdditional cost to student
Field trips (including trips abroad and trips to museums, theatres, workshops etc) Yes, if the trip contributes to the course (whether it is part of an optional or compulsory module), but not including food and drink. Yes, if the trip is not an essential part of the course but is offered as an enhancement or enrichment activity, or for a student’s personal development.
Travel and accommodation costs for placements  No

Travel and accommodation costs for professional placements within the Education and Health & Wellbeing Faculties.

Travel and accommodation costs for other work placements. 
Text books No Own purchase text books.
DBS / Health checks No Yes
Professional Body registration No Yes
Travel to other sites (e.g. travel to swimming pool for lessons) No Yes
Clothing / Kit Yes, where the clothing / kit is essential for Health & Safety reasons. Yes, where the clothing is kept by the student and not essential for health and safety reasons.
Learning materials Essential learning materials (excluding text books) in connection with the course. Additional materials beyond the standard provision essential for the course or where the costs are determined by the student’s area of interest and the outputs are retained by the student.
Library fees and fines No Yes
Printing and photocopying No Yes
Social events No, unless the event forms an essential part of the course. Yes, unless the event forms an essential part of the course.
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire/ photography are additional costs payable by the student.

Composition of the course

The Commercial Music course is taught in two semesters each year, separated by a two-week assessment period in January. You will take 60 credits (3 modules) in each semester. In the first year of the Commercial Music course you will study six 20-credit modules, choosing a pathway in either Performance or Sound Production, alongside two core modules in Audio Sequencing and Recording and Commercial Music in Context. Additionally, there is an optional module in either Notation in Practice or Sound Structure (performance students would normally take Notation in Practice, and Sound Production students would normally take Sound Structure) and in Music Industry Fundamentals or Songwriting.

View a visual representation of the course structure

In the second year you will carry on with your specialist pathway in either Performance or Sound Production (40 credits) in addition to a core module – Popular Music Analysis. The remaining 60 credits are chosen by you from a range of likely optional modules - you choose one of either Creative Sound Design, Live Sound or Music Enterprise in semester one, and two from Music in the Media 1, Songwriting 2, Melodic Improvisation in Theory and Practice and Online Promotion in semester two.

In the third year you will carry on with your specialist pathway in either Performance or Sound Production (40 credits) and the remaining 80 credits are chosen by you from a range of likely options – you choose two from Independent Project A, Songwriting 3A, Film Music A, Repertoire and Styles, Sound Art and Music in the Media 2 in semester one, and a further two from Independent Project B, Songwriting 3B, Film Music B, Studio Composition, Jazz and Music Business Futures in semester two.

You will be taught in classes, workshops, lectures, seminars and tutorials, which include a percentage of weekly directed learning. In addition to this, you will be expected to undertake your own learning, class preparation, reading, practice, and assignment work.  All students taking performance will have weekly individual instrumental lessons

Academic input

The staff teaching on the Commercial Music course currently comprises a Principal Lecturer, Senior Lecturers and Associate Lecturers. All of the staff are practitioners and are active as performers, producers or composers, and researchers, for instance.

You will be assessed by a range of methods including practical work (such as performances, recordings, composition work – in the form of recordings or scores), written work (such as commentaries and essays), and presentations.

We now have planning permission to build a new £12m arts facility in Canterbury, equipped with the latest technology and bespoke learning spaces for our arts and humanities students.

We expect our new arts building to open on the main campus in September 2018, with building work starting this summer.

Our main campus in Canterbury has city centre facilities on its doorstep and, of course, you will benefit from all the new arts building has to offer. This video gives you a virtual tour of the fantastic new facilities we have invested in. 

UK/EU

Full-time study

Apply via UCAS

Part-time study

Apply directly to us

International

Full-time study

Need some help?

UK

For advice on completing your application please contact the Admissions Enquiry Team:

Email: admissions@canterbury.ac.uk
Tel:+44 (0)1227 782900

EU/International

Contact our International Team

Fact file

UCAS code

  • W340 Commercial Music

Institutional code

  • C10

Length

  • 3 years full-time

    6 years part-time

Starts

  • September 2018

Entry requirements

  • A typical offer would be 88-112 UCAS Tariff points

    All applications will be considered on an individual basis according to qualifications, background and experience. Particular importance is placed upon instrumental/vocal ability, songwriting skills and/or sound production experience.

    More entry requirement details.

Location

School

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Last edited: 18/09/2017 12:25:00