Module code: CMT2004

Module Overview

You will be introduced to the theory, aesthetics and technical considerations of electronic improvisation. Topics will include history of live electronics, design of hardware and software instruments and practical improvisation.

Module provider

Music and Media

Module Leader

THOMPSON Bill (Music & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 33

Independent Learning Hours: 117

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

Laptop with appropriate hardware and software, as advised.

Module content

Indicative content includes:

•     Plenary sessions and lectures on the aesthetics of live electronics.

•     Workshop sessions on the design and construction of electronic instruments  and systems suitable for digital improvisation.

•     Rehearsals and performances of electronic free improvisation.

•     Reading assignments on selected texts.

•     Reflective tasks based on small group performances.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK - ESSAY (2000 WORDS) 30

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

  1. engagement with the module (its workshop sessions component, reading assignments, small group performance, and contribution to class),

  2. an understanding the aesthetics of free improvisation,

  3. free improvisational performance skills,

  4. the ability of design and develop and electronic instrument/system suitable for free improvisation and to assess its suitability.

  5. and critically reflective understanding of the nature of free improvisational process.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Performance 1: component 1 above. Marks are awarded attendance (necessary for the workshop sessions to be conducted), completion of reading assignments, small group performances, and contribution to class discussions.

  • Performance 2: component 3, 4, and 5. Marks are awarded for a group performance and commentary (1500 words) describing and assessing the students’ instrument developed for the module.

  • Coursework essay: component 2 and 5. Marks are awarded for a theoretical explanation of the nature of collective free improvisation based on the readings and personal experience.

Formative assessment 

Formative assessment is integral to the weekly workshop sessions and foundational to all components of summative assessment.


Feedback is provided discursively in the context of the workshops, via individual tutorials, email, and online discussion forums to discuss and explore technical and creative issues. Final written feedback is disseminated via SurreyLearn.

Module aims

  • To develop a theoretical understanding, and practical proficiency of free improvisation in an electronically mediated context.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Outline the history of live electronics in a number of different musical styles. PT
2 Describe the motivations of the composers and musicians studied for employing live electronics and improvisation with electronics. KC
3 Demonstrate the technical skills necessary to design, build and test electronic instruments and systems appropriate for live electronic performance. KPT
4 Develop the musical proficiency and aural awareness necessary for effective digital improvisation KP
5 Adopt a professional approach to your musical activities whether working individually or with others. PT
6 Interact effectively within a team or learning group, giving and receiving information and ideas and showing a willingness to modify your contributions in response to other members of the group. PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to: 

Develop a theoretical understanding, and practical proficiency of free improvisation in an electronically mediated and collective context.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Plenary sessions.

  • Collective improvisation lab sessions.

  • Guided reading and summary writing.

  • Small group performance and reflective commentary writing.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: CMT2004

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Creative Music Technology BMus (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.