The Tonmeister degree at the University of Surrey combines elements of music, physics and maths. Inspired by the unique nature of the course, I chose Surrey because of the excellent links established with companies across the audio profession, the fantastic facilities provided for students, and the teaching from a mixture of staff and current audio professionals.
Our Sound Recording (Tonmeister) degree programme equips you with the breadth of knowledge required for a successful career in any area of professional audio. By balancing a rigorous study of music and the technical and scientific aspects of sound recording with the operational and practical aspects of each, we have formed a blend of music and sound recording which makes the Tonmeister degree programme unique in the UK university system.
A combination of the broad knowledge base provided by the programme, the professional nature of the teaching and facilities, and the reputation of the programme within the industry means that employment prospects for graduates are excellent.
Our Sound Recording (Tonmeister) degree programme is well established and highly regarded in the industry. It is aimed at those who are primarily interested in the theory and practice of sound recording and audio engineering.
Our degree comprises three areas of study: technical understanding of audio, practical experience of recording, and musical theory and practice. We believe that all of these components are essential for an audio engineer to be able to cope with the wide variety of tasks that the role entails.
The technical aspects of our degree programme cover the components that contribute to modern sound recording and reproduction, such as acoustics, electroacoustics, electronics, computer audio systems, sound synthesis and signal processing. The practical elements of the degree provide you with tuition in recording techniques and critical listening, as well as allowing you to apply the technical theory to making recordings of a wide range of music. The musical components of the degree programme develop your analytical skills and provide the opportunity for detailed study of creative disciplines such as performance and composition.
Our Tonmeister degree prepares you for a career in the professional audio industry. However, your career choice is not restricted to being a recording engineer. The breadth of experience gained in the programme equips graduates with numerous practical skills and an invaluable initiative and adaptability.
Year 1 of our Tonmeister degree programme provides you with a foundation in technical and musical skills. The technical modules cover the fundamentals of how audio equipment operates, so that you can understand how sound is generated, captured, stored, modified and reproduced. The musical modules cover a range of topics, including the thorough grounding necessary for you to act as a producer in musical recording sessions.
The technical modules in Year 2 provide you with a more detailed understanding of audio engineering processes and allow your knowledge to be applied to practical recording. In addition, the video engineering module provides you with an understanding of the video technology used in film and television, including issues such as synchronisation of audio and video. A wide range of recording experience is included and you are required to make and submit several recordings in a range of styles. There is a broad range of music modules to choose from, so you can specialise in your area of interest, such as performance, composition, pop music, jazz, film music, music history and analysis.
The integrated Professional Training placement year provides you with first-hand experience of working in professional audio and helps you to make important contacts in the industry.
The main components of Year 3 are the technical project and the portfolio of recordings. Each of these allows you to specialise in whichever areas of audio and recording you consider the most interesting or useful. The music options in this final year cover a similar range of topics to Year 2.
The integrated Professional Training placement year provides you with first-hand experience of working in professional audio and helps you to make important contacts in the industry. You gain valuable experience by working for a year in a commercial company, such as a recording studio, a broadcasting company, an audio consultancy, an audio manufacturer, a computer games developer or a post-production facility.
We maintain contact with you through formal visits by Professional Training tutors and other informal means. In recent years, students have obtained placements in top London studios such as Abbey Road, Strongroom and Air Lyndhurst; classical recording companies such as Chandos and Floating Earth; and audio equipment manufacturers such as Harman- Becker, Dolby, and Bang and Olufsen.
You can expect to be employed in a variety of responsible tasks, often as part of a relatively small team, tackling work ranging from music recording and editing through technical maintenance to product support.
The teaching methods that we use encompass a mixture of lectures, seminars, in-depth projects and practical work. In Years 2 and 3, you spend a significant part of your time managing your own recording sessions, and in Year 1 you learn by assisting other students.
We encourage all of our students to participate in the many practical opportunities that are available. These include a wide range of ensembles, recording sessions and performance/composition workshops. Your final-year project gives you the chance to specialise in an area that is either of interest or of use in your chosen career; you are supervised individually by a member of the academic staff.
Degree results are based on examinations during Years 2 and 3, continuous assessment of coursework and credits awarded during the Professional Training placement year. Year 1 results will not count towards your degree classification. They provide the foundation of knowledge on which the remainder of the programme is built and will determine whether you are able to proceed to Year 2.
Your Year 3 technical project (a substantial piece of written work, including a practical investigation of a topic chosen by you, subject to departmental approval) and your portfolio of recordings (a selection of recordings which you have made during your undergraduate career) together will account for over 50 per cent of the Year 3 mark.
The Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) degree programme benefits from a range of facilities that are of the highest professional standards and are unmatched in the UK university sector. The majority of the facilities are housed in the Performing Arts and Technology Studios (PATS) building, which was built to stringent acoustical specifications and fitted with equipment to match the best professional studios.
As a student on the Tonmeister degree programme, you have access to three recording studios. Studio 1 has a live area large enough to record a full orchestra and choir, a control room containing a 48-channel Sony digital console, a Pyramix multi-channel recording and editing system and a range of analogue and digital recorders. Studio 2 has a smaller live area which is less reverberant and a control room containing a 56-channel SSL 9000K series console, a 24-track 2” analogue multi-track tape, Apple Logic, a 48-channel Pro Tools HD 2 system and a 48-track hard disk-based recorder. Studio 3 has a small overdub booth and a control room containing a 96-channel Sony OXF-R3 digital console, a 24-track 2” analogue multi-track tape machine, 48-channel Apple Logic system and surround sound monitoring.
You also have access to three edit suites, containing a range of analogue and digital recorders and digital audio workstations, including Pro Tools HD, Apple Logic Pro, Pyramix and SADiE.
In addition to these facilities, you are able to use our extensive range of over 100 microphones, our ITU BS-1116 standard listening room, 16 Apple Mac Pro workstations, mobile recording vans and an assortment of measurement and test equipment.
More information about our facilities can be found at: www.tonmeister.co.uk
We give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities or by completing a Professional Training placement abroad.
You could have the chance to go the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (Czech Republic) with Erasmus funding, the University of Cincinnati (USA), the University of Central Florida (USA), the North Carolina State University (USA), Monash University (Australia) and La Trobe University (Australia).
In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.
The broad range of subjects covered in the Tonmeister degree programme prepares you for work in any area of the audio industry, from musical roles through practical audio engineering to development of new audio technologies. Our graduates have gone on to a wide range of careers, including:
Recent graduates entered employment in roles such as:
In fact, given the large number of students that have graduated from the programme, each sector of the audio industry that you can think of probably employs at least one of our graduates.
We offer a range of bursaries, scholarships and other financial support.
GCSE English Language and Mathematics at grade C or above (or equivalent).
Mathematics, Music and Physics A-level or equivalent are required. This may be evidenced by gaining appropriate qualifications or by passing written tests at interview.
Music Technology A-level together with ABRSM Music Theory Grade 5 is acceptable in place of Music A-level. Musical performance proficiency equivalent to ABRSM Grade 7 is desirable.
More details on entrance requirements and the admissions procedure can be found on the School of Arts webpages.
Offers are normally made in terms of grades. Suitable candidates may be invited to an Applicant Day where they will be interviewed. During the visit to the University the candidate can find out more about the programme and meet staff and students.
Non-native speakers of English will normally be required to have IELTS 6.5 or above, with a minimum of 6.0 in each sub-skill (or equivalent).
We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
|Qualification||Course Length||Professional Training||UCAS code||KIS code|
|BMus (Tonmeister) (Hons)||4 years||J931||View KIS data set|
Find out how and when to apply to study at Surrey.
Sound Recording (Tonmeister) student Oliver Scheuregger talks about his Professional Training placement in Bavaria, Germany.