The MMus/MA programme has a strong focus on contemporary practice and emphasises the connections between the various areas of study while offering a degree of choice. Brunel's proximity to a world music capital brings a wide range of associated benefits in terms of direct contact with the professional world at the highest possible level.
The programme takes the contemporary musical situation as its centre, but explores its interfaces with diverse areas through the unusual concentration of specialists on the staff (including composition, improvisation, electronic music, critical theory, phonetics, installation, work using MAX/MSP).
You may choose your modules, but any combination will provide a balanced programme of practical and critical work, the latter engaging in a range of methodological and critical issues related to the historical, political, economic and social context of musical creativity, including questions such as the nature of musical creativity.
Each module will have a range of assessments; some practical, others written, as appropriate. Students will choose four of the following 30-credit modules, including one or both of the asterisked modules, and a dissertation.
Music and Text*: a detailed study of key issues and thinkers in the domain of critical reflection on music and its social, political, and cognitive aspects, as well as topics in the philosophy of music and aesthetics.
Composition: the study of contemporary compositional techniques in the context of students’ own creative practice. Students interested in live interaction will be encouraged also to do the following module.
Electronic Music: the study of studio technique and associated aesthetic ideas in the context of the students’ own creative work in the studio, as well as the compositional possibilities and aesthetic issues opened up by live electronics.
Contemporary Performance: the development of technique and critical approaches to the performance of contemporary music, including matters of notational interpretation, freedom, and the role notational complexity in relation to realisation.
Improvisation: Theory and Practice: the advanced study of approaches to improvisation, taking sources from a variety of styles of improvised music, and exploring its connections with and differences to both “traditional” performance and composition, as well as the interaction between improvisation and live electronics.
Collaborative Performance Event*: an intensive two-week musical process supervised by Prof. Richard Barrett and finishing with a concert/music theatreevent in a London venue.
The award you receive at the end of this programme depends on what you choose for your dissertation project. In you undertake a written project, you will be awarded an MA. If you undertake a major composition or performance project, you will be awarded an MMus.
The School of Arts has an unequalled concentration of contemporary music practitioners of national and international reputation, including the composers Richard Barrett, Christopher Fox and Peter Wiegold. The presence of associate artists and ensembles — the contemporary ensemble Piano Circus, the cellist Matthew Barley, and the
renowned South Bank Sinfonia provide an incomparable resource for postgraduate composition students that few institutions can match.
The School has a growing postgraduate community and offers a range of resources to support research. At Brunel all lecturers are actively engaged in research or creative practice. This means that you will be introduced to cutting-edge issues and practice in your modules, by experts who participate in the development of the field.
The Contemporary Music Practice Research Centre covers the interfaces between genres of composition and improvisation, technology and human performance, music and society, movement and sound, and between text and music.
Each module is assessed by a combination of practical and written elements as appropriate.