montana state university music technology

Last Updated on July 31, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

montana state university music technology

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Collegelearners offers detailed info about the montana state university music scholarship, montana state university music education, msu music technology, montana state university music minor, and msu school of music.

Music Technology

The Bachelor of Arts in Music Technology is a synthesis of traditional musical training and application through new technologies. Students develop skills in areas including music composition and theory, recording, sound synthesis, sound design for film and theater, audio for film/video and multimedia, film scoring, notation and sequencing, orchestration, interdisciplinary collaboration, music business, and instrumental/vocal performance.  Working alongside faculty, Music Technology majors compose original music and collaborate on artistic works and projects with students from across campus. This combination of academic study, creative work, community involvement, and hands-on training produces well-rounded musicians and digital media artists.  

In addition to being award-winning composers and audio engineers, the Music Technology faculty and staff are dedicated and engaging educators. Their professional experience ranges from electronic and classical music composition for the concert hall and media to audio engineering for studio recording, broadcast, and live sound reinforcement.

I don’t know of any other program like it in the country. . . . right on target as to what will be required of composers and other music/visual creative artists as they enter today’s digital world workplace. 

Guest Composer George S. Clinton, film composer and winner of the BMI Richard Kirk Award for Outstanding Career Achievement

The students use some of the best computer music programs and use them in sophisticated ways to make the beautiful and interesting pieces which I enjoyed hearing. Learning to use these programs is not easy. [The] students are very talented. They also must have excellent courses. I was even more impressed by their music when I learned that electronic music at the University is less than five years old. The University has achieved a first class electronic music group in a very short time.

Max V Mathews (1926 – 2011), Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, recipient of the 2010 Stibitz Award for pioneering computer generated music and seminal contributions to digital music technologies & software

Prospective Students – Music Technology

Quick Resources

The B.A. in Music Technology offers a synthesis of a traditional music study and the latest technologies for music and audio.  Students gain skills in diverse music and technology related areas including recording, live sound, audio for multimedia and film scoring, music composition and theory, sound synthesis, notation and sequencing, orchestration, interdisciplinary collaboration, entertainment business, and instrumental/vocal performance. Students apply what they have learned in the classroom during internships where they work closely with professionals in a variety of music, media, and entertainment fields.  This combination of academic study, creative work, community involvement, and hands-on training produces well-rounded musicians and digital audio artists.

The B.A. in Music Technology is based on a traditional music degree.  The music requirements are rather rigorous, and require previous knowledge of music notation and reading fundamentals, music theory, ear training, aural skills, keyboard skills, and instrumental or vocal performance.  It is required that students take the music theory diagnostic exam available on the School of Music website before or during orientation.  Students who score 60% or below on the diagnostic exam have typically struggled in the Music Technology program.  The Diagnostic Exam is NOT an entrance exam, it is used for course placement when taken during orientation.  The School of Music does offer remedial coursework and advises students on pre-university study preparation.  Students with limited experience in music can be successful in the Music Technology program if they put forth the effort and time required to meet college level expectations.  Resources designed to help prospective students prepare for the music theory diagnostic exam and their first year of study can be found on the Prospective Music Majors page.

To take the Music Theory Diagnostic Exam, please click the following link:


Expectations of incoming 1st year students:

     Music Reading
          – Know note names in treble and bass clef         
    Major and minor key signatures
          – Time Signatures / Rhythmic Values
          – major and minor scales
     Aural Skills / Singing Skills
          – Vocal pitch matching
          – Beat awareness
          – Ability to sing back a simple melody by ear
    Keyboard Skills
          – Ability to match notes on the staff with keys on the keyboard
          – The physical coordination necessary to move individual fingers

Music Technology Students at Montana State University are performers.  Students study their primary instrument/voice with a faculty member during individual applied lessons.  In order to be accepted into an instrumental/vocal studio, students must audition for placement in an applied studio.  The audition may take place at anytime before the first day of class or at the latest, during the first semester of study.  The applied studio audition can be part of a scholarship audition.  Please contact the appropriate faculty at www.montana.edu/music/people.  Audition requirements can be found at www.montana.edu/music/audition.   It is highly recommended that students study an instrument or voice in high school and/or privately in preparation for college music study.

The School of Music yearly awards performance tuition wavers ranging from $500 to Full Tuition.  More information about School of Music Scholarships can be found on the School of Music Scholarship Page. Tuition waivers for students who participate in the Spirit of the West Marching Band start at $1,000 per year.  Information about academic and need-based financial aid and scholarships is available at the MSU Financial Aid Office.

It is also recommended that all prospective Music Technology students spend as much time as possible with any music software you may have available, and to read books, magazines, and websites about Music Technology and Electronic/Computer Music.  One website that we can recommend is “Tweak’s Guide for Newbies.”  Another excellent resource is Dan Hosken’s book, “An Introduction to Music Technology.”

Application Checklist

MUST – Music-Technology


MUST 112. Basic Home Recording. 3 Credits. (3 Lab) S

This class will familiarize students with information and processes in a functioning home studio using Pro Tools. Through hands-on tutorials, the students will develop essential techniques for setup, recording, editing, and basic mixing.

MUST 115. Introduction to Digital Music. 3 Credits. (3 Lec) F

PREREQUISITES: MTEC Majors ONLY First course in the Music Technology Sequence. Concepts and terms, creative projects using software and hardware, historical background, an introduction to the music industry, and tools for building self-directed careers within the changing field of music technology.

MUST 125. MIDI and Electro-Acoustic Comp. 3 Credits. (3 Lec) S

PREREQUISITE: MTEC Majors ONLY, MUST 115 Continuation of the MIDI component of Introduction to Digital Music. Composition and music notation, synthesizer programming, constructing an integrated music technology studio, and advanced applications for film and theatre.

MUST 217. Entertainment Business. 3 Credits. (3 Lec) S

PREREQUISITE: W and US core. Explore the business of Music, Entertainment, and Film industries. Artist Copyright, Royalties, Mechanical Licensing, Performance Contract, and basic contracts will be discussed with regard to business history, organization, media channels, and customer base.

MUST 220. Recording I. 3 Credits. (3 Lec) F

PREREQUISITE: MTEC Majors ONLY, MUST 125, MUSI 105, MUSI 135, MUSI 140. Introduction to, and exploration of, technologies and concepts used to create, record, edit, format, manufacture, reinforce and reproduce audio. Combination of lecture and hands-on learning.

MUST 225. Electronic Monster Laptop Ensemble. 2 Credits. (2 Lab)

PREREQUISITE: consent of instructor. Performance and study of music making in an ensemble of mainly laptop computers. Computer music programming skills as well as music performance experience desirable.

MUST 294. Seminar/Workshop. 1 Credit. (1 Sem) S

PREREQUISITES: MTEC Majors ONLY, MUST 125. Introduction to faculty research through faculty mini seminars. Departmental research facilities. Research groups. Research planning decisions (MSU laboratory, summer internship, student exchange, REU, USP, etc).

MUST 305. Orchestration for New Media. 3 Credits. (3 Lec) F

PREREQUISITE: MTEC Majors ONLY, MUST 125, MUSI 106, MUSI 136, MUSI 141, Applied Music (MUSI 195 or MUSI 260); other music majors: permission of instructor only. Study of the full orchestra , its subgroups, and integration of software instruments for orchestrating music in today’s world.

MUST 320. Recording II. 3 Credits. (3 Lec) F

PREREQUISITE: MTEC Majors ONLY, MUST 220, EELE 217. An advanced laboratory course in recording and mixing, to include microphone techniques, outboard gear, recording and mixing individual instruments and ensembles, mastering techniques, session management, and business organization.

MUST 341. Sound Design and Synthesis. 3 Credits. (3 Lec) S

PREREQUISITE: MTEC Majors ONLY, MUST 220, MUSI 106, MUSI 136, MUSI 141, Applied Music (MUSI 195 or MUSI 260) Students will explore artistic and scientific applications of recent research in sound, including software for analysis-resynthesis, noise reduction, cross-synthesis, physical modeling, and acoustical analysis. Links between music composition, acoustics, computer science, and multimedia post production are emphasized.

MUST 350. Real-Time Computer Music. 3 Credits. (3 Lec) F

PREREQUISITE: MTEC Majors ONLY, MUST 341. Study of the real-time interactive computer music programming and application. Students will learn standard objects and operational strategies by building small modules and assembling them into larger patches, which then facilitate compositions and performances.

MUST 380. Interdisciplinary Project I: Visual Music. 3 Credits. (3 Lec) F

PREREQUISITE: MTEC Majors and FILM Majors Only, all other majors: Consent of Instructor; MUST 341 or FILM 212. For upper-level Film and Music Technology students. Exploring and creating works in cross-disciplinary audiovisual genres. Multimedia projects with visuals and sound. Overview of the history and creation of innovative audio, audiovisual, and installation art forms.

MUST 382. Interdisciplinary Projects II. 3 Credits. (3 Lec; 12 cr max)

PREREQUISITE: MTEC Majors ONLY, all other Majors: Consent of Instructor; FILM 259. Topics vary by semester in this interdisciplinary course connecting Music Technology with other areas of study. Possible projects include sound design and composition for large theatre productions, audio equipment design with Electrical Engineering students, studio design and acoustics, computing in the arts with CS students, and others.

MUST 384. Film Scoring. 3 Credits. (3 Lec) S

PREREQUISITE: MTEC Majors ONLY, MUST 305 The course objective is to provide the student with knowledge and guidance through the various stages of the process of creating original music to accompany a visual medium. While no previous film scoring experience is required, a fundamental background in music theory, keyboard skills, and music technology is preferred.

MUST 482. Electronic Composition. 1-3 Credits. (1-3 Std)

PREREQUISITE: MTEC Majors ONLY; MUST 341. Individual study of compositional practices employing electronic media, electronic/computer music, compositional processes and techniques, and aesthetic concepts. Students meet minimum weekly progress standards and a total requirement for minutes of music written, adjustable for the complexity of the medium.

MUST 494. Seminar. 1 Credit. (1 Sem; 4 cr max) S

PREREQUISITE: MTEC Majors ONLY, MUST 220. Topics offered at the upper division level which are not covered in regular courses. Students participate in preparing and presenting discussion material.

MUST 498. Internship. 1-6 Credits. (1-6 Int)

PREREQUISITE: MTEC Majors ONLY, MUST 220, Consent of instructor. An individualized assignment arranged with an agency, business, or other organization to provide guided experience in the field. Students may repeat this course up to a maximum of 12 credits.

MUST 499R. Senior Recital/Capstone Pjt. 3 Credits. (2 Lec, 1 Lab)

PREREQUISITE: MTEC Majors ONLY, MUST 384, Senior Standing Creation and public performance of a large-scale work incorporating original sound design (film score, multimedia work, EP-length album, or theatrical soundtrack) plus research paper synthesizing knowledge and inquiry in the Music Technology major.

MUST 544. Computer Applications in Music Education. 3 Credits. (3 Lec) Su

PREREQUISITE: Admission to the Master of Education with emphasis in Music program. Other graduate programs and non-degree-seeking graduate students by permission of instructor. An introduction to computer applications in music, including music notation, audio recording, and basic composition with audio and MIDI. This course is particularly geared toward music educators.

Frequently Asked Questions – Music Technology

What will I study as a Music Technology Major at MSU?

The Music Technology program at MSU is an integration of music composition, audio technology/engineering, and interdisciplinary collaboration with a particular emphasis on music for visual media.

Is Music Technology a “Recording,” “Audio Engineering,” or “Live Sound” Degree Program?

Not Exactly… Although Studio/live recording and sound reinforcement are integral to the Music Technology degree program, and several of our graduates have gone on to pursue careers as studio/live recording and sound reinforcement engineers, recording and sound reinforcement are not the sole focus of the degree. The Music Technology program at MSU is a broad-based degree program that requires and encourages students to study a diverse range of topics such as music composition, sound synthesis, sound design, audio for video and games, sound for theater, entertainment business, etc. as well as areas/topics outside of music that provide students with the broad range of skills and experience needed to forge their own pathways in this constantly-changing field.

Is Music Technology at MSU a Music Degree?

Yes, the B.A. in Music Technology is a Music Degree housed in the School of Music and is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. As a Music Major, you will study a principal instrument/voice, music theory, aural skills, keyboard skills (piano), and music history along with focused music technology courses.

What if I Have a Limited Musical Background?

If you have limited experience reading standard music notation and performing on an instrument/voice, there may be remedial work to complete.  In these cases, students may be required to complete remedial coursework and/or outside lessons with a private teacher before starting the Music Technology course sequence. For students with little to no experience reading music, the amount and level of remedial work will be determined individually for each student.  Since the Music Technology course sequence begins in the fall semester, insufficient prior preparation may necessitate an additional year for completion of the requirements for the Music Technology Foundation Sequence, and can lead to an extended time period until degree completion.  We do however recognize that many exceptionally talented students have written music with a computer or by ear, but have less experience reading and writing music notation. The Music Technology program offers avenues for success for those students, provided they are willing to put in the time and effort it can take to address these deficiencies.  If you have a limited music background, there are several activities you should consider pursuing before beginning your studies in music at MSU.

  1. Take lessons on your primary instrument/voice 
  2. Take piano lessons
  3. Take a music theory course at your high school or college if available
  4. Spend time at MusicTheory.net – this is a great website that has lessons and exercises that will help you prepare for your first year of music study at MSU.  In “Lessons” Start with “The Basics” and work up through “Introduction to chords.”  Reinforce your knowledge in the “exercises” page.

Is the Music Technology Major Right for Me?

Professionals who achieve success in the field are self-starters who thrive on working independently, who adapt quickly to new technologies, and who can fulfill multiple roles in the process of creating music, sound, and art. Above all, the Music Technology program at MSU is designed for students with musical backgrounds who are interested in exploring how technology can be used to create new music, sound, and art in a multidiscipline-collaborative environment.

What Kind of Music Will I Write at MSU?

In the field of new media, you never say, “I don’t write that.” Music for new media is all about finding the right sounds for the job and the story you want to tell. Whether the job calls for aleatoric, atonality, groovy trip-hop, acousmatic machine sounds, guitar-based blues, 1930s swing, nature soundscapes, or blippy digital or analog synthesis, the composer is expected to provide it. Versatility is extremely important. As a Music Technology major, you will be stretched beyond your comfort zone. You will design your own sounds, using both real-world recordings and electronic synthesis. You will be asked to think about sound and music in ways you might not have considered before.

What Can I Do With a Music Technology Degree from MSU?

After graduation, students might compose and record music on independent record labels, study electronic and acoustic music in graduate school, design and operate recording studios or live sound systems, create music and sound for film, video, theatre, television, multimedia art, games, and virtual environments. The B.A. in Music Technology also allows for study in areas closely related to the field. Many Music Technology students also pursue double majors/degrees or minors in business, film, photography, visual art, computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and physics among others. These opportunities support student career goals in multimedia art, music technology sales, industry representation, hardware and musical instrument design, engineering, installation, music software design and programing, acoustical design, and other scientific and musical endeavors.

Are Scholarships Available for Music Technology Students?

Yes, the School of Music offers scholarships based on instrumental/vocal performance auditions. Scholarships are also available through the University based on academic performance and/or financial need. More information can be found on the School of Music Scholarship Page.

Is the B.A. in Music Technology a Gated Program?

Beginning in Fall 2014, the B.A. in Music Technology no longer requires a formal review or “gate” after the first year of study.  However, students are required to meet requirements for advanced course work, including completion of all prerequisite courses with a “C” or better.  More information about degree requirements can be found in the MSU course catalog

Foundation Courses (First Year of Study)

  • MUSI 105 and 106 – Music Theory I and II
  • MUSI 135 and 136 – Keyboard Skills I and II
  • MUSI 140 and 141 – Aural Perception I and II
  • MUST 115 – Introduction to Digital Music
  • MUST 125 – MIDI and Electro-Acoustic Composition
  • Applied Lessons or Guitar Class

Are Internships available through the Music Technology Program?

Yes.  Students are encouraged to participate in an internship while pursuing a B.A. in Music Technology at MSU.  An internship can be an integral part of a student’s learning experience, and can strengthen valuable hands-on skills. The internship experience allows students the opportunity to develop relationships and contacts with professionals in the industry, which can be extremely important for career development.  The program and faculty have relationships with music technology related businesses in Bozeman, around Montana, and across the nation.

Can You Help Me Record My Band or Myself?

The Music Technology program is not a commercial studio or a recording service. Due to rapid growth in the School of Music, and the resulting demands on our staff and resources, our School Director has established policies governing the use of Music Technology facilities. By necessity our facilities must be reserved primarily for teaching and for Music Technology class projects. If you are an MSU music student, you are eligible to check out recording equipment with faculty permission; for assistance contact the School of Music – Computer Support Specialist. If you are not an MSU music student, we’d be happy to give you a referral to one of the excellent commercial studios or location recording services in the Bozeman area.

Do You Have Music Technology Courses for Non-Majors?

The School of Music has a limited number of spaces for non-majors in MUST 112, Basic Home Recording, taught by Doc Wiley at Peach Street Studios (627 East Peach Street). Basic Home Recording requires each student to purchase an MBox interface and Pro Tools software, approximately $350 for students. For more information, please contact Doc Wiley.

School of Music

Montana State University
PO Box 173420
Bozeman MT 59717-3420
Tel: (406) 994-3562
Fax: (406) 994-6656
Location: Howard Hall

School Director

Jason Bolte
[email protected]

Administrative Fellow 

Tobin Stewart
[email protected]

Business Operations Manager

Cassie Frye 
[email protected]

Student Services Coordinator

Suzanne Forrester
[email protected]

Computer Support Specialist


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