Majoring in electroacoustic music composition

Hi everyone.

I am a (non-musical) parent of a high school junior with a strong interest in applying to schools of music to study composition/creation of electronic or electroacoustic music. I have read some of the older threads on this topic, which were very helpful, and thought I would reach out to see if anyone has additional information or advice to share.

My child’s primary passion is music; this is what all his time outside of school is spent doing (school-sponsored extracurricular music activities as well as other activities). He is a reasonably accomplished instrumentalist, with multiple years of participation in things like all-state band with high chair placement, local youth symphony (competitive selection process), and selection for state summer high school honors program. He has also participated in one competitive summer institute, etc. (due to the pandemic, his plans for summer 2020 were canceled). During high school he has developed a passion for electroacoustic music composition using a digital audio workstation. He is largely self-taught, and publishes his works online. He has done well in a couple of state composition competitions, but doesn’t have formal composition training, and at this point he does not have any works written in traditional score format.

He has an unweighted GPA of 3.9, will have more than 10 APs by graduation, was able to take SAT once, >1500. He goes to a very competitive, large public high school, and class rank is ok but not top 10 percent.

We are trying to set realistic expectations and make sure that he applies to some schools that he has a good chance of being accepted to, recognizing the challenging and unpredictable times we are in. We are also encouraging him to apply to liberal arts colleges that offer a BA in music instead of focusing on applying to a BM program at a music school (to get a broad foundation), refine his area of interest during college, and then apply to graduate programs. Although his instrument performance skills may be acceptable for some schools of music, without the traditional composition portfolio I am not sure he’d be competitive for the programs he has expressed interest in at this point.

If anyone has advice on what direction might make the most sense, given his interest in electroacoustic (but not traditional) composition and admissions portfolio requirements, or suggestions about colleges or universities that would be good to consider, I would appreciate it!

Thank you.

There is a lot of confusion about terminology in this field. Are you sure he is doing “electroacoustic” composition? This is Wikipedia but a pretty good source:
Electroacoustic music - Wikipedia. I can’t be sure from your description.

Generally “electroacoustic” refers to the manipulation of acoustic sounds that are manipulated (not necessarily instrumental, could be nature sounds, or recorded sounds of any kind, like things from the hardware store). Look up “acousmatic” as well.

Musique concrete was French and manipulated acoustic sound (this might include acousmatic), the German sound was created electronically.

There are programs in music production, studio production and so on (I can send you a a list, all with different terminology). They tend to have instrumental auditions and require a portfolio, which he could do.

Another field includes writing for electronic instrument realized in daws.

A BA program might work. He may not need to make scores for electroacoustic (music concrete) or acousmatic styles. But he might want to get a foundation in notation, and even learn about text and graphic scores which might suit his interests.

He might want to look at programs in my list and see what fits. For instance, Oberlin’s TIMARA. Oberlin also has a Musical Studies BA which would give him access to conservatory resources. But my list is long- I’ll send it. Peabody has a new program that might interest.

Most music programs and majors in a BA degree will include “electronic music” or “music technology.” And many composers, including traditional composers, use electronics.

Sorry to be more confusing. Sending PM.

I will PM you.

I agree with @compmom that its unclear if he just wants to write music using electronic tools - or he wants to write what we in the New Music world think of as electronic music.

If electronic music, TIMARA at Oberlin is definitely a good place to consider. And, I’m a huge Bard music department proponent. They have an electronic music concentration: Electronic Music at Bard (Their description: “The curriculum is designed to be open to a wide variety of aesthetic interests and interdisciplinary pursuits. Course topics include music composition, sound art, coding/programming, circuit design, recording/audio production, improvisation, and electronic music performance, among many others.”)

Brown has a good program, too, which @compmom knows more about.