Course Syllabus

Music 51, Spring 2000
Tuesday and Thursday, 1:30-2:50pm
Tuesday, HIB, Room 335
Thursday, M&MB, Room 202

Professor Christopher Dobrian
211 Music and Media Building
(949) 824-7288

Office hours by appointment, Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00-1:00pm.

Teaching Assistant: Piper Pack

Course Description

A study of the influence of technology upon the musical culture and aesthetics of the United States in the 20th century, with particular emphasis on the role of the computer. This study necessarily involves many disciplines: music, physics and acoustics, cognitive science, computer science, electronic audio technology, and media criticism. This may include such topics as:

What is sound? What is noise? What is music?
Physical/mathematical definitions
Traditional/cultural definitions
Theoretical/philosophical definitions
Representations of music: How do we describe music?
Literary descriptions
Recording methods
Descriptive theories
Generative theories
Music epistemology
What do we know as a fact about music? How can we prove it?
What do we know about music only because we were taught it?
Do we understand music "naturally"?
Scientific method and musical thought
Pythagoreas, Rameau, Helmholtz, Fourier, et al
Instruments and technological progress
Changes in instrumental technique and technology from one period to another
The use and importance of amplification
Effects of the Industrial Revolution
Russolo and Futurism
Antheil & Honegger
Musique concrète, industrial, and noise music
Compare the sonic environments of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries
How are attitudes toward technology expressed in music?
Mass media - mass communication
Music as consumer commodity: the recording industry
Music for the masses: radio and television
Whose culture is it? Who owns it? Who produces it? Who consumes it?
Do (all) musicians have freedom of expression?
Do we live in a "global village"? Do we want to?
Electronic music
What attracted composers to electronic instruments?
Does electronic music threaten performers?
Music with computers
Digital representation of audio and music
Digital sound synthesis
Digital signal processing
Computer control of musical instruments and other devices
Music by computers
Systematic and automated music
Artificial intelligence, heuristics, and models of human behavior
Computer cognition of music
Technology as a link between the arts
What is "interactivity"? Can computers interact with others?
Does "virtual reality" require "virtual music"? What is "hypermusic"?
The future of music

Work will include lectures, readings, listenings, discussions, demonstrations, writing, and experimentation. Students can find a listing of upcoming assignments online.

Course Requirements

  1. Participation in at least 90% of all class meeting time.
  2. Adequate preparation for class discussions and presentations: timely completion of reading, listening, and writing assignments.
  3. Attendance at two computer music events at UCI, and a one-page written discussion of the music presented in each concert.
  4. Four technical exercises in computer sound processing and synthesis, using the resources of the Music Media Center, Arts Lab, and/or other campus computing facilities.
  5. Midterm and final exams.

Course Grades

Grading for the course will be based on timely completion of all the course requirements. Since every requirement is considered a vital part of the educational experience of the course, serious and high quality work is expected at all times. Grading will be based in more or less equal proportion on the following activities:

  1. Active and informed participation in discussions held in class,
  2. Written summaries of reading and listening assignments,
  3. Concert and lecture series attendance and reviews,
  4. Technical assignments,
  5. Midterm exam (Tuesday, May 9)
  6. Final exam (Friday, June 16, 4:00-6:00pm).

Regarding Academic Integrity

Plagiarism of any kind is a violation of UCI policy on Academic Honesty, and penalties for plagiarism can be severe. In this class you will be expected to attribute due credit to the originator of any ideas, words, sounds, or work which you incorporate substantially into your own work. This applies particularly to citation of sources for quotes and ideas included in your writings and projects.

Christopher Dobrian
March 31, 2000