Commercial Music

BA single honours Music: Commercial Music 2019/20

Year of entry

Our course develops your performance and production skills in a popular music context. Your tutors are highly skilled musicians with real world experience.

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

National Student Survey 2017

You can explore areas including:

  • specialise in performance or sound production
  • song writing
  • music publishing
  • live sound
  • record label management
  • online promotion

You will gain the skills and knowledge needed to begin a career as a creative practitioner in pathways such as freelance performance and production, song writing, teaching, web design, live sound engineering, and freelance instrumental and vocal tutoring. Alternatively, you may elect to continue education through postgraduate study.

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.

You will also be able to work collaboratively with students who study other subjects such as Performing Arts and Dance.

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  

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 (20 credits)

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.

Commercial Music in Context (20 credits)

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.

Year 2

Popular Music Analysis (20 credits)

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 identify and relate key musical characteristics, patterns, and traits in popular music works.

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

Likely OPtional Modules

Performance 1A (20 credits)

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 theoretical knowledge and practical skills across a range of musical styles.

Performance 1B (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

This module provides students with a grounding in studio recording techniques. Complimenting 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 (20 credits)

This module provides students 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 (20 credits)

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.

Notation in Practice (20 credits)

This module aims to provide a grounding in musical theory and to enable you to develop your ability to read and write music in staff notation, chord charts and lead sheets. It will introduce you to concepts of music theory and you will also become familiar with the basic principles of computer music processing and will be required to produce scores using Sibelius as a score-writing tool.

Sound Structure (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

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 Options

Performance 2A (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

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 theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Sound Production 2A (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

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.

Melodic Improvisation in Theory and Practice (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

This module aims to provide a substantial practical overview of studio-based approaches to sound design and electronic composition. A broad and diverse approach will be taken, emphasizing, 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.

Music Enterprise (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

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 options

Performance 3A (20 credits)

This module has a particular focus on studio technique, whilst continuing to develop 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 ensemble.

Performance 3B (20 credits)

The aim of this module is to further develop skills in live performance, and the 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 (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

This module aims to develop your ability to conceive and realize 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 (20 credits)

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.

Film Music A (20 credits)

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.

Film Music B (20 credits)

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.

Music Business Futures (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

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).

Songwriting 3B (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

This module aims to enable you to become increasingly confident and flexible practitioners in a broad range of popular music performance styles. The module 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.

Music in the Media 2 (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

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 (20 credits)

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.

“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.

Fees

Tuition Fees for 2019/20 have not yet been finalised. Course webpages will be updated with Tuition Fee information once these have been agreed.

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) No, if the trip contributes to the course as an optional module. Yes if the trip is optional.
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.

Teaching

The Commercial Music course is taught in two semesters each year, separated by a two­week assessment period in January. You will take 60 credits (3 modules) in each semester. Your actual contact hours will depend on the optional modules you select.  Typically, a 20 credit module has around 50 contact hours, but there are variations in the case of some modules, particularly where a module might be delivered predominantly by individual tutorials or instrumental lessons for instance.

You will learn through a variety of aproaches depending on the module content including lectures, seminars, practical workshops, one-to-one tuition, independent learning, case studies, group work and presentations.

All programmes are informed by the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy 2015-2020.

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars, workshops or other timetabled sessions you will continue learning through self-study.  Typically, this involves working on performance or production projects,  reading, practicing your instrument and rehearsing (if taking Performance) and preparing for coursework assignments, workshops or seminars.

Your module tutor will direct you towards specific activities to complete before class.

For the Independent Project in year three, you will undertake independent research. You will work under the supervision of a member of the course team. You will meet with your supervisor regularly.

Overall workload

Your overall workload typically consists of 12-14 contact hours. You will undertake additional hours independent learning and assessment activity. In addition, there will be other, extra-curricular theatre activities to attend that will support and enhance your learning.

For every 20-credit module there is 50 hours of contact time but there are variations in the case of some modules, particularly where a module might be delivered predominantly by individual tutorials for instance. It is expected that there will be 150 hours of additional study time to undertake directed tasks, practice, research and assignments.

Academic Input

The staff team consists of highly qualified academics and practitioners who have a range of expertise and experience.  The staff teaching on the Commercial Music course currently include a Principal Lecturer, Senior Lecturers, Associate Lecturers and Instrumental tutors (if you are taking the Performance modules).  All of the staff are practitioners and are active as performers, producers or composers, and researchers, for instance. You should note that members of the teaching team might change.

The balance of assessment type depends to some extent on the optional modules you choose, but you will be assessed by a range of methods including practical work (such as recordings, composition work – in the form of recordings or scores), written work (such as commentaries and essays), and presentations. There are no exams.

Feedback

You will receive feedback on all assessments.

Feedback is intended to help you learn and you are encouraged to discuss it with your module tutor.

We aim to provide you with feedback within and 15 working days of hand-in or performance date.

Our new £12m arts facility in Canterbury is scheduled to open in September 2018. The building will be equipped with the latest technology and bespoke learning spaces for our arts and humanities students.

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.

As a student within the School of Music and Performing Arts, you will have access to our well­equipped recording studios, Mac lab and sound design facilities on the Broadstairs campus.

We are an academic supporter of BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters Composers and Authors).

A range of industry focused masterclasses, workshops and lectures are provided each year in our Performance and Creative Practice Week, given by industry specialists and practitioners.

Musician and Producer Matthew Herbert is one of the School’s artistic researchers.

Fact file

UCAS code

  • W340 Commercial Music

Institutional code

  • C10

Length

  • 3 years full-time

    6 years part-time

Starts

  • September 2019

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: 08/03/2018 16:18:00