Undergraduate course

Digital Music BA (Hons)

Explore digital approaches to sound and electronic music creation. Learn to market and sell your music on digital platforms.

Mixing desk

Modern technology has created new approaches to production and new definitions of the producer. This is a course designed for musicians and DJs who make music on digital platforms. It's for those who want to explore the impact of digital technology and become successful producers in electronic genres. It's for those who want to create, market and sell digital music products.

100% of Music Production graduates were in employment or further education within six months - DLHE 2017

  • UCAS Code – J933
  • Location – York campus
  • Duration – 3 years full-time | 6 years part-time
  • Start date – September 2020
  • School – Performance & Media Production

Minimum Entry Requirements

    88 UCAS points

    3 GCSEs Graded at C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language

Tuition Fees

    UK and EU 2019-20 £9,250 per year

    International 2019-20 £12,750 per year

The York St John Experience

Course overview

This degree is one of a suite of Music Production courses that share the same core ideals, but offer a different focus in the field. The other degrees in the suite are Music Production BA (Hons)Independent Music Production (BA Hons), and Music Production & Creative Business BA (Hons).

 

Digital Music focuses on making music with the digital audio workstation (DAW), enabling you to explore digitally-based approaches to music production. On this course you will: 

  • Learn the production skills to become a confident, creative and enterprising industry professional.
  • Develop your musical understanding through writing and arranging tracks for clients.
  • Learn advanced production techniques to capture and process sound professionally.
  • Use an array of digital technology to sequence, synthesize, sample and mangle sounds and beats for specific purposes. 
  • Contribute to current debates in digital music. 
  • Examine modern distribution platforms, early digital technologies, film music and more.
  • Develop your confidence in handling contracts, copyright, client negotiations and product promotion so you're ready to establish yourself and a entrepreneurial producer.

All of our studio facilities use Logic Pro X, Albleton Live, and Pro Tools. They are installed with Native Instruments Komplete 11. We also have installations of:

  • Ableton Live
  • Reason
  • Lexicon PCM Native plug-ins
  • Spitfire Audio Albion One composer tools
  • Izotope 8
  • Wavelab.

The studios are fitted with Thunderbolt switches to allow students to dock their own laptops to use with all of the studio equipment.

Course structure

Level 1

In the first year modules cover the core technical, creative and managerial facets of production. You'll learn to bring all these skills together by creating music for your Digital Music Portfolio. This portfolio allows you to create music and establish a professional identity. By the end of your final year this will evidence your development and achievement as a digital music producer.

Modules

Compulsory modules include:

  • Digital Music Portfolio (30 credits)

This module is delivered in small group tutorials where the focus is on your creative output and the formation of your professional identity as an digital music producer. You will draw together specific skills learned in other modules and deploy them holistically in the creation of commercially-considered music products.

  • Sound Engineering and Music Technology (20 credits)

This practical module provides you with essential knowledge of the techniques and technology for music production, using both analogue recording studio hardware and Digital Audio Workstations such as Pro Tools and Logic Pro. Key tasks covered include recording, editing, comping, sequencing, signal processing, sampling and synthesis.

  • Introduction to Production Musicology (20 credits)

This module is about the academic field of music production. By studying key historical and theoretical sources in reference to seminal recordings you will gain the tools for analytical and critical thinking that will ultimately inform your creative and practical work.

  • Making Music (10 credits)

The aim of this module is to develop your understanding of music as the raw material of production. You will learn the rudiments of melody, harmony, rhythm and structure and how to apply them creatively in a variety of composition tasks.

  • Critical Listening Skills (10 credits)

This introduces one of the fundamental skills required of any worker in the music industry – the ability to listen critically to a sound source and accurately determine its component material. You will learn to identify sounds and treatments applied in existing productions, enabling you to effectively apply them within your own productions.

  • 21st Century Music Business (10 credits)

This module provides you with a contextual understanding of the contemporary music business. By considering how key music industry institutions, legal frameworks and record labels have developed, you will gain a solid foundation for working in the 21st Century music industry and media industries.

  • Project Management and Productivity (10 credits)

A key transferable skill of the music producer is the effective management of time, resources and talent in the organisation of large scale recording projects, album releases, studio installs and live events. Therefore you will study project and time management, evaluating a range of methods and techniques so that you can develop your own personal productivity systems best suited to you needs

  • Sound and Acoustics (10 credits)

You will gain a fundamental understanding of sound and acoustic theory and apply the knowledge in various recording and listening environments. You will be able to illustrate how a music studio, such as your own facilities, should be designed or arranged for the best acoustic response.

Level 2

Study advanced technical and creative subjects in your second year. Your portfolio of creative work will now include music produced for and with professional clients. A selection of optional modules will allow you to tailor your production skills to a specific areas, such as film music production and sound design.

Modules

Compulsory modules include:

  • Developing Your Digital Music Portfolio (40 credits)

In this module you will continue to develop your identity as a digital music producer, drawing together the skills learned in other modules to produce music for yourself, other artists, or in answer to specific briefs from our professional industry contacts. You will learn through your collaborations and the feedback you receive from your clients in dedicated small group seminars.

  • Studio recording and Computer-Based Production (20 credits)

Following from the technical skills gained at Level 1 this practical module develops a more advanced knowledge and understanding of recording skills, building confidence in using the mixing console and key Digital Audio Workstations. Areas covered include creative mic techniques; mixing in a variety of situations; handling a large scale recording session; and mastering.

  • Critical Studies in Music Production (20 credits)

This module builds upon the academic foundations established in Introduction to Production Musicology. At this level you will engage in contemporary debates and discussions regarding the art and practice of record production, and demonstrate an increasing level of sophistication when making an argument and articulating your research findings in academic writing.

  • Composing and Arranging (10 credits)

Following from the Making Music module you will expand your musical understanding with arrangement theory and practice, exploring the use of various sonic textures and how they can be combined for particular effect. Topics covered may include writing for drum and bass, harmonising a melody, constructing a sound world and creating a hook.

  • Developing a Producer’s Ear (10 credits)

This module continues to develop your appreciation of the core skill of the professional music producer – their ability to listen and accurately identify and communicate what they hear. You will develop an understanding of the importance of audio reproduction and media consideration (e.g. vinyl, CD, high definition, etc.), along with an understanding of the importance of monitor design, amplifier design, listening environments, and listener placement.

  • Digital Music (10 credits)

You will explore the influences on the development of contemporary trends in digital music, examining the birth and growth of electronic music, the instruments and techniques used, and their evolution into the digital sphere in contemporary music. You will be encouraged to incorporate this knowledge of early systems into your own electronic productions.

Choose one optional module to achieve 120 credits at Level 2.

Optional modules include:

  • Music Production for the Moving Image (10 credits)

You will examine the ways in which music combines with the moving image to create meaning in film and television production. You will study the functions of music in narrative film, learning film music composition and production techniques and using them to create music to be synced with specific moving image productions.

  • Sound Design for the Moving Image (10 credits)

This module requires you to apply your production skills in the creation and manipulation of non-musical sound in film and television production. Through practical work and the analysis of case studies you will develop an understanding of key sound design elements, such as production sound; foley; dialogue editing; spot effects; sound effects and atmospheres.

  • DIY Musician (10 credits)

You will be introduced to the processes of taking a track that you have produced yourself through to commercial release. The module will cover the key aspects of the process in terms of licensing, registration, neighbouring rights, distribution, PR and marketing of the product, enabling you to manage the process of getting your music out into world and working for you.

  • Interactive Music Production (10 credits)

This module give you the opportunity to engage in research and practice in the field of interactive music production. You will explore alternative controllers, breaking away from the traditional interfaces of the MIDI based piano keyboard by exploring alternative means to generate sound, ultimately creating an interactive music production instrument or installation.

Level 3

Draw on all your previous learning to produce a major piece of work, such as an album or film soundtrack, in the Digital Music Project module in your final year. This module is taught in one-to-one supervisions and production meetings. You’ll deepen your critical thinking with a research project and write a dissertation on a topic of your choosing. We will also support you to develop a personal career plan to prepare you for leaving University.

Modules

Compulsory modules include:

  • Digital Music Project (60 credits)

This module represents the culmination of the development of your music production potential. In this module you will draw together all your creative, technical and contextual understanding in the creation of a substantial digital music project such as a white label of electronic music, or a digital music soundtrack for a film.

  • Advanced Mixing and Mastering (20 credits)

This module considers the role of mixing audio as an artform, with unique artistic elements and processes. You will build up your mixing skills to an advanced specialist level using modern and classic techniques. You will also cover the specific skills of mastering and use your techniques and strategies to create professional audio productions.

  • Progressing Your Music Production Career (20 credits)

This module supports your Professional Development Planning for your future after University. You will develop a grounded career plan based on your personal aspirations and careful research of your chosen area, so that you can go confidently into the world with a solidly researched and realistic action plan for the years after graduation.

  • Digital Music Research Project (20 credits)

This module enables you to focus on a topic of your choice within the field of Digital Music. You will explore this through analysis, experimentation, theory and practice and articulate your research findings in an academic journal article.

Teaching & Assessment

From the day you start with us we consider you to be a working Music Producer. We deliberately keep our group sizes small so that staff can get to know you and your creative personality, and therefore support your individual needs and aspirations.

Delivery

This course takes a very practical approach to teaching and learning. After covering core skills and theory in workshops you'll bring it all together in your own creative productions. You’ll get detailed feedback on your productions in weekly studio seminar groups so you can continually develop and improve your work before it is assessed. In year 3 you get dedicated one-to-one mentoring to guide you through your major production project.

Your contact hours vary depending on the module. Technical modules like Sound Engineering will have 4 hours a week in studio skills sessions. Music modules, such as Composing and Arranging, are taught through a 1 hour workshop followed by a 1 hour practical exercise each week.

Professional work experience

Develop your craft through constant professional work experience. We have a network of industry partners who come to work with you either as clients or co-producers. Most professional producers work as freelances, managing a portfolio of projects and clients. In our model, you gain realistic work experience as a freelance 21st Century producer.

Assessment Methods

You will be assessed through practical coursework projects. Critical work may be written essays, journal articles or presentations. Although there are no exams on this course, you will be tested on aural and studio skills.

Staffing

Our staff have ongoing professional profiles as music producers and/or run businesses that inform the ethos and teaching on our programmes. All the lecturers are Fellows of the Higher Education Authority.

Our staff members are:

  • Active recording and mix engineers.
  • Songwriters.
  • Film music composers
  • Electronic music producers
  • Sound designers
  • Studio designers
  • Session musicians
  • Published authors of music technology textbooks.

 

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

The minimum entry requirements for this course are:

88 UCAS Tariff points

3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent) including English Language

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. These can be accessed through our Admissions webpages.

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