The Summer of Love is way behind us, as is the Second Summer of Love, & perhaps the Third and Fourth. The Summer of Technomusicology, however, will soon be here!
I’m thrilled to report that I’ll be offering my favorite class to teach in the world right now, as premiered last year at Harvard U, this July-August as an intensive 7-week course at the Harvard Summer School. If you’re planning to be in town and around, it should be a good chance to make some conceptually cogent, historically situated, and, we hope, aesthetically engaging media.
Here’s a taste of what we did last year. So if that whets the appetite, you can access the syllabus and look into registering via this page:
For your browsing ease, here’s the syllabus as it presently stands; please note that this is preliminary, and items may shift between now and the summer:
MUSI S-190r: Technomusicology
Instructor: Wayne Marshall
Course reference number: 33209
This course uses hands-on media production to examine the interplay between music and technology. Using audio production software, we will explore new techniques for telling stories about music and media by composing a series of études, or studies in particular media forms.
Readings, discussions, and projects focus on significant forms and their histories, including soundscapes, mashups, montages, DJ-style mixes, and radio sound design. Students will develop a fluency in the history of sound studies while cultivating competencies in audio and video editing, sampling and arranging, mixing and remixing, and, in framing their projects, descriptive and poetic forms of writing.
Class sessions comprise a mix between discussions of relevant readings and audio works, software demonstrations, and in-lab project-centered work. Readings and listening/viewing selections will be available via the course website or the WWW.
ASSIGNMENTS / GRADING
1) Attendance & class participation – 25%
2) Études (6 in all) – 60%
3) Final Project – 15%
In general, études should be between 2-5 minutes, and will be due, along with a brief prose gloss and/or other forms of annotation, on the Monday of the week after each has been assigned.
Week 1 /
Intro to Technomusicology, Sound Studies, & Soundscapes
Sterne, Jonathan. “Hello!” In The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction, 1-31. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003.
Suisman, David. “The Musical Soundscape of Modernity.” In Selling Sounds: The Commercial Revolution in American Music, 240-72. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.
Schafer, R. Murray. “The Music of the Environment.” In Audio Culture, ed. Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner, 29-39. New York and London: Continuum, 2004.
Gould, Glenn. “The Prospects of Recording.” In Audio Culture, ed. Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner, 115-26. New York and London: Continuum, 2004.
Feld, Steven. “A Rainforest Acoustemology.” In The Audio Culture Reader, ed. Michael Bull and Les Back, 223-240. Oxford and New York: Berg 2003.
_______. Rainforest Soundwalks (liner notes). EarthEar 1062. 2001.
Étude #1: Compose a soundscape collage from your own local recordings. Include brief description of subject, methods, and poetics.
Week 2 /
Histories & Aesthetics of Radio
Wu, Tim. “Radio Dreams.” In The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, 33-44. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.
Marshall, Wayne. “Love That Muddy Ether: Pirate Multiculturalism and Boston’s Secret Soundscape.” Cluster Mag. December 2011.
Étude #2: Compose a radio collage, focusing on a particular dimension/station/time of the Boston/Cambridge airwaves. Include brief description of subject and methods.
Week 3 /
Mashup Poetics & the Ethics/Aesthetics of Sampling
Sterne, Jonathan. “The MP3 as Cultural Artifact.” New Media & Society 8:5 (2006): 825–842.
Katz, Mark. “Listening in Cyberspace.” In Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music, 158-87. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
Marshall, Wayne. “Mashup Poetics as Pedagogical Practice.” In Pop-Culture Pedagogy in the Music Classroom: Teaching Tools from American Idol to YouTube, ed. Nicole Biamonte, 307-15. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2010.
McGranahan, Liam. “‘It Goes Beyond Having a Good Beat and I Can Dance to It’: Mashup Aesthetics and Creative Process.” In Mashnography: Creativity, Consumption, and Copyright in the Mashup Community, 35-70. Ph.D. dissertation, Brown University, 2010.
Schloss, Joseph G. “Elements of Style: Aesthetics of Hip-hop Composition.” In Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip-hop, 135-168. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2004.
Taylor, Timothy D. “A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery: Transnational Music Sampling and Enigma’s ‘Return to Innocence.’” In Music and Technoculture, ed. René Lysloff and Leslie C. Gay, 64-92. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003.
Étude #3: Make a mashup using 2 (or more) related recordings. Include notes discussing thematic and/or musical linkages (i.e., poetics).
Week 4 /
Video Montage in the Age of YouTube
Gillespie, Tarleton. “The Politics of ‘Platforms.’” New Media & Society 12:3 (May 2010): 347-364.
Marshall, Wayne. “The Montage Is the Method”
“Megamontage Is the Method”
“Bump Con Choque”
Étude #4: Create a video montage that illustrates a particular story of musical circulation and/or relationship.
Week 5 /
DJ-style Mixing & the Mini-Mega-Mix
Katz, Mark. “Mix and Scratch—The Turntable Becomes a Musical Instrument: 1975-1978.” In Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip-hop DJ, 43-69. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Fikentscher, Kai. “‘There’s Not a Problem I Can’t Fix, ‘Cause I Can Do It in the Mix’: On the Performative Technology of 12-Inch Vinyl.” In Music and Technoculture, ed. René Lysloff and Leslie C. Gay, 290-315. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003.
Étude #5: Produce a brief DJ-style mix guided by some logic of musical, cultural, and/or historical connection between the recordings involved. Make efforts to use blends, cuts, and other edits strategically. Include notes explaining aesthetic choices and narrative (i.e., poetics).
Week 6 /
APIs & Algorithmic Remixes
Seaver, Nick. “On Reverse Engineering: Looking for the cultural work of engineers.” Anthropology and Algorithms (Medium.com).
Lamere, Paul. “Where’s the Pow?” Music Machinery.
The Echo Nest Lab
Echo Nest Remix
Étude #6: Create a remix of a music video using commands and features made available by the Echo Nest’s API.
Week 7 /
Sound Design & Final Projects
Mitchell, Jonathan. “Using Music.” Transom.
Mitchell, Jonathan. “Sound Design from Hell.” Third Coast Library.
Rosenthal, Rob and Kathy Tu. “The Fighter Pilot.” How Sound.
Final project: Using the contemporary techniques of radio sound design, put together a brief tour of your études from the semester, highlighting whichever projects you choose and, when possible, making linkages to the readings and themes we’ve discussed.
Final Projects Due: August 8
Here are our collected works, in progress: