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The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts

Performer-Composer DMA

CalArts is internationally acclaimed as a pace-setting, innovative arts institution. Successive generations of its faculty and alumni have occupied the forefront of evolving creative practice. CalArts' Performer-Composer Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) program extends this legacy with an intensive 3-year degree program for artist-scholars whose work exhibits an integration of their compositional and performance practices.

Goals of the DMA Program

This challenging program is not a double major, but instead seeks to foster musical artists who holistically combine innovative performance practices with new compositional models. In this process, students who are already accomplished composers and skilled executants thoroughly integrate these practices in their original work.

The ethos of CalArts' DMA Performer-Composer program is exploratory and experimental through and through. Students in the program arrive from diverse stylistic origins, but all are driven by artistic visions that can be realized only by significantly expanding the language of music beyond its current boundaries.

Research Areas

Doctoral proposals must outline a program of scholarly and creative research supporting original composition combined with execution by the student. Any proposal that meets this broad criterion will be considered.

CalArts’ music faculty comprises innovative, internationally recognized leaders in performance, composition, improvisation, jazz, world music and music technology. Some current areas of creative activity and research among our faculty include the following.

  • new music composition and performance
  • diverse disciplines of improvisation
  • conventional and unconventional instrumental and vocal performance practices
  • experimental sound practices, live electronic music, installation and intermedia art
  • interactive musical technologies, interface design and robotics
  • new strategies for interdisciplinary performance design
  • experimental jazz, rock, noise and electronica
  • African, Indonesian, North Indian, Persian, Latin and other world musics
  • applied inter-cultural experimentation in music
  • new tuning systems: theory and performance practice
  • contemporary music theory, analysis, history, criticism and aesthetics

All DMA students are eligible to study with music faculty members in any program area. Opportunities exist for collaborations involving CalArts’ Schools of Dance, Theater, Film, Art and Critical Studies.

Application Procedures

Students admitted into the DMA program will have previously attained a master's degree in music, or will have a master’s degree in another field along with skills and knowledge that are commensurate with a master’s degree in music.

Prospective applicants may wish to familiarize themselves with the following information.

The following links pertain to the formal application process.


The California Institute of the Arts takes no responsibility for the currency, accuracy or completeness of the information available on external websites.

Last edited by rwannama on Oct 24, 2016
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