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Sample Personal Statement for Electro-Acoustic Music

As a special musical genre, electro-acoustic music is obviously not for everyone to learn and to practice. A true practitioner of electro-acoustic music must be a talent both in music and in electronic technology. In the country where I come from—China, computer technology has been primarily applied to solve practical problems of immediate utility to people’s daily life. People have rarely interested themselves in using computer technology to give vent to your creative impulses, especially their creativity in music.

Another factors that might have contributed to the absence of computer music in China is the fact that people face a double-bind—those who excel in music are rarely proficiency in computer science and technology and those who are computer genii might be musically insensitive. Hence, computer music has failed to emerge as an academic discipline in any standard academic institutions in China, either in the department of computer science and technology or in the department of music. In a word, computer music is the a little-known subject.

With important backgrounds both in music and in computer science and technology, I believe that computer music is where my true talent and potential lie and a Master’s program in this area is the most appropriate choice for me at the stage of my intellectual development. Compared with my classmates at the School of Electronic Information Engineering, xx University, I am the first student ever to choose such a program and it is most exciting for me to be a precursor in a virgin area.

In applying for your program, my primary motivation is to fulfill my long-cherished wish to become a musician. I started practicing piano at the age of 5 and it did not take long for my piano teacher to point out to me that I was quite musically talented. Although I had many classmates from elementary school to high school who were also exposed to the piano playing, only I had consistently served as accompanist of school choruses throughout. I would have entered a conservatory to practice music, but my exceedingly good performance in science subjects during the highly competitive national college entrance examinations convinced my parents that my talents lied that way. Therefore, under my parents’ insistence, I became a student of electronic and information engineering at xx University.

However, my musical aspirations have been kept alive through my own persevering endeavors. I was a mezzo-soprano at the chorus under the university’s art troupe from 1st to 5th semester and, concomitantly, its piano accompanist. Since the 6th semester and beyond my graduation, I have been a cellist at the national music troupe, playing cello while teaching cello lessons to newcomers with basic skills. In addition, I was responsible for adapting the staff into numbered musical notations suitable for performance by Chinese traditional musical instruments. Throughout my undergraduate program, I was constantly involved in performance on and off campus, in major cities across the country, as well as in various intercollegiate competitions. For my contributions to our university’s chorus and art troupe, I was awarded “Outstand Member Honor” in addition to scholarship.

While performing those important extracurricular responsibilities, I did not allow myself to be lax in my academic efforts. On the contrary, as I realized I was to concentrate on computer music, I did my coursework with greater initiative and passion. All the courses related to computer science and electronic engineering fascinated me, particularly courses like computer programming, electronic circuitry, digital signal processing and information theory that were highly relevant to computer music. After learning Information Theory and Coding as a senior, I applied it to my composition. The broad curriculum in my specialty allowed me to acquire knowledge and skills in computer, electronic engineering and communication. I can undertake programming skillfully with C++ and Java languages and attempt at complicated circuit design.

Two books played an important role in defining my interest in computer music. Reading The Computer Music Tutorial by Curtis Roads and New Sounds: A Listener’s Guide to New Music by John Schaefer gave me the epiphany that by combining my electronic engineering expertise with my musical talents, I may become one of the emerging computer musicians in China. Yet I was also aware that, to become a well-trained computer musician, I need to improve my theoretic knowledge of musical composition. Therefore, I self-studied a number of books on musical composition and on MIDI in my spare time and, based on my skills of playing the piano, cello, and erhu (a two-stringed traditional Chinese instrument), I have succeeded in creating several pieces of my own small-scale independent compositions.

By undertaking my graduation project xx, I took a major step toward the creation of full-length computer music. In my project, I developed a DirectX9.0-based Win32 program that, through the synchronization of DirectDraw and DirectMusic, demonstrated the entire process of playing the MIDI in the form of “piano roll”. At the same time, the DirectMusic component in the then latest edition of Microsoft DirectX 9.0 controlled the playing of the animation to realize the rhythmic synchronization between the flash and the music. My advisor commented on my programming as “first-class” while the rest of the academic board thought my design “interesting.”

Another important experience of mine is doing internship as RA at Research Institute of xx under xx from December 2003 to February 2004. My responsibility was designing and testing small-scale digital circuits. In addition, I provided assistance to other researchers in designing the experiments of large-scale electronic circuits.

With all the qualifications I have, I would like to apply for a Master’s program in computer music at xx which will prepare me for advanced work in areas of music where technology occupies an essential role. Among the three tracks offered by your program–Composition, Performance/Concert Production, and Research/Music Technology, I am interested in the final track, which will allow me to develop new music technology. I will be able to work with practicing composers and performers in developing technology such as real-time performance systems. Being one of the best institutions in the field of computer music in the United States, with your small, friendly and intensive environment, your program will permit me to fully tap my potential in music and computer science in perfect fusion.

In my proposed study, I will focus on music theory and music technology. I will try to develop in-depth knowledge of the technological requirements of the composers and performers so as to provide my full technical support to them. Meanwhile, I will do my own compositions to develop my creativity. In particular, I hope to create electro-acoustic compositions modeled on traditional Chinese national music. It is my conviction that your exciting program will be a major starting point for my professional development.


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