Music Technology and Culture
The module aims to provide you with an understanding of the historical and cultural context of various styles and genres within contemporary electronic music and sonic art. These will be considered by tracing the development of constituent sonic techniques and their relationship to current practices. In addition, recorded examples from each stage of development will be considered analytically in order to identify their salient characteristics and their relationship to other media and disciplines. The module will focus upon the artistic use of sound since 1900 and its origins and context within contemporary audio practice. You will also have the opportunity to explore intellectual concepts through practice-based research in the form of a series of short audio compositions developed throughout the course of the module.
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.
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.
Software Techniques 1
This module is designed to introduce you to the practical application of theoretical principles covered within the Sound Structure module. You will be introduced to a range of audio processes that are intended to develop a creative timbral awareness and provide a firm grounding in working with modular software environments.
Sampling and Creative Composition
This module is designed to introduce you to essential sampling and sound manipulation practices and the ways in which these techniques can be applied to creative work. You will create a portfolio of sound studies that focus upon specific sampling and audio manipulation techniques and will be encouraged to develop these processes in a larger sound work or composition.
Independent Creative Project 1A
The aim of this module is to enable you to undertake a creative project agreed with the tutor at the start of the year. The outcomes of this research activity can cover a broad area and may include, for instance, an album, sound work, installation, and/or software design project.
Independent Creative Project 1B
This module will enable you to undertake a creative project agreed with the tutor at the start of the module, following guidance based on work completed in Independent Creative Project 1A. The outcomes of this research activity can cover a broad area and may include, for instance, an album, sound work, installation, and/or software design project. The module enables you to develop a critical understanding of your chosen area of study and develop your creative skills to research, refine and present information, techniques, views and opinions in an academic fashion.
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.
Software Techniques 2
This module is designed to develop your awareness of modular synthesis techniques in a creative context particularly through the use of software such as Cycling 74’s MAX software environment. You will edit and manipulate existing patches, as well as begin to develop software instruments of your own.
Independent Creative Project 2A
This module will enable you to undertake the research necessary to develop an extensive creative project in Independent Creative Project 2B. The outcomes of this research activity can cover a broad area and may include, for instance, research towards an album, sound work, installation, and/or software design project. Crucially, the work undertaken in this module should represent a significant development in your compositional language, whatever the chosen genre.
Independent Creative Project 2B
This module will enable you to develop an innovative and ambitious creative project based on research developed in Independent Creative Project 2A. The final outcomes of this research activity can cover a broad area and may include, for instance, a substantial album, sound work, installation, and/or software design project. Crucially, the work undertaken in this module should represent a significant technical/aesthetic development in your compositional language, whatever the chosen genre.
Sound Art A
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.
Software Techniques 3
This module builds upon the basic grounding in Max offered by Software Techniques 2 and applies this knowledge to advanced creative techniques, including the use of surround sound, generative approaches, working with visuals and the use of control surfaces. Recent open source developments will also be considered and you will explore topics such as algorithmic composition and interactivity. As such, the module focuses upon the usage of software environments as flexible audio tools and encourages you to develop your creative work into a substantial final patch that will be explored in a technical presentation at the end of the module.
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 options
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.
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.
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 options
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.
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.
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.
Electronic Music Performance
The aim of this module is to explore and develop approaches to live performance in the electronic music setting. Building upon material covered in modules such as ‘Software Techniques 1 and ‘Music, Technology, and Culture’, the module will consider a range of practices and technologies used in the performance of electronic music, enabling you to develop techniques that can be applied in both solo and ensemble settings. You will also gain an awareness of relevant musical styles and creative practitioners in the field of live electronic music, consider topics such as instrument design, improvisation, experimental composition, physical gesture, and ‘liveness’ in electronic music performance.
Year 3 options
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 to under time constraints, to specific creative guidelines. You will also form a critical understanding of the commercial context for music created for and/or used in media.
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 extend 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.
Audio for Games and Interactive Media
This module is designed to introduce you to methods by which audio material can be creatively used with game or app design. You will review coding and app design and will be encouraged to explore innovative approaches to game soundtrack or app design from a sonic/musical perspective. Especially relevant to this module is the focus upon interactive, non-linear sound design and the ways in which it differs from Film or TV composition.
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 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.
Sound Art B
This module is designed to build upon knowledge developed in Sound Art A. You will be introduced to technical and artistic skills necessary to produce a large-scale non-linear installation work. Installation art and interactivity will be discussed through a variety of lectures and practical demonstrations. You will also be encouraged to collaborate with visual media artists, such as photographers, web designers or film-makers, in the creation of a mixed-media work.
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 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.