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Composing by Colour

© Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
  • Level(s) of study: Short course
  • Study mode(s): Short course
  • Location: City Campus
  • Starting: 28 June 2021
  • Course duration: Monday to Friday 10 am - 4 pm, one week

This course will teach you a range of practical compositional skills based on ‘optical sound’ - an alternative way of producing music outside of traditional approaches to how music should be created.


By fusing both traditional and electronic methods, this course places ideas of self at the heart of the composition process, leading to a more organic and emotive way of composing.

The course will begin by looking at the work of two historical figures of this genre, Gertrud Grunow and Daphne Oram, who were pioneers of optical composing based on emotional responses to music as an art form.

Their methods will be explored as a way of creating music for those who have not had exposure to traditional music education.

You will be given an in-depth clear way to compose music for personal development, or to go alongside professional projects, artworks, exhibitions, performances or other creative practices.

The course is a mixture of lectures, demonstrations, workshops and project time.

You will also be given the opportunity to perform or present your work as part of a live event at Nottingham Contemporary later in the year, an ideal opportunity to try your hand at performance and experimentation.

The ideal delegate for this course will be those from any creative fields who are interested in learning new skills and practices.

This course takes place in the Bonington Gallery Sound Studio, and makes use of the facilities, including digital audio workstations, digital instruments and recording facilities.

What will I gain?

By the end of this course, you will have a good understanding of how to use digital tools for music composition and alternative compositional practices which rely upon no prior knowledge of writing or making music or playing an instrument.

You will also become part of a network of composers to continue collaborating with after the course.

This course is part of a larger research project.

By booking this course, you are agreeing for your work to be recorded and catalogued as part of this project.

Tutor profile: Alex Jovčić-Sas has 14 years’ experience as a practicing musician and composer, working with touring bands and, more recently, composing works for video and exhibitions in collaboration with artists and collectives.

His NTU research looks at alternative practices outside of traditional Western methods, and the understanding of how musical language and theory can created barriers to making music for some people.

Currently, Alex is creating a programme of public events with Nottingham Contemporary which will respond to his research, and so it is hoped that by sharing his expertise on this course he will inspire more people to get involved with music as an art form.

A recent example of his soundscape work can be found here: https://vimeo.com/231923767 from 6.20 (video credit Ian Williamson and Tori Carr).

For further details about this research, contact: alexander.jovcic-sas2018@my.ntu.ac.uk

Indicative maximum class size: 10

Need accommodation for a summer course?

You can book a self-catered, single room with private bathroom on our city campus, right next door to our studios and classrooms. Find out more at: www.ntu.ac.uk/summeraccommodation

Any questions?

Contact the short course team.

Email: creativeshortcourses@ntu.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)115 848 2813

What you'll study

On this course, you will:

  • gain practical skills by accessing digital music production equipment
  • learn experimental methods of composing using non-traditional and digital instruments
  • focus on optical sound creations
  • be invited to create your own compositions that respond to the work of Grunow and Oram
  • explore how compositions can be applied in contemporary practices and settings.

How to apply

You can book your place via the NTU online store:

28 June - 2 July 2021

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

You can book your place via the NTU online store:

28 June - 2 July 2021

Please read our notes on the University's commitment to delivering the educational services advertised.

Fees and funding

The fee for this course is £195.

Payment is due at the time of booking.

The fee for this course is £195.

Payment is due at the time of booking.

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418