MusB Music / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Sonic Invention B

Course unit fact file
Unit code MUSC10312
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? No


Sonic Invention consists of two parallel strands of study, one in instrumental composition, the other in electroacoustic composition. These strands are both offered in identical forms in both semesters, to ensure they are taught in smaller classes.

MusB students take one of the strands in Semester 1 as MUSC 10311 and the other in Semester 2 as MUSC 10312.

BA Music and Drama/Film Studies and Music students may take either strand in either semester (10cr) or take both (10cr + 10cr).

The units are designed to be of help to those who are already active in composition, those who might wish to have some experience of composing, and those whose main interest is not in composition but who will benefit from a basic study of musical instruments, the relationship between sound and notation, issues that relate to the creation of a musical score, and an introduction to electroacoustic music.


  • To provide a foundation in aspects that relate to the composing of music, namely current musical notation/processing, instrumentation, as well as the creation and development of musical ideas

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate musical literacy and an appropriate level of imagination in the development of musical ideas and gain a basic knowledge of electroacoustic music composition
  • Gain a greater understanding of how to break down compositional tasks into ways of thinking that can be combined to gain greater control of compositional method

Intellectual skills

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Contextualise and argue reasons for the purpose and effectiveness of basic compositional techniques
  • Apply imaginative solutions to achieve desired musical result
  • Give feedback to other students on their work, and reflect on their own, regarding the effectiveness with which they have achieved their compositional aims

Practical skills

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • To present a musical score and performance material to a good standard and demonstrated a basic competence in writing for groups of instruments through instrumentation or composition
  • To understand the fundamentals of electroacoustic composition, and in accordance to the level of access to the studios, start to use some of the software, which may also be delivered online and supported remotely

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Utilise graphic notational and recorded communication of ideas to others; coherently respond to visual and auditory stimuli to enhance sensory experiences in listeners; expanded methods of communication via sound and written directions

Employability skills

This course provides a framework for approaching any compositional task, and will give students something to build on if they pursue a career in composition of concert music, of music incorporating electronics, and indeed any kind of commercial music. In addition, this course gives performers experience in experimenting with expanded capabilities of their instruments and performing extended techniques, to be adapted to the alternative forms of delivery for this course, including online teaching The framework provided can be applied to teaching music at all levels.

Assessment methods

One marked compositionassignment
according to aspecific brief and adapted                  100%
to the alternative forms of delivery                                       


Feedback methods

  • Formative feedback on ongoing work through workshops and tutorials
  • Summative written feedback to final assessment

Recommended reading


  • Blatter, Alfred, Instrumentation/Orchestration (New York, 1981)
  • Gould, Elaine, Behind Bars – The Definitive Guide to Music Notation (Faber London, 2011)
  • Harvey, Jonathan, Music and Inspiration (Faber and Faber, 1999)
  • Schoenberg, Arnold, Fundamentals of Musical Composition (London, 1970)
  • Toch, Ernst, The Shaping Forces in Music (Dover, 1977)
  • Whittall, Arnold, Musical Composition in the Twentieth Century (Oxford, 1999) 


  • Michel Chion. Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen (New York, 1994). 
  • Francis Dhomont and Paul Lansky, My Cinema for the Ears (2002) [DVD]Simon Emmerson, ed., The Language of Electroacoustic Music (London, 1986).  
  • Robert Rowe, Machine Musicianship (Cambridge MA, 2004).
  • Barry Truax, Handbook for Acoustic Ecology
  • Trevor Wishart, ed. Simon Emmerson, On Sonic Art (London, 1997).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 16.5
Independent study hours
Independent study 83.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Kevin Maloney Unit coordinator
David Berezan Unit coordinator

Additional notes



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