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This course is intended primarily for those with experience of music technology who wish to explore the field in more depth, or broaden their experience in interdisciplinary and multimedia work. Read more
This course is intended primarily for those with experience of music technology who wish to explore the field in more depth, or broaden their experience in interdisciplinary and multimedia work. It would also benefit those with a general musical background who wish to gain more experience working with technology, and those with experience in media-based technologies who wish to focus on sound.

We take a creative and experimental approach, whilst remaining non genre-specific. The course spans a wide variety of styles and approaches, and will be of interest to those involved in such areas as electro-acoustic/acousmatic music, soundscape, acoustic ecology, computer music, sound/sonic art, electronica, visual music and audiovisual work.

The emphasis of the course is largely practical, giving students the opportunity to produce a substantial body of creative work over the duration of the course. Students engage with a wide variety of technical and creative skills - these range from classic techniques derived from areas such as musique concrete and visual music to more contemporary practice, and include advanced skills such as software development using Max/MSP/Jitter and multimedia skills. The course will also include a grounding in postgraduate-level research methodology, and opportunities to collaborate with other musicians, performers and media practitioners.

COURSE STRUCTURE AND CONTENT

In full-time mode, the course runs over three trimesters, September to September. The first trimester gives a thorough grounding in research methodology in the Context and Methodology module, and the Skills Portfolio module offers a toolkit of optional skills-based projects designed to allow students to improve on specific technical and creative skills as required. The second trimester offers a choice; where students can opt to explore sound within a multimedia context in the Visual Music module, or to take the Electroacoustic Composition Techniques module which focuses purely on audio work. All students will take the Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Practice module, which gives an opportunity to work with peers and across subject boundaries, with the possibility of working with other creative disciplines (film- and theatre-makers, dancers and choreographers etc.) as well as musicians. The third trimester is research-based, with students undertaking an individual Major Project which allows them to explore a chosen area in depth.

MODULES

Trimester 1

• Skills Portfolio - This module is offered to allow students to garner any technical and creative skills they will need for the rest of the course. It is recognised that students at this level will already have a strong skill-set, but also that they may have areas they wish to strengthen, or indeed areas they have not previously engaged with.

• Context and Methodology - This module is intended to fulfil the requirements of a research methodology module. However, since a large part of the this programme is practice-based, and the methodology for this aspect of students’ work will be covered by other modules in the programme, it is intended to combine a study of research methodology with a study of context in terms of the student’s own practice – specifically of a set of paradigms that characterise the field’s current, creative boundaries.

Trimester 2

• Electroacoustic Composition Techniques (option) - This module will centre around a weekly seminar series. Each seminar will look at a set of techniques and their application within a compositional framework. Students will produce a portfolio of creative practical work exploring these techniques, as well as a self-evaluative written assignment which will explore the application of these techniques to their individual practice.

• Visual Music (option) - a weekly seminar series will explore the history of visual music, from pre-cinema artists such as Kandinsky and Klee, through Early Abstract Cinema pioneers such as Max Richter, Viking Eggeling and Oskar Fischinger, to the modernist, fluxus and underground artists of the 60s and 70s (the Whitney Brothers, Mark Boyle, Glenn McKay, Nam June Paik etc.). It will also cover contemporary artists such as Kurt Ralske, Jeremy Goldstein and Scott Pagano, as well as more commercial practitioners such as Chris Cunningham, Alex Rutterford and the Pleix and Shynola collectives, and new media creatives.

• Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Practice - this module encourages students to collaborate, with students on the Creative Sound and Media Technology course, with students taking our other MMus courses, or indeed with creative individuals outside of the course. It allows students who are so inclined to look beyond their core discipline and undertake interdisciplinary projects, but can also provide an opportunity to work in new ways within their core discipline through collaborative practice.

Trimester 3

• Major Project - this double module represents the culmination of the MMus, and a chance for students to work in a research-oriented environment dependent largely on personal direction and working methods. Students will use the skills acquired in their undergraduate work and the first two trimesters to produce a substantial portfolio of practical creative work. The practical portfolio will be supported by a dissertation of 5-8000 words. It is envisaged that this dissertation will be used to contextualise the practical work in terms of existing ‘repertoire’ and current practice, and to discuss any issues raised through the creative process.

TEACHING METHODS AND RESOURCES

Modules are normally taught via lectures, seminars and practical workshops. The Major Project is research-based and student-led, with supporting tutorials. Visiting speakers and other activities are arranged as appropriate. You are encouraged to make full use of library and IT resources within the University, and ample time will be scheduled in studios and workstation labs for independent study.

EMPLOYABILITY

Potential career destinations include:

• Composition
• Composition for media
• Other media work (web, games etc.)
• Studio engineering/production
• Programming

ASSESSMENT METHODS

Assessment takes the form of individual assignments for each module. These generally consist of a portfolio of practical work with supporting written documentation. Context and Methodology and the Major Project also involve small-scale dissertations.

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Why you should choose this course. -You're looking for a course offering an-depth study of cutting-edge compositional techniques, methodologies and associated aesthetics. Read more
Why you should choose this course:
-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

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).

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.

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.

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