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July 12, 2004

UCSC to become first UC campus offering new doctorate in music composition

By Scott Rappaport

UCSC will be the first UC campus to offer a Doctorate of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) program in Music Composition with enrollment set to begin in fall 2005.

Award-winning composer and music professor David Cope will lead the computer-assisted composition track of a new doctorate program in music composition at UCSC--the first of its kind in the UC system.
Photo by Don Harris

Although private institutions such as Stanford University, Claremont Graduate University, and the University of Southern California currently offer the Composition D.M.A., the new UCSC program will distinguish itself from similar programs by focusing on two sub-specialties: computer-assisted composition and world music composition.

It will also be the first doctoral program established in the fine arts at UCSC, marking a significant milestone in the expansion of arts graduate programs at the campus.

"The Music Composition D.M.A will develop accomplished, active, and articulate composers with a broad awareness of the diverse styles, cultural influences, and technical means available to them in the 21st century," noted Margaret L. Delaney, interim UCSC campus provost and executive vice chancellor.

Graduate students who choose to specialize in the area of computer-assisted composition will be trained in the use of algorithmic techniques, which have been increasingly applied to the creation of music and art works. This approach involves composing a piece of music via a set of instructions (a program) given to a computer. The composer may utilize the program to create a piece in whole or in part, and the computer output may be accepted as a complete work or manipulated further to create a final piece of music.

The computer-assisted composition track of the new doctorate program will be led by award-winning composer and UCSC music professor David Cope, along with composer colleagues Paul Nauert, Peter Elsea, and David Evan Jones and cognitive theorist Ben Carson. In 1981, Cope created the groundbreaking computer program, Experiments in Musical Intelligence (EMI), which is described in his books Computers and Musical Style, Experiments in Musical Intelligence, The Algorithmic Composer, and Virtual Music. The program functions by extracting elements of a composer’s style from a database of compositions and then creating new works in that style. Cope is recognized internationally as one of the world's leading composers using algorithmic techniques.

The world music specialty of the new UCSC program will focus on the music of indigenous non-Western composers, reflecting the incorporation of world music cultures into Western art and music that has paralleled the growing ethnic diversification of American society. Music faculty at UCSC currently teach and conduct research in the music of Korea, China, Indonesia, India, Latin America, Africa, and the United States.

The world music track will be led by UCSC music professor Hi Kyung Kim along with composer/performer Karlton Hester. Kim is internationally recognized for her powerful fusions of Western classical music with traditional techniques and instruments from her native Korea. Hester composes and performs music in a variety of styles influenced by global African music.

"Each student will focus on one or more world music cultures and strive to understand that music—on its own terms and in its own context—before integrating aspects of that music with Western classical music," noted UCSC music professor David Evan Jones. "This will be the first doctoral program of which I'm aware that explicitly requires the study of world music as the foundation for a course of study in composition," he added.

Many of the elements of the new D.M.A. in composition are on display each spring at UCSC when the campus hosts one or more of its ongoing festivals: The April in Santa Cruz festival of new music is a 25-year tradition at UCSC, while the Festival of Global African Music is a relatively recent offering. The campus has twice hosted its internationally recognized Pacific Rim Festival of new music and, according to Jones, plans are now being made for a 2005 Pacific Rim Music Festival/Conference that will draw composers, ensembles, and scholars from the U.S., Korea, Japan, and Germany, and will feature concerts of algorithmic music alongside cutting-edge fusions of world and Western music.

For more information about the new doctoral program, contact the UCSC Music Department at (831) 459-2292.

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