Technosonics is a large course (240 students) in digital music and sound art composition. Started in 2006 at UVA by Prof Burtner, Technosonics explores the history, theory and practice of digital music and sound art. Students learn tools and techniques that infuse music of many genres and traditions. From experimental computer music, ambient and dance music, sound art and multimedia, digital tools have changed the way we make and listen to music. This course offers a wide view of computer music as “technosonics”. Students all compose original compositions and these can be performed via podcast on the iTunes Music Store.
In 2008, with the assistance of a Teaching+Technology Initiative Fellowship, Technosonics expanded into the area of interactive computer music performance. Since then, the class hosts the Mobile Interactive Computer Ensemble (MICE) Orchestra, an orchestral-scale human-computer group using mobile computing for live, interactive performance. The MICE Orchestra debuted on April 30, 2008 on Jefferson's UVA Lawn at the Digitalis Festival.
In 2009 the class began beta testing NOMADS, a new software system designed by UVA's Interactive Media Research Group. The semester culminated in a large-scale Digital NOMADS performance in collaboration with electronica duo, Matmos. NOMADS continues to evolve and expand.
about the class
MUSI 2350, Digital Music and Sound Art Composition
class: Monday and Wednesday, 12-12:50pm, Maury 209
discussions:in Wilson 306
MUSI 235 explores the history, theory and practice of digital music and sound art in the 20th and 21st centuries. Students gain insight into a variety of tools and techniques that have grown and expanded to infuse music of many genres and traditions. From experimental computer music, ambient and dance music, sound art, and multimedia digital tools have made a major impact in the world of music. This course will offer a wide view of computer music as “Technosonics”. In addition to historical and theoretical concerns, students will experiment with digital tools for musical creation and live performance.
205 Old Cabell Hall
office hours: Wednesday,2-5pm (please email in advance if possible)
Kevin Davis , Teaching Assistant
Kristina Warren, Teaching Assistant
Maxwell Tfirn, Teaching Assistant
Paul Turowski, Teaching Assistant
Course web sites
syllabus : http://www.technosonics.net
assignment submission/blogging/materials/grading/evaluations: http://www.collab.itc.virginia.edu
How to podcast your technosonic music
1) go to http://hitchcock.itc.virginia.edu/digitalis/
2) click "Create Account" and follow the directions
3) click "Post Song" and select your final project.
4) go to the iTunes Music Store to listen to your piece!
other required materials: headphones, 2GB (minimum) USB data drive. If you have a laptop, get it set up for use on UVA Wireless and plan to bring it to class.
optional materials: Max/MSP student 9-month license, available at http://www.cycling74.com/.
computers have Garage Band; Remix Loops; SoundHack; Spear; MaxMSP Runtime
and Audacity.They are available for student use on the schedule of those rooms/buildings.
* Discussion sections are in Wilson 306: 20 workstations (including instructor station)
* Bryan Hall, 235: 4 workstations
* Ruffner Hall, 277: 4 workstations
* Clemons Library (4th floor): 7 workstations
* Robertson Media Lab (in Clemons): about 10 workstations
If you want to install the software on your own computers you can download it here.
You can also use other software if you wish.
(Apple or Windows)
Max/MSP Runtime (the free version)
(Apple or Windows)
Kristal multitrack editor
Attendance of the class lectures and lab/discussion section are required.
Quiz material will come from the lectures and readings. The images shown in class do not contain the lecture. If you miss a lecture, you should get the notes from a friend or come to office hours. We will not provide the slides.
The labs are very important for your composition work. Your TA will take attendance and may assess an attendance grade.
Required concert attendance (sign-in sheet):
Attendance of the Technosonics 9/14 concert at Old Cabell Hall, 7pm
Attendance of the Technosonics 9/15 concert at OpenGrounds, 7pm
Assignments for the class = 30% of the final grade (1=5%, 2=10% and 3=5%)
Each student will create three short assignments.
Assignments are due on Friday at 5pm. This will give every lab a chance to meet during the week the assignment is due.
How the assignments are graded:
* timely completion and clear organization: This means turn it in on time and in the manner specified. Late assignments will be penalized without exception. Name your files according to the instructions and make it clear what is your work. Make sure they are in the proper format. If we ask for an mp3 don't provide a Garage Band project for example.
* complete all aspects of the assignment: Read the instructions carefully to make sure you are doing all the parts. Did it ask for a write-up in addition to the digital file? Most people lose points because they don't complete the assignment.
* creativity and imaginative composition. This is a big one. Are you expressing yourself creatively? Be daring, be nonconformist, try something new even if it might fail (it won't). You will never be docked for doing something too crazy. As students it is your job to push the boundaries and try new things.
* evidence of work: make sure your piece has some thought and work in it. Polish it and make it good. We can tell when you threw something together.
The assignment is considered submitted when you post an audio file (mp3) on the Collab site in the proper location. Assignments will not be accepted more than two weeks late for any reason. Audacity or Garage Band archive files will not be accepted as assignment submission. Export or Bounce your assignment and check that it will play in iTunes. Then upload those sounds to the Collab folder. If it won't play in iTunes for you, it's not done yet.
Assignment 1: noise beats (5%)
Make (at least) 10 short percussive sounds out of noise sound samples. Use anything *but* a drum/percussion sample. You might make your 10 short sounds out of birds, cars, voices and river for example. These short sounds should not be longer than one second. Use Audacity to make your sounds. Then assemble them into a rhythmic sequence, a "noise beat". Compose a short rhythm composition in Garage Band or Audacity. Try using very, very short sounds. You might end up making 100 short sounds to create your noise beat. You may layer, process and expand this project at will.
min. duration: 10 <1" sounds + 20" beat
Assignment 2: digital clouds (10%)
Compose an ambient piece, 1 minute in length, using the sound design programs.
Your cloud should have an A, B, and C section, transforming or crossfading between three different areas. You may use more than 3 sounds/sections if you like (3 is just the minimum).
min. duration: 1'
Assignment 3: cyber melody (15%)
Compose original melodic lines made up of sounds you generate using modulation synthesis. Imagine the song of a strange cybernetic bird or trumpet and write the melody it might sing. Mix your melodies into a short composition in Garage Band and submit the final assignment as an mp3 or wav file.
You should use at least three melodic sequences but you may use more than three.
You may choose to combine your cyber melodies with digital clouds and noise beats.
min. duration: 1'
Orchestra group project 10%
The class will perform as the MICE Orchestra at the premiere of "Auksalaq" on 10/29/12. The performance location is at OpenGrounds on the Corner (across from the White Spot) or at Clemons Library Digital Media Lab Video Wall exhibition space. The concert begins at 5pm.
Quiz 1 on early electronic music (5%)
Quiz 2 on computer music history (5%)
Final Exam final covering entire semester (10%)
10% (5% each)
The writing assignments ask you to interact with technosonic music in a public context.
artist review (5%)
Review a recording by an electronic sound artist you discover during the semester. This should be something new to you that you find while looking for new electronic music this semester. Two limitations on this: 1) it should be something experimental or unfamiliar, or perhaps an emerging artist. It should not be a major band or DJ but rather something unusual. We want you to consider music outside of the norm, something (as yet) unpopular.
Review one concert or event you attend during the semester. Your review should be 500-1000 words. The review should apply things you are learning in the class, referencing specific pieces, techniques or ideas we have studied.
The final project is your original composition using whatever tools you like from the class. Graded on 1) digital sound art composition technique, 2) compositional form, meets duration requirements (at least 2min), 4) imagination and creativity, 5) evidence of care and work put into it. Your piece should have a title and an idea. Along with your mp3, submit a short text describing your idea and how it fits in the music.
Lab Section Grade, 10%:
Your work in the Lab/Discussion Section accounts for 10% of the grade. This grade may include attendance, participation and lab work. Discuss with your TA how you will be evaluated for this element.
Wed 8/29: Introduction to
the class, and to digital music
listening: The Orb, Little Fluffy Clouds
lab sections: no discussion/lab sections this week
The pre-electric origins of digital music
The pre-electric origins of digital music; editing sounds in Audacity
listening: Kraftwerk, The Robot and Calculator; Guillaume Dufay, Nuper Rosarum flores (1400s isorhythmic motet)
reading: Thom Holmes, Chapter 1
lab sections: composition environment and group formations, intro to Audacity
Pre-20th Century background
listening: Avalanches, Flight Tonight; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Musical Dice Game; Aphex Twin, Track #2 from Windowlicker, Erik Satie, Vexations; Julian Carillo, Preludio a Colon
and the use of noise
Russolo’s Art of Noises and the Noise Orchestra;
live electronic music of the early 20th Century.
reading: Luigi Russolo, The Art of Noises: Futurist Manifesto
listening: Ryuichi Sakamoto, 20Msec, and Ngo; Yellow Magic Orchestra, Computer Game; Erik Satie, Gymnopedies 1
lab sections: Audacity and Garage Band
Electronic instruments from the 1920s and 1930s.
reading: Holmes, Chapter 2;
listening: Lee Scratch Perry, My name is from Techno Party; DJ Spooky (with Mad Professor and Lee Scratch Perry), Dubtometry; Clara Rockmore performance of Sant-Saens The Swan on the Theremin; Beach Boys, Good Vibrations; Olivier Messiaen, Livre du Sacremant for organ; Messiaen, Fête des belles eaux for 6 Ondes Martenot; Led Zeppelin, Whole Lotta Love; Nine Inch Nails, Just Like You Imagined; Tchaikovsky, Valse Sentimentale performed by Clara Rockmore; Radiohead, Where I End and You Begin.
discussion sections: sound editing and mixing for noise beats assignment
Fri 9/14 Assignment 1 due by 5pm
Fri 9/14: Technosonics Concert Old Cabell Hall 7pm
All students must attend this concert
Mon 9/17: Introduction to the Mobile Interactive Computer Ensemble
MICE Orchestra rehearsal: bring your laptop today!
Electronic instruments from the 1920s and 1930s continued
listening: Amon Tobin (Cujo), Traffic, and Verbal; Suba, Seria; Suba/Bebel Gilberto, Tanto Tempo;
reading: Holmes, Chapter 3
listening: Money MICE, MICE Ascending: previous MICE ensembles
discussion sections: sound design using spectral filtering
The Electronic Music Studio as Instrument / Modulations and Acoustics
Musique Concrete; working with samples
listening: Goa Gil, Hux Flux; Ravi Shankar, Morning Raga; Pierre Schaeffer, Etudes du Bruits; Pierre Henry and Pierre Schaeffer, Etude por un homme seule; Piere Henry, Psyche Rock; and Futurama theme song
Mon 9/24: Electronische Music; working with oscillators in Max/MSP (Frequency Modulation, Additive Synthesis and Amplitude Modulation);
listening: Bjork, An Echo/A Stain; Medula and Joga; Matmos,California Rhinoplasty; Stockhausen, Gesang der Junglinge and Studie I
Wed 9/26: no class
Fri 9/28 Writing 1 due
discussion sections: sound design workshops
10/1: Poeme Electronique
listening: Daft Punk, Harder, Faster, Better, Stronger; Air, How does it make you feel?; Varese, Poeme Electronique; Xenakis, Concret PH
Quiz 1 review
Wed 10/3 Quiz 1 on Early Electronic Music
Mon 10/8: NOMADS Design Forum on student work. Rehearsal for "Auksalaq"
The 1950s and 1960s: Sequencers and Sound Synthesis
Wed 10/10: Sequencers and Electric Instruments for live performance;
listening:Moog sounds; The Monkees, Star Collector; Wendy Carlos, Switched on Bach.
discussion sections: Spear sound design workshop
Mon 10/15:"Auksalaq" rehearsal
Wed 10/17 Synthesizers and Computer Music/Digital Audio
listening: The Moog Cookbook, Smells Like Teen Spirit; David Rosenboom, In the Beginning - Etude II; David Bowie (Brian Eno) from Low; Gary Numan, I Dream of Wires, Cars; Morton Subotnick, Silver Apples of the Moon
Fri 10/19 Assignment 2 due
Mon 10/22 Computer Music
listening: Missy Elliot and Timbaland, Work it and Pass that Dutch; Neuman Guttman, In a Silver Scale; Max Mathews' Music 1, Daisy; 2001 Space Odyssey
Wed 10/25 1970s
to the 1980s: into MIDI
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)
listening: John Oswald (Plunderphonics), Brown, Net, Dab and Urge-Marianne Faith No Morrisey (from Plexure); John Chowning, Stria; Barry Truax, Riverrun; A-Ha, Take on Me
reading: Holmes Chapter 10/11
discussions: working on assignment 3
Mon 10/29: Auksalaq dress rehearsal. Instead we have the
Auksalaq performance at 5pm in Clemons Digital Media Lab and Opengrounds. Students should arrive by 4pm.
Wed 10/31: NOMADS design forum 2 on student work
Mon 11/5: temporal and layering techniques;
reading: R. Murray Schafer, The Music of the Environment; Brian Eno, Ambient Music;
listening: Cocosuma, Tapping the Source; Erik Satie, Gymnopedie 1; Brian Eno, Music for Airports and Unfamiliar Winds ; Tangerine Dream, Phaedra; Pink Floyd, a Saucerful of Secrets, Hildegard Westerkamp, Talking Rain; Barry Truax, Pendlerdrom
Wed 11/7:Music of your TAs
Fri 11/9: Assignment 3 due
Mon 11/12 looping and polyrhythm techniques;
readings: Steve Reich: Music as a Gradual Process
listening: DJ Krush, Song for John Walker (featuring Anticon), Toki No Tabiji (Journey of Time featuring Inden); Steve Reich, Come Out, African Head Charge, No Don't Follow Fashion and Pursuit; Gyorgy Ligeti, Poeme Symphonique for 100 Metronomes; Conlon Nancarrow, Study 21 for player piano
Quiz 2 review
Wed 11/14: Quiz 2 on Computer Music and MIDI
discussions: polyrhythmic and looping technique
Mon 11/19: NOMADS Design Forum 3 on student composition
Wed 11/21: Thanksgiving break.
Mon 11/26: Turntablism
reading: Christian Marclay & Yasunao Tone: Record, CD, Analog, Digital (p341, Cox)
listening: Invisibl Skratch Piklz, World Cut Scratch; The X-ecutioners, Mad Flava; John Cage, Imaginary Landscape No. 1 and No 4; Karlheinz Stockhausen, Kurzwellen; Scanner and Tonne, Sound Polaroids; Herby Hancock, Rockit; Beastie Boys (with Mixmaster Mike), 3 MC's & 1 DJ; Christian Marclay, Night Music; DJ Shadow, Flashback; Mixmaster Mike, Well Wicked; excerpts from Scratch, the movie by Doug Pray.
lab discussions:final projects
Wed, 11/28:NOMADS Design Forum on final projects
Fri 11/30 Writing 2 due
Wed, 12/5: NOMADS Design Forum on final projects
Fri 12/7 Final Projects due by 5pm
Final Exam Monday, December 17, 2012 1400-1700