Graduate study in computer music at UCSD

In 2000, the University of California San Diego's Music department revised its computer music graduate programs, and now offers both Masters and Ph.D. degrees in computer music. The program of study is research-oriented but students are also encouraged to join in the extraordinarily rich and diverse musical life of the department (

The program of study for Masters degree students revolves around a newly redesigned year-long course covering digital audio processing, musical cognitive science, and compositional algorithms. In the second year, students complete a Masters thesis in some related topic. At the same time, students take core departmental courses in performance and analysis, and choose from seminars offered from all areas of the department.

Doctoral students are further expected to develop deep mastery in at least three areas (under the supervision of three different faculty members), at the end of which period they take a qualifying examination. Once having passed this, students work toward writing a dissertation which should describe some significant and original contribution to the field of computer music.

UCSD's Center for Research in Computing and the Arts ( offers an ideal research environment for graduate students in this area.


Faculty in computer music include (but aren't limited to): Gerald Balzano (emeritus), Shlomo Dubnov, Tom Erbe, F. Richard Moore, Peter Otto, Miller Puckette, Roger Reynolds, and Rand Steiger.

Here are descriptions of the three courses that make up the first year core program in Computer Music at UCSD:

Music 270A. Digital Audio Processing.
Digital techniques for analysis, synthesis, and processing of musical sounds. Sampling theory. Software synthesis techniques. Digital filter design. The short-time Fourier transform. Numerical accuracy considerations.

Music 270B. Musical Cognitive Science.
Theoretical bases for analyzing musical sound. Approaches to perception and cognition, including psychoacoustics and information processing, both ecological and computational. Models of audition including Helmholtz's consonance/dissonance theory and Bregman's streaming model. Musical cognition theories of Lerdahl and Narmour. Neural network models of music perception and cognition. Models of rhythm. The problem of timbre and timbre perception.

Music 270C. Compositional Algorithms.
Transformations in musical composition; series and intervalic structures; serial approaches to rhythm and dynamic. The stochastic music of Xenakis and Cage. Hiller's automatic composition. Improvisational models. Computer analysis of musical style. Neurally inspired and other quasi-parallel algorithms.

More information about UCSD's graduate program in music can be found in the UCSD catalog.

Application deadline is January 15 to start the program in the following fall. Financial aid may be available. For more information please contact Diana Platero (dplatero (at) .