Peabody Johns Hopkins University Magazine

New Media Program for a New Marketplace

New Media Program for a New Marketplace

Virtual reality. Augmented reality. Video games and apps.

Virtual reality. Augmented reality. Video games and apps.

New media and entertainment platforms seem to be proliferating at an ever-increasing rate in today’s world. And all of them need music.

That’s where the Peabody Conservatory’s new Music for New Media program comes in. Slated to enroll its first cohort of undergraduate students in the fall of 2018, the Music for New Media degree builds on Peabody’s traditional strengths in composition, computer music, and recording arts, with new courses and an emphasis on preparing students to work in today’s new media marketplace.

The program is led by music and tech pioneer Thomas Dolby, who in 2014 was appointed Johns Hopkins Homewood Professor of the Arts.

“This field is absolutely exploding with possibilities,” says Dolby. “Technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality, until recently the stuff of sci-fi fantasy, have rapidly become available on consumer entertainment platforms. The manufacturers recognize that great music and sound are central to the consumer experience and are hiring accordingly. So we’ve designed this program to help students develop the skills and creativity needed to capitalize on those opportunities in the real world.”

Designed for strong music students with interests in composition, music production, electronic music, and recording, the Music for New Media program will introduce students to the fundamentals of music’s function within visual media. They will learn to work in industry-standard programming environments and complete sound design projects that model professional work.

The program culminates with an individual capstone project, equivalent to a recital given by a performance major.

“With the capstone projects, students will really be encouraged to leverage the broad spectrum of unique collaborations that are possible across divisions at Johns Hopkins University,” says Scott Metcalfe, director of Recording Arts and Sciences and one of the architects of the new program. “Our Hopkins colleagues in engineering, in the arts and sciences, even in medicine and mental health are all doing work in these areas.”

In addition to cross-divisional relationships, faculty in the program expect to engage regularly with sound designers, software developers, and other professionals working in the field. This will include bringing guest presenters to campus to share their insights and expertise, as well as creating opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in real-world settings.

Potential career paths for Music for New Media graduates include composing and sound design for conventional and interactive media formats, such as virtual and augmented reality, video games, and narrative video, as well as creating and deploying sound and audio effects for entertainment software products and for movies and TV.

“What’s really exciting about new media is how quickly it continues to evolve and produce,” Dolby concludes. “Really cool new worlds are opening up all the time, and Peabody students will be ready to explore them.”

— Tiffany Lundquist