MMus Composition (Electronic Music)

Course summary

Overview
London College of Music (LCM) at the University of West London is at the forefront of the academic study of music technology in general – and popular electronic music composition in particular.

Students investigating electronic equipment


The course is aimed equally at composers of electronic music in the traditional sense and contemporary artists who may combine the role of composer with producer, engineer, musician and DJ.

Why choose this course?
The course encompasses a broad range of electronic music, from popular electronic dance music styles to art forms such as electroacoustic music. It assumes you have a level of competence in composition or music sequencing and production. Composition studies include one-to-one tutorials in an area of electronic music that you will negotiate with your lecturer.

You will also examine the history and concepts of electronic music, the creation of sound installations and live performances, together with options that include the theory and practice of sequencing, sound synthesis, sampling, production techniques and the use of Max/MSP.

Tutor information
This course is run by the London College of Music to provide you with both the high-quality teaching and the personal attention you need to make the most of your University education.

The London College of Music teaching staff includes:
Course Leader Larry Whelan
Senior Lecturer Andrew East


Career and study progression
This course helps you build a wide range of skills, knowledge and creative strategies essential for a successful career in the contemporary, fast-changing music industry – or as a springboard to further postgraduate study at PhD level.

For further information about this course, please contact Larry.Whelan@uwl.ac.uk.

Course detail

The course is built around four core modules and two options. The core modules are Electronic Music Composition 1 and 2, Developing a Career and Interactive Music Technology. There is also a common Research Methods module in semester 1, which prepares students for their Project or Dissertation module over the summer.

Core modules:

  • Electronic Music Composition 1 
  • Developing Your Career 
  • Electronic Music Composition 2 
  • Interactive Music Technology 
  • Research Methods 
  • Dissertation or Project.

Plus one option from:

  • Digital Audio Interface Design for Music 
  • Advanced Recording Techniques 
  • Performance in the Studio.

…and one option from:

  • Advanced Non-Linear Recording 
  • Combining Sounds 
  • The Development of Audio Technology 
  • Manipulating Sounds 
  • Multi-track Recording and Mixing for Surround.
Module summaries

Electronic Music Composition 1
The aim of the module is to develop advanced electronic compositional techniques, facilitating the learning of skills required of the contemporary professional composer. You will be taught both in groups and on a one-to-one basis by a composition tutor specific to your chosen area of specialist study.  You will work towards submission of a portfolio of diverse compositional exercises that fulfils the requirements of the appropriate syllabus.

Developing Your Career
This module includes a series of lectures and tutorials designed to enhance your understanding of:
  • administration
  • communication
  • logistics. 
These skills are required in the management and development of yourselves as an artist.

The module examines and investigates the current social and consumer trends of the industry and how to develop your commercial and entrepreneurial skills to meet industry requirement.

You will undertake one assignment focusing on the logistical planning, budgeting and marketing skills required to successfully promote either yourself or another artist, by way of problem-based learning, and investigative independent project on the administration, budgeting and promotional documentation.

Electronic Music Composition 2 
The aim of the module is to consolidate and further develop advanced electronic compositional techniques, facilitating the learning of skills required of the contemporary professional composer.

Given the nature of individual composition studies, the exact content of learning sessions will depend upon your:
  • prior knowledge
  • experience
  • expertise.
Key areas covered within the module will be:
  • compositional techniques
  • idiomatic writing
  • programming
  • analysis
  • working to briefs
  • time management and self-evaluation.
Interactive Music Technology
An examination of contemporary, experimental composition techniques, sound art, interactive music and sound design. You‘ll be looking at composers from Aphex Twin to John Zorn taking in the likes of John Cage, Eno and Stockhausen on the way. After the brief tour of electronic and electroacoustic composition and multimedia installations, you will be creating and presenting your own experimental work at a public event at the end of the semester. 

Research Methods
As preparation for research this module will require you to undertake a
number of tasks related to your discipline. These include:
  • a précis of an article
  • a critical commentary of two book reviews
  • your own book review
  • a proposal for your dissertation with an annotated bibliography. 
Seminars will take place weekly in the first semester, with one-to-one supervision for the dissertation following thereafter.

Project or Dissertation
The dissertation module comprises an extended piece of written work of approximately 10,000 words. The subject is chosen by you in consultation with a supervisor. Other areas relevant to your interests may also be approved. Supervision will take place at regular intervals between late October/early November and late June.

The project allows opportunity to undertake an ambitious, substantial, self-managed practical project that expands and enhances both skills and knowledge acquired during the Masters course.  

You can choose to pursue elements of the project throughout the academic year, but it is envisaged that the bulk of the work will happen over the summer period. You  will be assigned a supervisor who can help guide the workflow, and will be responsible for the final assessment of the project. 

Option modules:

Digital Audio Interface Design for Music
The use of computers and software-based systems is now highly important in many areas of music and audio technology. This module provides a practical introduction to the software design and programming techniques involved, primarily focusing on Max/MSP, a versatile object-oriented programming environment.

This module will introduce you to the wide variety of uses to which Max/MSP can be put, along with appropriate background theory, in areas such as:
  • MIDI and audio signal processing
  • Sequencing
  • Synthesis
  • Sampling
  • frequency domain analysis and signal processing
  • algorithmic composition
  • interfaces between computers and hardware control systems. 
Advanced Recording Techniques
This module analyses how recordists 'capture' sound. It covers the history and theory of transducer design in addition to current and developing approaches to location and stereo/surround recording, including 5.1 and Ambisonics. We encourage you to conduct field test recordings of your own, and to experiment in practical studio sessions using the many techniques we discuss and the equipment we present to you.

Performance in the Studio
This module investigates the idea that musical performance for recorded output is very different to concert performance. A record producer not only has to be aware of these differences, but also of what is required and how to achieve it. 
  • How do participants engage with one another?
  • How do they critically evaluate the process and results?
  • What methodologies and theoretical frameworks are there for studying these phenomena?
Alongside the technical issues of recording sound we will also inspect the psychological and interpersonal issues involved in creating the right atmosphere for the communal activity of creating recorded music. 

Advanced Non-Linear Recording
To combat the rising threat of bland, sterile and conformist production ethos which tends to prevail our modern creative times, Advanced Non-Linear Recording (ANLR) presents an opportunity to explore production methodologies which blur the traditional boundaries of composer, musician, engineer and producer. You will research and (re)discover the modern Hi-Spec recording studio and the people who pioneered its use. 

Technologies and topics considered: 
  • Logic Pro Vs ProTools
  • mono to multiple-channel
  • implications and management of source selection
  • resolution
  • recording medium choices
  • processing in the analogue and digital domains
  • hardware integration with the virtual world
  • MIDI to MADI
  • manipulation of time and space
  • pitch-correction and spectral deviancy (their creative abuse and mastery).
All this will be brought together via a large-scale, self-directed practical studio production, working at high sample rates. 

Combining Sounds
This module explores the process of combining sounds, from simplistic mono tape recordings through to multi-tracked, multi-channeled environments. Genres of music will be deconstructed focusing on the working practices and methods applied when combining and mixing sounds.

Practical studio sessions will provide a forum for experimentation and analysis of sound construction and multi-layering techniques. Distinctions and parallels will be evaluated as will the tactile and non-tactile differentials in methodologies.  Technical and non-technical intuitive approaches will be examined alongside the linear and non-linear mixing methods in both stereo and surround sound.

The Development of Audio Technology
This module will involve you in the study of recording technology and the people who have used it. This will involve a survey of how these things developed over time from the beginning of the 20th century and also of how these developments varied geographically, socially and culturally. 

Did, for example:
  • The spread of new technology occur at the same time in India as it did in Argentina?
  • How did the apartheid system in South Africa affect the production techniques used by black African artists compared to white artists?
  • Why have there been and continue to be so few women producers?
  • What kinds of methodologies should we use to study these things?
You will also investigate the debate over the difference between analogue and digital sound: 
  • Is the issue of analogue tape recording substantially different to the question of analogue pre-amps (or analogue compressors and limiters for that matter)?
  • Is there such a thing as objective audio ‘quality’ or is this debate concerned purely with subjective matters such as perceived authenticity and aesthetics?
Manipulating Sounds
Techniques for manipulation of audio have transformed the recording process from one of simple documentation to the point where the recording studio (or now a computer) can be considered as an ‘instrument’ in its own right. Many contemporary forms of music owe their existence to the power of technology to edit, transform and recontextualise audio.

This module involves both theoretical and practical considerations of manipulating audio, examining the history, social significance and psychoacoustics of manipulation in a wide variety of musical styles and contexts, from dub reggae to glitch, from groove and rhythmic structures in dance music to spectomorphology in electroacoustic music. A wide range of techniques will be studied, from the traditional:
  • equaliser (eq)
  • Dynamics
  • time domain
  • frequency domain
  • timbral effects
to advanced techniques such as:
  • vocoding
  • FFT
  • Granulation
  • glitch and groove manipulation.
Multitrack  Recording and Mixing for Surround
On this module you will explore:
  • 5.1, 7.1, 10.2 channel surround and beyond
  • Surround monitor formats
  • recording and mixing hardware and software
  • tape and non-linear recording formats
  • console and screen recording and mixing options
  • surround capabilities of non-linear platforms
  • planning, starting and finishing a surround mix
  • surround audio processing
  • automation, media and output file formats
  • DVD authoring.

Entry requirements

Applicants must have the following:

  • 2:1 Honours degree or higher in Music, Music Technology or a related subject, or substantial industry or prior experience in the field.
  • This course requires advanced musical knowledge (although knowledge of notation and instrumental skills are not required).
  • Candidates will be required to provide a portfolio of degree level / professional work and a written statement.
  • International students need to meet our English language requirement at either IELTS at 6.5 or above, and a minimum of 5.5 for each of the 4 individual components (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening).

    In some countries where teaching is in English, we may accept local qualifications. Please visit http://www.uwl.ac.uk/international/your-country to check for local equivalencies.

    We offer pre-sessional English language courses if you do not meet these requirements. Find out more about our English Language courses

Fees

Fees for home and EU students

Main fee
£3750

Fees for overseas students

Main fee
£6000
Find out if you are a home or overseas student.

Funding

A range of loans, bursaries and scholarships are available to help you fund your studies.

Students on some Masters courses may be eligible to apply for a Postgraduate Loan of up to £10,000 as a contribution towards their course and living costs. Find out how to apply for a Postgraduate Loan on GOV.UK

Other loans available to postgraduate students include Professional and Career Development Loans, which also allow you to borrow up to £10,000.  Find out more about Loans on GOV.UK

Additional funding is available to some types of students, such as disabled students. Find out more about funding opportunities

Within the university, we offer a range of scholarships and bursaries. In the 2017 - 18 academic year, they included:

  • The William Brake Bursary: a £1,000 award for candidates on undergraduate or postgraduate degree courses
  • The Mollie Clay Scholarship: a £2,500 scholarship awarded to an outstanding student
  • Exclusive alumni discounts: a £2,000 discount on taught postgraduate courses or a 10% discount on research courses, exclusive to students who graduated from the University of West London.

Other scholarships are also available, including awards for specific subjects. Find out more and check your eligibility.


Please note fees are paid for each year of study unless otherwise stated. You will be required to re-enrol and pay fees at the beginning of each academic year. Fees may be subject to government regulations on fee increases. Future inflationary increases will be applied to each subsequent year of the course, subject to government regulations on fee increases.

How to apply

Apply for this course

UK and EU students

You can apply for most of our Postgraduate Certificates, Postgraduate Diplomas and Masters’ Degree courses using our online application system.  Simply click the red ‘apply now’ button above.

Your application will be dealt with by our Admissions team who will be in touch with you.

If you are applying for a research degree (MPhil or PhD), you will need to submit: a CV, research proposal, transcript of academic qualifications and online application form.  Full details of how to apply for research degrees

International students

To apply for a Masters’ Degree course, please complete our online application form for international students or you can download the print version (Word, 186kb).

You can also review the relevant information about the qualifications we accept from your country and our English language requirements, as well as details about your visa application.

If you are applying for a research degree (MPhil or PhD), you will need to submit: a CV, research proposal, transcript of academic qualifications and online application form.  Full details of how to apply for research degrees

More about the application process for international students.

More about how to apply for postgraduate courses.

 

During the course

Teaching methods

The department's extensive research in this subject area means our teaching is informed directly by the world's most up-to-date ideas on the academic study of record production. Also, our teaching staff are renowned for their professional expertise.

Teaching involves a combination of lectures, practical workshops, seminars and tutorial discussions. Our teaching rooms are equipped with ProTools HD systems, Audient mixing consoles and C24 control surfaces, and lectures involve frequent practical demonstrations and examples.

The contact hours for the course are concentrated into two days for full-time and one day for part-time students. For the rest of week you will book your own studio and computer time to complete your assignments and develop your composing skills, network, create music with other LCM students and engage in self-directed study. The course runs for a complete year - normally September to September - in full-time mode and two years for part-time.

What our students say

Jobs and placements

Career and study progression

This course will equip you with an enviable set of skills that will enable you to succeed in the fast-changing music industry.

Some examples of the professional roles graduates have progressed to after completing the course include:
• Composer
• Sound Designer
• Remixer.

Study progression

After completing the course you can continue your studies with either a PhD or DMus at the University of West London