The master of music program at Berklee College of Music is designed to be completed in three semesters of study–or one full academic year: fall, spring, and summer semesters. There is an optional internship that takes place the fall after graduation for those who want to do an internship through Berklee for credit.
- Total Credits: 39/40 with optional internship
- Total ECTS: 60
The SFTV curriculum is divided into three modules, with associated subject areas (materias):
- Core Module (Módulo Troncal)
- Visual Arts and Media Languages
- Orchestral Techniques
- Visual Media Technology and Recording
- Final Project Module (Módulo TFM)
- Directed Studies
- Culminating Experience
- Elective Module (Módulo Optativas)
- Visual Arts and Media Languages
- Orchestral Techniques
- Visual Media Technology and Recording
Each module, with course options, is described below.
Class Color Code
Core Module (Módulo Troncal)
Visual Arts and Media Languages
FS-615 Video Game Scoring Techniques
FS-615, 3 credit(s), required course
This course offers an intensive study of applied approaches to scoring for video games. An awareness of the deep and rich history surrounding music in interactive arts will be gained through analysis and discussion of example scores and projects. Students work extensively with the application of technology across multiple genres to compose and apply fundamental video game compositional methods to various projects. Students will write simple to moderate-level interactive scores, employing the most commonly used methods in the industry. In addition, students will discuss and learn about specific business issues that include an overview of the video game and interactive industries including contracts, licensing, toolsets, and job opportunities. The course begins to prepare students for entry-level work at a game development company or as a freelance game music professional, including experience with typical game music workflow, and approaches to scoring video games. This course is a foundation for the Advanced Video Game Scoring course, which involves the creation of more advanced and complex interactive scores with direct application of middleware technologies.
FS-510 Advanced Scoring 1: Narrative Analysis
FS-510, 3 credit(s), required course
In this course, students explore the conceptual and collaborative processes that result in the successful creation of music for visual media. Scoring for film, television, and video games is essentially musical storytelling, and the composer cannot hope to do this without the tools for narrative analysis. Through in-depth examination of script, style, finished scenes, and exemplary scores, students learn methodically the steps that successful composers take in preparation for scoring, as well as strategies for getting past the first blank page. The ability to conceive the shape of the score before a single note is written is critical, and this begins in: collaboration with the filmmaking team; analyzing dramatic intent; spotting the film for music; determining the function of music; developing a music concept that supports directorial intent; and determining the elements of the music itself, including style, instrumentation, and genre. Students will analyze entire projects and explore a diverse range of eras, genres, dramatic ideas, musical vocabularies, forms, styles, and orchestrations.
FS-520 Advanced Scoring 2: Genre and Form
FS-520, 3 credit(s), required course
In this course, students become familiar with the musical requirements and expectations of a wide range of cinematic categories and forms, from classic genre film to episodic television comedy and drama to documentary and opinion/propaganda pieces. The conventions of genre are now an established part of every composer's vocabulary. They can be violated, subverted, or updated, but they must first be mastered. Areas of study include the following: comedy, both feature and episodic, including comedic montage and timing; classic drama, including death of principal character, abandonment, and triumph; action and suspense, including the chase, natural catastrophe, cloak and dagger, and sports; period drama, including devices to establish time and place; romance, including development of the romantic theme and technique for leading to the moment of the kiss; science fiction, fantasy, alien worlds, alternate realities, supernatural events; horror, stalking, assault and murder; reality TV, including the use of sound design and synthetic nonmelodic patterns; and classic TV and feature-length documentary, as well as persuasive or propagandistic. As a focused continuation of Advanced Scoring 1, students will further strengthen skills in scene analysis, character reading, psychological persuasion and enchantment (esp. with respect to lowering the threshold of belief in sci-fi and fantasy). Genre scoring also allows composers to explore more deeply their own emotional and psychological processes in order to produce scores that support content in all varieties of visual media, including interactive experiences. Taken in tandem with FS-531, Directed Study 2, as the second phase of a theory and practice sequence.
FS-533 Conducting for Scoring Sessions
FS-533, 3 credit(s), required course
This course offers a study of the art of conducting as a tool for composers in the recording studio and/or the scoring stage. Students analyze the differences between conducting for the concert stage and for the scoring stage, and focus primarily on the latter. Students learn basic conducting techniques, tools, skills, and abilities in order to develop their role as a composer-conductor at recording sessions either with their music or with others’ music. Students learn different techniques of synchronizing and conducting music to picture, such as click track, punches and streamers, stopwatch, and free timing. Students also learn ways and forms of communicating with people in various roles at the studio, such as musicians, recording engineers, score readers, and more, focusing on effectiveness and efficiency. Students also explore the importance of listening and the process of internalizing the music and gestural communication prior to the recording session. Students master strategies and techniques to be able to react quickly and effectively for indications, changes and problem fixes while working on the scoring stage. Based on practical examples, students also come to understand and experience the role of the music producer, and develop themselves through experience in this role in a variety of recording sessions at Berklee.
FS-620 Advanced Dramatic Orchestration 1
FS-620, 3 credit(s), required course
The course, the first in a two-course series and a prerequisite for FS-621 Advanced Dramatic Orchestration 2, requires students to investigate the orchestral palette and the individual instrumental forces therein, in order to compose idiomatically for orchestral instruments. Orchestra performers provide lectures and demonstrations that enable students to analyze each instrument regarding capacities in range, register, construction, tone color, general idiomatic use, articulations, dynamics, technique, specific performance requirements, avoided trills and tremolo, extended techniques, co-members of its family and auxiliary instruments, and other limitations or requirements. Students compose music for each instrument and instrumental family. Students' music is reviewed, performed and analyzed by professional performers, and shared with the class for additional review and discussion. Students also analyze the interaction of instruments, studying the relationship among musical content, aesthetics and dramatic situations.
FS-621 Advanced Dramatic Orchestration 2
FS-621, 3 credit(s), required course
This course provides an advanced tutorial in the auxiliary skills of orchestration without which even the most talented composer cannot fully realize his or her work. Although at the top levels of the craft, these tasks are frequently assigned to specialists, at the beginning of a career, the ability to orchestrate one's own work is a critical advantage. The technique of dramatic orchestration, as contrasted with concert orchestration of long-form pieces, is an art in itself, and will be thoroughly examined. Specifically, extended dramatic techniques for strings and percussion, effective use of the brass section, orchestrating for minimalism, and integration of nonorchestral, global, or electronic instruments in the score will be examined. Students explore differences in orchestration for television, film, and video games, orchestrating for small and unusual ensembles, and advanced overdubbing techniques combining sequence and live instruments.
Visual Media Technology and Recording
FS-631 Recording, Editing, and Mixing Techniques for Film Composers 1
FS-631, 3 credit(s), required course
This is a project-based course geared toward composers for visual media. Students learn basic aspects of recording, editing and mixing in the modern DAW environment. Students master general concepts of music pre-production, signal flow and signal processing, as well as the specific workflow of Avid Pro Tools and Apple Logic Pro X. Students also learn to achieve professional results and create realistic mock-ups. This course is a prerequisite for FS-632 Recording, Editing, and Mixing Techniques for Film Composers 2. In the two consecutive courses, students learn the complete production process from pre-production, recording though the mixing and delivery stage of music for visual media.
FS-616 Technology in Media Scoring
FS-616, 3 credit(s), required course
This is a technology course based on learning the use of MIDI sequencing in scoring to picture, in conjunction to sample playback and composer tech set ups. In this course, students learn how to sequence, work with sample libraries, and use QuickTime, as well as tempo, meter, and synchronization on Digital Performer. Emphasis will also placed on orchestral mockups, sample libraries, and different technological tricks for an optimized use of the DAW when scoring (combined with the use of Vienna Ensemble Pro).
FS-617 Dramatic Electronic Composition
FS-617, 3 credit(s), required course
This course is an advanced tutorial in the use of new technologies for composing and producing music for visual media. It is recommended for graduate scoring students who are already thoroughly familiar with the use of at least one DAW and professional sound library. Over the last two decades a technological revolution has created powerful new tools—and a new musical and narrative language—for making and using music in media. This revolution in the methods of music making has not only led to an enormous new palette of sounds and compositional techniques, but it has also fundamentally transformed the ways that music is used in storytelling and has created a whole new set of expectations for music in media. This course will focus on the new techniques (musical and technological) and aesthetics of contemporary dramatic electronic composition. The use of synthesizers, advanced methods of sound design, modern production techniques, electronic compositional methods, the use of nontraditional music in the scoring process, and the aesthetics of modern dramatic media will all be investigated.
Final Project Module (Módulo TFM)
FS-530 Directed Study 1
FS-530, 1 credit(s), required course
An advanced practicum that provides individual students with personal mentoring and introduces them to the one-to-one filmmaker-composer collaborative model. With active support and critical appraisal from senior faculty, the student is challenged to conceptualize and execute a plan for scoring a personal slate of short projects, narrative and non-narrative, linear and non-linear, that link to and address critical aspects of his or her overall thesis plan. Drawing on both previously acquired music skills and scoring techniques learned in the co-requisite Advanced Scoring 1: Narrative Analysis, students will demonstrate the ability to convey creative intentions, respond to critical direction, and work intensively to meet deadlines set in tandem with their faculty advisor. The end goal is clearer definition of the thesis objective. Scoring assignments may be drawn from linear and non-linear visual content either submitted by the student or selected by faculty in collaboration with the student, utilizing electronic scoring techniques and/or live-player scoring sessions with students functioning as composer/conductor, or composer/producer.
FS-531 Directed Study 2
FS-531, 1 credit(s), required course
The second semester continuation of the advanced practicum course that provides students individual supervision in scoring a range of visual media with attention to aesthetic, dramatic, and technical considerations. Taken in tandem with FS-520 Advanced Scoring 2: Genre and Form, projects will focus on genre and type-specific applications of visual scoring craft. Drawing on a full range of previously acquired music skills and scoring techniques, students will convey their creative intentions, respond to critical direction, and work intensively to meet periodic deadlines. Scoring assignments will be drawn from a balanced representation of linear and nonlinear visual content, utilizing electronic scoring techniques and/or real-time, live-player studio sessions with the students functioning as either composer/conductor or composer/producer.
FS-695 Culminating Experience in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games
FS-695, 6 credit(s), required course
Scoring for film, television, and video games students are required to complete a culminating experience that serves as both a practicum and a bridge to the professional world. The tangible end product of this experience is a master's thesis, which may take the form of an original score, scholarly paper and/or research project, or other enterprise that offers an original solution to the problem of marrying music to visual media, specifically, film, television, and video games. The thesis will be conceived and developed as part of directed study course work, and will be realized in the final seven-week semester. In conjunction with preparation for delivery of the thesis (e.g., final orchestration, preparation of pre-lay elements, final drafting of paper, or execution of business plan), all students undertake a professional internship related to the goals outlined in their thesis proposal. These internships may occur in composer studios, music production and/or supervision companies, post-production houses, entertainment companies, etc. The student works in consultation with his/her faculty advisor and/or the program director to develop his/her unique project and internship plan, the goal of which is a professional outcome. A thesis committee evaluates the final project that results from the culminating experience.
Elective Module (Módulo Optativas)
Visual Arts and Media Languages
FS-623 Advanced Video Game Scoring
FS-623, 3 credit(s), elective course
This advanced course builds on the techniques learned in FS-615, Video Game Scoring Techniques. In this course, students explore complex interactive scoring techniques and direct application of middleware technologies (Wwise and Fmod). Students focus on advanced interactive composition techniques including designing and composing thematic elements and motifs that work across multiple cues. Students also explore advanced recording techniques and session flow for video game music. This course prepares students strongly for entry-level work in music at a game development company or as freelance game music professionals. Students experience advanced game music creation workflow using version control technologies, sound design and editing, batch file conversions, and modern approaches to scoring to video games. Additionally, students explore advanced topics in the video game and interactive industries including contracts, licensing, toolsets, and job opportunities.
FS-633 Advanced Conducting for Scoring Sessions
FS-633, 3 credit(s), elective course
Building on skills developed in FS-533, Conducting for Scoring Sessions, this course offers advanced study of the art of conducting as a tool for composers in the recording studio and/or the scoring stage. Students learn complex conducting techniques and gestures to further develop their role as a composer-conductor. In this course, students expand the different ways and forms of communicating with people in different roles, with the goal of increasing success in the recording session, and focusing on effectiveness and efficiency. Students learn different recording methods, such as overdubs, recording by sections, recording full orchestra/ensemble versus family section recording, etc. Students also learn how to develop a wider and deeper listening criteria, by internalizing and acknowledging more complex cues and ways of conducting them, and also developing strategies and techniques to be able to react effectively in real time at the scoring stage or recording studio. Students develop and experience the role of the music producer in a deeper way, buildling on development from their previous recording sessions. Students also learn other content related to the music producer, such as recording locations, budgeting, contracts, planning, and organization.
Visual Media Technology and Recording
FS-632 Recording, Editing, and Mixing Techniques for Film Composers 2
FS-632, 3 credit(s), elective course
This course is a continuation of FS-631 Recording, Editing and Mixing Techniques for Film Composers 1. Students learn more advanced aspects of professional audio editing, mixing different music styles both in stereo and 5.1 surround, mastering, as well as delivery in the modern DAW environment. Students master Melodyne, Elastic audio, Beat Detective, acoustics and advanced mixing techniques with Pro Tools and Logic Pro X. Students create professional-sounding projects within the Pro Tools and Logic DAW environments.
Optional electives do not count in program total credits.
GS-510 Principles of Music Research
GS-510, 1 credit(s), optional course
Principles of Music Research introduces the tools of music scholarship, including reference and research materials in both book and electronic forms. Students develop the skills, attitudes, and understanding to research and write about music by learning how to approach various types of scholarly study within music and by increasing their proficiency with music library resources. Projects and assignments will be tailored to the individual needs of the student working towards his/her culminating experience or thesis project. Students learn advanced information seeking, assembling a literature review, evaluating current research, writing and documenting sources professionally and ethically, distinguishing primary and secondary research, and finding and applying for funding sources. Students taking this course should have the ability to recognize, identify, and define an informational need; seek basic information in a strategic way; locate and access basic information; and evaluate information sources for essential levels of quality and relevance.