New Music Technology Program to Launch Fall 2016

Photo: Phil Dembinski (BFA '08)
Columbia College Chicago’s newest interdisciplinary degree synthesizes technological know-how with research and aesthetic inquiry.

A new interdisciplinary degree is navigating uncharted territory at Columbia College Chicago. Combining the resources and curriculum from three different departments—Audio Arts & Acoustics, Music, Interactive Arts and Media—and two different schools—the School of Fine & Performing Arts and the School of Media Arts—the new Bachelor of Science in Music Technology aims to attract students by offering a robust interdisciplinary experience fueled by rigorous entry and academic standards.

“In a field as broad as Music Technology, no one can hope to become an expert in all aspects of the discipline. It is a field populated by polymaths and specialists, and the best we can hope is for our students to be conversant with a broad range of technical, aesthetic, and scientific concepts and languages at the discipline’s core,” Interim Director Howard Sandroff says.

For students looking for career preparation in the field of music technology, the degree track offers an exciting synthesis of technological know-how with investigations into the human body’s physical and psychological relationship to sound. Philosophical inquiry, typically associated with the liberal arts, is also a key component of the Music Technology curriculum.

Modeled after graduate-level programs, individual attention and smaller class sizes provide faculty members more room to serve as one-on-one mentors. Sandroff says students who choose not to explore a career in music technology-related fields such as software development, electroacoustic composition and sound art will be prepared to enter graduate programs in music technology, engineering, and musical composition, theory and performance.

According to Sandroff, the degree track is specifically designed for high-achieving students. The program requires that applicants have finished Calculus I, completed 45 credits and maintained a GPA of 3.0 or higher before they submit an essay and portfolio of creative or scholarly work to apply. Graduating students will have produced a wealth of research into the practical applications, production and philosophy of electroacoustic music as well as a radically expanded portfolio.

“We are trying to introduce the depth of technology and the ability to manage it based on a desired artistic outcome in a way that challenges students. It's not just music technology, it's the study of how music technology works, why it works, and how to improve and design it,” Sandroff says.  

Enrolled students will take a range of courses offered within the three departments including Digital Music Composition, Authoring Interactive Media, Physics of Musical Instruments, Audio Design and Production, and a core, multi-module class called The Sonic Experience where they will probe historical, theoretical and practical issues across their constituent fields.

Music Technology is in a zero term this semester and officially opens in Fall 2016. According to Sandroff, four students are currently enrolled in the first year program and one additional student, who participated in a pilot of the program, will graduate at the end of the spring semester.