Mixing desk

Composing and producing music on computers

Module details

  • Offered to 3rd & 4th Years
  • Thursdays 16.00-18.00
  • Planned delivery: On campus (South Kensington)
  • Two-term module, worth 5 ECTS
  • Available to eligible students as part of I-Explore
  • Extra Credit, or Degree Credit where your department allows
Degree credit module options by departmentHow to enrol

The Music Technology module offers you the opportunity to compose and create electronic music using state-of-the-art equipment.

The practical aspects of the module are embedded in a theoretical and analytical framework which encourages critical evaluation of contemporary music and its associated technology and an appreciation of the contributions made by the pioneering users of this technology.

The module combines skills acquisition with a high level of scholarship.

Restrictions on module selection: If you have taken the Music Technology (Year 2) module in your 2nd year, you are not eligible to enrol in this module during your 3rd or 4th year.

Please note: The information on this module description is indicative. The module may undergo minor modifications before the start of next academic year. 

Information blocks

On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

Students composing electronic music

  • Employ a wide range of music technology and compositional core skills.
  • Critically reflect on the cultural context in which these technologies were applied in the past, and are applied today.
  • Critically analyse musical repertoire.
  • Present creative ideas and judgement.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work both independently and as part of a group.

Music Technology students in the lab

  • The cultural contexts in which music technologies have been applied since c.1948
  • The theory and practice of audio/MIDI sequencing
  • Physics of sound, human hearing and the basics of psychoacoustics.
  • Digital audio, the audio interface and digital audio formats.
  • The theory and practice of sound synthesis.
  • The theory and practice of sampling: sample manipulation, using found sound, creating sampled instruments.
  • The theory and practice of sound capture
  • Specific production techniques such as compression, equalization, reverb and delay
  • Creative production techniques such as side-chain compression, bit reduction, saturation, resampling.
  • Compositional analysis: noise, silence, Musique Concrete.
  • The studio as a musical instrument.
  • Interrogating assumptions about modes of musical production, genres, styles and audience expectation, in order to focus compositional intentions.
  • Developing aural sensitivity and compositional assurance by the practice of active, analytical listening.
  • Exploring approaches to arrangement and compositional structure.
Most sessions will include a time for you to individually or in pairs and work towards the completion of a specific given task, to freely experiment the new techniques and skills learned in that session or for self-directed work. Some sessions will include Problem Based Learning tasks where you are required - at the start of the session - to undertake a task through which you figure out what skills you need to learn in order to complete it.
We deploy an array of digital tools in this module:
  • We use Spotify Playlists as a teaching and learning tool.
  • We use the Ed Discussion tool to encourage your engagement.
  • We allow and encourage you to borrow equipment such as midi keyboards, portable recorders and microphones, so that you can work independently outside the music technology lab.
All summative assessments are submitted through an appropriate VLE.
At the start of the Spring Term, students receive written feedback in the VLE on their Work-in-Progress composition (their first submission) and this feedback is intended to inform their work on the completed version of the same composition, which they are expected to submit as one of the two compositions in their Final Portfolio - which is submitted at the end of the Spring Term.
It is permitted to submit two new compositions in the Final Portfolio (i.e. not completing the work-in-progress composition), as long as the student justifies this decision in the write-up of the Final Portfolio.
  • Coursework: Work-in-progress portfolio - 1 composition of 3-5 minutes plus pdf write up 300-600 words (10%)
  • Coursework: Final portfolio submission - 2 compositions of 3-5 minutes plus pdf write up 600-1200 words (60%)
  • Practical: Individual contribution to a 5-minute group presentation (20%)
  • Practical: Participation based on constructive class contribution, good teamwork, good preparation, respectful use of equipment and facilities (10%)
  • Requirements: You are expected to attend all classes and undertake approximately 85 hours of independent study in total during the module. Independent study includes reading and preparation for classes, researching and writing coursework assignments and preparing for other assessments.
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 6 module. For an explanation of levels, view the Imperial Horizons Level Descriptors page.‌‌
"Definitely the best module I have ever taken at Imperial. Challenging but very rewarding."
"I love this module, it's such a breath of fresh air from the regular STEM stuff. Very pleased imperial offer this as an option so thank you!"
"It's nice to learn about the progression of music technology and listening to experimental music is always an interesting experience."
"I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the classes. There was tremendous enthusiasm from each lecturer and the classes were very engaging."
"My favourite module I have ever taken by far. Balance of theory and application has made it so enjoyable and has opened me up to things I never knew existed. Happy to work for the assessments and the challenge is so rewarding."
"It's been an amazing course, some of the best teaching I've had at university. Thank you!"