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Unit information: Composing With Electronics in 2015/16

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Unit name Composing With Electronics
Unit code MUSIM0027
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Kelcey Swain
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit develops knowledge of the wide-ranging options for the use of electronics in composition and performance and combines technical and aesthetic concerns, demonstrated through original compositions. The focus is on combining acoustic instrument(s) and/or voice(s) with live electronic resources, but other areas such as acousmatic composition, sound installation, and design of new performance interfaces will be studied according to student expertise and interests. The unit will also address questions of presentation, dissemination, portability and preservation for music that is dependent on rapidly-changing technical resources. Extensive foundational knowledge of studio composition is assumed, but if lacking can be made up by additional attendance in undergraduate and other graduate classes. A substantial element of individual study and compositional activity is expected, with these elements brought together in tutorial. The unit equips composers to include a substantial electronic component in their MA portfolio, and prepares them for further compositional research involving electronics.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

1) demonstrate advanced technical skill with the tools of electronic music;

2) demonstrate sophisticated understanding of conceptual issues in one or more areas of composition with electronics;

3) create original works that deploy these practical and aesthetic insights as part of coherent musical expression;

4) discuss and critically assess issues of preservation and dissemination for soundworks involving digital media.

Teaching Information

4 x 2 hour plenary seminars, spread through the Teaching Block. Individual tutorials in rota over remaining 7 weeks.

Assessment Information

Two short projects, demonstrating contrasted approaches to the use of electronics (50%, 50%).

Each addresses ILOs 1-4.

The nature and the scope of each project will be identified tutorially in relation to the student's interests and areas of expertise. Each project will be presented as score / digital media / etc., with full instructions, as for a professional user; and accompanied by a succinct critical commentary.

Reading and References

  • John R. Pierce The Science of Music Sound, rev. ed.(Scientific American Library, New York, 1992).
  • Simon Emmerson, Living Electronic Music (Ashgate, 2007).
  • Nicolas Collins Handmade Electronic Music (Routledge, new ed 2007)
  • Additional reading, listening and viewing material will be identified tutorially according to individual student topics.