2016 is turning out to be a great year for a group of companies based around new ways of processing sound and making music.

Krotos Ltd has secured £100,000 investment through the Scottish EDGE initiative, while Skoogmusic has launched a new wireless product, Skoog 2.0, with Apple worldwide.

Both companies have their origins in the Reid School of Music at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and have been backed by investment from the University of Edinburgh.

Dehumaniser, Krotos’ vocal processor for making creature sounds, started life as a student project by Sound Design MSc graduate Orfeas Boteas and has since been used in multiple games, films and TV series, including The Jungle Book, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Sleepy Hollow and Far Cry 4. Orfeas was able to recruit Reid School of Music audio programming talent from recent graduates of the PhD in Creative Music Practice, MSc in Acoustics and Music Technology, and MSc in Digital Composition and Performance degrees, making this a truly collaborative, cross-programme endeavour.

The Skoog, an award-winning tactile cube for making and learning music, was developed by a team led by Professor Nigel Osborne, who was Reid Professor of Music at Edinburgh for over 20 years. Skoogmusic Ltd was formed in 2010 by his collaborators, Dr Ben Schögler and Dr David Skulina.

Uncovering the future of music

In recent years, the Reid School of Music has seen a range of alumni go on to form spin-offs and start-ups.

As well as Krotos, success stories include: Two Big Ears, designers of immersive and interactive audio applications and tools; Audiotalaia, an online platform and netlabel for Spanish experimental music; and XTH, creators of the biowearable musical instrument, Xth Sense™, co-founded by Sound Design - MSc by Research graduate, Marco Donnarumma.

Martin Parker, Director of the MSc in Sound Design programme at ECA, and the College’s Director of Outreach, explains why the School is such a good incubator of talent…

“Our teaching combines visionary, risky and dynamic approaches to uncovering the future of music itself, with a particularly grounded understanding of real-world contexts.

Courses and programmes delve across the spectrum of musical, scientific and creative activities and it’s not unusual to find lecturers who might incorporate Beethoven, Stockhausen, Dubstep and Batman Returns as examples in the same session.

The range and brilliance of students who come to work at Masters level is also a factor. Not only is the cohort global, but also trans-disciplinary.

Not all programmes require conventional musical skills - like Sound Design, Acoustics and Music Technology, and Digital Composition & Performance - and in many cases barriers like those that require you to be able to read music are abandoned in favour of a much more exploratory, inventive and entrepreneurial outlook. 

The environment at the Reid is relaxed, open minded and not genre limited, therefore the projects that people design here for their final assignments can translate well to many real-world contexts.

Thanks to incubator schemes and an extremely supportive business environment here in Scotland, many new ideas have the backing to shift from the dissertation to a viable business”. 

Are you interested in postgraduate study at the Reid School of Music?

We offer 11 programmes, including MSc, MPhil, PhD and MMus and MSc by Research degrees.