Studying music and the web

The Department has constructed a new undergraduate joint honours course in Music and Web Science, with the first student intake planned for October 2016 – the video below gives more details.  In this post Anna Kent-Muller (BA Hons Music 2015) explains how her own interest in Web Science started, and describes how she contributed to the new degree programme:

As a Music undergraduate at the University of Southampton I always studied a hugely diverse set of modules, taking some in a variety of disciplines, including psychology and film, early on in my degree. Through discussions with my personal tutor, I signed up to take the module ‘Digital Humanities: Critical Thinking in the Information Age’ in my second year. This was what sparked my interest in digital approaches to music: changing from an uncertainty about this new field, unsure what to expect, to it shaping the next four years of my academic career.

GLP_0265 copyThis module introduced me to a new area of study, the interlinking between music and the web. I looked at encoding initiatives, applications created for musicians, and new composition methods utilising technology. From this module I decided to pursue the field in more depth in my undergraduate dissertation.  My dissertation, ‘Keeping Score: Accessing MEI’s Suitability for Academia’, came about through researching MeiView during my second-year ‘Digital Humanities’ module. MeiView is an application that uses MEI (Music Encoding Initiative) to display the variants found in 15th- and 16th-century music scores. This sparked my interest in Encoding Music and led to my undergraduate dissertation topic, in which I assessed the possibilities of MEI for wider music research. This also led me to taking two other web-related modules, ‘Living and Working on the Web’ and ‘Online Social Networks’.

MEIDuring my final year, I also undertook an internship with the University as an Innovation and Digital Literacies Champion (iChamp). This program enables students to work in partnership with members of staff to develop the use of digital literacies around campus; this can include for example increasing awareness of online safety, and developing the use of web applications within  teaching and assessment. For my internship I worked on developing a new digital music module for the undergraduate joint honors degree in Music and Web Science. This required me to work closely with academic staff within the Music department, to research the areas covered by the module and look at the resources available for the adoption of certain encoding practices and online applications. I focused on music distribution systems and copyright law online, and how this shapes our engagement and use of music in the modern day. I also looked at a variety of different tutorials for the adoption of music-based encoding initiatives, including MusicXML and MEI, and looked at simple ways of explaining and gaining a basic understanding of these initiatives.

exfmHaving finished my undergraduate course, I have just begun my first year of a combined MSC and PhD in Web Science at the University of Southampton. I first became aware of this through the module Digital Humanities: Critical Thinking in the Information Age when a course tutor discussed this avenue of further study with me. I decided to look into this area further and attended some of the Web Science Institute‘s distinguished lecture series. These really appealed to me, and I found through discussions with existing students on the program and a variety of lecturers that this really was something that I was keen to pursue.

I am looking forward to starting my Master’s on Monday. During this first year we are looking at a variety of underlying concepts of Web Science, including the interdisciplinary aspects, the computer science aspects and also the research methods involved. Having met my cohort, I found that we all come from such a variety of different undergraduate disciplines, and this creates an interesting and diverse group of researchers to work with.

If anyone would like any further information or advice, especially if they are interested in a similar field of study, please contact me on either my email or tweet me @Anna_93.

You can follow Anna’s adventures in Music and Web Science over on her own blog – including posts about her modules last year.