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BA Music and Drama / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Fixed Media Electroacoustic Composition

Unit code MUSC20061
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Music
Available as a free choice unit? No


A course dealing with a broad range of compositional techniques involving the use of cutting-edge technology and building upon studio-based electroacoustic composition concepts and methodologies encountered in other related course-units, extending into a wide range of material contexts, practical techniques, performance issues and advanced sound processing.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Interactive Media Composition Environments MUSC20072 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


·         To develop studio-based compositional methodologies

·         To provide enhanced skills in sound capture, processing and manipulation, including FFT and live electronics MaxMSP environments

·         To explore concepts of live sound diffusion and interpretation

·         To create software-based environments for interactive sonic creativity with human interface devices and computers

  • To introduce issues related to performance as encountered in the medium

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

·         Apply enhanced skills in sound processing and electroacoustic composition

·         Increase imagination and techniques in developing sonic material  

  • Develop skills in creating and performing fixed-media electroacoustic music


Representative Example:






30 Jan

Introduction. Course-unit aims and objectives, course structure. Sound sources, recording, strategies, Studio 4.



6 Feb

Reading week. No meeting, complete recordings /start work



13 Feb

Advanced processing techniques: FFT analysis and re-synthesis, MaxMSP, SoundHack

Sonic intersections: ambient and electronica



20 Feb

Advanced sound tools: IRCAM's Audiosculpt, Cecilia

Sonic intersections: glitch and noise



27 Feb

MaxMSP: improvisatory sound development environment; live-electronics approaches

Sonic intersections: live coding


2–3 Mar

MANTIS (Manchester Theatre in Sound) Festival



6 Mar

Composing: phrasing, patterns, time, formal designs

Sonic intersections: sonification



13 Mar

Un-assessed formative task deadline: in-class workshop performance



20 Mar

Advanced shaping and mixing techniques  

Sonic intersections: audio-visual



27 Mar

Space form: theory and in practice, sound diffusion

Sonic intersections: multi-channel audio



3 April

Mastering audio for electroacoustic media: compression, limiting, EQ, stereo imaging

Sonic intersections: soundscape







1 May


Teaching and learning methods

  • ·         1h x 11-week lectures

    ·         1hx 11-weeks workshops

    ·         3h MANTIS festival attendance

    ·         3 hrs eLearning directed research

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate more advanced knowledge of studio-based, live and interactive compositional methodologies
  • Understand spectromorphology and space-form as wider contexts for musical and sonic vocabulary and grammar as well as performance
  • Understand methodologies relating to sonic, musical and performance interaction in mixed-music

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Navigate in-depth concepts relating to interaction, space and timbre;
  • Develop gesture and texture driven structuring processes.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Apply a technical knowledge of software techniques and sound recordings in realizing fixed media works
  • Demonstrate enhanced skill in using technology to achieve meaning and expression through sound
  • Implement at professional level the Format of Composition submission of audio content, designed and approved by the composition staff
  • Prepare and deliver a presentation/performance through coursework as a formative experience toward completing the electroacoustic musical outcomes and tasks
  • Demonstrate enhanced skills in sound processing, visual oriented programming and electroacoustic composition
  • Develop sonic material more imaginatively
  • Utilise a wide range of studio tools in the capture, development and performance of electroacoustic music

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:


·         Collaborate with other students in problem-solving dealing both with technology and creative issues

·         Demonstrate organisational and management skills in making use of studio time and access, booking musicians if needed, working with technology and preparing recordings and mastering of final works, and preparing an in-class performance

·         Demonstrate attention to detail through the compositional methods and the crafting and editing of recorded and transformed sound, preparing compositions to professional standards

·         Demonstrate the development of dialogue through teaching and workshops, whilst developing communicative abilities and to communicate a specific point of views and compositional strategies during the creative process

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Surveying repertoire, analysing materials for musical composition
Group/team working
During workshops
Initiative and inventiveness
Interpersonal and Leadership skills and roles within a group (especially in collaborative workshop tasks)
Project management
Time management and organisational skills (scheduling studio access and navigating eLearning content). Working to deadlines (tasks and projects)
Problem solving
Creative problem-solving (especially in the transformation process and when using visual oriented objects to build signal processing systems)
Editing, transforming and mastering sound material

Assessment methods

Assessment task


Weighting within unit

Electroacoustic creative project

 ca. 4 - 5  minute composition



Feedback methods

  • Oral feedback on in-class set task presentation
  • Written feedback on final project
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment)

Recommended reading


Computer Music Journal¿

Organized Sound


Books and eBooks:

Emmerson, Simon (ed.) The Language of Electroacoustic Music (London: Macmillan, 1986).

Manning, Peter. Electronic and Computer Music (Oxford: Clarendon , 1993).

Roads, Curtis (ed.),  The Computer Music Tutorial (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 1996).

Rowe, Robert, Interactive Music Systems: Machine Listening and Composing (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 1993).

Rowe, Robert, Machine Musicianship Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2001).

Wanderley Marcelo M. and Battier, Marc (eds.) Trends in Gestural Control of Music (Paris: IRCAM, 2000), Interactive CDROM.

             Wishart, Trevor, On Sonic Art (Amsterdam: Harwood Academic, 1996).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 11
Work based learning 3
Independent study hours
Independent study 75

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
David Berezan Unit coordinator

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