Published: Dec. 7, 2016 By

music technology classroom

Students give presentations during a music technology class in the CAML lab at Imig Music Building.

When the College of Music was founded nearly 100 years ago, students composed exclusively on paper, listened to music on gramophones and used the library's card catalog to learn more about its history. Needless to say, things have changed a bit since then, and those changes have been ushered in by rapidly improving technology. 

To that end, the College of Music next fall will unveil a new Media and Technology emphasis within its existing Bachelor of Arts in Music degree.

First conceived as part of the strategic planning process and approved last month by the faculty, the new emphasis combines already-offered courses at the college and departments across campus into an interdisciplinary degree that organizers say will go a long way toward preparing students for a changing musical landscape.

“Students are growing up with technology in a way that’s unprecedented,” says Daniel Kellogg, associate professor of composition. “We hope this will open the door to lot of artistically minded, creative applicants who have a love of music but are also heavily interested in technology.”

The new emphasis starts with the classes already required for the college’s certificate in music technology, then partners with the College of Media, Communication and Information, the ATLAS Institute and the College of Arts and Sciences to allow students to tailor their studies.

“There will be a lot of flexibility in what courses they can take to fulfill the emphasis. Twelve credits will be from computer science or design or engineering or filmmaking, with most of the credits coming from the College of Music.”

It’s an idea that's already piqued the interest of students. John Buford, a sophomore pursuing the BA in music, has always wanted to learn more about the synergy between music and technology.

“Technology is being updated from day to day and will keep progressing. Music is doing the same and I would love to join in and learn as much as I can about music that is not just instrumental.”

Lukas Moldawsky agrees. The sophomore composition major is already taking classes to earn a certificate in music technology, and he’s considering the new emphasis once it becomes available.

“My goal in the music world is to become a producer and work in studios, and this seems like a perfect fit for that agenda,” Moldawsky explains.

Kellogg says Buford and Moldawsky are not alone—which speaks to the potential for this program to have a big impact on the college.

“I’d say a goal of the emphasis is that in a few years, we’ve attracted new and interesting students who add to our already vibrant and creative community at the college,” he explains.

Another goal is to encourage collaboration between the College of Music and other departments on campus—a key component of the College of Music Advantage.

“The College of Music's strategic plan calls for it to develop several new programs that connect music to other fields,” says College of Music Dean Robert Shay. “Music is unparalleled in allowing for interdisciplinary connections with a variety of other fields, and many of the pathways students are now pursuing lie to some extent in the spaces between the disciplines.

“While we will continue to pursue excellence in all of our traditional offerings, it's important now that we not limit music within the boundaries of the past.”

It’s a change that’s not lost on students like Buford.

“Music is something that is growing and developing every day, so to be a college that offers music technology is fantastic.”

Adds Moldawsky, “I think it will draw more people into the college. Students who have an interest in music technology now have an option that fits that route.”

Kellogg says as the college acknowledges that the same, singular molds of the past century of music study may not serve students forever, this degree will allow students to form new molds.

“It gives students a lot of different options for their future,” he says. “They don’t have to walk out of here and feel like there’s only one track forward for them. They can apply their creativity to even more careers than before.”

The BA in Music with an Emphasis in Media and Technology Studies will be officially available in Fall 2017; to view the degree plan, visit the Undergraduate Advising section.