Summer 2012 - Graduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
It was Spring in Paris in 1860 when the inventor of the phonautograph, Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville, a typesetter, used voice, a cone, and a stylus to etch indentations on a sheet of paper covered with a smoky carbon residue. Scott's idea was to record the human voice graphically so that its patterns could be observed and, to some extent, deciphered, and it was never made with the intent of play-back. In 2008 those recordings were discovered in a Paris vault, and, with the help of computer technology, those etchings were translated into sound, only to reveal "Au clair de la lune, Pierrot repondit," the famous French folk song still sung by children today. It would be seventeen years later that Thomas Edison would patent his wax cylinder recording device and several decades before disc records were introduced. The quest for fidelity in recording went through many technological changes over the past 150 years including magnetic reel-to-reel tape, cassettes, eight-tracks, DATs, compact discs, MP3s, and current emerging technologies.
This course will focus on the cultural history of recorded music with an emphasis on the relationships that formed between the creative process in music and the technological advances that shaped, augmented, and, at times, limited this process. Theory of sound recording and the aesthetic decisions made in the studio, such as recording techniques, production, fidelity, duplication, as well as copyright issues, will also be included in this conversation. Special attention will be paid to the music of the Harlem Renaissance, much of whose history paralleled that of the recording industry. In addition to readings from the texts and other sources, landmark recordings will be studied in detail. Other topics will include music in game design, music for multimedia, utilizing public sources, and composing music for digital media.
Sound Recording: The Life Story of a Technology, David L. Morton
# Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (April 20, 2006)
# ISBN-10: 0801883989
# ISBN-13: 978-0801883989
Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music, Revised Edition
University of California Press; 1 edition (October 7, 2010)
The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction
Duke University Press Books (March 13, 2003)
The Recording Angel: Music, Records and Culture from Aristotle to Zappa, Second Edition
Yale University Press; 2 edition (June 10, 2005)
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Audacity, a free, open source recording and music editing program, will be used. Students, although not expected to be experts, should be somewhat familiar with this program in advance of the first class. http://audacity.sourceforge.net/