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Masters Programme

 

The MA in Sonic Arts at Queen’s has been running since 1992 and has proven to be extremely successful in preparing graduates for careers in industry, academic research and creative practice.

The programe contains the following modules:

Autumn
Sonic Arts
 
Audio Programming 
Spring
Spatial Audio

Independent Study
Composition 
Performance 
Computational Acoustics
Designing Musical Interaction 
Summer
Dissertation
 


Click here to view the current reading list




AUTUMN SEMESTER

In the first semester, students must participate in the Sonic Arts seminar series, and can then choose one of the two remaining elective modules.

Sonic Arts

 

 

This module serves as an introduction to the core ideas, repertoire and trends in the sonic arts. The first half of the module provides historical context based on creative work since the 1940’s to the present day in areas such musique concrète, Elektronische Musik, electroacoustic music, sound installation and noise. Selected listening and reading materials serve as a basis for student-led presentations which allow for the exploration of key sonic arts topics in some detail. The second half of the module focuses on the development of creative practice techniques in the context of two given projects.

Staff involved: Professor Pedro RebeloDr Franziska Schroeder

Audio Programming

 

This module provides an intensive introduction to sound synthesis and processing from a practical perspective. The work is based on Max/MSP. Topics include the Sampling theorem; Enveloping; Wavetables; Ring Modulation; FM; Waveshaping; Granular synthesis; Spectral audio.

Staff involved: Miguel Ortiz


SPRING SEMESTER

In the spring semester, students choose any two of the following five modules.

Spatial Audio

This module focuses the techniques and applications of spatial audio. This area is fundamentally interdisciplinary and integrates aspects of perception, digital signal processing and applied audio. Topics include directional hearing (physics and psychoacoustics), 3D headphone and loudspeaker techniques, 3D sound rendering including environmental sound, spatial cognition, and space in electroacoustic music composition.

Staff involved: 

Independent Study

 

This module will explore specific aspects of music technology, for example practices in interaction and sound design, technical or computer-based projects related to the discipline. The choice of topic will be agreed with the supervisor and will be directly related to the chosen field of focus for the second semester of the MA programme.

Staff involved: Dr Trevor Agus

Composition

Students taking this module compose an extended composition using any of the electroacoustic resources at SARC. Seminars are intended to inform students about the composition process in electroacoustic music and Sonic Art. Compositions will be developed in class with everyone participating in discussions about possible directions for work-in-progress. Guest speakers will present their creative practice as composers and sonic artists.

Staff involved: Dr Simon Waters

Performance

This module is for students possessing advanced musical techniques, and who have achieved at least a mark of 2:1 or higher in their undergraduate performance module. The module is aimed at students who wish to develop unique projects under the guidance of the module convener and, where appropriate, a staff supervisor with related performance experience. The module aims to advance the student's skills through private practice and research in a specialised area of performance. At the completion of the module, students present a final performance or a lecture-performance that demonstrates technical and interpretative powers that approach professional standards. The module is assessed through a public performance or a lecture-performance (80%) and through an extended critical essay (20%). Students are expected to organise every aspect of their final performance, including programmes, tickets, publicity, stage set-up, technical set-up, accompaniment, music, etc. Students are required to attend and participate in regular 2-hours platform sessions in the spring semester.

Staff involved: Dr Franziska SchroederDr Paul Stapleton

Computational Acoustics

In this module, students do a project in the field of computational acoustics. They will acquire knowledge and understanding of a particular method or range of methods used in this field by studying the literature and implementing one or more specific models. At the start of the module, an individual topic, that relates to their general interest in the MA course, is agreed with the lecturer. Topics may vary widely but have in common that it involves both acoustics (of rooms, musical instruments, sound objects), the numerical modelling thereof, and its application to audio and music. They include, but are not limited to: finite difference modelling of acoustic spaces; physics-based sound synthesis of musical instruments or other vibrating systems; modelling and analysis of multi-channel sound production; parameter estimation for physical models from audio; and real-time implementation of physical models. Students pursue the study individually, with supervision through weekly meetings and, where applicable, by interaction with PhD students.

Staff involved: Dr Maarten van Walstijn

Designing Musical Interaction

This module is an introduction to the analysis and design of human-technology interactions within the context of music and new media performance, in the broadest possible interpretation of those terms. An ‘ecosystemic’ approach in which the complex interrelations between instrument, performer and environment and the limits of a design brief in specifying behaviour are acknowledged from the outset will be preferred over more typical ‘user-centred’ or ‘activity-centred’ interaction design approaches. In addition the definition of ‘technology’ adopted will explore ‘old’ technologies and their productive relationships with current humans (and the extent to which both people and technologies embody histories) as well as interrelationships with newer technologies. In exploring this territory a sophisticated and subtle understanding of the fluid relationship between composing, improvising and performing (which are frequently thought of as distinct ‘design paradigms’ or separate categories of conduct) will be constructed, which the student will explore through joined-up notions of ‘instrument-building’, ‘repertoire making’ (both ‘sound design’ and ‘human conduct’ design), ‘live testing’ and critical reflection. 

Staff involved: Dr Justin Yang


SUMMER SEMESTER

Dissertation/Portfolio

The MA Summer semester comprises a dissertation, project or portfolio. There are both practical and theoretical aspects to all works. These include technical development, creative work and theoretical research. For projects with a practical component students are expected to write a 6000 dissertation which demonstrates critical and reflective analysis of the chosen topic. The scope of  extended dissertations in the field of theoretical research can be agreed with the supervisor. The topic and scope of the project is agreed with a member of staff during the spring semester.

The summer semester is structured around meetings with project supervisors. Students are expected to keep residency in Belfast throughout the Summer.


 

Reading list:

 

Computer Music Tutorial. Curtis Roads (MIT Press, 1996)

http://cycling74.com/category/articles/tutorials/ 

Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art. Brandon Labelle (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006)

Music, electronic media, and culture. S. Emmerson  (Ashgate, 2000).