MUSIC 101: Introduction to Creating Electronic Sounds
M/W — 10:o0am – 11:20pm
Fall 2020, Winter 2021

Lecturer: Stephanie Sherriff

Introduction to Creating Electronic Sounds is a beginner level course that explores a wide range of methods and conceptual approaches to creating electronic sounds. The class will survey some of the basic concepts and production techniques used in podcasts, electronic music, video, and sound art. Throughout the quarter students will build upon the practical and conceptual skills necessary to evaluate and produce a portfolio of audio-based works via a series of readings, lectures, research, and creative projects.


This course is designed to enable students from the widest variety of backgrounds to explore further creative studies in sound. Each assignment is intended to encourage students to find their own creative voice through music composition and sound design while practicing and developing technical skills. Students are encouraged to integrate their own life experiences, imaginations and musical preferences into the work they create, and will be exposed to different forms of sonic art using a variety of approaches that might be unfamiliar given their previous musical experiences.


Students must have access to a computer, Internet, and a quiet space for listening assignments, creative projects, and online meetings. If this is a problem for you, please speak to the instructor.

Students may use any Digital Audio Workstation software for creative projects.
A free 30-day trial of Max MSP/Jitter will be required for the last two weeks of class.

Students should wear headphones during online class time. It is also highly recommended that students use/purchase Sony MDR-7506 enclosed muff headphones or something of a similar quality and type to produce creative projects.

UNITS: 3 or 4
Students taking the course for 4 Units will produce and publish an EP online using Soundcloud, Bandcamp, YouTube, or other. In addition to producing audio, students will create album artwork or a video, and write a short statement (100-150 words) about their overall process and/or concept.


Participation: 40%
Creative Projects: 60%


Reading, Listening, and Media:
Reading, listening, and media assignments are intended to expose students to a wide-range of audio-related concepts and methods for making sound-based work. These assignments are required and should be completed outside of class time by each due date listed. For each assignment, students are expected to participate in online discussion in Slack. Discussion sections will be most active during the week of each assignment but will remain open for dialogue throughout the duration of the quarter.

Creative Projects: Creative projects are comprised of sound composition exercises. All work is expected to be completed on time, however it is understood that additional time may be needed under extenuating circumstances. Any work submitted after the deadline will not receive feedback. All work must be completed by the end of the quarter for a passing grade. If you think you have missed any assignments, you must be proactive and consult with the instructor to determine what assignments are incomplete.

  • Project 01: Exquisite Corpse Audio Experiment
    A three part audio exercise based on the Surrealist parlor game, exquisite corpse. Students will exchange and build upon audio from other classmates to compose a series of short, collaborative audio works based on chance operations.
  • Project 02: Sonic Terrain
    Create a 2-3-minute soundscape using field recordings. Get off campus. Listen to your environment while recording (using headphones!). Experiment with movement and explore sonic transitions as you move between spaces.
  • Project 03: Voice
    Create a 3-5-minute audio composition that utilizes the voice as a main component of the piece. Voice(s) can be human, non-human, samples, or other conceptual sources. The composition can be narrative, non-linear, and/or musical.
  • Project 04: Beats with Daily Sounds
    Create a 2-3-minute audio piece using only daily occurring sounds to create a percussive composition
  • Project 05: Samples Sampling Samples
    Find an audio composition that samples at least one preexisting recording. Find the original source. Create a new 3-5-minute audio track using samples from your sources.
  • Project 06: Sound, Image, and Movement
    Create 3 minutes of audiovisual content that combines sound, imagery, and movement to create synchronistic relationships between what is seen and heard. Students can use audio from a past work or create new audio for this project. Work produced can be a single 3-minute piece or several shorter audiovisual studies that cumulatively add up to 3 minutes of audiovisual content.

Work ethic:
Music and sound are temporal art forms – they take a lot of time. This is a class where you cannot wait until the last minute – small technical difficulties, the time it takes to listen, re-listen, and edit and the very nature of sound means all-nighters before the due date are not the key to success.

In this class, I reserve the right to show a broad range of course materials. Should you feel offended by something you have seen or heard at any time, please do your best to participate by voicing your opinions within the classroom dialogue. If you feel that you cannot voice your opinion to the group, please communicate with the TA and/or the instructors to report your concerns.

Critical Feedback:
Students are expected to be an engaged and considerate participant in classroom dialogue and critical listening. Throughout the course students are asked to listen to each other’s work. It is important to practice the art of giving good feedback.

Here are some good guidelines:

  • Be specific – Vague feedback is rarely useful.
  • Be vocal about what works – Compliments are as useful as critiques.
  • Be Generous – Try to imagine what the person is attempting and help them find a way to get there.
  • Be a good proofreader – Practicing the art of listening for “sonic typos” in other people’s work will help you be a better listener in your own work.


Students with a disability that may necessitate an academic accommodation or the use of auxiliary aids and services in a class must initiate the request with the Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC), located within the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). The SDRC will evaluate the request with required documentation, recommend appropriate accommodations, and prepare a verification letter dated in the current academic term in which the request is being made. Please contact the SDRC as soon as possible; timely notice is needed to arrange for appropriate accommodations.

(phone: 723-1066; TDD: 725- 1067)