Composition, Performance and the Musical Text (Plenary)
Salford School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology
Two and a half year
In a nutshell
From exciting collaborations with your fellow students to learning from professional musicians, this Music MA course is about much more than studying and playing music. It’s about expanding your horizons, working together and immersing yourself in the training you need to establish a successful career in the music industry.
Do you have a clear idea about where you want to take your musical career? We offer three specialist pathways focusing on composition, performance, or interactive music and advanced studio production. If more than one of these options appeals to you, the part time mode of studies offers options to combine modules from different pathways to create the postgraduate music course that best suits your future aspirations.
And what better place to study your music master’s degree? Our New Adelphi Campus in Salford houses state-of-the-art facilities, including six recording studios, well-appointed rehearsal facilities and our 350-seater public theatre. And with easy access to Manchester, you’ll be able to experience the city’s exciting musical heritage.
- Learn from professional musicians while gaining hands-on experience in performing
- Study a breadth of musical genres, including rock, pop, classical, jazz, and electronic
- Have the opportunity to compete for a variety of prizes, such as the Kirklees Composition Competition
- Develop a portfolio of work that evidences your skills for employers or further study
Why not sign up to our Open Day to learn more about studying your Music MA at Salford. Our supportive course enquiries team can help you with any general questions you may have. For specific questions, you can contact the programme leader: Phil Brissenden.
This is for you if...
You are a committed musician wishing to develop your skills to a professional standard
You have a bachelor’s degree in music or a related subject, or evidence of professional practice experience.
You understand the benefit and importance of studying a wide range of genres to influence your own performance and style.
All about the course
What sets our Music MA apart? Not only is it the sheer range of musical genres and styles you’ll be exposed to, but also the hands-on experience you’ll be able to gain during your time with us.
Designed to excite and inspire, our course draws upon everything from rock and pop, to classical and electronic music. Exploring music from around the globe, you’ll be encouraged to deepen your understanding of the fundamentals of music, while developing your own playing and composition styles.
Whether you choose to study full-time or part-time, you’ll complete modules that offer an insight into the worlds of composition, performance and musical text across diverse cultures, generations and contexts. You’ll then choose your chosen specialist pathway, giving you the opportunity to deep dive into the practical aspects of performance, composition or music technology.
The variety of optional modules we offer will provide the theoretical framework for you to develop your final project contextualizing practice in your area of specialism as a research project.
Learn more about the modules we offer in our course breakdown below.
- The written score as locus of authority
- The graphic score as provocation
- The musical text in popular music
- The aural tradition in European folk music and in non-Western traditions
- The recording as artefact
Composition Techniques (C)
- Forms in the 21st century
- Texture and instrumentation
- Colour and structure in composition
- Presentation of artefact
Individual Performance (P)
- Cognitive processes in performance
- Physiological responses
- Relaxation techniques
Advanced Studio Composition and Production Techniques (IMASP)
- Dynamic sound editing, design and spatialisation
- Studio composition and sound-design strategies, including those for mixed-media
- An examination of the historical/cultural context for studio-based composition
- Recent and current repertoires for studio-based composition practice
- Delivery of the musical works in a form appropriate for the medium(s) chosen
Applied Composition Techniques (C)
- Composition for TV and film
- Composition for games
- Composition for theatre
- Sound environments
- Project managing in the commercial world
Group Interaction in Performance (P)
- Leadership skills
- Non-verbal communication
- Psychology of group performance
- Repertoire planning
Ethnomusicology Theories and Techniques
- Historical development and key figures in ethnomusicology
- Instrument classification and the construction of Instruments (Hindustani, West African, Chinese, 'Are'are, etc.)
- Gender and sexuality
- Localisation and globalisation
- Race and ethnicities
- Fieldwork methodologies
- Participant-observation: history, theoretical framework and techniques
- Transcriptions, interviews, and fieldwork diaries
- Learning procedures: enculturation, acculturation, nature, nurture; anthropology of the body
- Music and socialisation: musical behaviour and emic and etic
- Film and phonographic recordings in ethnomusicology
- Music space and place
Community Music Theories and Techniques
During this module you will negotiate a series of proposed projects with your specialist tutor. Typically, projects will be undertaken across a range of areas including, for example, band management and promotion, musical directing and community music in its broadest sense.
Negotiated Final Project
Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.
What will I be doing?
Our Music MA course is taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and masterclasses, as well as regular supervision tutorials or instrumental lessons. All of which are taught by practicing musicians who have performed both nationally and internationally.
Your classes will be based at our New Adelphi Campus that houses a range of state-of-the art recording suites, practice rooms and performance venues, which you’ll be able to book and use as required.
As part of your master’s degree in music, formal assessment will be completed through a combination of practical and performance examinations and the building of a coursework portfolio. This may depend on the specialist pathway you choose to follow
BE A PART OF A CREATIVE, SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY
All our Music courses are delivered by the Salford School of Arts, Media, and Creative Technology. Our focus is to ensure that you have the skills you need to pursue your dreams, and we encourage our students, past and present, to collaborate with each other and achieve great things.
Each year - through the Create Awards – our School rewards the incredible achievements and successes of our final year and postgraduate students.
Whatever you choose to study with us, you’ll be mentored and supported by experts. And once you graduate, it won’t end there. You’ll join a thriving alumni network across Greater Manchester and beyond, meaning you’ll be supported professionally and personally whenever you need it.
Our university music courses are based at our £55 million New Adelphi building, the home of Music on campus.
Our full range of music facilities include:
Recording Studios - our six studios, all of which are large enough to accommodate both bands and chamber classical / brass ensembles. They also contain everything from analogue recording hardware and tape machines, extensive microphone collections, a large selection of drum machines and effect processing possibilities, and a diverse array of software platforms.
Voice Acting Studio – our recording environment for radio drama or video game production. It is possible to achieve a range of capture, from foley recordings in the acoustically flexible ‘live’ room to extremely dry spoken word in the ‘dead’ room.
Computer Suite – passionate about learning music software from experienced technical demonstrators? Our twenty-six workstations (iMac; audio interface; controller keyboard; headphones) are equipped with licences for all of the software we teach. The current software provision comprises of Logic X; Pro Tools; Ableton; Max MSP; Sibelius; Soundtoys; GRM Tools and a huge selection of Universal Audio and Waves plug-ins. This software is also available across all studio spaces.
7.1 Mix - a teaching space designed for mixing in 7.1 and 5.1 surround. The space is used extensively in the teaching of our Advanced Studio Composition and Advanced Audio for Media modules.
Studio 9 – Composition Lab - this studio facility is equipped with an impressive range of hardware including many synthesizers such as DSI OB6, Korg MS20, Roland Juno 106, Moog Sub Phatty, Korg Volca FM, Vermona DRM Mk3 accessed through a full MIDI interface / patchbay. The space is acoustically treated and equipped for 5.1 mixdown.
Rehearsal Facilities - our New Adelphi Building houses twenty-six rehearsal spaces designed to facilitate popular and classical ensemble rehearsals, individual practice, one-to-one instrumental tuition and ensemble teaching. The rooms are well specified with a wide range of carefully chosen and well-maintained equipment including drumkits from DW, Sonar, and Yamaha; Keyboards from Nord and Roland, guitar amplification from Mesa Boogie, Vox, Fender, Orange and Marshall and Bass amplification from Ampeg, Mark Bass and Aguillar.
One-to-one Tuition – we have individual spaces that have well-maintained Yamaha acoustic pianos, a selection of classic keyboards and Bluetooth amplification for playback. All performance spaces have natural light and have been acoustically treated (absorbent and reflective) to suit discipline.
Our performance assessments, public concerts and masterclasses take place across a number of spaces on and off campus. We operate a high-quality modular PA system which is employed across:
Peel Hall - a three-hundred seat concert hall with excellent acoustics. The hall is used extensively by our large ensembles.
New Adelphi Theatre - the 350-seat theatre features flexible seating configurations to suit a range of events and performances. It is equipped with a range of intelligent and generic lighting, a highly adaptable EM Acoustics PA system, and a high-powered Christie projector.
Atmosphere - our student union bar and venue host a number of staff and student led performances throughout the year.
Programme leader Dr Phil Brissenden is a musical instrument designer, composer and performer. His innovations include a novel musical interface, the reverse action piano harp, and a bespoke notation system designed for the instrument. He performs regularly on the fifth prototype, working across a range of genres from highly experimental to classical music.
What about after uni?
This master’s degree in music focuses on sharpening your practical and professional music skills, standing you in good stead to work within a range of related careers. Not only will you be well-positioned to find employment as a freelance composer or performer, you’re newly acquired skillsets will also lend themselves perfectly to music education, lecturing and arts administration.
The depth of material covered within this course will also mean you can pursue further study in the areas of composition, performance, technology and musicology, if that’s the direction you choose to go in. What’s more, if you want to perform professionally, you’ll be able to benefit from the professional links we have with local music organisations, orchestras and bands.
Graduates showing strong academic and research skills can pursue a further academic research path through our doctoral (PhD) programmes on a full-time or part-time basis subject to a satisfactory proposal.
Our music university courses have direct links with professional institutions such the BBC Philharmonic, Halle Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain as well as the 'Sounds from the Other City' festival. We have a good working relationship with many venues in the local area including Islington Mill
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
To gain a place on this MA Music degree, you’ll have to submit a personal statement and meet our entry requirements when you apply.
Within your Music MA personal statement (up to 4000 characters), we’ll want to understand:
- what motivates you and what current experiences do you have in music?
- how have you been involved and what did you do?
- what musicians and organisations inspire you?
- why do you want to work in the music sector?
- and why the University of Salford and this MA Music degree is the right choice for your future goals.
For some applicants, you’ll be asked to provide us with a portfolio of work and potentially take part in an informal group seminar discussion – either live or on camera – to demonstrate your skills.
Normally, we'd invite you to attend a face-to-face audition. At the moment though, we’re reducing the number of people we have on our campus. For your audition you’ll preform your principal instrument you wish to study for our practice-based modules. Although this is not a compulsory requirement, ideally you should be of grade 6 / 7 ABRSM standard with solid theoretical knowledge. Composition and arranging portfolios can be used in support of your application if you are looking to pursue study beyond performance. Once you’ve made your application to study with us, we’ll contact you and let you know the next steps.
Why not sign up to our Open Day to learn more about studying your Music MA at Salford.
Standard entry requirements
A good honours degree preferably in Music or a related subject and/or evidence of industry/professional practice experience.
For International students
If you are an international student and not from a majority English speaking country, you will need IELTS 6.5 with no element below 5.5. We accept qualifications from all around the world. Find your country to see a full list of entry requirements.
Accreditation of Prior Learning
The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.
Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).
|Type of study||Year||Fees|
|Full-time home||2021/22||£8,100per year|
|Full-time international||2021/22||£15,030per year|
|Part-time||2021/22||£1,350 for home and £2,505 for international per 30 credits|
|Full-time home||2022/23||£8,280per year|
|Full-time international||2022/23||£15345per year|
|Part-time||2022/23||£1,380 for home and £2,557.5 for international per 30 credits|
You should also consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.
Scholarships for international students
If you are a high-achieving international student, you may be eligible for one of our scholarships.
We have a range of scholarships available for students applying for courses in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. Our Global Gold Excellence Scholarship is worth £3,500 and our Global Silver Excellence Scholarship is worth £3,000 - both are available for students studying in our 2021/22 intakes.
We also offer the Salford International Excellence Scholarship which offers up to £5,000 discount on tuition fees. As this is a prestigious award we have a limited number of these scholarships available.
See the full range of our International Scholarships.