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MusM Composition (Electroacoustic Music and Interactive Media)
In-depth study of cutting-edge compositional techniques, methodologies and associated aesthetics.

MusM Composition (Electroacoustic Music and Interactive Media)

Year of entry: 2018

Overview

Degree awarded
Master of Music
Duration
12 months full-time; 24 months part-time
Entry requirements

Applicants should hold a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree, or its overseas equivalent, in a relevant subject (normally Music, or with music as a substantial component of the programme). In some circumstances (i.e. applicants with a scientific background or experienced professionals in the composition field), we may consider appropriate alternative routes to entry.

Full entry requirements

How to apply

Please refer to the following School page regarding subject-specific requirements. These are in addition to the basic prerequisites as shown under entry requirements:     

http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/study/masters/applying/

For references, please email the following link to your referees:

References for master's applications

They will submit your references directly to us and we will add them to your application.

Please use the  Online Application Form   to apply. Once you register, you can search for the course to which you wish to apply and upload the required supporting documents towards the end of this process.

Course options

Full-time Part-time Full-time distance learning Part-time distance learning
MusM Y Y N N

Course overview

  • You're looking for a course offering an-depth study of cutting-edge compositional techniques, methodologies and associated aesthetics
  • You want to learn in state-of-the-art facilities, including our £2.5 million electroacoustic studio complex
  • You want to pursue a career as a composer working with technology and audio-media, or a PhD in electroacoustic composition

Open days

The next postgraduate taught open day will take place on Wednesday, 22 November 2017. To see the schedule and register for the event, please visit:

http://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/masters/open-days-fairs/open-day/

Fees

For entry in the academic year beginning September 2018, the tuition fees are as follows:

  • MusM (full-time)
    UK/EU students (per annum): £9,500
    International students (per annum): £18,000
  • MusM (part-time)
    UK/EU students (per annum): £4,750

Scholarships/sponsorships

Each year, the School offers a number of bursaries set at Home/EU fees level, open to both Home/EU and international students. Details of the funding process can be found on the  School's funding page  where you can also check details of subject specific bursaries.

The Manchester Alumni Scholarship offers a £3,000 reduction in tuition fees to University of Manchester alumni who achieved a 1st within the last three years and are progressing to a postgraduate taught masters course for September 2018 entry.

See also  the University's postgraduate funding database  for more funding opportunities, including the latest information on the new Government Postgraduate Loan Scheme.

Contact details

Academic department
School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Contact name
PG Taught Admissions
Telephone
0161 275 0322
Email
Website
http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/music/
Academic department overview

See: About us

Courses in related subject areas

Use the links below to view lists of courses in related subject areas.

Entry requirements

Academic entry qualification overview

Applicants should hold a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree, or its overseas equivalent, in a relevant subject (normally Music, or with music as a substantial component of the programme). In some circumstances (i.e. applicants with a scientific background or experienced professionals in the composition field), we may consider appropriate alternative routes to entry.

English language

An overall grade of 6.5 in IELTS is required or 93+ in the iTOEFL.

If you have obtained a different qualification, please check our English language requirements to ensure that it is accepted and equivalent to the above requirements.

English language test validity

Some English language test results are only valid for two years. Your English language test report must be valid on the start date of the course.

Relevant work experience

We do not require work experience as a condition of entry. Any work experience relevant to the programme may, however, be taken into consideration when we review your application.

Application and selection

How to apply

Please refer to the following School page regarding subject-specific requirements. These are in addition to the basic prerequisites as shown under entry requirements:     

http://www.alc.manchester.ac.uk/study/masters/applying/

For references, please email the following link to your referees:

References for master's applications

They will submit your references directly to us and we will add them to your application.

Please use the  Online Application Form   to apply. Once you register, you can search for the course to which you wish to apply and upload the required supporting documents towards the end of this process.

Advice to applicants

Please note that this course teaches during business hours and does not offer distance learning.

The part-time mode of attendance aims to concentrate contact time onto two days.

Overseas (non-UK) applicants

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries that equate to a UK 2.1. For these and general requirements including English language see  entry requirements from your country .

If English is not your first language, please provide us with evidence of: 

  • an overall grade 6.5 in IELTS; or
  • 93+ in the IBT Internet-based TOEFL

The other language tests we accept can be found here: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/applicationforms/new-approved-english-tests.pdf

Portfolio requirements

You will need to submit two contrasting compositions (e.g. fixed media, interactive music, audiovisual) and, if appropriate, a brief statement or project description that includes reference to e.g. programming languages experience as applied to musical outcomes or experience with analogue and modular synthesizers. Your materials should be sent via WeTransfer, Dropbox or a similar service to the course director: Ricardo.Climent@manchester.ac.uk

Course details

Course description

This course provides an in-depth knowledge of cutting-edge compositional techniques, methodologies and associated aesthetics in creative work that intersects with technology and other artistic or scientific forms. It serves as excellent preparation for a career as a composer working with technology and audio-media, and it provides all the training necessary for embarking on and envisioning novel strands for a PhD in electroacoustic composition, including those informed by other scientific and arts form.

All teaching, research and compositional work is carried out in the NOVARS Research Centre for Electroacoustic Composition, Performance and Sound Art with its state-of-the-art £2.5 million electroacoustic studios. Opportunities for the performance of new works are offered using the 55-loudspeaker sound diffusion system of MANTIS (Manchester Theatre in Sound) and through events such as the Locativeaudio Festival (locativeaudio.org) and Sines and Squares Festival for Analogue Electronics and Modular Synthesis (sines-squares.org). Acousmatic, mixed, live electronic and multimedia works are all possible, with composers able to incorporate the spatialisation of sound and interactive new game-audio media into the presentation of their work.

In addition to the final portfolio, all electroacoustic music and interactive media composition students take the compulsory course unit Composition Project and the further compulsory taught course unit, Fixed Media and Interactive Music . Optional course units normally include Aesthetics and Analysis of Organised Sound, Interactive Tools and Engines, Contemporary Music Studies, Advanced Orchestration, and Historical or Contemporary Performance. There are also choices outside the MusM Composition (subject to course director approval), such as Computer Vision, Mobile Systems, Mobile Communications, Ethno/Musicology in Action: Fieldwork and Ethnography , and Work Placement (Institute of Cultural Practices).

For more information visit the NOVARS website .

SALC Placement offers students the opportunity to spend a minimum of 20 days over a period of up to 12 weeks with an arts and cultural organisation, business or service provider. Placements will be established in Semester 1 to take place early in semester 2; they will be supervised by a work-based mentor and overseen by an academic staff member. The placement may take the form of an investigation of a specific business idea, development strategy or management proposition to resolve a problem or particular issue, and will result in a placement report, proposal or essay.

Aims

This programme aims to:

  • Build on undergraduate studies, developing skills in electroacoustic composition to Master's level.
  • Increase knowledge and a systematic understanding of electroacoustic music.
  • Foster the particular creative talents of each individual student.
  • Provide all the training necessary for embarking on a PhD in electroacoustic composition.
  • Prepare students for a career as a composer and in the wider music industry where critical judgement and developed powers of communication are needed.

Special features

The NOVARS studio complex supports a broad range of activities in the fields of electroacoustic composition and new media. The studios incorporate the newest generation of Apple computers, Genelec, PMC and ATC monitoring (up to 37-channel studios) and state-of-the art licensed software (including Pro Tools HD, Max MSP, GRM Tools, Waves, Ircam's Audiosculpt and Reaper and, for Interactive Media work, Oculus Rift, Unreal Engine 4, Unity Pro and open-source Blender3D). Location and performance work is also supported by a new 64-channel diffusion system.

Postgraduate students at the NOVARS Research Centre play an active role in the planning, organisation and execution of performance events such as the Sines & Squares Festival and MANTIS Festival (over 20 editions since 2004), and projects such as LocativeAudio and our regular Matinée presentations. Relevant training, including rigging and de-rigging the MANTIS system, health and safety, sound diffusion workshops, organisation of Calls for Works when needed, etc., is an important part of the course.

There are a number of internal composition opportunities offered to MusM students, allowing them to compose for our world-leading ensembles in residence and association. For more information, see our Composition at Manchester site .

Teaching and learning

The MusM degree consists of 180 credits in total, made up of four 30-credit taught course units and a 60-credit portfolio. Full-time students take two course units per semester; part-time students take two course units but across the two semesters. Most course units are delivered via regular seminars and/or tutorials, supported where appropriate by practical workshops. The portfolio is supported by one-to-one supervision and is submitted at the beginning of September. (Part-time students may submit in either September or December following their second year of study.) Members of the academic staff are also available for individual consultation during designated office hours.

Alongside their taught units, students have access to a range of non-assessed seminars, workshops and training sessions offered by the Graduate School of the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures. All postgraduate students are expected to undertake their own programme of self-directed learning and skills acquisition. This may also involve wider reading, language work, computer training and attendance at research seminars in other parts of the university.

Coursework and assessment

There are no formal examinations. Taught course units - all of which must be satisfactorily completed - are assessed by compositions or other coursework tasks, normally submitted at the end of each semester (January and May). Assessments may involve the premiere of new compositions, oral presentations of repertoire, musical analysis or essay topics in the field. The portfolio is created over the entire duration of study and is submitted at the end of the academic year (after the summer vacation). Topics and focus are to be discussed with project supervisors and can include compositions involving fixed or interactive media, locative and game-audio technologies. All work is double-marked internally and moderated by the External Examiner.

Course unit details

Fixed Media and Interactive Music involves creative music composition with a focus on a fixed media or interactive processes and outcomes across the composition etudes. The student develops composition techniques involving the use of music technologies and professional skills appropriate to his/her own creative needs through regular exercises, experimental sketches and pieces. Compositions are normally performed in the context of the MANTIS Festival or Sines and Squares and diffused live in a large multichannel setup, often involving acoustic instruments with live electronics.

Aesthetics and Analysis of Organised Sound encourages students to develop a critical awareness of issues affecting contemporary research and composition, to question their own assumptions, to confront, explore and assimilate unfamiliar musical sounds, concepts, repertoires and practices, and (where possible) to formulate a sense of their own individuality in relation to current schools of thought and compositional methodologies.

Composition Project requires the completion of an electroacoustic work in response to specific criteria within a limited period of time. The criteria may be collaborative in nature and/or may involve electroacoustic-based musical ideas and concepts relating to, or combining with, other art forms (visual, literary or dramatic), media (for example, film) and creative industries (for example, games). Students are responsible for organising the whole performance event.

Interactive Tools and Engines focuses on a creative project involving the conception, development and creative use of an interactive musical work or system involving new media technologies and gestural interfaces. Projects may involve the use of interactive audio-visual tools or game-physics-audio engine tools. The course provides the knowledge to document and create interactive systems at a professional level, e.g. for computer music conference submission, and to probe the creative aspects deriving from the system.

Contemporary Music Studies involves the study of a number of selected 20th/21st-century scores in terms of structure, techniques employed and imagination. Consideration is also given to supporting background material and students are encouraged to develop their critical awareness of issues affecting contemporary composition. Students then work on an extended analytical project dealing with one or more scores chosen in consultation with their supervisor.

Historical or Contemporary Performance enables students to combine practical and intellectual investigation of a specific issue connected with their chosen repertory. They prepare a public performance programme designed to explore a particular aspect of this repertory, together with a coursework project addressing related issues of performance practice or interpretative challenges posed by one or more of the chosen pieces.

Portfolio of Compositions entails the creation of a portfolio of creative musical compositions involving the use of new audio (and media) technologies and computer music processes, both in the methodology and in the final outcomes.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Composition Project MUSC40102 30 Mandatory
Portfolio of Compositions MUSC40120 60 Mandatory
Fixed Media and Interactive Music MUSC40211 30 Mandatory
Contemporary Music Studies MUSC40061 30 Optional
Historical or Contemporary Performance MUSC40072 30 Optional
Aesthetics and Analysis of Organised Sound MUSC40221 30 Optional
Interactive Tools and Engines MUSC40242 30 Optional
Ethno/Musicology in Action: Fieldwork and Ethnography MUSC60032 30 Optional
Advanced Orchestration MUSC60042 30 Optional
SALC Placement (30cr) SALC70300 30 Optional

What our students say

`The University facilities in general are excellent, and the facilities for electroacoustic composers are outstanding. NOVARS is one of only a handful of facilities of its kind in the UK, and it has gained an international reputation for producing award-winning composers.'

`My skills as an electroacoustic composer have improved greatly due to the guidance of my tutors, as well as the influence of other Masters and PHD students and all of the workshops, concerts and seminars on offer. I felt welcome straight away and was soon part of the family here, mainly due to the MANTIS festivals that we all take part in. It is a chance for everyone to get together and perform their work and it gives you a real sense of achievement as your hard work has paid off.'

`A unique quality of the university is its proximity to the city of Manchester, rich in culture, arts and entertainment, as well as educational and employment advantages. It is a very concentrated but diverse and cosmopolitan city.'

`HUGE congratulations with sine-squares! It was a huge success and I have to say, inspired me greatly. I have had an influx of ideas I want to explore for my portfolio as a result!`

Facilities

The Martin Harris Centre - which accommodates the departments of Music and Drama - offers its students an exceptional home equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. Alongside teaching rooms and practice rooms, the building houses the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall (capacity 350, with a stage large enough to accommodate a full symphony orchestra), the John Thaw Studio Theatre (a flexible space seating up to 150), the Lenagan Library, and a postgraduate suite consisting of a common room and computer room. The multi-studio NOVARS Research Centre for Electroacoustic Composition, Performance and Sound Art occupies an adjacent building.

The Lenagan is a small library housing major scores, reference tools and a large collection of recordings, together with listening rooms. The main holdings are in the University of Manchester Library - the largest university library in Britain outside Oxford and Cambridge, with more than 4 million printed books and manuscripts, over 41,000 electronic journals and 500,000 electronic books, as well as several hundred databases. Special collections are housed in the John Rylands Library in the city centre. These include rare books, early printed scores and historic music manuscripts. Students may also use the Henry Watson Library (located in Manchester's Central Library), renowned for its Handel and Vivaldi manuscripts, and the library of the nearby Royal Northern College of Music and the Delia Derbyshire Collection of digitalised reel-to-reel tapes, electronic scores and manuscripts.

Masters students from across the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures have access to the new Graduate School, housed in the Ellen Wilkinson Building. Facilities there include computer clusters, workstations, a large training room, seminar rooms, a dining room and kitchen, a coffee lounge and lockers.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk

Careers

Career opportunities

Graduates of this programme have pursued successful careers in musical and non-musical fields. Some continue to further study via a PhD before securing an academic position. Some go on to teach in schools or further education, both in the UK and overseas. Other areas of work for which advanced compositional training has been directly relevant include recording studios, entrepreneurships, the creative industries, music publishing, music journalism and performance. Careers outside of music have included computer programming, theatre, accountancy, law, social work and human resources.