In Fall 2020, Roosevelt University will introduce a unique undergraduate program to train students in computer coding for music composition. The new BA in Music and Computing is one of the first degrees to focus on the design and use of computer software for sound design and musical applications.
“Combining computing with music is becoming a major interest trend in today’s music industry,” said Kyong Mee Choi, professor and head of music composition at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. “Many of our graduates love to write music, yet are being called on in the jobs they are applying for to have at least some working knowledge of programming. We believe this program will give them more career options as well.”
One example is alumna Sarah Ritch, who received a bachelor’s in music from Roosevelt in 2007. Ritch wanted a lucrative job while she pursued her passion for composing music; she returned to Roosevelt and obtained a master’s degree in computer science in 2014.
Today she is both a technical program manager with Google Cloud in Chicago and a highly successful worldwide composer. She enjoys public performances of her music as well as commissions for new pieces, most recently for Ear Taxi and The Sound of Silent Film.
“Roosevelt’s new Music and Computing program has all of the courses that I took in order to get two degrees,” said Ritch. “If I were a college student today, I would definitely jump at this degree opportunity.”
Mitch Weakley (MM Music Composition, '18) agrees that the new degree program holds promise.
“It’s practical for anyone these days to be familiar with computers,” the alumnus said. “Some of the most cutting-edge music out there today is done with computers.”
Weakley is the winner of Roosevelt’s Contemporary Ensemble Composition Competition in 2018, as well as other prizes, including for electro-acoustic compositions. He works as a quality assurance tester of video game music and spends his spare time writing contemporary pieces, frequently assisted by a computer.
“I certainly would have taken a Music and Computing program, had it been available, and would recommend that anyone considering a career in composing take a look at this program,” he said.
The new four-year program is a two-for-one. Half of its courses are in music, focusing on musicianship, music history, composition techniques, advanced music theory and electro-acoustic music. The other half are in computer science, including mathematics, database systems, operating systems, software engineering, algorithmic design and programming languages.
Its debut comes at an opportune time as the world’s music-production software market significantly expands, according to a recent industry report. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also has a rosy job outlook for high-paying software developer positions, which are predicted to grow by 21% through 2028.
“Everything today is moving toward mobile devices and apps, and with it comes a need to understand the future of code,” said Meng Yu, professor of computer science and chair of the computer science program at Roosevelt. “The promise of this program is that the opportunities will be endless not only for music composers, but also for those who are not musicians, but who want to write music software.”
To learn more about the new BA in Music and Computing program, visit the program page or contact email@example.com.