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The Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague has a 50-year tradition of education, research and production in the fields of electroacoustic music, and computer music. Students can access well-equipped studios, workshops and concert halls, including a Wave Field Synthesis system and the most extensive voltage-controlled analogue studio currently in operation. The Institute of Sonology represents the Netherlands in the International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music (ICEM) and has a partnership with the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM).

Faculty members include Richard Barrett, Justin Bennett, Lex van den Broek, Raviv Ganchrow, Bjarni Gunnarsson, Paul Jeukendrup, Ji Youn Kang, Fani Konstantinidou, Johan van Kreij, Anne La Berge, Peter Pabon, Gabriel Paiuk, Irene Ruipérez Canales, Joel Ryan, Rebecca Schaefer, Kees Tazelaar and Rebekah Wilson.

We offer 

  • a unique combination of technological and artistic resources and expertise 
  • highly qualified international teaching staff 
  • the opportunity to join an international community of active artists and musicians of 37 different nationalities
  • Bachelor and Master of Music programmes rated as ‘excellent’ and a one-year post-graduate course.

Mission

The sonologist moves in the field of electroacoustic music, computer music and sound art. Instead of composing with sounds, as is generally the case in instrumental music, in sonology the sound itself is composed in such a way that it gives expression to musical form. This can take place on the basis of the physical principles of sound, on the basis of perception or on the basis of purely compositional ideas.

Past – Present

The electronic music production at the studio of Philips Research Laboratories (1956–1960) and the teaching programmes at the studios of Delft University of Technology (1957–1960) and CEM in Bilthoven were integrated in 1964, when Gottfried Michael Koenig (*1926) assumed the post of artistic director of the Studio for Electronic Music (STEM) at Utrecht University. Koenig then added an important third element: research. On the basis of this trinity, in three years STEM evolved into the Institute of Sonology, which was housed in Utrecht until 1986 and then moved to the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. Koenig’s integration of education, production and research still constitutes the Institute of Sonology’s DNA.

In addition to the one-year course in sonology that was launched in 1967, there is now also a four-year bachelor’s and a two-year master’s degree programme, the latter being rated as ‘excellent’ on all of the criteria by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). One of the specialisations in the master’s programme is Instruments & Interfaces, which is offered in association with STEIM in Amsterdam. From 2014, a double degree master’s programme in Audio Communication & Sonology is also being offered in partnership with the Technische Universität Berlin.

In recent years, guest lectures, master classes and workshops have been given by Trevor Wishart, Daniel Teruggi, Nic Collins, Cathy van Eck, Alvin Lucier, Stefan Weinzierl, Gottfried Michael Koenig, Konrad Boehmer, Arne Deforce, Francisco Lopez, Kaija Saariaho, Larry Polansky, Barry Truax, Matthew Ostrowski, Folkmar Hein, Sarah Nicolls, Richard Cavell, Veniero Rizzardi, Douglas Kahn, Peter Evans, Hillel Schwartz, Roberto Doati, Evan Parker, Horacio Vaggione and Peter Ablinger among many others.

Context

The Institute of Sonology adopts a clear stance in terms of the use of technology in music: technology is not merely an adjunct to the existing music practice, but should be used primarily to explore new forms of composition and public presentation of music and art. At the same time, sonology is not bound by any stylistic dogmas.

The traditional areas covered in sonology such as studio composition, computer programming, sound research, digital signal processing, algorithmic composition and the theory of electronic music are still strongly represented in the syllabus, but relatively new subjects such as live electronics, improvisation, sound art, field recording and the spatial aspects of sound have become at least as important.

The Institute of Sonology regularly collaborates with the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) in Paris, the Netherlands Music Institute (NMI), the Studio for Electro Instrumental Music (STEIM), Studio LOOS, the Technische Universität Berlin and The Game of Life Foundation.

Output

Students have access to five production studios equipped with high-quality multichannel sound systems. One also contains a Wave Field Synthesis system for spatial sound projection, and another is one of the most extensive voltage-controlled (analogue) studios currently in operation. 

Sonology avails itself of the Conservatoire’s two excellent concert halls for its regular concert presentations, featuring works by students, faculty members, guest artists and classics from the electroacoustic music repertoire, as well as performances by the Sonology Electroacoustic Ensemble, an improvisation group that combines acoustic and electronic instruments with live sound processing. Every year the students perform the results of the final exams at a small festival in June.

Sonology also organises special projects. One example was a three-day festival in the spring of 2012 in which almost all of the electroacoustic music of Xenakis was performed, interspersed with instrumental pieces and accompanied by lectures, workshops and master classes on Xenakis’s music.
Another was the Composing Spaces: Spatial Music from Gabrieli to the 21st Century symposium and festival in April 2013, which featured the GRM Acousmonium, the Game of Life’s Wave Field Synthesis system and other sound spatialisation technologies.
In November 2014, the festival 50 Years of Electronic and Computer Music Education was organised, in which 17 international educational institutions were represented with lectures, curriculum presentations and concert performances.
The Historically Informed Performance Practice of Electroacoustic Music symposium and festival took place in December 2016, comprising lectures, masterclasses and concerts organised in collaboration with the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste.
The symposium Transformations of the Audible took place in May 2019 at the occasion of the presence of the fourth Konrad Boehmer Visiting Professor Peter Ablinger in The Hague, in partnership with Leiden University’s Academy of Creative and Performing Arts and arts organisation WEST Den Haag. The event gathered international experts in the field of music, the arts and the scholarly field of sound studies with practitioners from the local scene in lectures, panel discussions and artistic presentations.

Alumni

The Institute of Sonology maintains a close relationship with students who have graduated. A number of them supplement their studies at the institute as research associates, and others continue to present the progress of their research, perhaps as part of a PhD programme elsewhere, on a regular basis. Former students are occasionally invited to give presentations at research seminars or colloquia or to present their work during the concerts. Alumni are active in multimedia art as composers, performers, sound designers, computer programmers and educators, or in various combinations of these professions. Links to former students’ websites can be found at the Alumni pages.

The Sonology master’s programme serves as an excellent preparation for doctoral research – graduates have continued their studies in PhD programmes at universities such as Stanford University (Björn Erlach, Mauricio Rodriquez), Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona (Ángel Faraldo), Queen’s University, Belfast (Miguel Negraõ, Henry Vega), University of Washington, Seattle (Stelios Manousakis, Hector Bravo Bernard), University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz (Luc Döbereiner), University of Huddersfield (Barbara Ellison), University of Birmingham (Sergio Luque, Yota Morimoto, Jan Trützschler von Falkenstein), University of Sheffield (Amy Beeston), Leiden University (Juan Parra Cancino, Babis Giannakopoulos, Siamak Anvari, Marie Guilleray, Gabriel Paiuk), Erasmus University, Rotterdam (Stuart Griffin), University of Salamanca (Ángel Arranz), University of Porto (Filipe Lopes), California Institute of the Arts (Andrea Young), Brunel University, London (Hugo Morales Murguía), University of Victoria (Jakob Leben), Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, Dublin (Martijn Tellinga), Oxford University (Patrick Valiquet), McGill University (Eddy Kazazis, Takuto Fukuda), Queen Mary University of London (Giacomo Lepri), Bangor University (Sara Pinheiro), Tokyo University of the Arts (Takayuki Hamano) and University of Amsterdam (Fani Konstantinidou).

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the deadlines for applications?
A: 28th February 2021 for Bachelor and Master of Music in Sonology, 1st April 2021 for the One-Year Sonology Course.

Q: Are all your lessons taught in English?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I start in the second semester?
A: No, you can only start at the beginning of the first semester.

Q: Do I have to attend a live admission exam?
A: There are live admission exams for the bachelor’s programme. In exceptional cases we can organise a live admission exam through Skype. There are no live admission exams for the master’s programmes or the one-year course. 

Q: Can I apply for the Bachelor or Master of Music in Sonology when I do not have the required diploma yet, but expect to graduate soon?
A: Yes, you can. Should you be accepted, then the deadline for handing in a copy of your diploma is 1st September 2021.

Q: How many students apply for Sonology’s programmes, and how many students are accepted?
A: Each year there are around 30-40 students applying for the bachelor’s programme, of whom around 8 are accepted. There are around 40 applications for the master’s programme, of which 8–10 are accepted. There are over 60 applications for the one-year course, of which 20 are accepted.

Q: What is the difference between the Bachelor of Music in Sonology and the One-Year Sonology Course?
A: The bachelor’s programme is a four-year degree programme in which the subjects are mandatory and attended in a specific order, and finished with assignments and /or tests. The students also work on individual projects, which are supervised and assessed, and there are Music Theory and Educational Skills courses.
Many subjects from the bachelor’s programme are also offered in the one-year course, but here, the students are free to choose their subjects. Participation in the one-year course does not lead to a degree but is awarded with a certificate.

Q: Can I take the One-Year Sonology Course as a preparation for the Bachelor of Music in Sonology?
A: Theoretically you can, but if you are interested in the bachelor’s programme, we would advise you to apply for that straight away.

Q: Do I pay more for the one-year course when I’m a non-European student?
A: No, for the one-year course, all students pay the same fees.

Q: How diverse is your department?
A: In 2020–21 we have 49 students of 28 different nationalities of whom 17 are women. We have 15 permanent staff members of whom 5 are women, and 6 guest teachers of whom 3 are women.

Q: Is the one-year course a full-time programme?
A: The schedule for the one-year course is organised in such a way that it is possible to attend all subjects, in which case the course is almost full-time. However, most students make a selection of subjects in order to have enough time to work on their own projects.

Q: Do I need the Bachelor of Music in Sonology degree to be accepted for your master’s programme?
A: No, you need a bachelor’s degree in a field that is relevant for Sonology, such as music composition, music performance, musicology, sound art, media art, computer science, etc.

Q: Does it make sense to do the One-Year Course as a preparation for The Master of Music in Sonology?
A: This depends on your previous education. When you already have the skills and knowledge to carry out the proposed master’s project, then go ahead and apply for the master’s programme. As a master’s student you will have the possibility to attend subjects from the one-year course.
When you want do develop your project proposal further, while increasing your knowledge in the field of electroacoustic music and sound art, then the one-year course is a good choice.
Being a one-year course student does not guarantee a place in the master’s programme in the following year.

Q: Can I apply for the Master of Music in Sonology and the One-Year Course simultaneously?
A: Yes, you can. You could then be accepted for one of these programmes.

Q: How many subjects from the one-year course can I take while being a master’s student?
A: There is no official limit, but realistically, you should limit yourself to two or three subjects per academic year, so that there is enough time left for your individual project.

Q: I am a deejay / EDM artist. Is Sonology the right place for me?
A: It might be. We have students with a background in EDM, but our educational programmes do not include pop music production techniques, song writing, etc.
Please have a look at https://youtu.be/OQW4lZT1iaU to understand Sonology’s artistic context.