The taught MA is practice-based, with units and projects that challenge composers to tackle musical, aesthetic, and practical issues facing composers in the 21st century. With instruction in seminar, tutorial, and workshop formats, it emphasises a high level of engagement with performers and resident ensembles at Bristol. The program is currently overseen by Michael Ellison.
We think our MA is distinctive in combining rigour with an approach that respects individual voices and indeed encourages the composer to discover where to situate his/her talent in the profusion of contemporary possibilities.
"I can see that my attitude towards composition has developed in an extremely healthy manner since the start of the MA. At the outset I felt extremely tentative about writing the sort of music that appealed to me in an academic setting, but I believe that, through your laid-back but nonetheless rigorous appraisal of my work-in-progress you helped me to begin to forge that amalgam of consonant and dissonant elements (in a dynamic way) that we spoke of in September. I am certainly full of pride when I play people the Philharmonia's concert recording of Charles Bridge, and the New Music Players' workshop of Flashback."
Matt Dury, MA 2004
"My piece Labyrinth is one of the 4 pieces selected for inclusion in the 2nd Open Score collection and CD alongside works by such 'names' as John Tavener, Steven Montague, Michael Nyman, Simon Bainbridge, etc. Am of course delighted. It was also premiered at the final concert of the COMA Summer School. So, many thanks for encouraging us in this most radical (for me) direction."
David Greenhorne, 2005
Please see also the further details for composers.
For more information about these MA options, see this year's unit booklets
** taught as supervised independent studies
This establishes, by means of weekly seminars on seminal repertoire and technical background, the skills needed to write an effective professionally-presented chamber work which is recorded by professional ensemble in a workshop in January. It also covers aspects of the young composers' opportunities in the world at large and the composer's world.
This is a distinctive double unit designed to help the composer situate his/her aesthetic, stir the imagination, and provide unfamiliar areas of focus such as innovative work with amateurs, events with professionals, new conceptual paths, etc.
This unit will focus on research skills that are particularly relevant to musicians, focusing on the construction of a detailed bibliography as assessed work and how to give a successful oral presentation.
The unit is designed as a forum for the close study of the constructional techniques to be observed in the scores and recordings of music that can be of major interest, and value as exemplar, to the contemporary composer. This discipline will acknowledge the requirements of the Analytical profession but is more focused on the acquisition of tools and manners of perception and their potential transferability to practice-based research. A variety of musical sources and related readings will be studied in preparation for writing the assessed self-directed written project.
This unit develops knowledge of the wide-ranging options for the use of electronics in composition and performance and combines technical and aesthetic concerns, demonstrated through original compositions. The focus is on combining acoustic instrument(s) and/or voice(s) with live electronic resources, but other areas such as acousmatic composition, sound installation, and design of new performance interfaces will be studied according to student expertise and interests. The unit will also address questions of presentation, dissemination, portability and preservation for music that is dependent on rapidly-changing technical resources. Extensive foundational knowledge of studio composition is assumed, but if lacking can be made up by additional attendance in undergraduate and other graduate classes. A substantial element of individual study and compositional activity is expected, with these elements brought together in tutorial. The unit equips composers to include a substantial electronic component in their MA portfolio, and prepares them for further compositional research involving electronics.
For further information on life as a postgraduate in Bristol, visit the Graduate School of Arts and Humanities.
For enquiries about the course please contact one of the following: