MSc in Digital Composition and Performance

University of Edinburgh


Digital Composition and Performance

We know you're out there: talented, creative laptop performers; obsessively meticulous digital sound producers; visual artists incorporating sound in their exhibitions; glitch-happy hardware hackers; sound designers itching to go further with musical structure; interactive sound installation artists; performers wishing to branch out into the world of electronic and computer music (composition even); classically-trained composers wanting to break into the digital age...

Some of you will have thought that a university music department is not for you, that your lack of formal musical education would stand in your way. It ain't necessarily so. The MSc in Digital Composition and Performance is a dynamic new MSc designed to attract composers, musicians, and sound artists from all aesthetic and musical dispositions. The common ground is an interest in developing creative and technical expertise in composition and performance with computers.

Check out some of our graduates to see what they've been doing since graduating and how this MSc helped them achieve their goals.

No formal training in music or computer music is required, just a solid background in creative music making and a good bachelors degree in a sound-related discipline (there is also an opportunity to admit students on the basis of a portfolio of work alone). It can be studied 12 months full time (9 months for the Diploma), or part time over two years.

You will be working in an exceptionally energetic environment of Masters students in the fields of Design and Digital Media, Sound Design, Composition, Advanced Architectural Design, Acoustics and Music Technology, and more. The scope for collaboration, performance, and even more advanced study is enormous. To make you a culturally informed and well-rounded individual, and to increase interdisciplinary awareness, your field of study will be placed within a wider context of cultural, critical, technological, philosophical, and musical study.

The programme's focus is primarily musical and artistic, with direct intended careers being composer and sonic/digital artist/performer. The programme's interdisciplinary aspect also leads naturally into music-technology based and related fields such as:

  • soundware engineer
  • multimedia developer
  • film/tv composition
  • music programmer
  • web content provider
  • digital audio editor
  • teacher
  • researcher
  • etc. etc.

The programme aims to develop:

  • well-rounded digital musicians/composers with cutting-edge technological expertise and laptop performance experience
  • the ability to translate musical ideas into fascinating compositions created with fully-functioning self-programmed interactive computer music software
  • the ability to plan, execute, use, and document a music-technology project
  • the ability to reflect on one's creative work in light of past and present cultural developments
  • a variety of interdisciplinary skills ranging across music composition and performance, computer science, and cultural studies.
Students completing the programme will gain in-depth knowledge of:
  • computer music composition and performance
  • real-time computer music programming (e.g. Max/MSP)
  • non-real time computer music programming (e.g. CLM)
  • algorithmic composition
  • electroacoustic composition
  • human-computer interaction
  • the key philosophical ideas that have informed our understanding of the digital age

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