Rick Taube and Paris Smaragdis

Illinois School of Music Announces New Degree Program in Computer Science and Music (CS + Music)

The University of Illinois School of Music announces a new undergraduate degree program that combines the study of music and computer science in a Bachelor of Science in Music degree. Illinois is the first institution in the Midwest to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Music and Computer Science, and it further reinforces the university’s position as the leader in blended programs integrating computer science with other disciplines. Students in the CS + Music program will have equal training as musicians and as computer scientists, and several courses in the new curriculum have been specifically designed to integrate core principles from both disciplines. Graduates from the new degree program will be well positioned to pursue careers in music or computer research, or to enter the 16-billion dollar global music industry, which is now almost exclusively digital in content and delivery.

“The School of Music is excited to launch this new program after years of development through close collaboration among faculty in Computer Science and Music. Our two disciplines have enjoyed a close connection at UI for decades, and this reinforces that link and takes it to a new level. The new degree program addresses an area of intense student demand and position us well to educate leaders in music technology,” says School of Music Director Dr. Jeffrey Magee.

The new “CS + Music” program is based on the “CS + X” meta-degree initiative that was invented at the University of Illinois and Stanford University, a program which is gaining momentum at colleges and universities across the country. The campus professors behind the degree, Dr. Heinrich (Rick) Taube (School of Music) and Dr. Paris Smaragdis (Computer Science/Electrical Engineering) remark,  “The CS + Music degree fills an educational void that many have struggled with in the past. Until now, these two disciplines had to be studied separately. We are delighted to see that students today will finally have the opportunity to study both of these fields, and their fascinating interplay, in the campus that has brought many historic innovations in computer music.”

The University of Illinois has historically been a forerunner in music and audio technology. As early as the 1920s, Professor of Electrical Engineering Joseph Tykociner was one of the first researchers to place sound on film.  In a series of firsts in the 1950s, Professor Lejaren Hiller established the Experimental Music Studio, the first of its kind in the world.  With Leonard Isaacson, Hiller used the first computer built and owned by a U.S. university (ILLIAC 1) to compose one of the first substantial pieces of music to be written algorithmically, and with Robert A. Baker, Hiller developed one of the first music composition computer languages.  

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