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Virtual reality, computer games, augmented reality, 3D spatialized sound…non-linear entertainment platforms seem to be multiplying exponentially today—and they all need music.

The Peabody Conservatory’s new four-year Bachelor of Music degree in Music for New Media is designed to prepare you—a serious musician with a particular interest in composing and producing music for these emerging platforms—for a future in this field.

Once esoteric, this area of study is now rapidly becoming mainstream as devices like Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony PlaystationVR, Google Daydream, and Microsoft HoloLens arrive in the consumer marketplace. New career paths are opening up for qualified music graduates well versed in the composition techniques and development platforms for these devices. Music for New Media at Peabody will help you develop the skills and creativity required and support your pursuit of a wide range of internships and placements in the workforce.

In this cutting-edge new program, you will study the fundamentals of music’s function within conventional visual media such as film and television, analyzing how and why music is used to enhance the dramatic and emotional effect (e.g. by establishing time and place, setting the mood, creating empathy, tension or suspicion, and adding subtext). Transitioning from linear to non-linear media such as games, you and your fellow students will learn to work in industry-standard programming environments such as the Unity™ engine and Wwise audio middleware. In addition to standard game consoles and head-mounted displays, we will investigate output devices ranging from holophonic headphones to multi-speaker arrays.

New Media studies will enhance courses in the core building blocks of Peabody’s music degree—including composition, theory, ear training, sight-reading and arrangement—amounting to a well-rounded degree. Compositions scored for traditional instruments will be realized through software emulation, and you will have ample opportunities to record and mix music in the Recording Arts department’s state-of-the-art studios.

In the third and fourth years of the program, you will work one-on-one with a mentor to advance your technique and refine your understanding and execution of needed skills. Capstone projects undertaken in the final year of the degree will take advantage of the wide spectrum of unique collaborations possible at Johns Hopkins: you might choose to work with the JH medical campus to utilize EEG brainwave data to manipulate music, or to develop therapeutic applications for stroke victims; to program audio software from the ground up at the Whiting School of Engineering, or to collaborate with writers and directors at the JHU/MICA Film Centre to create real-time soundtracks for immersive 360º video storytelling.

If you wish to continue your performance studies, qualified students may audition to double-major (check the audition requirements for your instrument), or elect to take minor lessons. And as with other Peabody majors, it is possible to combine the Bachelor of Music with a bachelor’s degree from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences or the Whiting School of Engineering by way of our double-degree program.

New Media Seminars invite guests to present their work and lessons from their experience to students in the department, either in-person or via video conference. Each semester will include presentations on the topics of software and hardware tools and creative techniques, as well as real world insight into the business of composing for new media.

Learn more about the differences between the focuses of Computer Music, Music for New Media, and Recording Arts and Sciences.


Thomas Dolby

The list of breakthrough innovations in Thomas Dolby’s 35-year career is continuous. As an early MTV icon he blazed a trail for electronic music with his imaginative videos. The same year as his own record reached the top of the pop/dance charts, he co-wrote and produced the first ever platinum-selling rap 12” single “Magic’s Wand” by Whodini. He has performed with David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, George Clinton and Roger Waters.

In 1992 Thomas co-designed the first ever music-based VR experience ‘The Virtual String Quartet’ for the Guggenheim Museum in New York. He also composed soundtracks for games on CD-ROM, PC, Sega, Xbox and Playstation, as well as location-based entertainment installations. Holding multiple patents, he is the co-author of the audio layer of Java™, and the industry-standard Mobile MIDI polyphonic ringtone file format; and he co-designed the Beatnik ringtone syntheziser that is embedded in hundreds of millions of mobile phones.

Chris Kennedy

Chris Kennedy is the Senior Composer at Noise Distillery/Clean Cuts Music in Baltimore. An Emmy-nominated composer for film and TV, he has scored music for NBC, PBS, Smithsonian, Discovery, and National Geographic.