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DRAM 365: Form is Sound

Wednesday, 6:00-7:30 PM

Culbreth, Room BO010
Instructed by Michael Rasbury


This course has been made possible with support from the Ernest “Boots” Mead Endowment.


The statement “Architecture is frozen music,” reveals a universal theme of expression underscoring all creative disciplines. Goethe’s idea suggests all processes of creation and invention are connected by a human’s need to express something, despite the final medium of construction.  The expression could be a new idea, an evolution of an existing solution, or a purely aesthetic creation.  What would a building sound like if the architect had been a composer using vibrations as the medium of expression instead of lines and shapes?  It could be said that the architect “paints” with building materials, the composer “constructs” using vibrations, and the scientist “composes” forms and formulas using the “modes” of math and physics.  Is music a type of “liquid architecture?”



Michael Rasbury, Room 208B, Culbreth Theatre

Appointments can be scheduled by phone at (434) 982-4542 or by email at mr2xk@virginia.edu.



Through instructor-guided teamwork, the students of DRAM 365 will invent a process for converting the data representing the physical aspects of an object into its representative sound. Existing sound and image manipulating software as well as sound equipment will be our major tools for achieving this goal.



DRAM 365 is an exploratory course designed to stimulate an intimate and multi-disciplinary collaboration between faculty and students in order to develop processes for converting forms into equivalent sounds.  An expected outcome for students is a lessening of the perceived differences between disciplines through teamwork toward accomplishing our goal.



You should make every effort to be present at each class period.  Excused absences are permitted.  To receive an excused absence, please notify me before the absence or provide an official notification after the absence.  Each unexcused absence will result in the lowering of your final grade percentage by three (3) percentage points per absence.



January 14                               Meet for the first time and experiment with Chladni Plate; Create a plan for action

January 21                               Brainstorming Session, Develop a Thesis

January 28                               Brainstorming Session, Research

February 4                               Brainstorming Session, Research

February 11                             Research and Development

February 18                             Research and Development

February 25                             Development

March 11                                 Development, Michael potentially in New York

March 18                                 Development, Michael potentially in New York

March 25                                 Development

April 1                                     Formalize a Presentation

April 8                                     Work on Presentation

April 15                                   Work on Presentation

April 22                                   Run-through Presentation

September 20, 2009                 Potential Appearance at Mead Endowment Dinner to share Results!



Given the exploratory nature of this course, those students actively involved with the creation of the “form to sound” process will receive an “A”.  Any student not actively involved with our mission or missing more than three class periods will receive an “F”.


Participation                           100%

This is a subjective evaluation of the student’s performance during class meetings based on the following criteria: 1) Attitude and Inquisitiveness- the student displays an eagerness to learn from others, 2) Congeniality- the student collaborates well with others during the semester, 3) Preparedness- the student is prepared for class, ready to support discussions with his or her ideas, and concerned about the quality of presented work, 4) Promptness- the student is always on time for each session.


I would like to post our results on my University of Virginia Sound Design website.  If you have any objections to this, please notify me.



January 23, Last Day to Drop a Class.

January 30, Last Day for Adding New Courses, Last Day to Elect the AU (Audit) Option, and Last Day to Change to or from “Credit/No Credit” Option.

March 10, Last Day to Withdraw from a Course.


Students needing special accommodations are encouraged to discuss the need with the professor as soon as possible.

The syllabus and/or each rubric is subject to change at any time, without prior notice, and it is the responsibility of the student to keep informed of changes, new material, or missed content.