What do we do here?
At NIUCMS, students are offered a rather complete spectrum of computer music/new media experiences. Students can begin the program with an Intro class (MUSC 211 - Electronic and Computer Music I, also available for graduate students as MUSC 611) which introduces many elements common to many computer-music environments. In this class, students also get a taste of historical and contemporary attitudes toward experimental, electronic/computer music by reviewing music, composers and technologies in lecture format during the first 5 weeks (number of weeks may vary at discretion of instructor) of each semester. Thereafter students will work in a lab where they will complete 2-4 projects which provide hands-on experience with several synthesis techniques discussed in lecture.
The next class in the sequence (MUSC 212 - Electronic and Computer Music II, also available to graduate students as MUSC 612) introduces a more complete, software-controlled composition/performance environment. Students learn computer-music programming with the most sophisticated package available - MAX, running on a Mac computer. Here the composer learns to author computer programs that assist in the composition, performance, conducting and spatial presence of a piece of music. This effort is enhanced by use of the studio’s MIDI-programmable, automated, digital mixer - Yamaha’s ProMix 01.
The next two classes in the sequence (MUSIC 311 and 312 - Electronic and Computer Music III and IV, respectively, also available for graduate credit as 711 and 712) continue 212’s investigations with more interactive, multimedia and multi-platform work being emphasized. Here the student is challenged to work in “new media” arenas. Composers can begin work on musique concrete projects, video/computer music projects, WWW-based projects, realtime network projects and combinations of these genres, often including experimentation with contemporary interests of sound diffusion/spatialization. This course emphasizes sound design and composition with sonic materials treated as “sound objects” and is often the student’s first in-depth work within the genre of “musique concrete.”
The “heart” of the computer-music degree program is the software synthesis/ digital audio processing sequence currently offered as three, three-hour classes under MUSC 313 (graduate sections available under MUSC 713). Here the composers apply their knowledge and skills in digital signal processing (the basics for which are covered in a lecture series toward the beginning of each semester) through creation of realtime, interactive programs using MAX/Jitter hosted by a Mac computer and Digidesign digital audio hardware. Possibilities tend to be far more numerous in this environment when compared to MIDI systems. Computer music students may also explore programming in other languages/systems depending upon each student’s primary area(s) of interest. These can include Paul Lansky’s “cmix”, Barry Vercoe’s “Csound”, SuperCollider, Reason and Ableton Live, among others.
To top it off there is at least one studio concert per year where NIUCMS composers’ works are performed. These are usually quite diverse affairs running the gamut from tape pieces to realtime, audience-controlled animation/synthesis works! There’s something for everyone!
Thankfully, NIUCMS is a part of the NIU School of Music which is a large world-class school offering a wide range of studies and performance opportunities. Student composer/performer associations are encouraged and have yielded many powerful compositions and performances in various concerts.
-Dr. James Phelps, Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of Electronic and Computer Music Studies, NIU
M.M. Degree under Individualized Program with Emphasis in Computer Music and New Media Technology
|Theory core (usually satisfied through MUSC 512)||3|
(El. and Comp. Music III)
(El. and Comp. Music IV)
(Software synthesis/digital audio proc)
(3 semesters - 3 hrs. ea.)
(to be chosen with Professor)
1 Thesis consists of a “final composition project.” The exact nature of this project will be determined through discussion between student and Professor. While this project should reflect the student’s growth in many areas of composition, it should not be considered a summary of all techniques and skillls within the grasp of the student.
2 As part of the 713 coursework, the student is required to present a recital featuring the “final composition project.” The student will also audition other of his/her works on the recital. The student is responsible for “producing” his/her own recital, although it is expected (desired) that colleagues will assist.
3 Most students will need to take MUSC 500 to satisfy requirements of recording technology. Also, students are encouraged to study one semester of private lessons with Dr. Phelps in addition to the private lesson which is associated with the Thesis. MUSC 500 and the private lessons may count toward these elective credits.
4 All students working toward this degree are required to attend the weekly, open seminar referred to as “Annex Group Seminar.” There is no course number or credit hours attached to this seminar.
The student’s exact plan, and consequently, exact number of hours may differ. This document is to be interpreted only as a guide although it represents many areas of study necessary for inclusion in any computer music degree.
MUSC 611/612, or comparable work, is assumed as predecessor to this degree plan, but may be taken as deficiencies if necessary.
Students may apply to complete a Contract degree in Computer Music and New Media Technology in an undergraduate curriculum whereby a student proposes a degree plan combining areas that are not currently “officially” designed to form a degree. This proposal is assembled by the student and faculty advisors and is evaluated by several committees to insure validity and appropriateness of the degree. This undergraduate degree is administered by the College of Visual and Performing Arts rather than by the School of Music. Students can earn either a BGS or BA degree as a contract major (The computer-music area recommends the BA.) After initial contact with Dr. Phelps, students should first see Associate Dean Deborah Robertson, the coordinator for such degrees. She will discuss the entire procedure with you and provide you with any necessary paperwork.
It is likely such a proposal would involve both the Recording Technology area and the Computer Music and New Media Technology area. In the computer-music program we concentrate on musical composition and performance within the domain of music technology. It is not a vo-tech program but, rather, an arts program. he student will study many areas of music technology, both in lecture and hands-on environments, and will produce several pieces which will have several opportunities for performance. The emphasis is placed on experimentation and creating unique musical/art works. Intermedia capabilities are offered as well.
For additional information regarding Recording Technology, contact Prof. Peter Middleton who directs that program.
Interested students should consult the Undergraduate Catalog to learn more about curricular requirements concerning contract majors.
Information regarding application
Application and other related information can be found on the Web Site of NIU’s School of Music.