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Composition Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University

This program emphasizes learning through listening. Almost all of the works students compose are performed by other students at public concerts held throughout the year. The program features a first-year course that may be taken by any Music student in any year. Those interested in majoring in Composition take this course in first year and then in the second, third, and fourth years study individually with members of the Faculty and participate in composition seminars, writing works for various ensembles that are performed in formal evening concerts. In the final year, students write an extended work as their graduation composition. Students are invited to write for a variety of ensembles, from small chamber groups to the large ensembles: orchestra, wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, and choir. All students take an electro-acoustic music course. It is possible to emphasize this area, or to participate in collaborative projects in film, video, dance or theatre. Overall, the Composition faculty emphasizes stylistic diversity with an emphasis on developing each student's unique compositional voice. Many of our graduates have gone on to achieve distinction in national competitions, to study further in Canada and abroad, and to have successful careers as composers.

The Faculty of Music currently offers two core courses in the electroacoustic field:

Music & New Technology (MU251T)
provides students with a basic introduction to the newer technological instruments and the effects of this technology on the field of music production. High-fidelity audio systems, digital and analog recording techniques, microphones, sound synthesis and examples of computer music hardware and software are studied from both theoretical and practical points of view.

Introduction to Electroacoustic Composition (MU252)
engages composition students in a practical study of digital sound recording, editing, manipulation and signal processing techniques with an emphasis on listening and musical composition. Students become acquainted with the electroacoustic music studios by producing several short compositions. This course also covers a variety of related technical issues, historical and aesthetic topics.

Composition students have access to two Electroacoustic Music Studios (Studio A and B), both featuring digital audio editing/DSP workstations (running Pro Tools software) and MIDI-based facilities (running MAX software) to create both tape and live electroacoustic compositions. A variety of synthesis techniques are also available in each studio including FM, Analog, and Digital Sampling. Synthesizers and sound modules, rack-mount signal processing equipment, and both digital and analog recording equipment complete the facility. A third workstation is used for music notation.

Studio A has been assembled to facilitate digital audio recording, manipulation and storage via Pro Tools software and a DIGI001 interfaced. MIDI-based composition is also possible, via an Opcode Studio 3 interface connected to software programs, external sound modules, synthesizers and rack-mount effects units. Currently, Pro Tools and MAX are the primary software programs resident in this studio, controlling synthesizers including the Alesis QS-6 and Roland DX7-II. Once completed, projects can be realized via the Spirit Auto 24-8-2 mixer to various playback media (CD, DAT, or cassette).

Studio B is also designed for digital audio recording, manipulation and storage. It uses a computer interface (Audiomedia III card), which allows the importation of music/sound from any standard media (cassette tape, DAT, CD). Once resident on the computer hard disk, the sound can be edited and manipulated using the Pro Tools editing/DSP program, as well as external processing modules. Once completed, projects can be exported, via digital or analog paths, to various playback media (CD-R, cassette, DAT).

Richard Windeyer
Director, Electronic Music Studio
Wilfrid Laurier University

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