Electroacoustic Music Composition

Course Number: 255/6.0 3L (Course Code Explanation)

Open To: B.Mus. and B.Mus./B.Ed. students, non-B.Mus. students

Area(s): Theory and Composition

Instructor(s): Dr. Matt Rogalsky

Term(s): A, B

Day(s) and Time(s): M: 1.00-2.30, W: 11.30-1.00

Room: HLH 120

Calendar Description

Basic techniques of electroacoustic music composition, including recording, sound editing, synthesis, MIDI, sequencers and synthesizer voicing. Emphasis is also placed on the history and aesthetics of electroacoustic music through listening, discussion and analysis.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s) / Exclusion(s)

  • RECOMMENDATION Experience in music composition is encouraged but not a prerequisite.

Additional Information

255 deals primarily with the practical applications of composing in the medium of electroacoustic music and multimedia. Therefore, while secondary topics such as use of available equipment, electroacoustic applications, music technology and historical perspectives of electroacoustic music will most likely be discussed, the main focus of the course will be on the aesthetics, the creation, and the production of electroacoustic music, both by itself and in the context of multimedia and visual music.

Listening to the electroacoustic compositions of classmates as well as other composers will be an important element of the course, designed to help the student develop an awareness and understanding of electroacoustic form, structural content, and aesthetic considerations. Practical suggestions as to the application of the above-mentioned elements to one's own composition will also be discussed.

While there will be lectures, a portion of the classes will be held in seminar/workshop format in which the students will have an opportunity to discuss each others' completed works or works in progress. Classes will also include "hands-on" work in the studios and the multimedia lab, for example, in-class assignments and workshops.

The course will also include student performance/workshops, generally on an informal basis, in which the students will present and discuss their current works created in this course.

There is a textbook required for this course, available at the Queen's Bookstore:
Holmes, Thom. Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music and Culture (Routledge, 2012).

Course Outcomes

By the end of the course the students should be able to do the following:

  1. create and produce electroacoustic compositions (both by themselves and in the context of multimedia), of an approximate duration of one to ten minutes, using most of the available resources in the electronic music studios and the multimedia lab; these compositions may also be created in the context of sound installations;
  2. have a general knowledge of the formal, structural, historical and aesthetic elements of an electroacoustic composition, and demonstrate the ability to apply these principles to their own compositions;
  3. have a general knowledge of basic music technology used in the creation of their electroacoustic compositions, including use of a computer, the basics of digital synthesis, sampling, use of synthesizers, sequencers and mixers, and digital audio recording.;
  4. have developed a basic understanding of the electroacoustic medium and be able to listen critically to their own compositions as well as the work of other electroacoustic composers.


For each term: composition assignments, public performance and presentation of compositions. Students will also be marked on class attendance and participation. All students will be expected to use the Queen's Electroacoustic Music Studios and the Computer Laboratory for Applications in Multimedia to complete their composition assignments. A student should expect to spend an average of four hours in studio/lab each week.