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Unit information: Studio Composition Live in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

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 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Farwell
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:

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

Teaching Information

Lecture/seminars and practical classes

Assessment Information

Summative assessment of five pieces of coursework (together demonstrating ILOs 1-8). All five pieces must be submitted to gain credit for the unit. The best four out of the five contribute to the unit mark (4 x 25%).

Reading and References

Emmerson, Simon (ed.): The Language of Electroacoustic Music – Macmillan, London, 1986.

Emmerson, Simon: Living Electronic Music – Ashgate, Aldershot, 2007

Huber, David Miles: Modern Recording Techniques – Taylor and Francis, London, 2017

Rumsey, Francis, McCormick, Tim: Sound and Recording: An Introduction, Focal Press, Oxford, 2002

Schafer, R. Murray: The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, Destiny Books, Rochester Vt., 1994

Winkler, Todd: Composing Interactive Music – MIT Press, London, 1999