The Bachelor of Music Composition for Film and Theater program lasts four years and concludes with a Bachelor of Music degree in the field of Composition for Film and Theater. The program is offered online in our virtual classroom in cooperation with ArtEZ University of Arts.
In this program, students will learn composition studies in many styles along with applied studies in sound engineering. Composition and audio engineering receive equal treatment in the major, which is presented in the context of visual media such as film, television, theater, and dance at a high level of performance and artistry. Cooperation with several film universities provides practical applications of the lessons learned and leads to professional work in the field of film composition.
In cooperation with the students in the degree program ArtEZ Jazz & Pop and regular orchestra projects, students learn about the conceptual and artistic aspects of film composition. We also address the expressive aspects of composition and audio engineering through the delivery of a finished product to a director.
Due to the extensive scope of the course material, admissions standards are high. Qualification is determined by an aptitude test. Participation in the year-long preparatory course Film Scoring and Production is recommended, as it is specifically tailored to the Bachelor of Music Composition for Film and Theater.
Students pursuing the ‘Bachelor of Music Composition for Film and Theater’ who have already taken part in the year-long preparatory course ‘Film Scoring and Production’ are already at a very high level of proficiency and expertise. The overall musical education of these students has already been reinforced by extensive instrumental capabilities in musical practice.
This course of study aims to bring each student’s competency in composition to a high level, along with solid and innovative audio engineering capabilities. The necessary compositional and technical knowledge to this end are formed over the course of study. In addition, each student develops his or her own individual musical language.
Students learn to effectively compose and orchestrate by taking part in orchestral and band projects. In terms of style, each student’s repertoire will include everything from pop music to the full orchestral soundscape.
Hybrid productions that combine orchestral music and sampling techniques further expand the audio engineering horizons. Students develop professional skills for working with other members of the creative industry by participating in musical aspects of film productions and interdisciplinary projects.
Structure of the program:
At the beginning of the program, students hone their theoretical and practical technical skills. Students select their own majors, which will shape their studies in successive years.
During the entire course of study, students also pursue an instrumental minor subject of their choice.
Each year, there are 15-20 workshops with well-known representatives of the film music scene. These provide students with information and techniques from several different perspectives.
First year: Creating a foundation
Work on two film projects and two independent projects bring up fundamental questions that need to be addressed for each student’s major. This learning process is accompanied by studies in the major, and the results are presented and evaluated at the end of the first year in a transitional examination. After the first year, each student will be able to confidently operate the in-house recording studio and its connected concert hall. Among other skills, students will be able to confidently conduct recording sessions with musicians. Minor studies comprise 43 of a total of 60 credits. These range from music theory to rhythm lab to music history.
Second year: New experiences
Students will face new opportunities and challenges in the assignments in the second year:
Categorizing emotions and implementing them musically
Composing and producing in predefined musical styles
A film music project with orchestra and hybrid technology – all of these assignments create new perspectives for the students.
In addition, lessons in the major include composition for various ensembles.
From 60 credits, 10 are available as electives to be selected by the student.
View the list of electives: List of electives
Third year: Immersion and specialization:
Analyzing film music and the resulting insights for a student’s own composition process are a key theme in the third year. In addition to the broader study of composition, each student writes a bachelor’s thesis during the third year. Technical production issues in terms of workflow and tonal quality will be intensively addressed. Students use a theater at a local cinema for surround sound mixes.
16 of 60 credits can be freely selected by the student.
Fourth year: Graduation and professional transition
Students discontinue minor studies in the fourth year and concentrate on preparation for final exams and preparing for professional life.
In addition to a 6-12 week film composing internship of the student’s choice and continued lessons in the major, every student works independently on a film music project of approximately 30 minutes.
Courses in the major accompany this entire process. Students are coached to achieve best results during this phase.
Approximately 2.000 euros per year for students with residence within the EU
Approximately 10.000 euros per year for students with residence outside the EU
Bachelor of Music Composition for Film and Theatre
Composition / Production
Being able to emit sound and by means of a score or piano elucidate and reflect on the production process of:
Three original pieces of film music (in total at least 6 minutes), of which at least one with a score
Two original autonomous compositions (in total at least 6 minutes), both with scores; one of those may be in lead sheet format if the other is a fully arranged composition.
General Music Theory
Chord symbols: being able to summarize a note picture in chord symbols vice versa.
Theory of Harmony
Functional harmony: functions and steps. Knowing, being able to apply and to recognize from a note picture the terms like #IVdim, V Molldur, dominant, secondary dominant and so forth in keys until five sharps and flats.
Being able to name functional relations between chords from a note picture
Being able to make a conscious four- and five-part harmonization from a given melody with chord symbols, and being able to substantiate the choices
Being able to harmonize a given melody in at least two ways, using chord symbols
Being able to play a chord progression, written in symbols.
Being able to play the above mentioned harmonizations.
Being able to harmonically summarize a note picture.
Demonstrating basic musicality on an instrument of choice (including vocals), or;
Demonstrating a sufficient level on an instrument of choice (including vocals) that would allow you to be a member of a fair amateur band.
Music Notation Software
Being able to produce a correct and usable score of an at least 5-part composition using Finale or Sibelius.
Fundamentals of Acoustics
Students should be familiar with the fundamental principles of acoustics to the extent that he or she is familiar with the possibilities and limitations of audio engineering and digital signal processing. This refers in particular to human perception of sound in a three dimensional space. Additionally, the acoustically applied size and terminology as a basis for calculating acoustic phenomena such as volume, phase, and harmonics are part of the prerequisites.
Creating musically appealing productions with the help of sample libraries is a prerequisite for the study of sampling techniques. This means an applicant’s compositions should be comparable with real productions, or be even further developed to the point of including a production as a creative compositional medium. In the area of popular music, this involves not only familiarity with the relevant libraries but also programming drums with kit-based libraries (loop-based libraries do not play a role here) and the musically-relevant use of other band-derived sound sources such as bass, keyboards/synthesizer, and melody instruments. Expectations in the orchestral area include the high-quality tonal use of dry sample libraries (without integrated reverb) in various standard microphone arrangements (ORTF, EBS, AB, XY). Hybrid productions will be positively considered as long as they are part of a musically-sound production. Control of Midi for virtual sound sourcing with sound libraries should be at an expert level, which includes familiarity with the respective continuous controllers, timeline operations, and event operations.
Recording | Mixing | Mastering
In addition to a general familiarity with Pro Tools at Level 101, polished fundamentals of recording, mixing, and mastering are required to participate in the course of study. These include competent use of microphones of varying types and directionality, proper use of dynamic control amplifiers and their use in special and typical arrangements in the signal flow, modulation effects, and the proper use of equalization. Appl
icants should be able to confidently use these tools in all steps of production for pop music (recording, mixing, and mastering); only mixing and mastering are required for orchestral music. The applicant should also be able to apply the acoustic parameters of the previously mentioned fundamentals of acoustics to position sound sources, including the use of parametric reverberators.
Film Music Dramaturgy (Audio & Motion)
Knowledge of the theories of Earl Hagen is expected, which includes the parameters for classifying cinematic situations as defined by Hagen. Applicants should be able to confidently classify film scenes according to this theory. Practical experience is demonstrated by the submission of a short film which features music composed by the applicant demonstrating the applicant’s competence in film dramaturgy.
An advanced level of composition as well as competence in the fields of music production and film score dramaturgy are necessary to take part in the program. With regard to the professional experience that will follow, the subject of music production is seen as an equally important part of the program as the subject of composition. In short: all above-mentioned skills are equally important.
However, a small amount of deficiencies in specific areas can, in some cases, be compensated if the applicant demonstrates an exceptional high level in other fields.
As a basis for the Bachelor of Music Composition for Film and Theatre, we recommend attending the year-long prevocational study Film Scoring and Production, location Bonn.