Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Music Technology - MA

2018

Our taught and research programmes are exciting and innovative, offering you the opportunity to mix with composers, sound designers, film-makers, technologists, ethnomusicologists, theorists, visual artists and curators.

2018

Overview

During your time with us, you become part of our specialist community, exchanging ideas and developing your own creative and intellectual interests, informed by expert academic staff within the School of Music and Fine Art.

All our MA programmes are designed to provide knowledge and skills in practice-based research, as well as giving you experience of current research practices in various areas of critical and analytical thinking.

The MA in Music Technology focuses on the use, development and implementation of technology within the wider musical context, exploring issues such as interactivity, audio programming, sound spatialisation and multimedia.

About the School of Music and Fine Art

We are situated on the Medway campus of the University of Kent and our facilities include purpose-built recording studios, post-production rooms, rehearsal spaces, workstations and seminar rooms. We have a professionally designed 5.1 recording and compositional space and a spatial audio studio. In addition, we have a multi-loudspeaker sound diffusion system for the performance of sonic art and live electronics.

The School is also home to the Sound-Image-Space Research Centre which promotes practice-led research underpinned by theory and scholarship within the broad domain of image, sound and the spatial arts. The focus is on new collaborative relationships that generate research outputs through multiple modalities; these include the production of new creative work, performance, publication, and exhibition and curation.

Our students explore both the creative and technical aspects of music and its related technologies and also have the opportunity to work collaboratively with practitioners from other arts subjects.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, Arts at Kent was ranked 1st for research power and in the top 20 in the UK for research quality.

An impressive 98% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Course structure

You take common modules in research methods and postgraduate study skills, while giving you the opportunity to foster your subject skills in specialist modules. Work is developed through individual enquiry as well as sharing and critiquing ideas through group seminars, designed to provide a forum for debate as well as practical instruction.

There will also be significant opportunity for collaborative and interdisciplinary work taking into account other subjects within the School of Music and Fine Art.

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

Modules may include Credits

This module aims to imbue the student with advanced development and production skills and outlook to a point where meaningful work can take place on the MA Music Technology Project and Dissertation and Research Skills modules. The work will be on a small scale – testing out ideas. It will cover a range of music technology issues found in contemporary music that will encourage the development of current practice and an understanding of current creative strategies. It will establish a thorough technical base for future outputs based on the use of music technology. The student will engage with a wide range of areas including: computer-based composition, interactive systems, live electronics, sound spatialisation, audio programming, or music technology in combination with other arts areas.

Read more
30

This module aims to develop the student's ability and technical skills through student-led work. Skills and knowledge gained in the Programming and Production Techniques module will be given time and space to mature. The student will be encouraged to augment their understanding of contemporary music, software and hardware issue by working on extended projects. The move from testing small scale ideas to more major work will transfer 'ownership' of the ideas to the student, thus enabling them to make a fuller contribution to the computer music scene. It is expected that the student will belong to one of a wide range of areas including: computer-based composition, interactive systems, live electronics, sound spatialisation, audio programming, or music technology in combination with other arts areas.

Read more
60

This module aims to imbue the student with an advanced compositional ability to a point where meaningful work can take place on the MA Composition Project and Dissertation and Research Skills modules. It will cover a range of contemporary music in the form of a series of etudes in compositional areas that will encourage the development of current practice and an understanding of compositional strategies. It will establish a thorough technical base for future compositional output in a wide range of areas including: acoustic composition, electroacoustic music, composition with live electronics and functional electronic music in combination with other arts subjects.

Read more
30

The module concentrates on the development of student’s skills in performing with music technology, exploring live electronic music with a particular focus on recent developments in laptop music performance. The students will take part in music activities, including group performance. Topics include current use of various interfaces, combination of live instruments with electronic devices, and live processing. Students will develop their understanding of the role of technology in performance, their sensitivity to material introduced during performance by the group, and the interaction of live and processed musical elements.

Read more
30

The module explores communication acoustics through an ecological perspective; sound generation and propagation, diffraction, reflection, reverberation, modal resonances and absorption, and related architectural acoustics issues; instruments, rooms and plates; and intensity, loudness, audio evaluation and experimental practice. The module looks at current and recent acoustical research, and means of accessing it through published papers, online and paper journals, and conference proceedings.

Read more
15

This module examines the physiological and the perceptual, and forges a link between these two frames of reference, looking at how auditory perceptions arise. It explores processes involved in the organisation of sonic sensations into meaningful percepts, providing both a theoretical and an empirical support to the understanding of how humans interpret and respond to sound and sound structures. Students will be encouraged to develop projects that relate their personal interest in sound and music to the areas of psychoacoustics, and to discuss interrelations with acoustics taught mainly through the pre/co-requisite module.

Read more
15

This module will explore sound-based music composition and analysis, including the work of significant electroacoustic composers and will be taught through a series of interactive seminars. Students will study both the aesthetics and technology of sound-based music, and they will be led to produce creative pieces of work that explore the rich potential offered by sound processing and arranging techniques.

Read more
15

This module will explore spatial sound, multi-loudspeaker and surround sound formats, including an outline of the developments of spatial sound music and the work of significant electroacoustic composers. Students will study both the aesthetics and technology of multi-loudspeaker music, including stereo diffusion techniques, large sound distribution systems and multichannel sound installations. Students will be led to produce creative pieces of work that explore the rich potential offered by sound spatialisation techniques.

Read more
15

The module will focus upon ensemble performance skills and will allow students to develop their understanding of their principal instrument of study in the context of small ensemble or band performances. Students will be expected to develop a thorough understanding of key aspects of ensemble performance such as the importance of shaping passages as a group, communicating throughout a performance, and maintaining a coherent approach to dynamics and tempo changes. They will also begin to consider how to recognise and appreciate the approach of other musicians with an ear for details and articulation, details that will differ from one performance to the next. Regular workshops will be the primary mode of delivery and students will be challenged throughout the course to prepare more effectively for workshop rehearsals and to make use of rehearsal time that is evermore effective.

Read more
15

The module will build on skills and understanding developed in the prerequisite module Ensemble Performance A and will allow students to develop further their understanding of their principal instrument of study in the context of small ensemble or band performances. Students will be expected to develop a thorough understanding of key aspects of ensemble performance such as approaches to balance, parity of phrasing and responsiveness to details of articulation; they will also be expected to develop a far more thorough understanding of the details of and interaction between the parts of a song or work. They will also develop far greater skill in responding sensitively to other musicians with an ear for details and articulation and pitch nuance, details that will differ from one performance to the next. Regular workshops will be the primary mode of delivery and students will be challenged throughout the course to prepare more effectively for workshop rehearsals and to make use of rehearsal time that is evermore effective.

Read more
15

This module introduces students to the key principals and processes in the field of analogue audio electronics. Students will systematically study the foundations of audio electronics (e.g. simple circuits and ohms law through to capacitance, inductance impedance) and go on to apply this knowledge to more sophisticated circuitry and components (e.g. filters, transformers, amplifiers and equalisation units). Once students have developed a solid understanding of key principals they will go on to investigate and evaluate the use of circuitry in the audio technology industry. Students will become familiar with standard approaches to equipment specifications and learn to evaluate equipment with reference to sophisticated parameters and measurements.

Read more
15

This module allows students to develop and apply their understanding of key principals and processes in the field of analogue audio electronics. In the co-requisite module Audio Electronics A, students will have studied the foundations of audio electronics (e.g. simple circuits and ohms law through to capacitance, inductance impedance) and gone on to apply this knowledge to more sophisticated circuitry and components (e.g. filters, transformers, amplifiers and equalisation units). In this module, students will consolidate and deepen their understanding of audio electronics through the completion of a practical project. This project will involve some hardware construction and will allow students to gain a more pragmatic grasp of the challenges and opportunities afforded by this field. Students will also have opportunities to draw in digital processes and technologies.

Read more
15

This module aims to foster the student's ability to develop her/his research skills through student-led work, and to develop an advanced understanding of musical endeavour. The module facilitates the transition from undergraduate level work or employment to self-management of independent postgraduate study and the formulation and presentation of an agreed research proposal and dissertation. Through a series of themed seminars, it will address current arguments and historical paradigms surrounding music theory and practice, considering areas such as research methods, the role of social forces in the production and reception of music, and perspectives on musical practices. The series will draw upon a number of disciplines, such as critical theory, cultural studies and philosophy. Students will attend the regular School of Music and Fine Art postgraduate seminars, which will encourage the consideration and discussion of research in relation to different practices, contexts and methods.

Read more
60

Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is by a range of coursework, including individual projects, skills-based tasks, seminar presentations and written work.

Programme aims

This programme aims to:

  • focus on the use, development and implementation of technology within the wider musical context
  • provide analysis and also take into account major musical developments over the past few decades
  • provide knowledge and skills in technological and/or practice-based research, in the form of advanced application of music technology ability and outlook
  • give you experience of current research practices in various areas of critical and analytical thinking surrounding music
  • develop your work through individual enquiry, as well as sharing and critiquing ideas through group seminars, designed to provide a forum for debate, as well as practical instruction
  • draw on staff interests and expertise in various areas of music technology and provide significant opportunity for collaborative and interdisciplinary work, taking into account other arts subjects at Medway and Canterbury
  • allow for the combined development of generic and subject-specific acumen: a module in Dissertation and Research Methods, leading to the development of an independent research proposal, will run in parallel with the Programming and Production Techniques modules. Thus you will develop your own advanced use of technology and software within the wider contemporary musical context, including recent histories, key concepts and aesthetics
  • let your technological output live in the real world. To this end, it will be expected that you demonstrate your work in the public domain, send work to postgraduate conferences and help with staging events at the University of Kent.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

  • a systematic understanding and a critical awareness of key issues and/or new insights in music technology, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of research and practice
  • a comprehensive understanding of techniques and hardware/software systems relating to your own advanced practice
  • a critical appreciation of the wider cultural context for music technology.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • the ability to critically evaluate and analyse music technology, using specific terminology and employing a range of methodologies
  • the ability to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, developing appropriate and innovative solutions
  • the ability to continue to advance your knowledge and understanding and to develop new skills to a high level.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • producing, developing and exploring music technology systems (synthesis, sound processing, spatialisation, recording, etc), demonstrating self-direction and originality in your own practice
  • working on a large-scale music technology project over an extended period of time, drawing on existing skills and developing new ones
  • presenting and disseminating work to specialist and non-specialists audiences using appropriate terminology.

Transferable skills

You will gain the following transferable skills:

  • the ability to exercise initiative and personal responsibility
  • the ability to develop clear concepts and ideas when presented with complex situations and conflicting information
  • the capacity to communicate and express arguments with conviction, referring to key issues and relevant questions.

Careers

A postgraduate degree in the area of music and audio arts is a valuable and flexible qualification, which can lead to career opportunities within the creative industries, music recording and production, audio software development, sound for film, composition and academic careers.

These possibilities are augmented by work in video games, the Internet, live sound for theatres and festivals, audio installations for museums, sonic arts and computer music. Postgraduates interested in a research career are supported by the University’s Graduate School Research Development Programme. The University’s Employability Weeks can also provide valuable support in terms of planning future careers.

Study support

Postgraduate resources

The University of Kent has invested over £5 million in the School of Music and Fine Art, to provide you with the best possible study and research environment. A number of historic buildings in the atmospheric Chatham Historic Dockyard have been renovated to provide a new range of professional standard facilities. Our new specialist facilities include a large recording studio, a Foley recording space, surround-sound studio and post-production rooms. All have been designed to the highest standard in order to provide an excellent environment for postgraduate work.

We have an array of loudspeakers for electroacoustic performance, live sound and collaborative arts projects. Students are encouraged to participate in these music concerts and interdisciplinary events, becoming part of the exciting artistic environment here at the University of Kent.

The University’s Drill Hall Library is well resourced in our subject area and houses special collections of CDs, DVDs and musical scores. Students also have access to specialist online and printed journals as well as other electronic resources.

Research-led musical culture

Members of staff have their work performed regularly. Recently performed works include: Northern Loop, an eighty-minute electroacoustic work in collaboration with Ambrose Field, released on the Sargasso label (Dr Paul Fretwell); Flags, audio-visual work in collaboration with Nick Cope, part of The Engine Room exhibition (Professor Tim Howle); Diesis, for solo double bass and electronics performed by Enno Senft (Duncan MacLeod).

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

A first or 2.1 honours degree, usually in a relevant humanities subject. In certain circumstances, the School will consider candidates who have not followed a conventional education path but who may have relevant experience in the industry. These cases are assessed individually by the Director of Graduate Studies.

All applicants are considered on an individual basis and additional qualifications, and professional qualifications and experience will also be taken into account when considering applications. 

International students

Please see our International Student website for entry requirements by country and other relevant information for your country. 

English language entry requirements

The University requires all non-native speakers of English to reach a minimum standard of proficiency in written and spoken English before beginning a postgraduate degree. Certain subjects require a higher level.

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Need help with English?

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

Individual staff research interests cover a wide range of aspects of music technology and composition, and supervision is available in all these areas.

Our research environment is fuelled by the work of our celebrated composers, performers and scholars: Dr Ben Curry (music semiotics, popular music, eighteenth century music), Prof Kevin Dawe (ethnomusicology, musical instrument research, popular music), Prof Tim Howle (electroacoustic music, acoustic music and visual music), Dr Paul Fretwell (instrumental and electronic music), Richard Lightman (popular music production, film music and cross-cultural collaborations) Duncan MacLeod (experimental music, temperament and spatialisation), and Dr Aki Pasoulas (electroacoustic music, spatial sound, soundscape and acoustic ecology).

Our research culture is enhanced by the presence of a wide range of visiting colleagues (honorary professors, associate and assistant lecturers), as well as regular seminars and master-classes. Our Graduate Teaching Assistants and PhD students have scholarly pursuits in a wide range of topics. Recent topics have included: progressive rock, the Memphis music scene, Cretan music, Czerny's piano transcriptions, computer-based interactive instruments and microtonality in music composition.

The School of Music and Fine Art is also home to the Sound-Image-Space Research Centre, which promotes practice-led research underpinned by scholarship within the broad domain of image, sound and the spatial arts.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Ben Curry: Lecturer in Music

Ben Curry is a musicologist specializing in the field of music and meaning, particularly semiotic approaches to the field. His musical interests stretch from the eighteenth century to the present day

Further areas of interest include music analysis, film music, classical music of the twentieth century, sonic art and the role of twentieth-century technologies in the production and reception of music.

View Profile

Dr Paul Fretwell: Senior Lecturer in Music

Paul’s research focuses on music composition.  His current work explores the tensions and oppositions between the instrumental and electronic approaches to composition and performance.  These divisions are often cultural, rather than specifically musical (for example, performance venue, audience, etiquette).  Historical styles and previous musical traditions are also an important factor.  He enjoys creating works that play with musical references from different musical eras, as well as works that blur the boundaries between formal concert, club environment and background music.

View Profile

Professor Tim Howle: Professor of Contemporary Music

Tim’s interests include developing composition, primarily sonic art, acoustic music and music for experimental video.

His academic career has focused on composing sonic art, acoustic music, and the relationship that these areas have with other arts subjects.

Tim currently supervises PhDs in sonic art and composition and has recently examined PhDs at Keele and York.

He has performed over 1,000 gigs in a post-punk experimental band, gained an independent recording contract and had music selected for the John Peel Show.

View Profile

Richard Lightman: Lecturer in Popular Music

Hailing from Montreal, Canada, Richard has produced over 35 albums covering a wide spectrum of music, and contributing to the sound design of a number of Hollywood films. He was also the former CEO of the Music Producers Guild.

Richard’s research examines the evolution of the South Asian diaspora-based Bhangra music brought to the UK and its ultimate hybridity and appropriation by diverse cultures seeking new identities. The resultant product being a wholly indigenous music that then has been exported globally. The focus of the research is based on Lightman’s experience as a Bhangra record producer in the early 1990s and the negotiation and translation of musical form and cultural expectations, and the mediation between South Asian and Western sensibilities. It is this discourse of mediation and the key questions of cultural capital that drive his research.

His other interests include copyright issues and negotiations with the government alongside UK Music with reference to the Digital Economy Act.

View Profile

Duncan MacLeod: Lecturer in Music

Duncan is a composer whose compositional output encompasses concert music, cross-arts collaboration computer music and electro-acoustic composition.

Duncan’s creative practice and research is primarily centred on the creative application of spatialisation, temperament and manipulation of timbre. A specific area of focus for this research involves concepts of spectator immersion and the blurring of spatial boundaries between performance platform and audience alongside challenging the traditional distinctions of high/low culture. This has led him to explore and develop approaches to reinterpreting formal environments such as the concert hall, as well as the utilisation of unconventional and unique performance spaces, such as clubs or museums. These strands reflect a broader compositional interest in the exploration and creative manipulation of music perception and cognition. New technology is therefore a key aspect of his research methodology. As such, he has research interests in the application of real-time digital signal processing/live electronics as an extension of acoustic instrumental technique, alongside exploring the interface between performer and computer.

View Profile

Dr Aki Pasoulas: Lecturer in Music

Aki is an electroacoustic composer, interested particularly in acousmatic music, sonic art, sound perception and spatial sound. His works are continually performed worldwide. He originally studied and worked as a graphic designer, before embarking on music studies.

Aki was a Society for the Promotion of New music (SPNM) shortlisted composer for 2008-11.

View Profile

Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Music Technology - MA at Medway:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £7300 £15200
Part-time £3650 £7600

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

Search our scholarships finder for possible funding opportunities. You may find it helpful to look at both: