The BFA Music Major program is renowned for its innovative and experimental approach to music through its focus on composition. Given the program’s unique position within an interdisciplinary contemporary art school, our students have rare and valuable opportunities to collaborate on film, dance, theatre, and visual art projects as part of their core training. 

Our rigorous and efficient curriculum offers a balance between acoustic and electroacoustic music, insight into music past and future, and occasions for performing both European and non-Western music through the Javanese gamelan and the Ghana field school. At the upper division, students complete at least one of two streams: composition and/or electroacoustic.

For information about applying to the program, please follow the links at the Future Students section of the left sidebar menu.

Program Information

Our unique pedagogy features professional musicians performing student compositions. This approach, coupled with our leadership in music technology research, allows us to offer a distinct and valued program in the highly competitive academic market. Students in the music program also benefit from being part of a vibrant comprehensive university where they may move easily between departments and faculties. Our students obtain a wider set of skills than students in an academy and they learn to see their practice and role as artists in a larger context. Most importantly, they make connections with artists in other disciplines that will benefit them greatly upon graduation.

Interdisciplinary Mission

The interdisciplinary nature of the SCA offers music students unique opportunities for collaboration with artists in Dance, Theatre, Film, and Visual Art beginning in their first year. In addition, every semester we offer a series of composition workshops featuring readings and performances of student music by professional musicians drawn from the best Vancouver has to offer. Labs for electroacoustic composition and music notation offer outstanding technical support. Credit offerings in Javanese gamelan taught by master musicians along with courses in visual culture and performance studies, world music and the Field Schools in Ghana and India offer an expanded musical perspective for our students.

All music professors are working professional composers who contribute extensively to the School’s interdisciplinary mission by teaching a variety of courses available to students in the SCA as a whole. Courses in Collaboration (graduate and undergraduate), Interdisciplinary Composition, Sound, Digital Art, and Film Music are among the regular offerings by members of the music faculty. Our program, like any post-secondary music program, requires that all students be musically literate upon entry. All new and transferring students must take an entrance theory examination to determine if their literacy skills are appropriate for a post-secondary music degree. Students with a weak score on the entrance exam must take a Music Fundamentals course where a grade of B must be obtained before they are accepted into the BFA in Music.

Music Curriculum

SFU String quintet with David MacIntyre conductingThe Music program has graduated many award-winning composers. With our strong emphasis on self-direction and expression, along with comprehensive skills in acoustic and electroacoustic music creation, graduates are working as composers, performers and teachers in all musical genres; in music/sound software development, post-production sound in film and video, soundtrack composition, composition/sound design for theatre and dance performance; and in audio production in various related industries.

The music curriculum includes:

• 20th/21st century music
• Music composition and theory
• Electroacoustic music
• Orchestration
• Electroacoustic performance
• World music
• Gamelan
• Contemporary music analysis
• Conducting
• Film music
• Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Music Options

1) Major in Music (BFA)
2) Extended Minor in Music

1) Major in Music (BFA)
Students must complete 76 credit hours for the major itself, plus other requirements for the total of 120 credits required for the degree.

2) Extended Minor in Music
A minimum of 44 credit hours in music and related areas in Contemporary Arts.

Faculty Profile

Martin Gotfrit

Martin Gotfrit


Studied electroacoustic music with Bengt Hambraeus, alcides lanza, and Kevin Austin. Before coming to SFU in 1981, musician, sound designer and worked in concert and… More

Alumni Reflections

"My experience at The School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University was profoundly transformative.  The school’s interdisciplinary approach to arts education allowed me to expand my creative expression beyond the affordances of my own medium of music to the worlds of dance, theatre, and film.  I was able to create a body of work that was conceptual and unique.  The faculty encouraged me to experiment with my creative process and design an academic pathway that paved the way for excellence outside of my university studies.  My undergraduate years in fine arts at SFU provided many opportunities to collaborate with other like-minded artists in a variety of disciplines, leading to numerous collaborative endeavors in the local arts community.  It was this work with SFU fine arts alumni that launched my career as a composer and led to many important landmarks in my artistic and academic history.  The body of knowledge and experience that I possess as a result of my interactions within SFU’s diverse curriculum allowed for a fluid transition into graduate studies, first in music composition, and now as a PhD candidate in Arts Education.  The music program at SFU provided the conditions for my own awakening to the world around me, offering not only a place to land but also a departure point for a meaningful life." 
Gordon Cobb (BFA 1998)