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Features & Interviews

Pulse College MA in Scoring for Film and Visual Media now enrolling
20 Oct 2016 : Katie McNeice
This one-year MA Programme is offered by Pulse College in association with the DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama, and is designed to harness the creative potential of future composers

Applications are currently open for the course, with an early deadline of December 31st, and final applications being accepted up until March 1st 2017.

Composer Christopher Young (Deliver Us from Evil, Spiderman 3) is but one in a stellar line-up of visiting Course Tutors.

The Pulse College team spoke to IFTN recently about the rich history of the college, its place in crafting the next generation of composers for film and other media, course content and the opportunities afforded students and graduates of the intensive programme.

Director of Pulse College Aidan Alcock explained the building in Ringsend, Dublin 4 used to house trams before becoming a Bovril factory and snooker hall, ahead of Windmill Lane’s move in 1989. This theme of rapid adaptation was carried throughout with Graduate Admissions Director Nigel Lees also talking through the evolution of the current MA programme.

From the business acumen required of graduates to opportunities for live performances, the network of professionals connected to the MA continuously endeavour to create authentic, lasting bridges between students and the industry.

The college boasts an usual hybrid of industry and teaching, with the commercially fitted studios available to students 80% of the year. Alcock is also one of several professionals who developed the worldwide curriculum for Avid Pro Tools. He explains that working with and learning from major players in the industry such as Pinewood allows them to experiment with applying techniques to music continuously.

In Studio 3 for instance, which is a 5.1 surround sound mixing studio, students not only learn about the spatial positioning of music, but advanced automation workflows which the team have learned from their experience in film.

“Workflow is enormously important and it’s not just about separate skills,” says Aidan. “It’s about how you tie those skills together elegantly and efficiently to get your results. I’m particularly interested in that as an educator as well as a professional.”

Student Support & Preparation
This led to the supports offered students by tutors while enrolled. Although there are typically 12-15 teaching hours this week, tutorials supporting these lectures in the likes of Music Technology and other areas, depending on the needs of the student.

At a high level, the course content covers: Fundamentals of Film Scoring, Score Analysis and Compositional Techniques, Music Technology, Orchestration and Arranging, The Business of Scoring and Visual Media, Studio Conducting and Score Supervision/Production, Advanced Scoring Techniques and Project Development.

Nigel also explains the importance of ensuring students learn top quality craft, compositional, arrangement and orchestration skills, but also the workings of both the micro and macro business concerns. These range from the skills required of a sole trader or production company to analysing the current state of play in the industry; the flow of money, emerging markets, current contract

Tutors are expected to share their experiences in addition to lecturing alone, provide a platform to students to perform not only to each other, but industry peers. Nigel states, “Not only do they get curriculum-led activities, but they get these additional, wonderful opportunities where they have their music heard. As a musician, that’s very exciting because it puts your music on a platform equal to other professionals you are trying to emulate or work alongside.”

MA Scoring for Film and Visual Media Alumni
Students are required to record nine portfolio-based ensemble pieces among others, such as 110 piece Orchestration and technology-based assignments.

On hearing his original compositions performed live during his time on the programme, MA Alumni Si Hao Ting states, “It was really exciting. This was the first time we had our pieced performed in a live concert. It’s a great thing to have in your portfolio showing you have experience in live music. It helps people build confidence in you and your music as a composer.”

Fellow graduate Stefan French, who scored ‘The Guarantee’ for RTÉ in his time at Pulse College received the prestigious Steve Kaplan Film and TV Award from the ASCAP Foundation. French used his 110 piece recording as a basis to enter an ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop in Los Angeles, which saw him record his music on The Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox with the Hollywood Studio Symphony. He received his award for his work while there and is now represented by SMA Talent Ltd in the UK.

Alumni from Pulse College also include Oscar-winning short film Director Ben Cleary of ‘Stutterer.’

Opportunities in Ireland
International students of the programme can live and work in Ireland, which the team consider very important for their career development.

Aidan states that although Hollywood still is the place where films are made, more and more people are realising that composers and filmmakers don’t have to be there. The thriving film and television industry in Ireland is now drawing more applicants to study here, but also to stay once they graduate. The infrastructures created in the lifetime of ‘Game of Thrones’, coupled with productions such as ‘Penny Dreadful’ to our name and investments such as Troy Studios in Limerick are a support and testament to this.

Aidan also states, “The expertise is here. You only have to look at people like Caoimhe Doyle, a Foley Artist on Game of Thrones, who is recognised as being one of the best in the world at what she does. It used to be the case, maybe ten or fifteen years ago, that those skills would come into Ireland through international people working here and then going away.

Those skills now live in Ireland and I believe we have hit a critical mass. When you see outfits like Troy studios going into Limerick with Pinewood behind them and with that amount of money, when you see Ardmore developing their facilities, when you see James Morris looking at developing new facilities in Ringsend, this is a real sign. It shows we have grown up as a county when it comes to film production and television production.”

On prospective students for the MA programme, Nigel outlines the following: “We are looking for two things; originality and passion. We need new composers for a new generation of performers, a new generation of listeners, viewers and creators. New directors, producers, themes and styles are coming in so we don’t want to be looking backwards.”

For further information on Pulse College facilities and this course, including available scholarships, international placement opportunities and more, visit Pulse College online.

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