Carnegie Mellon University

School of Music

Where artistry and innovation share center stage

Major in Electronic Music with the School of Music

The Electronic Music major at CMU combines instruction in emerging practices for sound design, computer-based music generation, and electronic/electro-acoustic/intermedia performance, together with a rigorous education in traditional music subjects. Our students’ exploration of emerging modes of sound synthesis, creative coding, and electronic instrument design are grounded with courses in music theory, history, solfege, and conducting. The Electronic Music major combines studies in electronic music composition, performance, production, and sonic art to form an integrative approach to the future of music-making.

Electronic Music majors write and perform music with CMU’s ground-breaking Exploded Ensemble, a group dedicated to multimedia performances of new experimental music. Working in state-of-the-art facilities for immersive sound, visuals, and immersive interaction, the Electronic Music major culminates in an ambitious capstone, which may take the form of an evening-length performance, an interactive experience, or a multimedia recording project.

For more specific information regarding the curriculum for the undergraduate Electronic Music program please refer to the Undergraduate Course Catalog or the details section on this page.

Carnegie Mellon University hosts world-class facilities and faculty committed to cutting-edge research and practice in music, art, sound design, and creative coding. The Electronic Music major integrates these areas with a broad perspective on the future of music-making. This program contextualizes the creative work of its faculty and students within a rich and diverse history of this discipline: from the groundbreaking studios in Kingston, Jamaica that birthed dub music and the concept of the studio as an instrument, to the pioneering radio studios in Europe that championed the use of sound synthesis and real-world recordings; from the working-class warehouses in Chicago and Detroit from which EDM arose to the development of immersive virtual worlds that are brought to life with generative musical landscapes. 

The faculty and staff of the Electronic Music program are committed to confronting systemic injustices in our field of artistic practice. This means our students will not only acquire the knowledge, technical abilities, and collaborative strategies necessary to succeed professionally, but also the social consciousness and critical thinking skills necessary to advance the art of music creation in the 21st century. Graduates of the program will be positioned to pursue work as electronic and electro-acoustics composers, performers, and/or sound artists in diverse professional settings, including stage, film, concerts spaces, media art, and digital entertainment platforms.


Prospective Students Should Have...

Technical

  • Ability to use computer-based media such as creative coding and software instruments as their main tools of music creation 
  • Experience with music recording and production techniques 
  • Conversant in hardware-based practices including usage and design of synthesizers, MIDI controllers, and interactive electronics

Musical/Cultural

  • Demonstrate engagement in a wide variety of electronic and acoustic musical practices
  • Proficiency in western music notation and basic keyboard practice 
  • Interest in expanding their musical practice and interdisciplinary collaboration with other artistic fields 
  • Demonstrate work that reflects music-making as a holistic social practice and engages thoughtfully across musical disciplines

Portfolio requirements

  • High quality documentation of works in the form of sound, video, or multimedia documentation
  • Demonstration of compositional skill through scores, project files, and recordings
  • Electronic source materials as applicable (code examples, project files, scores)

Major in Electronic Music

MUSIC CORE

  • Harmony I and II
  • Eurhythmics I, II, III, IV 
  • Solfege I, II, III, IV 
  • Orchestration 
  • Form & Analysis 
  • Survey of Western Music History 
  • Intro to Conducting 
  • Rep & Listening 
  • Convocation 
  • Keyboard Studies (4 semesters) 

ELECTRONIC MUSIC

  • Electronic Music Studio (6 semesters) 
  • Senior Electronic Music Studio (2 semesters) 
  • Electronic Music Seminar (8 semesters) 
  • Intro to Music Technology 
  • Twisted Signals 
  • Introduction to Computing for Creative Practice OR Fundamentals of Programming (15-112)
  • Experimental Sound Synthesis 

 PERFORMANCE

  • Exploded Ensemble OR Contemporary Ensemble, by permission of director (8 semesters) 

ELECTIVES

  • 51 units of Electronic Music Support Courses
  • 27 units of School of Music Electives 
  • 41 units of Free Electives (General Studies outside of the School of Music) 

UNIVERSITY REQUIRED COURSES 

  • 99-10x Computing @ Carnegie Mellon 3 units
  • 76-101 Interpretation and Argument 9 units
  • 79-104 Introduction to World History 9 units
Link to Full Electronic Music Curriculum