Music For The Future

A new Peabody major teaches students how to compose for an ever-changing media landscape.

Emily Whitney - January 2020

Music For The Future

A new Peabody major teaches students how to compose for an ever-changing media landscape.

Emily Whitney - January 2020

-Photography by Christopher Myers

Walking through the lobby of the Peabody Institute, the sound of piano practice and chamber music reverberates through the marble building. The esteemed conservatory has been a classical training ground for young musicians and composers since the mid-1800s, but Peabody’s newest major pivots away from the traditional.

Last fall, Thomas Dolby, 1980s synth-pop pioneer of “She Blinded Me With Science” fame, and Chris Kennedy, a Baltimore-based composer, formed the four-year Music for New Media program to prepare students for the modern-day requirements of the music business. “These days, everybody is working remotely using the same piece of software,” says Dolby, commenting on the collaborative nature of film composition. “Dialogue, sound effects, and music are all being changed at the same time.”

During the first year of the program, students learn the ways of “linear” music composition, which is used to write music for film and television. First-year students spend their time in the Music for New Media classroom plugging away at projects such as composing original scores for famous movie scenes on industry-standard programming environments.

The following year, students experiment with “non-linear” media, such as games, virtual reality, and augmented reality scenarios. Sophomore Avery Tyler has grown attached to the composition of video game music, despite not playing video games growing up. “I went from thinking, ‘This is a way to further my music career’ to thinking, ‘Wow, I actually really like this!’” Tyler says.

While the major has only been around for two years, many students have already found opportunities for composition work through the Johns Hopkins network. Several have scored for films and animations made by MICA students, or, in the case of sophomore Jolene Shao, a theme song for a Chinese web series and a jingle for a rice commercial. The program is the first of its kind in a conservatory-style school, and it shifts Peabody toward the likes of technical schools, such as Berklee College of Music. Now, students can learn about programming and the music business while also continuing their violin training.

Outside of teaching the students about media scoring, Dolby hopes to imbue them with a sense of fearlessness toward the uncharted territories that technology opens up. “The best thing I have to teach these guys is, how, as an artist, do you respond to a new challenge?” Dolby says. “Technology is evolving all the time, and pop culture is evolving all the time. How do you respond to that and express yourself with new media?”





You May Also Like


MaxSpace

Movie Review: Irresistible

The average episode of Jon Stewart's The Daily Show had more substance and humor than his new film.


The Chatter

The Womanist Reader Creates an Online Library of Black Literature

A Baltimore writer curates an evolving list of women writers for her women followers.


Arts District

The Big Baltimore Playlist: May 2020

With concerts canceled due to coronavirus, here are 10 local songs to download now.

MaxSpace

Movie Review: The King of Staten Island

Pete Davidson plays a version of himself in this shaggy, endearing, if overlong, comedy.

MaxSpace

Movie Review: Da 5 Bloods

Spike Lee takes on Vietnam, in his inimitable way.

-Photography by Christopher Myers

Connect With Us

Most Read


Bottoms Up Bagels Rolls Into Harwood: Owners debut their new “BUB Hub” at 28th and Greenmount.

How These Surprise Quarantine ‘Flower Bombs’ Are Helping Families in Need: The paper-plate flowers have become a massive fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House.

Five Things to Know About Democratic Mayoral Nominee Brandon Scott: The 36-year-old City Council President rallies past Sheila Dixon to win Democratic mayoral primary.

Amid The Economic Chaos, Downtown Partnership’s New President Has a Plan: Shelonda Stokes was just named president after serving in an interim leadership role.

WTMD’s First Thursdays Go Virtual for the Rest of the Summer: The planned overhaul of the annual festival will be postponed until next year.