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English Electronic Music: Delve into the Digital Archives

Explore the history of English electronic music, while mastering techniques and approaches in digital music archiving.

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English Electronic Music: Delve into the Digital Archives

  • 4 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Trace the history of electronic music

Electronic music is the backbone of contemporary musical culture. We owe the studios and pioneers of the mid-20th century for laying the foundations of the electronic music we listen to today.

On this four-week course from the University of Huddersfield, you’ll trace electronic music back to its origins in the 1950s and 1960s. You’ll explore the lives and experience of the genre’s early trailblazers, the techniques they used, the attitudes they met with, and the impact they had on musical history.

Discover the origins and ideologies of early electronic music

Before homing in on the specifics of English electronic music, you’ll investigate the genre’s global roots.

You’ll compare different the philosophies and ideologies that helped to shape electronic music in Europe and America.

Understand Roberto Gerhard’s role in shaping the genre

In the third week of the course, you’ll learn more about the composer and musical scholar Roberto Gerhard.

You’ll explore Gerhard’s legacy on English electronic music, and ask why his pioneering contribution to the genre has largely been forgotten.

Master processes, techniques, and approaches in digital music archiving

In the final week of the course, you’ll discover how digital archiving can inform our understanding of musical history. You’ll get to grips with digital archiving processes, and identify the challenges of archiving analogue materials.

By the end of the course, you’ll know where electronic music came from, and how we can document it in the future.


  • Week 1

    The Origins of Electronic Music

    • Welcome

      Welcome to the course!

    • France and the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (or the GRM)

      The origins of electronic music: Pierre Schaeffer and the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM)

    • Germany and the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (or the WDR)

      ...and their competitors, Karlheinz Stockhausen and the Westdeutscher Rundfunk

    • Other Electronic Music Studios

      Let's look at other countries approaches to electronic music – Italy, Poland, and the USA

    • Week 1 Roundup

      A quick roundup of the course content for this week

  • Week 2

    English Cultures of Electronic Music

    • Techniques of electronic music

      A brief overview of some of the processes used to create early electronic music

    • The BBC Radiophonic Workshop

      The centrepiece of electronic music in England – the BBC Radiophonic Workshop

    • Tristram Cary & RCM Studios

      A look at English electronic music pioneer Tristram Cary

    • The lost voices of English electronic music

      A look at how and why early pioneers of electronic music are often overlooked in our historical narratives

    • Week 2 Roundup

      A quick roundup of the course content for this week

  • Week 3

    Roberto Gerhard

    • The person

      An overview of the personal history of Roberto Gerhard

    • The composer

      An overview of Roberto Gerhard's practice as a composer of classical music

    • Gerhard's electronic music

      A look at what role electronic music played in Roberto Gerhard's broader compositional activities

    • A 'Third Way'

      A look at how Roberto Gerhard's electronic music related ideologically to the work of the GRM and WDR

    • Week 3 Roundup

      A quick roundup of the course content for this week

  • Week 4

    The Roberto Gerhard Digital Archive

    • An overview of archiving

      An introduction into the topic of archives and their role in research

    • Converting from Analogue to Digital

      A look at the challenges and opportunities afforded by the digitisation of archive materials

    • The digital archive

      We discuss how the Roberto Gerhard Digital Archive was created

    • Discoveries in the archive

      We discuss what we have learnt from the Roberto Gerhard Digital Archive, and how this archive has helped gain a unique insight into the work of Roberto Gerhard

    • Week 4 Roundup

      A quick roundup of the course content for this week

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain and critique the dominant ideologies that shaped electronic music in the 20th century
  • Assess electronic music to determine its structural forces and the techniques that shape its expression
  • Compare and contrast Roberto Gerhard’s approach to electronic music to that of other major practitioners of the time and his connections to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
  • Identify and explain the main concerns in digitally archiving fragile, analogue materials
  • Assess the contribution archives make to our understanding of history

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in the history of English electronic music, or in the process of archiving analogue music.

It will be particularly valuable to high school students completing coursework in music and music technology, or undergraduates studying electronic music at university.

Who will you learn with?

Professor Monty Adkins read music at Pembroke College, Cambridge and is a composer, performer, and Professor of Experimental Electronic Music at the University of Huddersfield, England.

Sam Gillies is a composer and sound artist, with an interest in the musicological study of electronic music, and a wealth of experience in constructing digital music archives

Who developed the course?

University of Huddersfield

The University is home to six academic Schools of Study: Applied Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Business and Law, Computing and Engineering, Education, and Human and Health Sciences. It is an established and growing centre of research and excellence, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and is recognised for the quality of its teaching, achieving a Gold Award in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and winning the inaugural Higher Education Academy Global Teaching Excellence Award in 2017.

  • Established

  • Location

    Huddersfield (West Yorkshire), United Kingdom
  • World ranking

    Top 610Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$69/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 13 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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