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

recent postings on

re: Project Blog: My project blog can be found here: [link]

24/5/2017 15:8

re: who owns our Software etc?: I'd be keen to post all the software I use in this project to my blog so that others can download and extend it. Is this cool, or will the University somehow own all this work?

24/5/2017 12:29

re: Jim Bevington - Final Project proposal: I will compose a cycle of acousmatic, multi-channel pieces - totalling 25-40 minutes - exploring aspects of the Glasgow soundscape. Audio samples will be granulated and reconstructed into impressionistic representations of real/metaphorical situations. Using my power as composer, I will pervert and ...

23/5/2017 11:17

re: hot keys: Hi everyone, Just wondering what the hot key shortcut was for finding the documentation in Lisp of a particular function/object? I remember it being a much easier way of finding out the exact nature of what goes in and what it does without looking through that giant pdf. Thanks, hope this m...

17/5/2017 13:11

re: Final Project Proposal - Marcus Mathioudakis: ABSTRACT • 20-30 minute electronic piece exploring different forms of rhythmic and metric development. • Influences/Models: structurally minimalists (Reich, Glass, Adams) and progressive metal (Messhugah, Dream Theater, Tool), sonically contemporary IDM (Ryoji Ikeda, monolake, squarepusher...

9/5/2017 10:11

re: Notes from Final Project meeting with Michael (April 2017): Here's my notes from the meeting today guys: ---- Performance not necessary, but can be helpful not graded, can help if you’ve done a poor recording graded component - report: 40%; music, software, etc: 60% work on write up from the beginning listen to recordings making notes on the...

28/4/2017 22:55

re: Fiona's project: Proposal for Masters Project. The concept of ecology is gaining more traction in relation to study and composition of music. While many composers in the 20th century and earlier have been concerned with the environment, the great challenges we face in relation to climate change and environmental...

Fiona Harrison
25/4/2017 15:38

re: : Thanks Michael, I thought that setting 4 4 as metre and q as chop unit it would have chopped the 4 different quarter notes, but now I get it. Federico

25/4/2017 9:55

re: : Hi Federico, the problem is that your chopping unit is the same duration as the beat in 4/4 so there are no chop possibilities. Try an 1/8 note or smaller or change your meter to 2/2. Best, Michael

Michael Edwards
24/4/2017 14:27

re: Chopping method using quarter notes: Hi all, I'm using the chop method, but when I change the chopping unit is giving me an error. I can't understand why because I'm using 4 4 and a quarter note as chopping unit, so I supposed to be fine, but maybe I misunderstood the documentation on the website. here it is a simple example: ...

21/4/2017 9:58