USSS teaching covers all aspects of music technology including scoring for film, electroacoustic music composition, and computer music programming.
The Undergraduate programme for many years delivered over three years a tailored blend of training and skills leading towards free creative practice. Therefore in your first year, through a series of very small creative tasks students pick up a baseline set of skills in editing and transforming audio, understanding digital sound, typesetting music, using hand held recorders and creative / active listening. Where possible, all exercises are contextualised historically. For example, working with patterns and time signature tracks in Cubase 10 with the Retrologue synth is mapped to Philip Glass' 'Music in' series of pieces. The concept of glitch is contextualised within Kim Cascone's seminal paper on the subject [Cascone, K. (2000). The aesthetics of failure: "Post-digital" tendencies in contemporary computer music. Computer Music Journal, 24(4), 12-18.] - Students also learn referencing at this point.
Modules in the second year of undergraduate study continue to recognise the need to 'skill-up' while producing something more than a series of exercises to prove learning. Assessments are normally creative in nature (series of recordings, electroacoustic pieces, music for film or game realisations, graphical computer music programming examples). Students learn the vital task of understanding how a creative assignment might be assessed in terms of quality of materials, demonstration of understanding and concept, acquisition of a personal 'voice'. Examples of modules available in the second year include:
- Creative Applications of Music Technology (creating sound art pieces and an 'app' for mobile phone using the software Pure Data);
- Sound and Moving Image (scoring for film using Western Classical instruments and also scoring something synthetic);
- Sound Recording Practice (producing a number of recordings either in the studio or on location).
In the final year students can create a portfolio of compositions that may include electroacoustic pieces or use instrument and live electronics. If their practice is less experimental (a portfolio of recorded songs, an EP from a local band, music for film), students take the Special Project module which has at its heart 'collaboration and presentation' outside of the University and the formulation of your own public profile of work. In the three examples listed then
- a portfolio of recorded songs - the songwriter would work with a lyricist or present their own songs at a public performance outside of the University
- an EP from a local band - the band would be the 'client' in this case.
- music for film - the student would work with a film maker from the South Yorkshire region.
In all these cases, the assessment is through a personal website set up by the student that is the foundation of their employment profile (or showreel).
At MASTERS level students come to us with extant portfolios of creative work. It is absolutely vital that these works are seen to be explorative in nature. There must be a clear and evident need to seek further training and creative context (among an MA community of over 100 students) as well as the need to return to academia (to read and write about music as well as creating it).
Finally, we have numerous students studying for RESEARCH DEGREES. These students are now focused upon answering RESEARCH QUESTIONS through musical discovery and academic contextualisation of work. At this point in a student's study, they are set upon creating and publishing their work as a highly original contribution to their field of knowledge. Their work will exist for performance and study. Research questions can be technical but can easily be creative. We work very closely with applicants to formulate their online application form.
Link to Department Research and Teaching pathways - a formal link to documentation of pathways.