Creative Music Technology BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years)

Cambridge

January 2017, September 2016

code: WJ39

The entry requirements below are for students starting in September 2016.

Overview

Explore the creative application of technology in making music and sound art. Using electronic and digital technologies you’ll focus on musical creation through a range of exciting media. Exciting new ideas in music and technology will challenge your understanding of music and performance.

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Full description

Careers

Our Creative Music Technology course will prepare you for a range of careers. Its combination of technological skills and understanding, musical awareness and creativity equips our graduates with the skills and knowledge needed by sound designers and composers, performers, multimedia artists, programmers, and teachers.

You’ll also gain skills that are necessary for any position requiring quick thinking, self-reliance, imagination, teamwork and the ability to organise both yourself and others.

Modules & assessment

Year one, core modules

  • Critical Skills
    On this module you'll develop your critical appraisal skills and powers of self-expression, both verbally and in written form. You'll also develop your understanding of fundamental issues of musical style and aesthetics, including consideration of the nature of form in electro-acoustic music, the mechanisms by which articulation and gesture are achieved in non-pitched/non-harmonic musical styles. As a result of discussion and classroom presentation you'll build a portfolio of essays and develop essential critical skills. In your assessments, you'll need to demonstrate your ability to critically evaluate central issues in contemporary musicology.
  • Laptop Musicianship
    On this module, you’ll gain the fundamental tools and music theory needed to create music with a computer. Using industry-standard software, you'll learn to record, edit and sequence audio and MIDI, as well as how to employ audio effects, use software instruments, automate mixes, and manipulate music both in pitch and time. You'll learn to understand traditional ideas of music theory via numerical representations, using simple mathematical tools from set theory, algebra and probability. By using sequencing software, you'll also discover the equivalence between representations of MIDI data in matrix editors and traditional music notation, and be guided through the basic principles of harmonic and melodic construction by an examination of the principles of jazz harmony.
  • Fundamentals of Computer Music 1a and 1b
    These modules will introduce you to computer music programming. You'll be encouraged to question your existing ideas of sound and electronic music through the use of music software. You'll learn to code in one or more high level programming languages (no prior training required) and, through this, you'll gain important insights into the nature of digital sound and the technical, aesthetic and compositional principles. You'll also explore principles of sound design and algorithmic composition. In Fundamentals of Computer Music 1B, you’ll look at the role played by the user interface in the manipulation of sound through computer software. You'll explore the history of sound synthesis from a low-level technical basis using programming techniques. After undertaking practical exercises in sound manipulation, you'll further investigate real-time generation, manipulation and algorithmic composition.
  • Recording Techniques
    This module is aimed at the aspiring musician rather than the recording engineer. By working on a number of creative projects, you'll learn to use computer software for recording, editing, sound-processing and sequencing. You'll also learn how to use microphones, including the importance of their placement relative to a particular sound source, and different approaches to recording demanded by particular musical situations - including the special situation of recording the human voice. Multitracking, editing and post-production techniques such as normalising, compression and gates will be examined as tools to enhance the quality of your recordings in different situations. You'll also work collaboratively with other students, forming your own musical ensembles with the intention of realising particular recording scenarios.
  • Music Business
    This module will develop your understanding of the popular music business in the broadest sense, including the environments in which the sector operates, its performance within these areas and the factors that influence the operation of organisations. You'll explore the impact of political, social and economic factors and consider the legal and ethical frameworks that inform the popular music sector through an examination of specific case studies relating to publishing, copyright law, distribution systems and marketing. You'll also reflect on your current role, or potential roles, within popular music.

Year one, optional modules

  • Laptop Performance
    In Laptop Performance, you'll create and perform musical works using the laptop computer as the main musical instrument. Working in small groups, you'll respond to a succession of creative challenges that will develop your fluency in pitched musical idioms (using computer representations of mode and harmonic field) and unpitched idioms (using timbre, spectromorphology and gesture). In both, you'll develop strategies for placing sounds in time (rhythm/metre) and in space (diffusion); and during the latter part of the semester you'll create hybrid works. Throughout the module, you'll become familiar with existing repertoire and performance strategies that employ the laptop and/or palmtop computer at the heart of musical performance (such as real-time algorithmic generation of sonic material). You'll also extend your knowledge of traditional music theory by exploring elements of non-European music. You'll be assessed by four group performances, each of which will be devised in response to a specific brief and accompanied by a brief critical reflection.

Year two, core modules

  • Music in Context 2a and 2b
    This module will expand your musical experience and familiarise you with a variety of musical styles and genres. You'll learn about the contextual development of music and the importance of political and social aspects of the creative environment. In considering these issues, you'll examine music from a range of times and cultures in order to place them within an appropriate historical, cultural and aesthetic framework. These include: Music and the Enlightenment; Jazz and Afro-American Music; The Electrification of Music; Popular Music Analysis. You’ll also develop your listening skills and learn to use appropriate methodologies, demonstrating your awareness of a range of technical aspects appropriate to the repertoire under consideration. You'll be assessed by the submission of a portfolio of stylistic exercises that will show your stylistic familiarity and technical competence, as well as an independently-researched essay.
  • Circuit Bending, Hardware Hacking and Performance Technology
    This module is based principally around investigation and manipulation of the electronics used for hardware hacking, circuit bending and 'modding'. You'll explore a variety of methods for controlling pre-existing hardware, such as electronic toys and simple battery-powered audio devices, and develop sonic assets that can be used in the creation of audio art. You'll also be introduced to basic uses of microprocessor technology and coding, and investigate problems of technological performance/obsolescence, digital curation and archival retrieval. At the end of the module, you'll submit your collected exercises in a portfolio, accompanied by audio-visual documentation (as necessary) and a brief critical evaluation. (NB A materials charge may apply for this module. Alternatively, you may be asked to purchase various materials to work with during the course.)
  • Creative Music Computing
    On this module you'll study high-level programming languages, investigating modes of interaction with hardware and software including graphical user interface design and elements of algorithmic control of musical patterning. In particular, you'll look at the interrelationships between these elements and learn how to implement important features of them in software. In order to help understand the nature of technology and its effect on music, you'll undertake a series of tasks culminating in the conception and implementation of your own devised projects. These might include, for instance, a composition, a piece of functional music software or a performance tool based around an external hardware unit. You'll submit these collected exercises in a portfolio, accompanied by a brief critical evaluation.

Year two, optional modules

  • Studio Project
    This module is aimed at the aspiring musician rather than the recording engineer. By working on a number of creative projects, you'll learn about the history of music production and studio-based recording from the 1950s to the present day. You'll be introduced to the work of pioneers such as Phil Spector and George Martin, as well as more recent producer/composers, such as Brian Eno, Trent Reznor, and Frank Zappa. You'll also continue to develop your fluency in the use of computer software for recording, editing, sound-processing and sequencing, and to learn about microphones and creative applications of their positioning. Working collaboratively, you'll create two contrasting musical productions, which will comprise your assessment for the module. One of these will be free of stylistic constraints; the other should consciously emulate a particular style of music production, either from the past or the present day.
  • Electroacoustic Composition
    This module will introduce you to the composition of electroacoustic music. You'll approach the work through a mixture of practical sessions and guided reading, listening and discussion, being introduced to key works from the repertoire in both acousmatic music as well as electroacoustic music. You'll take part in group discussions on spatialisation, timbral transformation and spectromorphology and you'll be introduced to elements of analysis. You'll need to be well organised with more than a basic understanding of computer music sound processing, computer music sequencing, recording techniques and production & mastering experience. Your assessment will comprise a portfolio containing two contrasting compositions accompanied by brief notes that document your sound sources and processes applied to sound, as well as the formal concepts that underpin your work.
  • Music for the Moving Image
    On this module you’ll compose and realise original music to accompany a film, video or other type of digital moving or still image. You may either work with supplied material or with other students undertaking complementary work within related media production modules. By undertaking a series of practical exercises, you'll examine a range of techniques, and consider the approaches to film music composition of various commercial and non-commercial film composers. Using appropriate editing software, you'll better understand how your music will fit in to the overall scenario of audio-visual collaboration. You'll be assessed by the submission of a portfolio of materials, accompanied by a brief critical evaluation.
  • Composing and Improvising 2a
    On this practical module, you'll examine selected compositional issues in some depth. We see composition and improvisation as two sides of the same skill and we want to show you how they can complement each other. You'll be introduced to the concepts and techniques of a selection of tonally-based compositional and improvisational styles, with projects that might include exercises in contrapuntal writing, harmonisation techniques, songwriting, arrangement, basic jazz and free improvisation and related small-ensemble compositional techniques. You'll undertake three projects, and, at the end of each, perform your compositions/improvisations in a workshop. These projects will be complemented by seminar discussions, individual and group tutorials. You'll be able to choose from a range of projects to suit your own needs. For your improvisation, you will be expected to perform from an agreed range of stimuli.
  • Music and Performing Arts in Education
    This module will introduce you to a number of key principles, concepts and methodologies of music and performing arts education. Topic areas may include: introductory philosophies of education; the application of music and performing arts education in a variety of contexts; the sociological and psychological elements of music and performing arts pedagogy. You’ll also evaluate the role, function and practice of music and performing arts education within a number of familiar scenarios, such as its provision in schools. You will examine current educational methodologies and policy frameworks, including the implications of national curricula, and issues of equality. The practical side of this module will involve you teaching a group of students some basic performing arts skills, with clear guidelines and assessment criteria provided by the tutor. You will also write an essay on a given topic.

Year three, core modules

  • Enterprise in the Creative Arts
    This module will provide you with an element of work experience in preparation for your future employment. You'll identify an individual area of work placement before the semester begins and make sure your proposal is doable. You'll need to be critical in your approach, to establish clear parameters for evaluation. You’ll also develop entrepreneurial skills. Early on, you'll give an oral presentation focusing on your proposed content, and the opportunities and constraints of your chosen placement. As well as receiving tutor input at this stage, you'll benefit from the views of both your peers and employers, as well as gaining an insight into how others plan to work within comparable contexts. You'll undertake the work placement element itself either in a 'sandwich' mode during the semester or in a 'block' during the Christmas vacation or January inter-semester period.
  • Intertextuality in Music
    You'll examine the nature of music in the context of the other arts and explore the character of musical form and identity. When talking about music, we often take for granted the terms that we use. For example: What do we mean when we describe a musical work as Baroque, neo-Classical or Impressionistic? What is it for a piece to have 'form' and what would a work without form be like? You'll consider these issues and examine music from a range of periods and cultures, positioning it within an appropriate historical, cultural and aesthetic framework. Your studies will be supported by a number of guest lectures from experts in related fields, and also by group visits to relevant concerts, exhibitions and talks at local museums/art galleries. Your assessment will consist of a mid-semester presentation and a prepared essay.
  • Major Project
    The individual Major Project will allow you to undertake a substantial piece of individual research, focused on a topic relevant to your specific course. Your topic will be assessed for suitability to ensure sufficient academic challenge and satisfactory supervision by an academic member of staff. The project will require you to identify/formulate problems and issues, conduct research, evaluate information, process data, and critically appraise and present your findings/creative work. You should arrange and attend regular meetings with your project supervisor, to ensure that your project is closely monitored and steered in the right direction.

Year three, optional modules

  • Radiophonica
    Radiophonic techniques are essential tools in the creation of content for media broadcasters involving the spoken word. A knowledge of radio genres, including those of an experimental nature, goes hand in hand with principles of compositional design, structuring, editing and realisation, and experience in this area will prepare you for involvement with the media industries. This module will give you practical experience with the aesthetic issues and unique characteristics of radio. You'll also be introduced to key moments in the history of experimental, documentary and dramatic radio English language broadcasting and encouraged to respond to the spoken word in a musical way, integrating into your work concepts of sound design that originated in radio. Your assessment will take the form of a portfolio including radiophonic work and an evaluative critical commentary including evidence of project planning.
  • Sensor Technology
    Concentrating on aspects of technology that enable live performance and audio manipulation, this module will develop your understanding of performances and sonic installations and give you the chance to create your own. You'll actively pursue your own opportunities for performance/exhibition, with module materials based around the type of electronic components used in a variety of methods for controlling hardware and software: sensors (for example, those used in game controllers), chips and boards for the creation, manipulation and storage of sound. You'll also explore and implement the crucial and complex links between technology, performers, electronic sound and the audience. A series of tasks and projects will develop your experience, preparing you for a final performance or exhibition. You'll submit your collected exercises in a portfolio, accompanied by audio-visual documentation as necessary and a brief critical evaluation. You may be charged for materials used on this module.
  • Sonic Art
    Although this module contains technical components, its focus is strictly aesthetic. You'll examine a range of techniques, and investigate current manifestations of Sonic Art in the UK and around the world, including installation art and bioacoustics. You'll discuss and analyse the potential links between sound, light, structure, ecology, location and image, before undertaking experiments and exercises in the aesthetic and technical creation of acousmatic spaces. You'll also investigate your own performance/demonstration opportunities and compose/arrange/design your creations to take account of the site-specific performance/exhibition space. Your assessment will comprise a portfolio containing your collected exercises and a critical evaluation that places your work in the context of current trends in sonic art.
  • Composition 3
    This module builds on the compositional tools you'll acquire in preceding composition and performance modules, giving you more opportunities to collaborate and create. You'll draw from a range of creative activities: collaboration through use of multimedia, creating scores, lead-sheets or electronic realisations. You'll examine these in detail, learning by doing and receiving practical feedback. Creative teamwork is integral to a professional composer's life, and you'll be strongly encouraged to collaborate with students from other courses. For at least one item in your portfolio, you'll be placed into a group of students with complementary skills in the production of musical works. You'll discuss formal and stylistic aspects of compositions in reference to the various types of music underproduction. You'll also choose whether to pursue notated compositional outputs, digitally recorded and/or generated outputs, or pieces partially comprised of both through-composed elements and improvisation to suit your particular needs.
  • The Global Marketplace in Music
    The invention of recording technology has been the key not just to the commodification of music, but also to its easy distribution around the globe. The standardisation of formats has allowed people to buy and listen to music from a range of cultures. On this module, you'll trace the dynamics of the relationship between the music industry and the foreign 'other', from the early appropriation of blues and African genres, through reggae, rai and other 'world' styles that have entered the Western mainstream. You'll also examine the evolution of the modern 'world music' circuit and look at the notion of authenticity. You'll investigate the role of Western pop music in other societies, the politics of culture, censorship, and the extent to which traditions have survived or been altered in the face of competition from Western record companies. You'll explore some of the hybrids produced by the collision between Western pop and other musics, from the fusion of 1940s jazz bands with ancient gamelan chimes in Java to the guitar styles of West Africa and their basis in traditional mbira music. Throughout this module you’ll challenge the distinctions between pop and classical or traditional musics.
  • Art, Music and Performance
    This module will give you an interdisciplinary perspective on performance, music and the visual arts. This might include interrogating diverse practices (performance art, opera, music(al) theatre, dance, site-specific performance and a wide range of hybrid forms) through both critical study and practical exercises. You'll explore various theories, devices and links between differing artistic genres, as well as experimenting with your own artistic pieces. You'll question the purpose and function of a creative work and enquire into the significance and meaning which arises out of making artistic projects for and within specific contexts. You'll receive both scholarly and practice-based research training, and undertake a creative research project in which you'll collaborate with other students to create a live piece that explores the relationship between at least two different art forms.
  • Principles of Music Therapy and Dramatherapy
    This module will provide you with an intensive introduction to the theory and practice of music therapy or dramatherapy, as practised by registered professionals in the UK. It will not train you to be a therapists, but equip you with knowledge of the clinical field and some introductory skills that are useful in considering music therapy or dramatherapy as a vocation. You'll attend experiential workshops that are linked to theoretical lectures, and possibly a field trip, as well as giving audio-visual presentations. Through these activities you'll be able to evaluate, develop and analyse your musical/dramatic potential and explore the application of different media to therapeutic situations. Your assessment will consist of a written essay, and musical/dramatic improvisations (as appropriate) in small groups, in which you'll actively demonstrate an understanding of the use of music/drama as a therapeutic tool.

Optional modules available all years

  • Anglia Language Programme
    The Anglia Language Programme allows you to study a foreign language as part of your course. You'll take one language module in the second semester of your first year in order to experience the learning of a new language. You must select a language you've never learnt before from the following: Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish.

Assessment

You’ll demonstrate your learning mainly through coursework collected into portfolios, reflecting the practical nature of the course. These portfolios will include musical items, such as compositions and software development, or technological artefacts, as well as reflective and critical writing on these.

Your understanding of musical concepts, composition and performance will be tested through tasks with clear, short-term objectives, which will be developed through regular staff feedback. You’ll undertake group work, individual work, seminar presentations, written essays, critical commentaries and technical work with electronics.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

The Department of Music and Performing Arts is a community of over 400 students and staff, working together in a supportive environment to create new and challenging compositions and performances. Our lecturers are research-active practitioners and recognised experts in their field, so our students always have access to the latest theories and practice, as well as invaluable career guidance.

We organise many activities to help our students prepare for the future, like concerts, theatre performances, work placements, study abroad opportunities, talks by acclaimed guest speakers, and research conferences.

We’re part of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Social Sciences, a hub of creative and cultural innovation whose groundbreaking research has real social impact.

Where can I study?

Cambridge
Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

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Placements

Our Enterprise in the Creative Arts module will give you the opportunity to take up a work placement in Year 3. This could be in an area such as music education, instrumental teaching, artist management, marketing, recording and studio work, composition and events management.

Specialist facilities

You’ll work in our purpose-built music centre, which includes an extensive suite of computer music studios with workstation laboratories, digital editing studios, recording facilities and band rooms, as well as a recital hall, practice rooms and lecture rooms. We also have the full-size Mumford Theatre on campus, which regularly hosts professional musicians. Our studios feature a wide selection of specialist computer hardware and software, along with full internet access, and are supported by an extensive range of online facilities and resources.

You’ll also have access to five grand pianos, including a new Steinway Model D, and many orchestral instruments, as well as traditional instruments from India, China and Africa, and a Balinese Gamelan. 

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2015/16 (per year)

£9,000

International students, 2015/16 (per year)

£10,300

UK & EU students, 2016/17 (per year)

£9,000

International students, 2016/17 (per year)

£11,000

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

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Most English undergraduates take out a tuition fee loan with Student Finance England. The fees are then paid directly to us. The amount you repay each month is linked to your salary and repayments start in April after you graduate.

How to apply for a tuition fee loan

Paying upfront

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If you choose not to take out a loan you can pay your fees directly to us. There are two ways to do this: either pay in full, or through a three- or six-month instalment plan starting at registration.

How to pay your fees directly

International students

You must pay your fees up-front, in full or in instalments. You will also be asked for a deposit or sponsorship letter for undergraduate courses. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees
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Funding for UK & EU students

We offer most new undergraduate students funding to support their studies and university life. There’s also finance available for specific groups of students.

Grants and scholarships are available for:

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Funding for international students

We've a number of scholarships, as well as some fee discounts for early payment.

Entry requirements

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Entry requirements are not currently available, please try again later.

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email admissions@anglia.ac.uk for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

Portfolio requirements

If you’re an international applicant, you’ll need to submit a portfolio containing ten to 15 minutes of varied electronic music that best represents your recording and composing abilities. We recommend that you host your portfolio online if possible and let us know the URL. We also request that you write a 500-word account of your music, including discussion of techniques and equipment used. We’ll accept CDs or hardcopy sent by post to our International Admissions Office as well, but please note that these will not be returned to you.

Entry requirements are for September 2016 entry. Entry requirements for other intakes may differ.

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International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

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English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for undergraduate courses.

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Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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International applicants

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