One-Year Course Programme

The Sonology one-year course runs from September until June. It is a full-time course. However, students can choose their subjects and put together a programme according to their own preferences. All lessons are conducted in the English language.

Composing with Algorithms – Bjarni Gunnarsson
This course provides an introduction to algorithmic composition, its applications, history and implementation. Students will learn to program sound, control and musical behaviour. Topics such as using probabilities, generative algorithms, complex systems and selection principles will be presented. Each of these will cover technique but also practical applications and musical examples. The course uses the SuperCollider environment as well as providing short presentations of other platforms.

Digital Sound Transformations – Riccardo Marogna
The course provides a theoretical and practical foundation on digital signal processing, with a focus on sound synthesis and sound transformation. From the digital representation of signals in the time and frequency domains to digital filters, digital manipulations, spectral analysis and resynthesis, the students will explore ways of shaping sound in the digital domain. In addition to the theoretical aspects, students will implement and practice with these algorithms in various programming environments.

Field Recording / Phonography – Justin Bennett
Field recording is a useful technique for gathering material for electroacoustic music and sound-art, but can also be seen as an artistic practice in its own right. The course includes lectures, guided recording and listening sessions, individual recording sessions according to a set task, group discussions and a group presentation. Field Recording encompasses listening analytically to and recording in urban and natural environments. The course focuses particularly on notions of space, place and mobility in connection with binaural and/or ambisonic techniques. Students are encouraged to explore diverse theoretical frameworks and aesthetic approaches to using sound recordings as a musical and artistic material.

History of Contemporary Music Composition – Gabriel Paiuk and guests
This course gives the student a chance to explore in detail many of the main currents and counter-currents of thought and practice in composed music since the Second World War. We will discuss the aesthetics, the compositional techniques and the career histories of many of the most influential artists who came to prominence in these decades. The ways in which western compositional traditions have enriched themselves through encounters with other art forms, non-traditional notations, and with jazz, various forms of popular music, electronic music and the music of other traditions, will be important themes throughout. We will look at the writing and the scores of a range of significant creative musicians from the late 1940s to the present and listen closely to recordings of their work.

Music Cognition – Rebecca Schaefer
This course offers an accessible introduction and overview of the multidisciplinary topic of music cognition, which deals with the perceptual and cognitive bases of performing, composing, and listening to music. Covered topics will include perceptual mechanisms underlying pitch and rhythm perception; interactions of musical processing with emotion, language, memory and movement; music acquisition processes and expertise; brain processes related to music and applications of music in health settings.

Physical Models – Riccardo Marogna
Physically-based modeling draws inspiration from natural phenomena and the mechanics of vibrating objects to design mathematical models capable of generating sound and/or control signals. The resulting algorithms exhibit a unique richness and timbral variety. During this course, students will learn about different physical models, such as modal synthesis, waveguides, finite difference schemes. We will delve into modeling techniques for acoustic instruments such as strings and membranes, as well as extending this concept to virtual (or ‘abstract’) vibrating objects. Students will learn how to design and implement physically-informed algorithms in a programming environment, and how to utilize these techniques in an original and creative manner.

Psychoacoustics – Lilita Dunska
Psychoacoustics is the branch of science that explores the perceptual and cognitive aspects of sound. This course provides an in-depth understanding of the capacities and limitations of human hearing, covering a wide range of topics such as level perception, pitch perception, critical bands, spatial perception, basic ear anatomy, and the nonlinearity of the hearing system. Through theoretical concepts and practical examples, students will develop a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between the physical properties of sound and its perceptual manifestations. By studying these topics, students will gain valuable insights into the complex mechanisms that shape our auditory perception and learn how to apply this knowledge in various domains such as arranging, composition, and sound engineering. 

Real-time Processes with Max – Johan van Kreij
Max is a programming tool that is relatively easy to learn, and it is especially suitable for creating and exploring real-time generative processes and the interaction with them. In Max, such processes can be defined as data streams or as audio generating structures. The aim is to research musicality in the interaction, and to define personal approaches and methods. The course starts with a brief introduction to the basics of Max.

Richard Barrett Lectures
The lectures form a comprehensive individual view of a variety of interconnected issues of musical composition: the evolutionary origins of music and their implications for thinking about compositional parameters, the nature and scope of musical structures, improvisation as a method of composition, relationships and combinations between acoustic and electronic music on both conceptual and practical levels, and so on, illustrated with examples from a wide historical and geographical range as well as from Richard Barrett’s own ideas as expressed through his work as composer and performer.

Signals & Systems – Riccardo Marogna
The course offers a solid background on the mathematical and computational representations of sound signals and sound processing systems. Students will learn the fundamental concepts defining continuous and discrete signals and systems, and will get familiar with mathematical tools such as the Fourier Transform and its applications. Signals will be explored through various approaches, including analytical, numerical (digital), statistical, perceptual, and visual perspectives. These concepts will then be applied practically within a programming environment.

Sonology Colloquium
Throughout the academic year, a two-hour weekly colloquium takes place. Ten of these take the form of presentations by faculty and guest speakers, and the rest are presentations by each student from the fourth year of the Sonology bachelor’s programme and both the first and second years of the Sonology master’s programme. During the colloquium, students present aspects of their research projects. The colloquia are attended by four or five Sonology faculty members, by students from the bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes, and the one-year course in sonology.

Sonology Electroacoustic Ensemble – Richard Barrett
The Sonology Electroacoustic Ensemble (SEE) consists of an alternating line-up of between five and fifteen performers of both acoustic instruments/voices and live electronics, most of whom are students at the Institute of Sonology, although the SEE is also open to musicians from throughout the Conservatoire, and indeed outside it. The ensemble has also given workshops and performances with guest musicians including Evan Parker, Peter Evans and Sarah Nicolls. Its work is based on a structural-compositional approach to freely improvised music, bringing together players/composers from diverse stylistic backgrounds to create a composite personality which is recreated in a novel way for each performance. SEE appears regularly at Sonology concerts and other events at the Conservatoire, and in June 2014 performed three times in Amsterdam as part of the Holland Festival.

Sound & Space – Raviv Ganchrow
Sound and Space is a seminar exploring interconnections between modes of sonic attention and concepts of space. The seminar is grouped around the themes of echo, resonance and oscillation, providing a cross-disciplinary reading of developments in spatial composition, sound art, audio technologies and architectural acoustics. The course covers examples from a broad range of sources serving to highlight distinctive correlations between epistemologies of sound and ontologies of space and place.

Spatial Composition with WFS – Ji Youn Kang
Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) is a sound–production technique designed specifically for spatial audio rendering. Virtual acoustic environments are synthesized using a large number of small loudspeakers. The innovation of this technique is that sound can appear to emanate from desired virtual starting points, and then move through the space along many possible pathways.
This course deals with the technical practicalities of using the system, as well as help with finding and realising artistic ideas for spatial composition through deeper discussions and listening and analysis sessions, and gives students the opportunity to develop their own project over the year with close coaching and consultation, and then to present the results at the end of the year in a small festival. 

Voltage Control Techniques – KeesTazelaar
The methods used in the Institute of Sonology’s analogue studio are inseparably linked to a serial approach to composition. Whereas with serially composed instrumental music the musical dimensions such as pitch, duration and dynamics are treated as separate parameters, with serial electronic music the sound is also broken down according to various parameters. While that is a fairly abstract phenomenon in computer music, in an analogue studio the parameters of sound structures are visible and tangible: the individual ‘modules’ of the analogue system have specific functions that are combined into a greater whole by means of control voltage. The links between the modules are not programmed but created physically with cables on a patch board. The planning and analysis of such configurations is the main subject of the lessons in the analogue studio.