Music Technology
A level

Would you like to learn how to record and produce high quality music?  Do you think you would like to learn how to write music using audio and MIDI sequencing software?  Are you interested in investigating the impact of music production and understanding the development of popular music?

The A level music technology course at Farnborough is the largest and one of the most successful in the UK.  The department offers students the use of unrivalled resources, including: three iMac Suites, each comprising 18 Apple iMac computers; a mastering suite featuring izotope Ozone Advanced 8 software; Logic Pro X sequencing software; Native Instruments’ Komplete which includes software synths such as Massive, Reaktor and extensive sample libraries; additional software plugins such as Serum and Portal; two mixing suites comprising of professional studio monitoring speakers and microphones; an industry-standard recording studio used throughout the year for coursework and personal projects, and which houses an array of professional microphones, including a Neumann U87, and a brand new hybrid learning resource/museum housing useable original vintage analogue synthesizers such as the legendary 1980s Yamaha DX7 synthesizer. 

A level music technology at the College is an ideal course for any student who would enjoy recording, sequencing and composing music, as well as analysing the impact that technology has had throughout the history of popular music.

The course is taught by specialist staff who continue to work in the music industry as film and TV composers and professional recording artists.  The team will help you acquire and apply advanced music technology skills through the study of the latest music software and equipment.

Music technology is an excellent option for students who seek an alternative to A level music.

You will have access to: 

  • three Mac suites, each comprising of 18 Apple iMac computers running Logic Pro X and Native Instruments’ Komplete, Serum and Portal;
  • a mastering suite featuring izotope Ozone Advanced 8 software;
  • two mixing suites with professional studio monitoring speakers and microphones
  • an industry-standard recording studio equipped with a range of professional microphones (including a Neumann U87), guitar amplifiers, Yamaha piano and Tama Silverstar drum kit;
  • a brand new 'Analogue Lab' - a new hybrid learning resource/museum, featuring original vintage analogue synths including the legendary 1980s Yamaha DX7 and Moog synthesizers;
  • a range of departmental instruments including electric guitars, electric bass guitars, acoustic guitars, MIDI guitars, Alesis electronic drum kits and an acoustic Yamaha Tour Custom drum kit.

Component 1 (coursework): Recording (60 marks / 20% of the qualification)

  • You will carry out one multitrack recording, chosen from a list of 10 songs provided by Pearson, consisting of a minimum of five compulsory instruments and two additional instruments.
  • The total time must be between 3 minutes and 3½ minutes.
  • Logbook and authentication form must be supplied

Component 2 (coursework): Technology-based composition (60 marks / 20% of the qualification)

  • You will compose a piece of music chosen from three briefs set by Pearson.
  • The total time must be 3 minutes.
  • The piece will involve sound design, synthesis, sampling, and creative use of effects.

Component 3 (exam): Listening and analysing (75 marks / 25% of the qualification)

  • A 1 hour 30 minute exam listening to extracts from unfamiliar commercial recordings and answering questions on music technology production techniques and how they have changed over the years.

 Component 4 (exam): Producing and analysing (105 marks / 35% of the qualification)

  • A 2 hour 15 minute exam involving questions on editing, mixing and production techniques.
  • The student completes practical mixing and editing activities and produces a final high quality mix as part of the exam.  An extended question on an aspect of music technology is included.

You will be involved in a variety of learning activities during lessons, including individual composition and recording work, class discussion and listening to, identifying and writing about the musical and production characteristics of a range of recorded music.

This is a new-style linear A level course, which is a combination of coursework (40% of the overall grade) and exams (60% of the overall grade).  Coursework is completed over the two years and will involve composition and recording.  In the second year of the course, you will take external exams that assess content covered in the first and second year.  

Music technology combines well with maths, physics, IT/computing, media studies and other arts and technology subjects.  Music and music technology may be studied as separate courses.

The study of music technology offers a wide range of transferable skills that will promote broader opportunities and brighter horizons!

A qualification in music technology is suitable for anyone considering a career in the music industry and students who have completed the course have a variety of options.  Some students may choose to progress on to music technology/industry degrees, whilst others may choose to seek employment in the industry.

Many students choose to progress onto a wide range of specialist music production and recording courses that are available throughout the UK.  Students may also go on to study acoustics, computing and media courses at university. Many also pursue careers in music performance and promotion, composing for digital media, song writing, audio production, music video production, sound design, music industry management, event management and music publishing.

Over 50% of students continue their studies of music technology at many of the top universities for the subject, including the University of Surrey’s world-renowned Tonmeister course and the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton (ISVR).

Please see below for careers and labour market information for music technology - use the refresh buttons to find out about different courses and careers, and use the left and right arrows to view more detailed information.

You can find the prep work for this course at prepwork.farnborough.ac.uk

Q:  Do I have to have grade 5 theory to do music technology?
A: 
No - music theory is not a requirement of the course.

Q:  Do I have to be able to play an instrument to do music technology?
A:  We ask that you have achieved at least a grade 4 in an instrument if you do not have the required grade in GCSE music. It is beneficial to have keyboard skills as you will be composing using a MIDI keyboard and Logic, but not essential. 

Q:  What do we do in lessons?
A:  You will be involved in a variety of learning activities during lessons, including individual composition and recording work, class discussion and listening to, identifying and writing about the musical and production characteristics of a range of recorded music.

Q:  What does music technology fit with in terms of other A Levels?
A: 
As music technology involves both creative, theoretical and scientific elements, including composition, recording work, advanced software manipulation, the study of production history and so on, it fits very well in any A level programme.

Q:  What do Music Technology students tend to go on to do after Sixth Form College?A:  As the music industry is a very broad sector, many of our students choose to progress onto a wide range of specialist music production and recording courses that are available throughout the UK.  Our students also go on to study acoustics, computing and media courses at university. Many also pursue careers in music performance and promotion, composing for digital media, song writing, audio production, music video production, sound design, music industry management, event management and music publishing.

Exam Board

Edexcel Learn More

Entry Requirements

  • You should have at least a grade 4 in GCSE maths.
  • If studied you should either have at least a grade 4 in GCSE music or achieved an exam board grade 4 on an instrument.
  • If neither, you will be required to demonstrate your sequencing skills by submission of a portfolio of compositions, or be asked to audition in your chosen instrument to demonstrate your musical ability.
  • A confidence in science would be advantageous as some of the course content will involve advanced technical theory.

Employability Skills

  • Time management
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Reflective, independent and evaluative learner
  • Numeracy and literacy skills
  • Confident computer skills

Course Resources

Edexcel AS and A Level Music Technology Study Guide - by Tim Hallas, Paperback, November 2017. 

Edexcel A Level Music Technology Revision Guide - by James Reevell, Sheet music, December 2018.

 

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