Berklee College of Music launches new major for Electronic Digital Instrument musicians

Berklee College of Music has announced an exciting new option for electronic music artists, a result of ongoing collaboration between the Professional Performance Division and the Electronic Production and Design (EPD) Department. Beginning in the fall 2023 semester, students will be able to declare a performance major with an electronic digital instrument (EDI) as their principal instrument.

The designation for EDI as an eligible principal instrument signals the college’s commitment to diversifying its curriculum design, expanding accessibility and opportunity for electronic music artists, and bringing the latest technological advancements in music and instruments into more traditional artistic spaces, such as live performances and classical ensembles.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome EDI musicians into the Professional Performance Division family as performance majors,” said Karen Bell, associate dean of the Professional Performance Division. “We recognize how significant it will be to integrate EDI players into as many individual and group performance spaces as possible through this new offering, so they can have the confidence to adapt and lead when they enter a professional performance arena, whether that’s in the studio or on the stage. We are grateful to the amazing work by EPD Chair Michael Bierylo and look forward to the ongoing partnership that has been established amongst all of us who have been involved in making this happen, as this is critical to Berklee’s innovative goals to open doors for a new age of musicians.”

As with all current performance majors, students who declare an EDI as their principal instrument will be required to pass through an interview, performance, and audition process before being accepted to the program. Additionally, EDI principles will receive private, specialized lessons on their instrument, which include proficiency-based final exams, ensembles, and instrumental labs; attend recital classes and other courses in ear training, harmonic applications, and style survey specific to their instrument; and must complete a performance portfolio and hold a senior recital in order to earn their degree.

EDI principles will learn from Berklee faculty who are also some of the most innovative electronic music performers and producers in the field, such as Daedelus, Claire Lim (who performs as dolltr!ck), Dan Freeman, Isabella Koen, and Val Jeanty. Majors also have the option to take core and elective courses from the EPD Department’s deep repertoire of electronic music curriculum, which includes access to EPD labs and production and engineering workshops.

“The EDI principal option for performance majors is a really meaningful step in advancing the goals of the EPD Department to create learning and career pathways for students looking to become professional electronic digital instrument musicians,” said Michael Bierylo, chair of the Electronic Production and Design Department. “This is still a relatively small field with a huge amount of room for growth, so it’s extremely exciting that the program will help our graduates make an impact in that space and position Berklee as a source of great future performers in electronic music. We are very grateful to our colleagues in the Professional Performance Division and the Ensemble Department who helped make this come to fruition.”

Criteria for an EDI to qualify the principal instrument program is fluid and broad, which widens accessibility for prospective majors to accommodate for a wide range of devices, software, hardware, and other technologies. Basic guidelines stipulate that a qualifying EDI must utilize an intelligent system that combines some element of computer software and a controller. For example, an iPad could be used as a principal instrument if it employs software and functions as a controller to manipulate and modify generated sound in real time.

More information on the curriculum design, required coursework, and learning opportunities available through this new major can be found on the EDI website.