Master in Creative Sound and Media Technology
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 includes a grounding in postgraduate-level research methodology, and opportunities to collaborate with other musicians, performers and media practitioners.
The multimedia aspects of the course are optional. Students can choose at what depth to engage with this area, or indeed to focus entirely on sound. In the first trimester there is an opportunity to take on multimedia-based skills as part of the Skills Portfolio module, while the optional Visual Music module will give further opportunities to specialise in this area in trimester 2.
Course Structure and Content
In full-time mode, the course runs over three trimesters, October to October. 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.
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. Students are offered a selection of skills-based options – small, self-contained bespoke practical projects based around particular technical (in the broadest sense) skills. The skills on offer cover a broad range of sound and media skills. This provides an opportunity for students from different backgrounds to reach a parity in terms of skill set, and also provides a progression from undergraduate-level project work to the sort of projects that will be undertaken in Trimesters 2 and 3. Students will choose three from a wide selection of such projects. In each case, the student undertakes a small practical project and also submits an evaluative log demonstrating their understanding of the technology concerned.
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 is 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. The primary teaching method for this module is a weekly lecture/seminar, with some tutorial sessions that focus on pathway specialism. The assessment item will be a 5000-word topic review, demonstrating an understanding of the methodologies covered by the module and an awareness of the contextual siting of the student's own practice.
Electroacoustic Composition Techniques (option): This module centres around a weekly seminar series. Each seminar looks at a set of techniques and their application within a compositional framework. These range from classic techniques derived from the fields of Musique Concrete, Elektronische Musik and Computer Music to contemporary techniques from areas such as Acousmatic Art, Soundscape, Microsound and Electronica. Students produce a portfolio of creative practical work exploring these techniques, as well as a self-evaluative written assignment which explores the application of these techniques to their individual practice.
Visual Music (option): A weekly seminar series explores 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 also covers 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. This seminar series is informed by a range of high-level practical input in areas such as video editing, animation, motion graphics and interactivity. Students produce a portfolio of creative and practical work exploring the concepts and skills explored by the module, and a selective topic review further exploring some of the areas covered by the seminar series.
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. Delivery centres around small-group seminars (focused on particular interest areas), and assessment is based on a portfolio of creative work and a self-evaluation/collaborative process document.
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 use the skills acquired in their undergraduate work and the first two trimesters to produce a substantial portfolio of practical creative work. The exact nature of this work is to be negotiated with the module leader, but it must represent the quantity of work required by a double module. The practical portfolio is supported by a dissertation of 5-8000 words. This dissertation is used to contextualise the practical work in terms of existing 'repertoire' and current practice, and to discuss any issues raised through the creative process. The module will be largely student-led, with most of the work centred around individual practice. Students receive tutorial support at the beginning and end of the module.
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.
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.
We offer places on the basis of our assessment of the student's quality, potential and commitment, and their ability to benefit from the course. Normally, but not invariably, a student will have a first degree. Applications are invited from candidates with a range of academic disciplines and from a variety of national backgrounds. Applicants should submit a portfolio with their application, comprising no more than three pieces of representative work. The form of this portfolio will depend on the music you make: we are happy to receive CDs, DVDs, scores, documentation of performances or installations, or online material as appropriate.
Potential career destinations include:
- Composition for media;
- Other media work (web, games etc.);
- Studio engineering/production;