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What would a simulated urban landscape be without the noise of traffic and the chatter of crowds, or a final showdown with a powerful enemy without a pulse-pounding musical score? Sound and music play a critical role in how we experience games, animated films, and other forms of entertainment, making skilled sound designers essential to a project’s success.

The Bachelor of Arts in Music and Sound Design focuses on the creative and technical aspects of music and sound design, production, and implementation. You’ll study composition, theory, performance, audio recording and mixing, and technical sound design for video games. Moreover, you’ll gain four years of valuable experience creating and implementing original music and sound for student game and film projects.

This program prepares students to pursue roles as musicians, composers, and sound designers in any creative industry.


Who Should Pursue This Degree?

If you can’t imagine a career doing anything other than creating music and audio content, but you also want an education designed for modern career opportunities in the digital entertainment industries, the BA in Music and Sound Design could be a great fit. To succeed, you’ll need to become well-versed in music theory, as well as put in many hours of practice on your musical instrument of choice. At the same time, if you’re excited at the prospect of gaining firsthand composition and sound design experience, this program will give you ample opportunities to explore your musical capabilities in a collaborative and creative environment.

As a student in this program, you will:

  • Build Your Musical Foundation

    Study the fundamentals of music history, theory, composition, and recording techniques while also taking eight semesters of private instruction in either vocal or instrument performance.

  • Contribute to Original Game and Film Projects

    Compose, produce, and implement original music and sound for student video games and animated short films.

  • Find Your Way Around the Recording Studio

    Learn about studio recording techniques, including mixing, synthesis, digital audio workstation hardware and software, and studio equipment and acoustics.


Academic Roadmap

As a student in the BA in Music and Sound Design program, you’ll divide your time between classroom lectures, learning and practicing with a private music performance instructor, and working in the DigiPen sound labs. Beginning with foundational music theory classes, you’ll work your way toward more advanced music courses in subjects like composition, conducting, and adaptive music for video games. Throughout the program, you will also be involved on a range of sound design projects, producing and implementing music, sound effects, and voice recordings for student games and films.

View a sample course sequence

Admissions Requirements

The ideal candidate for the BA in Music and Sound Design degree program will be passionate about music and able to demonstrate proficiency on a musical instrument (or voice) by recording and submitting a performance portfolio for review by DigiPen’s admissions committee. Candidates must be able to read music and should have an intuitive grasp of concepts such as pitch, intervals, melody, harmony, and rhythm, and how these elements coalesce to form unique musical expressions.

View all requirements

Topics Covered

Students in the BA in Music and Sound Design program will focus on the following subjects:

  • Music, including music theory, music history, composition, and musicianship. In addition to classroom courses, the BAMSD program includes eight semesters of private instruction in either an instrument or voice.
  • Studio recording techniques, including mixing, microphone selection and placement, digital audio workstations, studio acoustics, and synthesis. Students will learn the ins and outs of soundtrack production through intensive semester-long projects.
  • Sound design for video games, including sound effect creation, interactive sound design, scripting, and the game development pipeline.

Event Schedule

Career Exploration Workshop: Music and Sound Design

Saturday, February 11, 2023 - 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Career Exploration Workshop: Music and Sound Design

Saturday, February 11, 2023 - 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Have you ever wanted to learn the basics behind creating sound effects? What about finding out how the sword swings and explosions come to life in video games and animations? If so, we’d like to invite you to our remote Sound Design Workshop on Saturday, February 11, 2023 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. PST, hosted via Zoom.

In this free workshop led by DigiPen’s own Greg Dixon, you will learn the basic functions of a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Professor Dixon will teach you how to create your own sound effects from scratch, how to manipulate those audio assets to create something new, and how to match everything up with video. If you are unfamiliar with how DAWs work or just want to learn some of the tricks involved in sound design firsthand, this is a great starting place for you.

Space is limited and reservations are prioritized on a first-come first-served basis, so be sure to register early! You will need access to a computer for this workshop, and instructions to gain access to a free trial of a DAW will be given a week before the event.

Please contact Brandy Xiong at brandy.xiong[at]digipen[dot]edu or (425) 629-5027 with any questions or concerns. We look forward to seeing you there!

RSVP Today

DigiPen is committed to providing equal access to its programs and events. Contact the event coordinator in advance with questions or to request accommodations at brandy.xiong[at]digipen[dot]edu, call (425) 629-5027, or text (425) 414-3633.

Related Degree Program(s): 

Deep Dive: Music and Audio Programs

Wednesday, February 15, 2023 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Deep Dive: Music and Audio Programs

Wednesday, February 15, 2023 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm

Deep Dive sessions are interactive livestreams that can give you a glimpse into the academic programs that interest you the most. Register for any or all of the sessions and hear from some of the faculty and students in the program.

Join us Wednesday, February 15 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST, we’ll have faculty members and students live on stream to share their insights and take your questions about our music and audio degree programs.

RSVP Today

Undergraduate Preview Day

Saturday, February 25, 2023 - 9:30am

Undergraduate Preview Day

Saturday, February 25, 2023 - 9:30am

DigiPen hosts Preview Days for prospective students to provide you and your family with an in-depth look at our undergraduate degree programs. At each Preview Day, you’ll be able to:

  • Learn first-hand about DigiPen’s diverse degree programs and project-based learning experience.

  • Meet faculty, staff, and current students.

  • Speak with admissions and financial aid staff and get answers to your questions.

  • Explore campus facilities through self-guided tours.

  • Prepare for Student Life as a DigiPen Dragon at our Resource Fair.

Check-in: begins at 9:30 a.m.
Event time: 10:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Before you arrive, please review our COVID-19 Visitor Policy page.

RSVP Today

We look forward to meeting you!

#DITPreviewDay

DigiPen is committed to providing equal access to its programs and events. Contact the event coordinator in advance with questions or to request accommodations at outreach[at]digipen[dot]edu, call (425) 629-5001, or text (425) 414-3633.

DigiPen Institute of Technology
9931 Willows Rd
Redmond, WA 98052

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DigiPen Student Stories

Student Projects

Multidisciplinary team projects make up a core component of the BA in Music and Sound Design curriculum. Students can fulfill a variety of music- and audio-related roles on both game development and film production teams — from composing soundtracks and designing sound effects to recording voiceover and dialogue. These are just a few examples of student projects that BA in Music and Sound Design students have helped to create.

Meet the Faculty

Program faculty bring a variety of professional backgrounds and experiences to the BA in Music and Sound Design program. You’ll be learning from professional musicians and composers, as well as former audio directors from game studios like Nintendo and Microsoft. These are just a few of the faculty who teach core courses in the program.

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Lawrence Schwedler

Program Director (BA in Music and Sound Design)

Lawrence Schwedler earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in classical guitar performance with a specialization in electronic music from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1993. He was a founding member of the Modern Arts Guitar Quartet, a chamber ensemble specializing in 20th century music, performing concerts in Europe, Mexico, Canada and the U.S. Since then he has worked as a composer, sound designer, and audio director in the video game industry for developers such as The Dreamers Guild, JVC Digital Arts Studio, and Nintendo Software Technology.

DigiPen Faculty Bruce Stark

Bruce Stark

Department Chair

Born in San Diego, California, Bruce Stark is a composer whose music reflects the varied elements of his musical upbringing: early studies in percussion, jazz piano, and classical composition. After completing a Master’s degree in composition at the Juilliard School, he lived for more than 20 years in Tokyo, where he was active as composer, arranger and jazz pianist.

DigiPen Faculty Greg Dixon, Ph.D.

Greg Dixon, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor (Music and Sound Design)

Greg Dixon teaches courses in Advanced Composition and Sound Design at DigiPen. He holds a Ph.D. in music composition with a specialization in computer music from the University of North Texas, where he worked as a composition teaching fellow, recording engineer, and technical assistant for The Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia (CEMI). Dixon received his M.M. in Music Composition and B.M. in Music Engineering Technology from Ball State University.


Career Outlook

Graduates of the BA in Music and Sound Design program will be prepared for a wide variety of music- and audio-related careers in existing and emerging industries, such as video games, film and animation, theater, radio, television, and web/new media.

Potential Careers

Composer

Whether for games, TV, or film, music composers are highly sought after for their talent at writing music to convey specific feelings and emotions.

Audio Engineer

The audio engineer works with musicians and producers to help in the processes of recording, mixing, and reproducing audio — all in a manner that fits the creative direction of a given project.

Sound Designer

The sound designer works with the project team to create and implement sophisticated music and sound effects to accompany a particular piece of work or interactive experience.

Other Job Titles

  • Music Arranger

  • Recording Engineer

  • Audio Production Editor

  • Dialogue Editor

  • Music Supervisor

  • Music Editor

  • Copyist/Engraver

  • Music Performer

  • Music Teacher

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