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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MUSS2828 Synthesizer Ensemble

20 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: Dr Ewan Stefani

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This is a research-led practical module for students that draws on on-going research into synthesizer ensemble practice and composition techniques to explore the analogue synthesizer as an instrument. There is no need for any prior experience with the instruments, keyboard skills, or staff notation reading skills. The group will devise appropriate text-based and/or graphic notation to record sequences of parameter changes and note patterns, in addition to learning sequences of changes by memory, and ideas will be derived from directed and semi-improvised exploration of different types of sound design and methods of combining interlocking rhythmic, abstract/textural or melodic parts as an ensemble. Musically, the group will explore new aesthetic approaches to using the instruments that draw upon practice from both pop and experimental electronic genres, and the module will culminate in a public performance of the ensemble works that have been developed in class, making use of any notation that has been devised.


The module introduces students to synthesizer ensemble work within the field of academic practice-research, highlighting and exploring the relationship between theory and practice in this area. Students will engage with scholarship and practice to develop a holistic understanding of the subject in which creative decisions are informed by research, and appropriate frameworks can be developed within which synthesizer ensemble performance may be understood as a practice-research activity.

Learning outcomes
1. Demonstrate the broadening of their musical knowledge through academic study of synthesizer ensemble practice.
2. Apply appropriate analytical, critical, technological, scientific or comparative methodologies as appropriate to the design and development of a folio of practical work.
3. Demonstrate the development of musical practical and practice-research skills pertinent to the synthesizer ensemble.
4. Relate conceptual ideas and theoretical research to practical work.

Skills outcomes
Performance / ensemble performance/ improvisation skills
Compositional skills
Applied music technology skills


Students will develop critical understanding of and practical skills in the use of electronic instruments through lecture-based and hands-on practice-based class sessions. Students will be involved in the development of group project performance work, under the overall direction of staff, and will also develop independent short pieces for synthesizer, drawing upon the techniques that have been investigated in classes.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Group learning62.0012.00
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students will be directed to online resources developed to support the module as appropriate, and a reading list will be provided for each area of study. Students will be expected to demonstrate their understanding of the relevant research context in their approach to practical work.

Private study time will typically include:
• 3 hours of writing up notes per lecture (12 hours in total),
• 4 hours of preparation per class (24 hours in total),
• 4 hours of independent development of practice techniques per class (24 hours in total),
• 100 hours for creation of the portfolio,
• 20 hours of self-directed background reading and listening relevant to the topic

One of the six scheduled group-learning/practice-led sessions may be substituted for individual or group tutorials as appropriate. In this case, students should spend the additional private study time preparing for and working on ideas and approaches discussed in the tutorial.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Practice-led classes (and the tutorial where offered in place of such a class) will provide opportunities for staff and peer feedback. Staff feedback on interim portfolio assignments and monitoring of progress will also be available via email and/or Minerva. Where a learning contract forms part of the portfolio submission this will also provide an opportunity for feedback and the monitoring of student progress.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PortfolioPractical work100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:43:21


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