PRiSM Teaching

PRiSM is fully integrated into the RNCM’s undergraduate and postgraduate teaching programmes

Study at PRiSM

students working together in groups

We welcome students who are interested in conducting interdisciplinary research to undertake their Major or Minor Dissertation projects at PRiSM, and/or to work with us as part of any Professional Placement scheme within the RNCM curriculum.

Within the RNCM School of Composition, we regularly curate Special Projects for student composers to engage in a broad range of technology-focussed topics such as sound synthesis, physical computing, and new and interactive media.

Specifically, we offer a number of bespoke electives that help students (both composers and performers) to uncover and employ novel research methods in music, science, and technology.

These include:

Music, Media and Technology: Introduction to Music and Computing (UG)

Led by Dr Sam Salem (PRiSM Lecturer in Composition), this elective explores the relationship between music making and computing, with an emphasis on exploring core programming and computing concepts from the perspective of composition and performance.

Our primary tool for this course will be Processing, an open source programming language and software development environment for visual artists and designers. We will also explore sound synthesis using a variety of other applications, such as Max, and touch upon advanced topics within the discipline, such as the design and creation of novel human-computer interfaces, the use of generative algorithms and principles of randomness and emergence.

Students will be required to undertake their own research project (an original Processing Sketch), incorporating techniques and ideas discussed throughout this course. No prior knowledge or experience of programming are assumed.

Topics include:

  1. Basic Syntax and Programming Concepts, Coordinates in 2 dimensions, Basic Sound Synthesis and Sample Playback
  2. Data Visualisation & Sonification
  3. Advanced Sound Synthesis & Sample Playback
  4. MIDI / Audio Input / Camera & Video Tracking

School of Composition Principal Study Elective: Collaboration with a Scientist (UG)

Led by Professor Emily Howard (Director PRiSM and Professor in Composition), this Principal Study Elective encourages RNCM composition students to work with scientists through PRiSM, to observe how scientific research is conducted, and to create new musical work informed by scientific ideas, curiosity, and methods.

The project serves to consider the potential impact of two (perhaps) unrelated disciplines on each other.

For example, during the 2022-23 academic year, this module runs in partnership with the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester. Through this partnership, our student composers are brought directly into the conversation with scientists dedicated to address global inequalities, climate change, big data, and social and political injustice.

Research Methods in PRiSM (PG)

Person testing steam prototype 2Led by Dr Sam Salem (PRiSM Lecturer in Composition), this module gives students the opportunity to survey the motivations for research in practice and research in science and music and the methods used by researchers in this field. It is designed to equip students with the skills needed to review and critique existing studies and to design and carry out their own investigations.

Topics include:

  1. A Brief History of Music Technology & Electronic Music
  2. Noise Music: Randomness, Non-Linearity, Chance & Probability
  3. Sonification: the sound of data
  4. Physical Computing: Designing Human / Computer Interaction
  5. Artificial Intelligence for Musicians & Composers
  6. Workshop/Introduction to Max (& other software)

There are also ongoing opportunities for students to collaborate with our artists and scientists alongside leading national and international organisations, such as Contemporary Music for All (CoMA), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG), Drake Music.

Below are some of the collaborative projects PRiSM have facilitated in recent years:

Doctoral & Post-Doctoral Research at PRiSM

Please contact Professor Emily Howard or Dr Sam Salem if you would like to discuss the possibility of undertaking Doctoral or Post-Doctoral research at PRiSM

An integral part of the extremely vibrant research culture at the RNCM, PRiSM provides a resourceful, as well as highly versatile environment for early career researchers and practitioners to carry out their study across our four research specialisms – Music & Maths, Music & AI, Music & Wellbeing, Music & Environment.

We are overseeing a number of diverse, practice-based doctoral projects currently being undertaken, on topics including music, disability, and technological accessibility; collaborative creative practices; music and dynamical systems; and compositional interrogation on socio-political structures.

We are proud that three of our previous doctoral researchers have moved on to post-doctoral positions in 2022: Dr Bofan Ma is currently RNCM PRISM Post-Doctoral Research Associate funded by Research England (E3); Dr Zakiya Leeming joined us as RNCM PRiSM Artist and Producer in Residence in association with Wellcome Trust/University of Oxford; and in September 2022, Dr Robert Laidlow took up a new position as Career Development Fellow in Music at Jesus College, University of Oxford.

Dr Bofan Ma appointed RNCM PRiSM Post-Doctoral Research Associate

Picture of Zakiya Leeming

Dr Zakiya Leeming appointed RNCM PRiSM Artist and Producer in Residence

Dr Robert Laidlow, Jesus College, University of Oxford

ML4M Working Group

ML4M (Machine Learning for Music Working Group) is an interdisciplinary community of artists, scientists and engineers. Bringing together postgraduate researchers at RNCM, the University of Manchester, as well as other Manchester-based guest artists, the group is focused upon exploring the creative use of emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies.

ML4M is a community of composers, musicians, computer scientists and audiovisual artists, exploring the creative use of emerging AI and Machine Learning technologies in Music.

The Group is also a collaboration between PRiSM (the Centre for Practice & Research in Science & Music at the RNCM) and the NOVARS Research Centre at the University of Manchester.

Postgraduate students from both RNCM and UoM, as well as guest artists, meet, share and collaborate in the creation of new artistic research, led by Dr Sam Salem (PRiSM) and Professor Ricardo Climent (NOVARS) and supported by Machine Learning experts at the Alliance Manchester Business School and PRiSM / RNCM.

The Group has curated two iterations of UNSUPERVISED, their annual Manchester-based festival since 2021. Visit the ML4M official website, or contact Dr Sam Salem to find out ways to participate.