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Unit information: Studio Composition Live in 2014/15

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Studio Composition Live
Unit code MUSI20057
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
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 is an intensive study of three studio disciplines: recording, composition and interactivity. Microphone techniques and recording practice will be introduced “hands on”, backed by a solid conceptual framework including aspects of acoustics and psychoacoustics. Electro-acoustic composition builds on studio work done in Level 1 Composition, exploring a wider range of genre and technique. Live and electronic sound are brought together through various models of human-machine interaction. The three strands are interlinked, and provide a thorough grounding for further work at Level 3. There is an emphasis on critical listening and collaborative working. Students are expected to participate as live performers in interactive compositions and to assist the Studio Manager in the recording of department concerts.


This Unit aims to equip the student with knowledge and practical confidence in core techniques of classical and popular recording. The Unit builds analytic and creative understanding of a variety of electro-acoustic compositional genres and techniques; and it explores the theory and composition of interactive works for live players and electronics. These three aims stand individually and also feed one into the next.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Successful completion of this unit will enable the student to:

  • explain the basic principles of acoustics applied to musical instruments, human hearing, performance spaces and recording systems
  • describe the distinguishing features of different microphone types, and have used multiple examples
  • understand the theory of key techniques and equipment, and the role of aesthetic choice and human dynamics, in classical and popular recording/production
  • demonstrate practical competence and sensitivity in real-world recording situations
  • describe, compare and contrast a range of electro-acoustic genres and composers
  • display competence in a wide range of electro-acoustic compositional techniques
  • discuss motivations, issues and models for interactive (live + electronic) composition
  • demonstrate foundational knowledge of key live tools and software, and create new compositional work.

Teaching Information

Lecture/seminars and practical classes

Assessment Information

Coursework submissions (100%).

Reading and References

  • David Miles Huber Modern Recording Techniques, 5th ed. (Focal Press, 2001).
  • John R. Pierce The Science of Musical Sound, rev. ed. (Scientific American Library, New York, 1992).
  • Perry R. Cook (ed.) Music, cognition and computerized sound: an introduction to psychoacoustics, includes examples CD, (MIT Press, 2001).
  • Simon Emmerson (ed.), The Language of Electroacoustic Music. (London, 1986).
  • Todd Winkler, Composing Interactive Music (MIT Press, 1999)

CD recordings, articles, software manuals etc. specified in class.