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Curriculum: TAC Master of Music

"forging a new identity for the 21st-century composer."  — The New York Times

Radically creative. Radically pragmatic.

The Master of Music in Technology and Applied Composition is the ultimate launch pad for composers to gain a competitive artistic portfolio of work, a network of like-minded professionals, and mastery of in-demand skills. The program is a project-based curriculum with the rigor of a traditional conservatory of music located in the technology capital of the world.

The young professionals in this program experience two years of coursework in production, scoring for media, sound design, computer programming, technical audio implementation, and recording engineering combined with courses in music history, theory, orchestration, analysis, and more. With access to a brand new technology-based facility in the heart of downtown San Francisco, TAC students are well-resourced to record, create, and collaborate with renowned faculty, professional session musicians, and leading professionals within the industry.

 

REQUIRED COURSES

Curriculum: Master of Music in Technology and Applied Composition
Credit Total: 48

Requirement Cr.
Applied Instruction 8
Musicianship and Music Theory 14 (8 count toward degree)
Music History and Literature 12
Career and Professional Development 2
Technology Skills 10
Electives 8
Winter Term 2 Years

Tools Techniques and Analysis I & II
Composition Workshop
Composition Seminar
Musicianship Review
Music Theory Review
Advanced Musicianship
Score-Reading at the Piano
Topics in Music History: 18th & 19th Century
Film Music
Business for the Media Composer
Introduction to Sound Recording
Advanced Sound Recording
Production Techniques in Logic Pro X
Introduction to Sound Design
Mixing Workshop
Production Techniques in Ableton Live
Building Applications for Music: Max/MSP 1
Theory of Musical Synthesis: Max/MSP 2
Game Audio
Topics in Computer Science: Building Games in Unity
Topics in Computer Programming: C++
Topics in Computer Programming: Java

Technology and Applied Composition Course Descriptions

Tools, Techniques, and Analysis
This course introduces studio technology as a vehicle for realizing musical ideas through listening and practice. The keyboard is the primary instrument for the student to realize goals. Other tools will be explored. Students will engage in the analysis of traditional and multimedia works with corresponding scoring assignments, and be introduced to basic production techniques through exercises corresponding to sonic quality, compositional methodology, aesthetics, and context. The principal aim of this course is to develop students’ ability to write and produce convincingly in a variety of styles.

Composition Workshop

Through a series of collectively coordinated lectures over the course of an academic year, students complete composition assignments, attend lectures, and receive feedback from a roster of accomplished visiting industry faculty directly related to the fields of scoring for film, games, and other emerging media.

Composition Seminar

A weekly two-hour meeting required of all senior TAC composition majors. Student works, contemporary scores, departmental projects and career issues such as competitions, résumés and commissions are studied and discussed. Often includes guest speakers and professional opportunities with outside organizations such as SF Ballet School, Facebook, and The Walt Disney Family Museum.

Musicianship Review

Musicianship Review is a one-semester course that improves ear training and sight-singing skills in fixed-do solfège, melodic and harmonic dictation through altered-chord harmony, and other materials as necessary. Placement into or out of Musicianship Review is determined by the musicianship placement exam, required of all entering graduate students.

Music Theory Review

This one-semester course is designed to bring the graduate student's knowledge of musical form and analysis up to the standard required for graduate course offerings and seminars. The course is split into two seven-week modules. The first is an intensive overview of musical terms, chord structures and part-writing; the second places these elements into the context of basic harmonic and formal analysis. Placement into or out of Music Theory Review is determined by the Graduate Theory Placement Exam, which is required of all entering graduate students.

Advanced Musicianship

This two-semester course emphasizes advanced study of rhythm, tonal and atonal sight-singing and dictation, C clefs, transposition and score-reading. Completion of the first semester is a prerequisite to enrollment in the second. This course counts for 4 credits; the fourth credit is for the piano score-reading component of the course (see next course). Prerequisites: completion of the keyboard skills requirement or MMT 602 (or MMT 721) with a grade of B or better (or consent of the instructor).

Score-Reading at the Piano

This course covers the skill of reading orchestral, chamber, and choral works at the piano, starting with simple two-part exercises in multiple clefs, then progressing through the standard transpositions, combining increasing numbers of staves in multiple clefs, and finally applying the skills learned to the reading of full scores in various genres. Students play through exercises together in class with instructor supervision; there are no weekly assignments.

Topics in Music History: 18th & 19th Century

This course surveys 18th- and 19th-century music history by focusing on important and characteristic issues, repertoires, composers, and areas of musical life. Students will broaden their acquaintance with 18th- and 19th-century genres and repertories and with analytical approaches to these repertories; they will study the social contexts of 18th- and 19th-century music, and the lives of the people who composed, performed and supported it. Students who do not pass the first part of the Music History placement exam must take MHL 602. (Offered both semesters.)

Film Music

This course explores the history, aesthetics, and technique of composing music for films. Students will study how music in film creates a sense of dramatic structure, of time and place, of character, and what is unseen and unspoken, all in the service of telling a story. Emphasis is placed on film music's incorporation of folk music, popular music, 19th-century symphonic style, 20th-century modernism, jazz, minimalism, and pre-existing classical music.

Business for the Media Composer

This course prepares students for employment and advancement in the constantly evolving music and media industry. Students will gain experience creating professional business plans and strategies for generating revenue from music production, licensing, promotion, and performance. Students will become familiar with the intricacies of publishing, royalties, digital rights, digital distribution, streaming revenue and other financial issues related to developing one's own career. Uses of social media and streaming services will be an ongoing topic of discussion in this course. Additionally, this course will emphasize career development through practicing contract negotiations, networking, customer service and time management. An examination of the various roles and potential streams of revenue within the music business will also be examined.

Introduction to Sound Recording

Introduction to recording studios, equipment and technology. Students will learn the concepts of psycho-acoustics, listening for Eq, compression, stereo field and reverb. Students will learn terminology of studio roles/division of labor, theory of analog and digital recording and how microphones and mixers are designed to function. Students will also learn basic audio editing in Pro Tools, how to set up a session file, automation and basic exporting of an audio session.

Advanced Sound Recording

Advanced study in the theory and practice of recording audio technology, studio techniques and procedures. This course provides hands-on experience in recording acoustical instruments in both studio and performance spaces. Topics covered include: Advanced stereo microphone techniques, large format analog console signal flow, mixing both stereo and surround formats, exploring electroacoustic measurements, recording equipment and multi-track recording and theory. Project based assignments will include pre-production, recording sessions, mixing and mastering. Select students will assist on official SFCM recording projects.

Production Techniques in Logic Pro X

Students learn to use a Digital Audio Workstation and expand beyond audio concepts covered in intro to recording to working with MIDI, realizing techniques for traditional writing using the computer as a tool. Understanding workflow techniques, editing audio and MIDI, using software instruments and sample libraries, working with audio effects, mixing and automation, and the manipulation of pitch and time. Students will learn to edit to picture using Quicktime, as well as use Logic's software instruments for synthesis, sampling and sequencing. Students need to bring their own apple laptop to the classroom. The Logic Pro X software can be temporarily borrowed from SFCM while students are on the campus network. There are a few laptops available for checkout from the TAC department for those students who do not have access to a laptop during class time. Please see Taurin Barerra for more information.

Introduction to Sound Design

Students learn practices of foley, voice, and sound design through field recording, working with narrative and actors, developing sound effects, layering samples and incorporating synthesizers. By the end of this course students will understand signal chains of effects, and musicality in sound implementation.

Mixing Workshop

Students practice the art of Mockups for speed and excellence in sound. Students learn to organize and manage content, files, and documentation using high end sound libraries such as Vienna Strings and hybrid acoustic/electronic scenarios. Students develop their ears for mixing and mastering through hands on exercises and listening assignments and learn best practices for sharing content.

Production Techniques in Ableton Live

Students learn to use the Ableton Live Digital Audio Workstation and expand upon audio concepts covered in intro to recording to working with MIDI, realizing techniques for traditional writing using the computer as a tool. Understanding workflow techniques, editing audio and MIDI, using software instruments and sample libraries, working with audio effects, mixing and automation, and the manipulation of pitch and time. Some musical synthesis will also be covered.

Building Applications for Music: Max/MSP 1

Students learn techniques for using the computer for random, procedural and generative operations to produce custom music applications in Max/MSP. Students are introduced to basic programming concepts in a visual, object-oriented environment and gain an understanding of what it means to work in a nonlinear paradigm. In this instance, the computer is used as a vehicle to design processes that exceed the limitations of traditional composition and give "under the hood" insight into many 3rd party software applications commonly used for implementation in video games as well as traditional uses deployed in many contemporary classical electro-acoustic pieces being presented regularly. This class will benefit performers who wish to perform electro-acoustic scores (commonly a Max/MSP program is included with a score) or composers who wish to integrate a time based sample or other electronic music technique into their work. There has been a trend of requesting money to purchase this software via the Student Professional Development Fund over the last few years.

Theory of Musical Synthesis: Max/MSP 2

Student learns the theory behind standard synthesis techniques such as signal generation, additive synthesis, modulation and noise generation. Students will demonstrate their understanding by performing the techniques both in the analog realm with modern digital standalone synthesizers and through object-oriented programing, building on their knowledge of Max/MSP.

Game Audio

Students learn basic techniques for implementation and industry workflows using middleware software such as Fmod and Wwise and Unity. Students learn how a game is scored and implemented into an interactive medium with professionally simulated workflows.

Topics in Computer Science: Building Games in Unity

This course will introduce students to the field of computer science and the fundamentals of computer programming via game development projects designed in the software Unity.

Topics in Computer Programming: C++

Students will learn and practice the programming language C++

Topics in Computer Programming: Java

Students will learn and practice the programming language Java