Master's Programme in Live Electronics

The master's programme in Live Electronics at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam is a high-level programme designed to accommodate the aspirations of performers from any musical background who wish to specialize in combining their traditional instruments with live electronic extensions. The programme is primarily designed for performers with a music-driven interest in electronics and technology, which could also include, for instance, 'laptopists' as long as they can show proficiency in music theory and performance practice.

In a world in which electronics are more and more present, and at the same time more accessible and affordable, there is an increasing interest in musicians who can deal with (live) electronics.

The Amsterdam two-year master's programme will provide profound education in combining the traditional instrument with live electronic extensions. Through balanced training in using dedicated soft and hardware on one hand and the traditional instrument on the other, students will be enabled to develop their artistic, creative and technological skills in an area which asks for consistent development. Performance, composition, improvisation, multimedia, music technology, computer programming, synthesizer programming, new and vintage hardware, theatre are key subjects.

The programme is completely cross-genre and is not biased towards just one music style or tradition. Musicians with a background in classical, jazz or pop music can all follow this master's programme.

Lessons, lectures, workshops are given by an experienced team of CvA teachers and special guest teachers from all around the world.

Programme Details

120 credits

Two years, full-time


44739 (M Music)

Master of Music

Programme Structure

The two year programme will run in project weeks, which means that once a month there will be a 5 day intensive project (order and content subject to change in relation to availability of guest teachers). There will be 10 of those projects per academic year.

Each project deals with two main subjects of which one is mainly practical and the other either theoretical or computer software oriented.

Each project week will offer group lessons, individual lessons and workshops. Throughout the projects, the live electronics ensemble will rehearse and perform; participation is compulsory.

In the second semester of the first year, each student has to do a short solo presentation in which the application of the taught subjects is being used.
The very last project week of the second year is partly dedicated to the final exams. Each student has to do a recital (performance/presentation), in which he or she demonstrates the ability to perform solo as well as in an ensemble, preferably making use of fellow live electronics students.

Individual instrumental lessons can be organised, be it in the format of a subsidiary subject.

During the two years programme, the student will deal with a great variety of topics such as:

  • Amplification and location modulation (spatialization)
  • Mics & contact mics (the traditional instrument as a controller) pitch and dynamic detection and dsp.
  • MIDI hardware & software
  • Max/MSP, Pure Data, Ableton Live
  • History of (live)electronic music
  • Synthesizers and soft synths
  • Audio Editing and Digital Audio Workstations (Logic, Peak, Digital Performer, Audacity)
  • Fundamental concepts of acoustics (incl. Fourier)
  • Improvisation with electronics/electronic extensions
  • Notation & composition for electronic performance
  • Other controllers (kaospad, the hands, joystick, camera detection)
  • Hardware vs. emulation
  • Video & visuals (Jitter, Isadora)
  • The theatrical implications of using live electronics
  • The live electronic extension as a tool for music education
  • Professional Practice (Marketing tools, how to reach the outside world)
  • Dissertation & research skills
  • Personal multimedia projects

Jos Zwaanenburg coordinator
Jorge Isaac
Marcel Wierckx
Attie Bauw
Sander Notenbaert
Michele Abolaffio

The Live Electronics programme is aiming for performers with an instrumental bachelor's degree or equivalent. Candidates with a bachelor's diploma in another musical field may be admitted, provided that they show proficiency in music theory and a sufficient level in performance skills.

In addition to the completed and signed application form and the other documents, students are requested to send links to (an) audio and/or video recording(s) of a performance of live electronic music. A motivation letter stating the student's reasons for wishing to enter the programme also needs to be included.

Selected candidates will be invited to do an audition in which they can present a live electronic performance of no more than 20 minutes, followed by an interview of about 10 minutes. Candidates from outside the European Union can opt for an online audition.

Applicants have to have their own instruments (like any student of an instrumental principal subject) and also a MacBookPro running Max/MSP and Ableton Live, an audio/MIDI interface of decent quality, appropriate microphones that can be used in live performance and appropriate cabling for their set-ups.
The CvA can make recommendations on basic packages for different instruments on request.

Please find all information on how to apply and the closing date for application here