MSc in Digital Composition and Performance

University of Edinburgh

Course

Alumni

Below is a sampling of DCP graduates who went on to a variety of further careers.


2014

Russell Snyder

I began DCP in 2013 as a full time student. After completing an undergraduate in jazz bass performance and psychology in 2011, I worked as a professional musician playing bass in pop, rock, and jazz groups. However, I felt disconnected between sounds that I knew were possible to hear from my psychology background and those which I could compose and perform in a live music performance setting.

Having never formally studied music production techniques or computer programming before DCP, I did not know how to utilize the computer efficiently to generate music. After DCP however, not only do I feel comfortable making music with several different software and hardware, I also feel knowledgeable of the evolving and important roles computers play in modern society and art. Also, my supportive and international colleagues and professors introduced me to the global community of musicians who use technology to express their diversity and individuality. Since graduating, I have been working as an educator and web designer in the Washington D.C. area. I plan on releasing an album in January, 2015 and to pursue a music career in Europe after saving sufficient funds.

Russell's dissertation

Website: www.rustybass.com

2013

Marcin Pietruszewski

Since graduation I have continued to develop my interest in collaborative coding practices performing (with BOAR Collective, in other collaborations, and solo) at various festivals and venues in Europe as well as leading Super Collider and Sound Spatialisation tutorials at Edinburgh University's Music Department.

I came to study DCP with no formal music training but with an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and Linguistics. I can easily say that the experience of studying DCP, collaborations with fellow students/staff and friendships made during my time there were foundational for my future carrier. In 2014 I will start an artistic doctorate at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Graz (Austria), pursuing research into the aesthetics of astrophysical sonification models, an area I started exploring during DCP's final project development.

Marcin's dissertation
Recording of Marcin's piece
Video of Marcin's piece


Stewart Houston

I began DCP in 2011 as a part-time student. I had recently completed a classical music degree but DCP allowed me to delve deeper into areas of digital music that I had briefly explored as an undergraduate. I was introduced to diverse techniques for digital composition and used the time to settle upon and develop my own performance style.

Since graduating I continue to perform solo improvised clarinet music accompanied by interactive performance systems as well as in groups that often include many of my DCP peers. I now work with the BBC and have had placements at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, The Proms, and as a sound recordist.

The environment surrounding the course introduced me to vast amounts of new music and I left with invaluable technical skills that have helped to further my career whilst allowing me to create the music I want.

Stewart's dissertation
Stewart's piece


2012

David House


Photo by Agatha Albert

I came to DCP with an undergraduate degree and professional background in graphic design and a lifetime of primarily self-taught musical skills. Graphic design was failing to fulfil my creative side and I'd reached a point where my musical ambition outstripped my compositional and technical knowhow. I am happy to say that DCP proved to be one of the most intense, focussed and rewarding years of my life.

The Music department at Edinburgh is a creatively open environment and the staff are passionate and supportive. DCP armed me with a number of invaluable technical skills including Max/MSP and a grounding in algorithmic processes and ways of thinking. My eyes and ears were opened to new ways of listening to, appreciating and critiquing music.

The programme content is wide ranging and my practice has broadened to include sound art, improvisation and generative composition. My primary interest remains rhythmic experimentation, drawing inspiration from ethnic and club music, and DCP has enabled me to work in more directed, comprehensive and rewarding ways. I am finally starting to produce the music I've heard in my head for years!

Since graduating I have continued composing and performing using the skills learnt on the course. I have exhibited at the Talbot Rice Gallery and given music-related talks and demonstrations at Edinburgh Science Festival events. I have remained in touch with the University where I have worked as a tutor and web editor.

Dave's dissertation

More info.


Donato Wharton

Since graduation, I have continued my practice as a composer.

I am interested in exploring the ways in which musical thought originates in the experience of listening to a sonic environment, under the conditions of a given site.

The combination of field recordings and electronic tones I use in my works allows for both the sonic conditions existing at a site (as captured in a field recording), and the presence of musical thought (as expressed through the electronic tones, their interaction with / derivation from, the field recording), to be heard simultaneously.

I currently publish my work as cd-r editions of 100, available at donatowharton.com

I live and work in London.

What was useful about the DCP MSc?
  • It was very useful to have a full year's time to think and write about my work, and through exposure to new ideas, allow my practice to develop into new directions
  • It was useful to face critique
  • It was useful to be introduced to software programming techniques, and in particular, to learn max/msp
  • It was great to have access to field recording equipment of the highest quality

Donato's dissertation and music:

www.donatowharton.com


2011

Matthew Collings

I graduated in September 2011 from the DCP course. I found that year to be a real eye-opener in that I started to be able to perform my music in satisfying ways and I learnt a vast number of skills and techniques which have frequently opened doors both creatively and professionally. I worked as a freelance composer and sound artist for a year after graduation, on projects for Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Dundee's NEoN Digital Arts Festival and Imaginate Festval. In August 2012 I was awarded an Alt-W award from New Media Scotland to develop 'The Third Mind', an algorithmic cinema project with visual artist Erik Parr. I currently work as the Graduate Studio Assistant at Edinburgh College or Art. All of the above was hard work and I can confidently say that the last 2 years of my life have been 2 of the hardest and most satisfying. Due to the DCP course I acquired the skills and confidence to do what I love to do as my profession.

I've released two eps and a full-length album, called 'Splintered Instruments' in the meantime.

Video of DCP final project performance

Audio of DCP final project

More info at cargocollective


2010

Jessica Aslan

Having completed a music degree I moved to Edinburgh to study Digital Composition and Performance - I wanted to consolidate my previous studio and compositional work. Since graduating in 2010 I have been awarded funding by internal and external bodies, given a number of commissions and had my work represented at international conferences. This is largely down to the level of depth and professionalism with which we were encouraged to treat our work. Additionally, the environment of the department contributes a great deal to the experience, with the opportunity to stage concerts, work with students from other disciplines and contribute in many ways to the community.

After a year out pursuing a number of different research and musical projects I have returned to ECA and am currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Music Practice, supervised by Michael Edwards. My focus is on electro instrumental music, particularly exploring the spectra and timbre of instruments as forces that unite instrument and computer. I stayed studying with Michael at the department because it's such an open and engaging environment in which to work. As I am particularly interested in working with acoustic musicians and ensembles throughout my studies collaboration has been actively motivated and supported. Computer music is still wide open, and as such we are encouraged to pursue our individual interests rather than follow a wider departmental focus. This results in a highly stimulating and dynamic musical landscape - one that I appreciate being given the space and opportunity to shape.

Jess's dissertation and music submission.


Jacob Danson-Faraday

DCP was a good programme for several reasons. There was a focus on musicality and performance with plenty of opportunities to investigate one's own voice and develop it through concerts and critiques, often in a collaborative setting. And, since everyone had different strengths, it essentially amounted to a level playing field where we all had something valuable to contribute.

Another focus was on impeccable sound quality. That usually meant making an informed decision and carefully planning the steps. Also, between studying the theory, and navigating all the available hardware / software, I gained an indepth understanding of DSP. All of this has been valuable in my own work since graduation.

After graduating, I moved to Montreal to take part in the incredibly vibrant arts scene here. I also started working as a sound technician with Cirque du Soleil, touring in Asia, Europe and N. America. When I am home, I am working on multimedia projects with local performers, and, of course, singing in choirs. In addition to using CLM, Max/MSP, FTM and SuperCollider, I have started working with electronics and building my own sound-making machinery.

Jake's dissertation

Jake's Final Project Audio Excerpt


Georgia Rodgers

I'm in my first year of a part-time PhD in composition at City University London. I'm researching the production and perception of space in electro-instrumental music. My supervisor is Dr Newton Armstrong. I'm currently working on a composition for solo cello and electronics with the French cellist Severine Ballon which will be premiered at City University's Festival of Music in June this year. My Master's composition for solo percussion and electronics, A to B, is going to be performed by Serge Vuille in London in May this year. I also work for an engineering company based in Camden, Max Fordham, as an acoustic engineer specialising in building acoustics.

What was useful about the DCP MSc?

I graduated from DCP in 2010 and still use what I learnt that year all the time. Technically, the software and hardware tools we were introduced continue to prove invaluable. Plus I have the confidence to tackle systems I am unfamiliar with. Aesthetically, the broad range of reading, listening and concerts challenged and engaged me. Professionally, the rigour of critique and depth of discussion helped me to learn how to construct a solid argument musically and verbally, to pay attention to the tiny details and the big picture. These are skills I use everyday as a PhD student and as an engineer.

Georgia's DCP Final Project dissertation and an extract of her music.


2009

Lauren Hayes

Since graduating from Digital Composition and Performance master's, I've continued my studies with Michael Edwards, within the music department here in Edinburgh, by undertaking a PhD in Creative Music Practice. The master's degree enabled me to rapidly learn new skills and ways of creating music, expanding my own sonic and aesthetic realms through discussion and technical advancement. It also led me to explore improvisation and electronic music performance, which has been crucial in shaping my current practice.

Since graduation, I've gone on to perform my music throughout Europe and in the United States, at both academic conferences such as the International Computer Music Conference (Slovenia) and New Interfaces for Musical Expression (Norway), as well as at electronic music festivals, such as Norberg (Sweden). I've also taken artistic residencies at Elektronmusikstudion (Stockholm) and STEIM (Amsterdam).

In addition to performing and creating my own musical works, I've been able to vastly expand my sensory workshops for adults and children with learning difficulties and disabilities. This work, along with installations in art galleries, would not have come about without the knowledge that I gained through DCP, and working within the rich, creative environment of the music department.

Video of DCP final project performance

Dissertation
(NB At the request of the author this is password protected using the same details as those for any of my class webpages.)


2007

John Henry Dale

Soon after graduating from the DCP program I moved to Portland, Oregon (USA) where I have lived for the last five years. For the first three years here I worked as a freelance multimedia professional doing streaming video engineering for live music events, audio / video production, engineering and editing work, and DJ gigs, all under the umbrella of my corporate identity, JHD Multimedia. Since June 2011, however, I've been working full time for The Regional Arts & Culture Council as an IT / AV technician, while continuing to pursue my musical activities at night and on weekends. I love working for an organization dedicated to funding art and culture. It helps me sleep better at night.

I put out an album in 2009 called Ghosthousework, which contained my DCP final composition, amongst other songs I composed while on the DCP course. I need to get it re-mastered, however, so it's not currently available online.

I've just finished a week long introductory guitar circle course with Robert Fripp in Tepoztlan Mexico, which was a singular and amazing experience. He is a true master of his instrument and a great human being in general, as well as quite a comedian.

For the last year I've been co-managing the Portland Live User Group (aka PLUG: https://www.facebook.com/portableton) with Ableton-Certified Trainer Jeremy Highouse. PLUG has been going great, growing steadily every month and we are both currently neck-deep into learning Ableton's new (yet-to-be-released) instrument called Push for a concert in which we will be playing two Push instruments as both a duo and with as a backing band for the gifted Mexican Mariachi / Folk singer (and my good friend) Edna Vazquez. This will be the exclusive Portland preview of Live 9 and Push and we're very excited to be some of the first people in the US to play this groundbreaking new instrument for performing live electronic music.

What was useful about the DCP MSc?
There so many ways the DCP course has helped me that it would take much more space than is available here to enumerate them. But the short story is that the DCP course taught me:
  • what it really means to be an artist
  • how to write code and program music software to generate new and meaningful music.
  • to distinguish between what is musically necessary and what is not, i.e. how to know "what the music needs"
  • how to semi-surreptitiously squat in the music department's laboratory space for a month and work 20 hour days for 30 days straight in order to nail my thesis composition, which I knew would be necessary after seeing my coursemates go bonkers running the gauntlet of a peer /professor review of their final compositions. Basically, how to make your work bulletproof (or at least bullet-resistant).

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