Syllabus

Introduction to Creating Electronic Sounds
(Spring Quarter 2018, Stanford University)

InstructorsEoin Callery, Megan Jurek

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  

Introduction to Creating Electronic Sounds will allow students to explore their creative voice by learning the practical nuts and bolts of making sounds with computers and professional audio equipment. The class will survey some of the basic concepts, mixing and production techniques used in podcasts, documentaries, live performance instruments, electronic music and sound art. Students will put these nuts and bolts to use by creating a midterm soundscape project and creating a final class project that is focused around their particular creative interests. 

COURSE GOALS:

By teaching a basic step-by-step introduction to best practices and basic techniques with the standard sonic arts software, hardware, techniques, and tools we are seeking to enable students from the widest variety of backgrounds to explore further creative studies. Each assignment will encourage students to find their own creative voice through music composition and sound design while practising the technical skills that they are learning. Students will be encouraged to integrate their own life experiences, imaginations and musical preferences into the work they create. Along the way, they will be exposed to different forms of sonic art and different approaches that might be unfamiliar given their previous musical experiences. Their final project will allow them to channel the material they have learned into whatever medium they choose – pop music, podcasts, a radio play, an interactive piece of sound art or a more traditional form of electronic music.

UNITS:

3 or 4. Students taking the course for 3 Units will not be required to complete sound/music advanced studies research paper review homework and presentations in weeks 9 and 10.

OFFICE HOURS:

All office hours will take place at CCRMA.  CCRMA is located in the Knoll, 660 Lomita Ct., behind FloMo dorm.

Wednesday 2pm – 7pm         Eoin – at his desk on the 2nd floor.
and by appointment

Thursday 7:30pm – 9pm       Megan – Studio C

CONTACTING US:

Eoin Callery, ecallery@stanford.edu
Megan Jurek, mjjurek@ccrma.stanford.edu

Equipment:

Laptop: Students must bring their own laptops to class.  If this is a problem for you, please speak to the instructors.

Software:   Students are free to use whatever software they wish. However, we STRONGLY recommend that students work with either or Logic (mac only) or Ardour 5 (currently 5.12 is the newest version). Ardour is free and works on mac, pc, and linux computers.

Headphones: It is highly recommended that students purchase Sony MDR-7506 enclosed muff headphones or something of a similar quality and type.  

Equipment Checkout: We have equipment such as portable recorders, audio interfaces, headphone and microphones available for checkout at Lathrop Library. Equipment Checkout Details And Instructions

WORK:

Philosophy: The instructors of this class do not believe in assigning unnecessary coursework.  We strive to create course content that we really believe that you need to make electronic sounds.  If you find errors/dead links etc. please let us know.  Please be aware that some of this material is quite boring but if you learn the boring details now, you will save yourself time later when you are in the midst of a creative project.  Also, please be aware that 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.

Attendance: Attendance to each class is crucial to the development of technical and aural skills. Unexcused absences will result in a significantly lowered grade.  Students who plan to miss a class section (due only to illness, emergency, or approved non-recurring schedule conflict) must e-mail the TA prior to class time on the day of absence.

Participation: In addition to showing up to class, we ask that you are an engaged and considerate participant.  We will have a number of assignments where we ask you to listen to eachother’s work.  It is important to practice the art of giving good feedback.  Here are some good guidelines:

DON’T BE ON YOUR PHONE!!!

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

Online Tutorials: We will be posting tutorials on the course website on a weekly basis.  These tutorials will cover the technical details such as music software, hardware use, and sound examples.  Going through these tutorials is mandatory for your assignments and material from the tutorials will frequently be featured in the in-class quizzes.

Assignments: Assignments will generally come in the form of weekly sound compilation/composition exercises.  All work is expected to be completed on time. Any work submitted after that will not receive feedback.  All work must be completed for a passing grade. If you think you have missed any assignments you must be proactive and consult with the instructors to determine what assignments are incomplete.

Readings and Listenings: Most weeks, we will assign several articles to read and several musical examples to listen to.  These are required and should be completed by the due date listed.  These examples will cover many types of creative sound practices. We will briefly discuss students’ reactions to these at the beginning of each class and they are assigned to offer examples/model artistic processes that will assist students to execute their midterm and final projects.

Book Report: In addition to weekly readings, you will be expected to read one book from the list found at the end of this syllabus.  The books have been chosen to reflect a wide variety of genres and uses of electronic sounds.  They are meant to be inspirational and offer greater historical depth on a particular topic than we can provide in this class.  Students should select a book that most closely aligns with their creative goals for this class.  You will be required to submit a 3-5 page informal review of the text on 2/8

Midterm Project: The midterm project will be a 60-90 second science fiction soundscape created in Ardour, due 5/1

Final Project: The final project can be anything you want it to be.  It can be as long as you think it needs to be.  It can use any software or hardware you choose as long as a computer is involved somewhere in the process.

GRADING:

Attendance/Participation: 30%
Homework: 20%
Midterm: 20%
Book Response: 5%
Final Project: 25%

STUDENTS WITH DOCUMENTED DISABILITIES:

Students who have 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 Disability Resource Center (DRC). The DRC 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 DRC as soon as possible; timely notice is needed to arrange for appropriate accommodations. The DRC is located at 563 Salvatierra Walk (723-1066; TDD 723-1067)

Schedule

WEEK 1: INTRODUCTION –

TUESDAY 4/3

Class: Connectors and Cables/Microphones/Recorders/Field Recording

In Class Listening:

  • Gamelan Bali (Traditional Balinese Gamelan Pieces)
  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Ain’t No Grave Hold My Body Down (early 1950’s)
  • Takehisa Kosugi – Wave Code #E-1 (1975)
  • BBC Documentary on Pierrot Troupe – (2013)
  • Muluqen Mellesse – Ete Endenesh (Late 1960’s)
  • Phew – Fragment (1981)
  • NPR/BBC Documentary – Hey, Mr. Salinger (2011)
  • Furious Pig – I don’t like your face (1979)
  • Laurie Anderson – O Superman (on Vimeo) (1980)
  • Kendrick Lamar/SZA – All the Stars

THURSDAY 4/5

         Class: We’ll walk over to Lathrop Library from CCRMA (Equipment Checkout Details And  Instructions) and check out recorders and record sounds around campus

In Class Listening:

  • Los Saicos – Demolitiòn
  • The Monks – I hate you
  • Silver Apples – Oscillations

Choose a book for your reading assignment

Download and install your software of choice

WEEK 2: ACOUSTIC TO DIGITAL SOUND –

TUESDAY 4/10

Class: Acoustics/Digital Sound Representation/Signal Level

In Class Listening:

  • Sandy Denny – Next Time Around
  • Yasunao Tone – Solo for Wounded Part I
  • Massive Attack – Teardrop

At Home Listening 1 Due: Luigi Russolo: Risveglio di una Città (Awakening of a City – 1913), Halim El-Dabh:  Expression of Zaar (1944), Hildegard Westerkamp Kits Beach Soundwalk (1989)
Readings 1 Due: Roger Beardsley and Daniel Leech-Wilkinson: A Brief History of Sound Recording, Steve Schoenherr for AES: Recording Technology History
Homework 1 Due: Careful Listening

THURSDAY 4/12 – 

Class: Sound in the Frequency Domain

In Class Listening:

  • Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
  • Marvin Gaye – Mercy, Mercy Me  (Ecology Version)
  • Robert Palmer (Mercy, Mercy Me + I want you)
  • Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy

At Home Listening 2 Due:  LeRoy Stevens: Favorite Recorded Scream (2009)
Chicken EDM (2016)
Selection of Radio/Podcast Excerpts
Readings 2 Due:  David Katz: A beginner’s guide to Scientist, dub reggae’s experimental genius, Brian Eno: The Studio as a Compositional Tool
Online Tutorial 1 Due:  Ardour and Portable Recorders
Homework 2 Due:  Ardour, Field Recording, Commercial First Draft

WEEK 3: SIGNAL FLOW AND LOCATION

TUESDAY 4/17

Class: Mixer history and architecture/Mid-Side and Stereo

In Class Listening:

  •  Exuma, The Obeah Man 
  • After Dinner (Haco) Paradise of Replica

At Home Listening 3 Due:  Eliane Radigue: Islas resonantes (2000), DJ Yoda: How To Cut And Paste Vol. 2 (2002)
Readings 3 Due: Walter Murch: Stretching Sound to Help the Mind See, Schaffer: Introduction to “The Soundscape”, Luigi Russolo: The Art of Noises
Online Tutorial 2 Due: Automation, Viewing Options, EQ
Assignment 3 Due:  EQ and Final Draft of Commercial

THURSDAY 4/19

Class: Reverb/Foley Engineering

In Class Listening:

  • Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, Panaiotis – Deep Listening
  • Surfaris – Wipe Out
  • The Ronnets – Be My Baby
  • Beach Boys – God Only Knows
  • Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
  • Mr.Bungle – Retro Vertigo
  • Kendrix Lamar – Ignorance is bliss

At Home Listening 4 Due:  Louis & Bebe Barron: Forbidden Planet Main Titles Overture (1956), Alvin Lucier: I am sitting in a room (1969),  Maryanne Amacher:  Sound Characters (1995)
Readings 4 Due:Chris Reider: What is Sound Art?, Tate Gallery London: What is Sound Art?, Wikipedia: What is Sound Art?
Assignment 4 Due:  Feedback on Commercial to Fellow Students, Research one Sound Artist

WEEK 4: AUDIO EFFECT AND SYNTHESIS

TUESDAY 4/24

Class: Delay/Distortion/Pitch Shifting/Dynamic Effects

In Class Listening:

  • Daft Punk with Nile Rodgers/Pharrell – Loose Yourself to Dance
  • Jimi Hendrix – Voodoo Child/Bold as Love
  • Mothers of Invention – Mother People
  • Bjork – Possibly Maybe original and LFO Remix
  • Pink Floyd – Us and Them
  • Nile Rodgers/Diana Ross – Upside Down
  • Kendrix Lamar –  Sherane
  • Led Zeppelin – Kashmire
  • Kelis – I Hate You So Much Right Now
  • Tom Waits – Don’t Go Into That Barn
  • Frank Ocean – Thinking About You

At Home Listening 5 Due: Les Paul & Mary Ford on Omnibus (Talk and Song 1953)
Readings 5 Due: Lisa Harries Schumann, Lecia Rosenthal: Magic on the Air, Attempt at a Radio Grotesque by Hans Flesch
Online Tutorial 2 Due: 
Assignment 5 Due:  Reverb and Soundtrack

THURSDAY 4/26

Class: Additive/Subtractive/FM/Granular/Imaginary Sounds

In Class Listening:

TBD with Students – 1 recent  (post-2010) and 1 old track (pre-2000). 1 Recent Podcast extract

At Home Listening 6 Due:  Hamlet (1948 film), Otto Luening: Low Speed (1957), Throne of Blood (1957) Else Marie Pade: Faust (1962)
Readings 6 Due: Thom Holmes: In Praise of Hugh Davies
Assignment 6 Due: Plan your sci-fi soundscape midterm project

WEEK 5: MIDTERM WORK

TUESDAY 5/1

Class: Question for Soundscape assignment

In Class Listening:

TBD with Students – 1 recent  (post-2010) and 1 old track (pre-2000). 1 Recent Podcast extract

At Home Listening 7 Due:  Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan: Song of the Second Moon (1957), Tom Dissevelt and Kid Baltan: Syncopation (1958),
Wendy Carlos:  Switched on Bach 1 (1968), John Chowning:  Stria (1977), David Tudor:  Pulsers (1976)
Readings 7 Due:  Dariusz Roberte: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY: A critical analysis of the film score (WATCH THE MOVIE OVER THE WEEKEND!!!)
Jason Kottke: The original score for 2001: A Space Odyssey
Assignment 7 Due: Midterm plan

THURSDAY 5/3

Class: Review Class/Outline for what’s next

In Class Listening:

TBD with Students – 1 recent  (post-2010) and 1 old track (pre-2000). 1 Recent Podcast extract

At Home Listening 8 Due: Vladimir Ussachevsky: Wireless Fantasy (1960), Pauline Oliveros: Bye Bye Butterfly (1965), Jerry Hunt: Song Drapes 1 (1988-? Recording 1999), Jerry Hunt: Fluud (1988),
Selections from Prince, Eurythmics, and more
Readings 8 Due:  BOOK REVIEW DUE
Assignment 8 Due: BOOK REVIEW DUE

TUESDAY 5/8: Midterm Project Due

WEEK 6: PRODUCTION

TUESDAY 5/8

Class: Other SoftwareComments on soundscapes in groups.

In Class Listening:

TBD with Students – 1 recent  (post-2010) and 1 old track (pre-2000). 1 Recent Podcast extract

At Home Listening 9 Due:  Listen to the soundscapes of your listening group members.
Readings 9 Due:  Vera Wyse Munro (1897-1966) the pioneering New Zealand ham radio broadcaster
Assignment 9 Due: 
Feedback on Midterm to Fellow Students

THURSDAY 5/10

Class: Physical Interaction and MIDI Controllers. Final Project proposals

In Class Listening:

TBD with Students – 1 recent  (post-2010) and 1 old track (pre-2000). 1 Recent Podcast extract

At Home Listening 10 Due: Donna Summer I Feel Love
Original and Remastered Versions of Popular Songs TBD
Heavy Compression Examples TBD
Readings 10 Due: BOOK REVIEW DUE!!!
Assignment 10 Due: Final Project Plan/BOOK REVIEW DUE!!!

WEEK 7: INPUT/OUTPUT

TUESDAY 5/15

Class: Intro to Compression/Limiting/SideChaining.

In Class Listening:

At Home Listening 11 Due: Max Neuhaus – Radio Net (1978)
George Lewis – Interactive Trio (2011, based on his Voyager System 1986-1988)
Tarek Atoui – UnDrum (2009)
Trimpin – TBD
Readings 11 Due: Interview with Maryanne Amarcher
Interview with Paul DeMarinis

Assignment 11 Due: Final Project Progress

THURSDAY 5/17

Class: Work class and catchup

WEEK 8: THE EXPERIMENTAL

TUESDAY 5/22

Class: Sampling, Plunderphonics and Circuit Bending

In Class Listening:

TBD with Students – 1 recent  (post-2010) and 1 old track (pre-2000). 1 Recent Podcast extract

At Home Listening 12 Due:  John Oswald: Dab (1990)
Laetitia Sonami – Lady Glove (Built 1991, This Performance 2000)
Peter Ablinger – Speaking Piano “A Letter from Schoneberg” (Part of a Series Beginning in 1996)
Readings 12 Due:  John Oswald: Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative
Assignment 12 Due: Final Project Progress

THURSDAY 5/24

Class: Installations and Experimental radio

In Class Listening:

TBD with Students – 1 recent  (post-2010) and 1 old track (pre-2000). 1 Recent Podcast extract

At Home Listening 13 Due:  Paul DeMarinis – Firebirds (200
Cathy van Eck – Wings, a performance for acoustic feedback (2008)
Diane Landry – Flying School (2000)
Readings 13 Due:  AMEN Break Musician Finally Gets Paid
Tonya M. Evans: A Brief History of Copyright Law
Assignment 13 Due: Final Project Progress

WEEK 9: THE FUTURE

TUESDAY 5/29

Class: Future Sound Study Options at CCRMA and beyond.
At Home Listening 14 Due:  Suggest an example from a Sound/Sonic orientated Site/Blog etc. or a podcast to listen to.
Readings 14 Due:  Select one academic research paper from a list provided.

THURSDAY 5/31

Class: Progress report on Final projects

WEEK 10: FINAL PROJECTS 

TUESDAY 6/5

Class: Questions and discussions – final project assistance

THURSDAY 6/7

Class: Final Project Presentations

BOOK OPTIONS:

Pop
Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove
Ahmir Thompson and Ben Greenman

Hip Hop
Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
Jeff Chang

DJing
Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
Bill Brewster

Folk
Singing Out: An Oral History of America’s folk music revivals
David King Dunaway, Molly Beer

EDM
Generation Ecstasy
Simon Reynolds

Recording studio
All you need is ears
George Martin, with Jeremy Hornsby

Metal
Louder than Hell
Jon Wiederhorn, Katherine Turman

Noise
Noise/Music: A History
Paul Hegarty

Experimental
A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music
George Lewis

Women in electronic music
Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound
Tara Rodgers

Critical studies
The Audible Past
Jonathan Sterne

Radio and Podcasts
Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio
Jessica Abel

Film
Lowering the Boom: Critical Studies in Film Sound
Jay Beck, Tony Grajeda

Foley
The Foley Grail
Vanessa Theme Ament