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: : 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

re: Week 8 Topic: Hello. I will be presenting on Wishart's "Sonic Composition in 'Tongues of Fire'".

13/3/2017 12:59

re: Seminar Topics: Hi all, for the week 8 I'll focus on Wishart, Trevor (1988), 'The Composition of "Vox-5"', Computer Music Journal, Vol. 12, No. 4 (Winter, 1988), pp. 21-27. best, Federico

12/2/2017 12:7

re: : Thanks for this Yoann. So it's a piece for piano and triggered sound files, no? If so, then that's fine. Do plan in more carefully the writing of the project report (worth 40%). I would recommend you're working on this at the same time as the composition, rather than leaving it until the end...

Michael Edwards
10/10/2016 10:15

re: Yoann_Final_Project_Proposal: 1-Nature of the Project : The original idea was to create a piano piece where the instrument will be the narrative bond through a subjective journey. As in "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Modest Mussorgsky, the audience will be transported in different atmospheres through the eyes and the experien...

3/10/2016 20:55

re: : Good to hear Louis. That's all fine with me. Best, Michael

Michael Edwards
15/8/2016 9:39

re: : That's all fine with me Elly. Best, Michael

Michael Edwards
15/8/2016 9:29

re: : Hey Michael, Just to confirm here how the project has developed and what we talked about in person, I am now using C++ write analysis programs to write text files and then using CLM to read and resythesize information from these text files. This method is an alternative the using the SDIF format ...

11/8/2016 16:37

re: : Hi Michael, As discussed in person, I ended up not using a harp, or an acoustic instrument in that matter, in my piece. This is mainly because it was difficult finding a harpist at all. Though that doesn't change my idea or project as such, because an acoustic instrument would rather have been a...

10/8/2016 13:7