[LAU] OT: Electronic Music Degrees?

Lorenzo Sutton lsutton at libero.it
Wed Jan 12 08:24:27 UTC 2011


(Sorry I realised I wrote a pretty long email, so skip if you're not 
really interested in the (off) topic)

In Italy here, so pretty different environment, educational system and 
(crappy) job market. I'll give you some of my experience and in the 
meantime some required background on the country... hoping it might be 
interesting for someone.

I did a degree in musicology (after quitting one in computer science) 
and started working while I was finishing my degree. I have always been 
a 'techie' as well and used the skills in both my degree and job (did 
two 'IT-oriented' theses and work for a musical foundation on IT-related 
stuff) .
Within my job I met a composer and professor of electronic music who 
suggested I might try admission to an electronic music conservatorie 

I guess this need a biref explanation on "music learning in Italy" which 
I think is unique in the world: in Italy electronic music (and music 
teaching like isntruments, composition etc.) is a monopoly of music 
conservatoires, no university has such programmes (some engineering 
faculties have DSP and some sound design, but of course the focus is not 
on music). In university only musicology and ethnomusicology are taught.
Around the year 2000 conservatoires were put at the same level of 
universities with the creation of 'European' degrees that is 3(+2) 
years, roughly corresponding to MA + BA. As usual in this country this 
created a big big mess so that these degrees are still called 'diplomas' 
and no post-graduate programmes exist, together with many practical 

Anyway... I tried admission and passed. There is no such thing here as 
'adult learning' so studying with job and family is pretty much a 
nightmare and who knows when I will complete my 'diploma' (hopefully 
beginning of 2012), it is also relatively expensive. But I really enjoy 
the subjects and am determined to complete it. Family and job also mean 
there is very little time to study and what's most compose and 
experiment, 'play' etc. I must say I have encountered very supportive 
and nice teachers until now and that also helps.

As for what Michael said about the 'vision' on electronic music, 
especially in academic contexts, I think it depends a lot on the (head) 
teachers and the vision they have. So looking at the study programme, 
maybe even asking for a chat, could be useful to see if what they do is 

Let's not talk of jobs. The situation is simply dramatic here.

As a side note, I'm a strong Linux advocate at the conservatoire as 
well... Most people use 1. mac 2. windows. I'm the only one using 100% 
linux in my class. During the last year I've been porting stuff we were 
developing for MAX/MSP (as C externals) to Pd, it's fun but sometimes it 
can be a little frustrating to be the only one using the system: I am 
slowly creating some 'adepts' though (I always make sure my Compiz is 
turned on when I'm in class :) ) who are interested in stuff like Jack 
and the fact I manage to make stuff completely in linux (from composing 
to scoring to audio rendering, using plugins, etc., etc.).

Not sure all this was of any help. Anyway I wish you all the best and 
good luck.


michael noble wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 12, 2011 at 10:56 AM, Josh Lawrence <hardbop200 at gmail.com 
> <mailto:hardbop200 at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     minimal background:  I went to college when I was 18, and in my youth
>     and stupidity, wasted the opportunity.  I went to work in the IT field
>     and have done reasonably well, but the 8 - 5 corporate grind is
>     destroying my soul.  I'm now 35 and have a family.
>     is there such a thing as electronic music-related degrees (undergrad)
>     in the US?  or, are there composition degrees that primarily focus on
>     electronic methods?  I'm considering going back to school, and I would
>     like to investigate this possibility, if it exists.
>     sorry for the off-topic post.
>     thanks,
>     Josh
>     --
> Hi Josh,
> Funny story - I went to college and in my youth and stupidity received 
> an arts degree and have been working on a PhD on soundscape 
> composition. None of which opens many doorways to corporate or any 
> other kind of employment! Now I'm nearly 35 and wanting to go back to 
> school and get an IT degree. Go figure.
> Anyway, I'll try to answer your question, albeit as a non US citizen. 
> My understanding is that electroacoustic composition and computer 
> music composition remain specialized streams and are often offered as 
> electives for partial credit in a standard music degree. If you wish 
> to pursue that stream, you can then go on to postgraduate studies 
> alligned with one of the research institutes such as CCRMA, CNMAT or 
> CMC at Columbia. That being said, a number of schools offer Music 
> Technology programs as either a BA or BM and hence include varying 
> amounts of composition and/or performance. Also, there are courses in 
> electroacoustic composition, which may or may not be the kind of 
> electronic music you are interested in. A quick search revealed 
> Rutgers or San Diego State for example both offer some kind of 
> electroacoustic composition focus at undergrad level.
> I think that overall, however, you would need to spend some time 
> researching and thinking about what kind of electronic music you are 
> actually interested in. I've found the academic idea of what 
> constitutes serious electronic music is informed by a history of 
> electronic music experimentation that occured far from the mainstream 
> and often with a modernist or postmodern philosophical perspective. In 
> other words, its more angled towards csound and max/msp than a midi 
> DAW and virtual synths.
> But that's just my however limited experience. There are others on 
> list that may offer a different perspective entirely.
> best regards
> Michael
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