The Peabody Post

Thomas Dolby to Lead Music for New Media Program at Peabody


Preferred Dolby


New Bachelor of Music degree designed to meet growing interest in composing and producing music for emerging and interactive media.

Music innovator, tech trailblazer, author, and Johns Hopkins Homewood Professor of the Arts Thomas Dolby will lead a new four-year undergraduate degree program in Music for New Media at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, slated to enroll its first cohort of students in the fall semester of 2018. Music for New Media will combine studies in music, composition, programming, and visual media to prepare students for careers in new and emerging platforms such as computer games and virtual reality.

“This area of study is absolutely exploding with possibilities,” says Mr. Dolby. “I’m excited to help Peabody shape Music for New Media into one of the premier programs of its kind, where students can develop the skills and creativity they’ll need to capitalize on the tremendous opportunities out there in the workplace.”

“The Music for New Media program builds on Peabody’s strengths in composition and recording arts with new coursework which maps more directly to today’s new media marketplace,” notes Senior Associate Dean for Institute Studies Abra Bush. “We’re delighted to be able to expand our curriculum in this direction and can’t think of anyone better suited to lead the effort than Thomas Dolby.”

An early MTV icon, Thomas Dolby blazed a trail for electronic music. His self-penned “She Blinded Me With Science” became a Top 5 Billboard hit the same year he co-wrote and produced the first ever platinum-selling rap 12” single, “Magic’s Wand” by Whodini. His synth playing and production on the recordings of Foreigner, Def Leppard, George Clinton, and Joni Mitchell, have earned five Grammy nominations. He appeared live with Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock, with David Bowie at LiveAid, and with Roger Waters at The Wall in Berlin, and has created original music for feature films produced by George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Ken Russell. Sought after as a consultant for tech startups and research companies, Mr. Dolby’s name is on multiple U.S. patents, and he has worked as an investment advisor for top venture capital firms. During the early Silicon Valley internet explosion, he founded high tech startup Beatnik, Inc., and co-created the code that drove interactive audio in Java. When mobile phones began to play polyphonic ringtones, it was via his BAE technology, which Beatnik licensed to phone manufacturers to be embedded in more than two billion cellular phones and devices. Also a self-taught digital filmmaker, he won multiple awards in 2013 for his groundbreaking film The Invisible Lighthouse, which chronicles the closure of a 250-year-old lighthouse visible from his coastal home in Suffolk, UK. Mr. Dolby served as in-house music director for every TED Conference from 2001 to 2012 and, since fall 2014, has held the post of Homewood Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University. He has recently released his first book, The Speed of Sound.

Peabody’s Music for New Media program is designed for strong music students interested in composing and producing music for emerging areas of non-linear entertainment such as computer games, virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D spatialized sound for location-based experiences. Students in the program will study the fundamentals of music’s function within visual media, analyzing how and why music is used to enhance dramatic and emotional effect, and will learn to work in industry-standard interactive audio programming environments. Individual capstone projects undertaken in the final year of the Bachelor of Music degree will take advantage of the wide spectrum of unique collaborations possible at Johns Hopkins University.

Read more on JHU’s Hub and Baltimore.


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