Syllabus

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

Lecturer: Stephanie Sherriff
Email: sherriff@stanford.edu

TA: Raul Altosaar
Email: altosaar@stanford.edu

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  
Introduction to Creating Electronic Sounds is a beginner level course that is designed to enable students from a wide variety of backgrounds in the exploration of creative studies in electronic sound. The course will survey some of the basic concepts and techniques used to produce electronic music, while examining historical, social, and technological occurrences as they relate to the production of electronic sound beginning in the late 19th century. Weekly reading, listening, and media assignments will act as a catalyst for group discussion and the critical analysis of theoretical and conceptual approaches to composition using electronically-based audio. Throughout the quarter students will build upon the practical and conceptual skills necessary to evaluate and produce a portfolio of audio-based works. Creative assignments will be produced outside of class time and will in run parallel to historical and theoretical group discussions. 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.


EQUIPMENT:

  • Laptop/Desktop Computer:
    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.
  • Software:   
    Students may use any Digital Audio Workstation software for creative projects. Please see the Resources page in Canvas or Slack for tutorials and software downloads.Remote login to cluster computer software is available for remote use at Cluster Computer Checkout. Stanford affiliates can remotely log in to a cluster computer with their Stanford account from a personal computer. The cluster checkout program is a free service open to Stanford affiliates.

    For more details, please visit: https://thehub.stanford.edu/services/available-software

  • Headphones:
    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. In addition to producing audio, students will create album artwork and write a short statement (100-150 words) about their overall process and/or concept. All students are expected attend a final review meeting during Week 10.


GRADING:
Participation: 50%

  • Class Discussion – 15%
  • Slack Discussion – 20%
  • Feedback Groups – 15%

Creative Projects: 50%

  • Exquisite Corpse Audio Experiment
  • Sonic Terrain
  • Voice
  • Samples, Sampling, Samples
  • Dealer’s Choice

PARTICIPATION:

  • Reading, Listening, and Media:
    Reading, listening, and media assignments expose students to a wide-range of electronic audio-related concepts and methods for making sound-based work. These assignments are required. All materials for each assignment should be analyzed outside of class time by its due date in Canvas.
  • Slack:
    In addition to group discussion during class time, students are expected to participate in asynchronous online discussion in Slack. Online discussion for each assignment will be open until each Friday weekly. No credit will be given for late submissions unless other arrangements have been made.https://uit.stanford.edu/service/slack
  • Feedback Groups:
    During Week 3 students will be organized into small feedback groups meant to serve as a platform for exchanging ideas, feedback, and production techniques. Each feedback group is expected to meet bimonthly for a minimum of 30 minutes outside of regular class time to discuss creative projects and works in progress. Groups that meet for 1 hour or more per meeting will receive 1 point of extra credit toward their final grade.
  • 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.


CREATIVE PROJECTS:
Creative projects are designed to engage students in a series of electronic sound composition exercises that parallel literary and media-based course materials. For each creative assignment students are encouraged to explore their own creative voice through music composition and sound design while practicing and developing technical skills through practical application. Students are encouraged to integrate their own life experiences, imaginations and musical preferences into the work they create.

  • 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. 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 2-3-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: Samples, Sampling, Samples
    Choose an audio composition that samples at least one preexisting recording. Find the sample’s original source. Create a new 2-3-minute audio piece using samples from your sources.
  • Project 05: Dealer’s Choice
    Reflect on the content of this course and create 4-6-minute audio work of your choice.

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.

Late Submissions:
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.

STATEMENT OF DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
MUSIC 101 serves students from all backgrounds and academic disciplines. The diverse perspectives students bring to the class is a tremendous asset to MUSIC 101’s intellectual and creative community. It is imperative that there be an atmosphere of trust in the classroom, and it is our priority to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment where all student contributions are valued. If there are any factors that interfere with your ability to participate in the class and complete assignments, please inform us as soon as possible so that we can find ways to support you in any challenges that may arise.

Furthermore, it is my intent to cultivate discussions and present materials that are respectful of gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and culture. Some of the course material may evoke strong emotions. Please be respectful of others’ emotions and be mindful of your own. Should you feel offended or troubled by something you have seen or heard in class, please do your best to voice your concerns within the classroom dialogue. If you feel that you cannot voice your opinion to the group, please communicate privately with the TA and/or the instructor, so that we can address any issues that come up. If for any reason you do not feel comfortable discussing the issue directly with me, I encourage you to seek out another, more comfortable avenue such as your academic advisor or a trusted faculty member that can notify me anonymously on your behalf.

The impact of personal experience throughout the course is not to be ignored and is something that I consider to be very important and deserving of attention. Suggestions on ways to improve the effectiveness of the course for you personally or for other students or student groups is highly encouraged and appreciated. Course-related feedback can be given at any point during the quarter and/or at the end of the quarter in a more general, anonymous GoogleForm that will be distributed during week 9.

STUDENTS WITH DOCUMENTED DISABILITIES:
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)
http://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/oae/students