STS 288 - Machines and Musicians: A Technocultural History from Metronomes to Moby
Semester Offered: Spring
(Same as MUSI 288 ) This course explores the often-unacknowledged connections between novel acoustic technologies and vital compositional practices. Through weekly lectures, assignments, and discussions, students consider the ways in which machines have helped to influence certain musical trends from the classical, Romantic, and contemporary eras.
Some featured clockwork and electronic technologies include Winkel’s Componium, Maelzel’s Panharmonicon, the Welte-Mignon player piano, Cahill’s Telharmonium, the Theremin, and the Moog synthesizer. This technocultural survey similarly presents a gamut of musical repertoires: from Haydn’s musical-clock suites to Antheil’s Ballet mécanique; Miles Davis’ synthesized jazz albums to Todd Machover’s recent robotic opera, Death and the Powers; and more.
In a final project devoted to modern-age sound production, students examine compositions and texts by Schaeffer, Stockhausen, Xenakis, Reich, and Roads. Grading is determined through class participation, a midterm test, a research and analysis project, as well as a listening quiz.
Prerequisite(s): One unit in one of the following: Music, Science, Technology, and Society; Sociology; or permission of the instructor.
Two 75-minute periods.
Course Format: CLS
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