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: : Wow! Congratulations!

Michael Edwards
29/6/2017 21:13

re: Milestones: Hi Michael - update on milestones. Research and Planning - completed end May Recording finished end May Composition - movements 1 and 2 written completed end June (16 mins) Post Production begun Write up - 4500 words so far. F

Fiona Harrison
29/6/2017 20:19

re: : Sounds good Marcus, all fine with me. Best, Michael

Michael Edwards
20/6/2017 10:32

re: : Hey Michael, >OK. Do you think you could stretch a movement beyond 5 mins? Say 8 mins for one, shorter for a couple of others? (So you can get your teeth into slightly longer >forms.) Yes definitely up for this. I envisage the whole thing to function as a 20 minute piece, but where each...

20/6/2017 10:24

re: : Hello Marcus, > Apologies for delayed reply Michael, I didn't see this until now (thought we > received email notifications for forum posts but guess I was wrong) You should. I do. > Yep scope has been narrowed - A 20 minute rhythm focused electronic > composition (made up of ...

Michael Edwards
20/6/2017 8:41

re: : Apologies for delayed reply Michael, I didn't see this until now (thought we received email notifications for forum posts but guess I was wrong) >This is OK as a starting point Marcus but you need to focus more, i.e. it's a >little broad right now, especially aesthetically. Perhaps you can...

19/6/2017 15:55

re: : OK Jim, sounds good. Best, Michael

Michael Edwards
19/6/2017 9:46

re: : Hi Michael, Thanks for your comments. I'll definitely be using a mixture of CLM and Max/MSP. I can play you some sound files at the next meeting to demonstrate. Those CLM instruments are v useful. Thanks Structure: I'm honing in on 3-4 main sonic ideas for the piece. Each of these will t...

16/6/2017 10:23

re: : not a question of forcing you or being prescriptive fiona, just a matter of making sure you're on track to fulfilling your degree requirements. on that note i'd really like to see your milestones sooner rather than later. best, michael

Michael Edwards
9/6/2017 15:41

re: : Thanks Chris. A few comments: Report is 6000 words, not 6500. This is very ambitious: new software _and_ 56 minutes of music. That's twice as much music as required so thing about pruning that back. And don't get so bogged down in software development that you leave making music till too late-...

Michael Edwards
9/6/2017 15:36