Professor: Eli Stine
Office Location: Bibbins Hall Basement – TIMARA Studio 007
Office Hours: Wednesday 11AM-12PM, Thursday 12:15-1:15PM, and by appointment
TAs: Max Addae, Rachel Gibson
Contacts: Maxwell.Addae@oberlin.edu, Rachel.Gibson@oberlin.edu
TA Office Hours: Max: Wednesday 7-8PM, Sunday 3-4PM; Rachel: Thursday 6-8PM, Saturday 1-2PM
MEETING TIME AND LOCATION
Class Meeting Times: Tuesday and Thursday 1:30PM – 2:45PM
Class Location: Bibbins Hall 224
TECH 101 is an introduction to the creation, technique, analysis, and history of electroacoustic music. This course takes a practice-based approach to learning electroacoustic music, with students applying the concepts and technologies taught in the course (acoustics, microphones, digital audio editing, mixing, synthesizers, virtual instruments, and more) to the composition of their own electroacoustic music. In addition, this course explores a substantial repertoire of electroacoustic music, from a wide range of styles and practices including experimental electronic music, EDM, ambient music, sound art, and beyond. This repertoire functions as a focal point for discussion and the development of listening and analysis skills. No previous experience with electroacoustic music is required, and all technological and artistic practices are welcome.
This course builds skills in at least three areas: the artistic (or compositional), the technical (or technological), and the analytical (or investigative). Each of these is intimately intertwined and—ideally—inseparable. Upon completion of this course you will have done the following:
Composed original electronic music using a computer
Built a portfolio of original compositions
Practiced presenting your work to peers
Understood the technical processes behind electronic music
Developed the ability to record, edit, process, and mix electronic sound
Gained proficiency with several digital audio software environments
Coherently analyzed and discussed the aesthetics of electronic music
Gained knowledge of (electronic) music theory, history, and repertoire
Reflected on how electronic music practices engage with societies, cultural practices, and communities at large
COURSE MATERIALS + TOOLS
There is no textbook for this course. Readings, listening, and viewings will be distributed as PDFs, MP3 files, and Vimeo/YouTube links via this website (see Schedule). We will primarily use the following softwares:
Free | All Operating Systems | Single Track Audio Editor
Free 60 Days, $60 after | All Operating Systems | Digital Audio Workstation
Having accessibility to the above softwares is required. This means that they are either downloaded and accessible on your personal computer OR that you access them through a computer in the TIMARA studios.
In addition to having software access, the following tools are also required:
Personal headphones that may be plugged into your computer. (If you’d like a headphone recommendation, let me know your budget and I’ll give you a list of my favorites!)
An external hard drive and/or access to a cloud-based storage account with sufficient storage to back up your projects (such as Oberlin’s free Box account: oberlin.edu/cit/box). Audio files are large (and projects using them can get very big!) so at least 30GB of space is recommended.
(Save early and often, and consider backing up in at least two locations (on your computer, your external hard drive, AND on Dropbox, for example). Loss of data (AKA “the digital dog ate my homework”) is NOT an acceptable excuse for a late assignment.)
ASSIGNMENTS + ASSESSMENT CRITERIA
The grading for this course is based on five different types of engagement/projects:
Class Participation and Peer Feedback (15%)
Class Participation consists of attendance and the quality with which you engage in class exercises and discussions.
Timely class attendance is mandatory. Repeat lateness—two tardies—will be counted as an absence. Two or more unexcused absences will result in a letter grade deduction. Absences will be excused if, and only if, they are officially recognized by Oberlin College (medical absences, religious holidays, etc.). If you are absent, you are responsible for obtaining assignments, handouts, notes, etc. for missed classes, and for turning in all assignments in a timely fashion.
Maintaining active engagement with the class materials is absolutely necessary in order to do well on class assignments. Participation includes engaging with the assigned reading and listening, being attentive and sharing during discussions, and focusing during in-class labs.
As a supplement to course materials, one of the best ways to learn electronic music composition, and grow as an artist in general, is to practice both presenting your work to a group of peers and also giving feedback to peers on their own creative work. When giving feedback to peers first listen intently to their work and any comments they make to contextualize it, and then provide productive feedback. For more thoughts on this see the “Classroom Rules,” below.
Taking Class Participation and Peer Feedback together, the following rubric delineates grades and the corresponding behavior taken to receive them:
Excellent (A). You enthusiastically, voluntarily, and discriminately contribute to class exercises with thoughtful comments and questions, arrive fully prepared for every class, respectfully interact with peers, demonstrate leadership in group activities, and show steady improvement with each assignment.
Good (B). You are focused, and engaged, arrive prepared for class, occasionally contribute to class exercises, work cooperatively in group activities, and show some improvement with each assignment.
Fair (C). You are present but unengaged, rarely contribute to class exercises, arrive poorly prepared for class, are passively involved in group activities, show general reluctance to participate, and show little improvement with each assignment.
Poor (D/F). You are absent, and doze/zone out, work on homework for other classes, send text messages or browse the internet in class, arrive unprepared and do not turn in assignments, do not participate in group activities and are disruptive to the class, and show little improvement with each assignment.
There are several types of projects in this course, ranging from listening homework, compositions, and a written concert review. Each of these is graded differently using a rubric which clearly delineates how each assignment is graded, which will be distributed when each assignment is handed out.
To assist with learning electronic music repertoire, this course has several required listening and analysis assignments. Pieces will be available on the course website, and analyses will ask you to connect the pieces to topics discussed in class as well as your own individual perceptions, to build your ear for electronic music.
Creative compositions should be submitted to Blackboard with the following content:
An MP3 file labelled with the specified filename
Screen shot(s) of your software session
Supplementary text (when required)
Special Note: Assessing Creative Projects
The grading of creative projects can be difficult, as unlike more quantitatively objective assignments (such as an assessment of how well one can memorize material) there is more potential for subjective grading practices. In addition, compositions can be personal, intimate creations. To this end, rubrics were carefully crafted to emphasize, first, the assessment of technical proficiency (effectively using the techniques described in the assignment, avoiding technical errors), second, the meeting of requirements specified for the project (duration, materials used), and third, creative expression (does the piece demonstrate creative growth and exploration? Is it musically coherent?). Do not hesitate to speak to me if you have questions about the assessment of creative projects.
As part of this course, you are required to attend and write a brief review of one concert that features electronic music. As a starting point, you can find a listing of TIMARA-related concerts here: http://www.timara.oberlin.edu/concerts.shtml.
In-Class Labs (20%)
In addition to assignments to be completed outside of class, this course will have several in-class labs, where you will be expected to complete an assignment using software and electronic music techniques during the class period. The grading for these labs is weighted towards experimental play and creativity.
During the course of the semester there will be two quizzes. These quizzes test your knowledge of electronic music techniques (but not in an overly technical manner!), compositional strategies, and the history of electronic music. These quizzes supplement creative and in-class engagement with materials. Note the low percentage: the quizzes are designed such that they can boost the grades of people who are more “quiz-minded” but won’t significantly damage the grades of those who are not the best at quiz-taking.
Final Project (20%)
The culmination of this course is a final project, which will be presented in class as fixed media or performance and a brief presentation. In addition, given your permission, final projects will be documented and put online, functioning as a repository of all that was accomplished during this course.
Arrive on time to class and do not leave early (unless a specific exemption is made with me beforehand).
Lectures are laptop free (except during in-class composition assignments) and phone-free (at all times). Take notes using paper + pen/pencil.
Do not work on assignments for other classes during our class time.
During many class sessions, compositions will be presented and discussed. Please be courteous, respectful, and supportive of one another: each person in the course is coming from a different background and has different strengths. Disrespectful, disruptive behavior, or inattention during these time periods will be reflected in your class participation and peer feedback grades.
CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT + GENDER PRONOUNS
At all times during this course, the classroom, professor’s office, and TA’s space will be locales where you will be welcomed and treated with dignity and respect. People of all ages, backgrounds, beliefs, ethnicities, genders, gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations, national origins, religious affiliations, abilities, and other visible and nonvisible differences are welcome. All members of this course are expected to behave in a manner that nurtures this environment. The course roster includes student’s full legal names; please let me know your preferred name and/or gender pronouns early in the semester.
INDIVIDUALIZED LEARNING NEEDS
The College makes reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. Students should notify the Office of Disability Services located in Peters G-27/G- 28 and the instructor of this course of any disability related needs. For more information, see http://new.oberlin.edu/office/disability-services/index.dot.
If you are eligible for and need academic adjustments or accommodations because of a disability (including non-visible disabilities such as chronic diseases, learning disabilities, head injury, attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, or psychiatric disabilities) please speak with me early in the semester.
OBERLIN HONOR CODE
Students are expected to adhere to the Oberlin College Honor Code. Any violations will be reported to the Honor Code Committee.
Examples of actions taken in this course that follow the OC Honor Code:
A classmate asks you which effect was discussed in class and you tell them and briefly demonstrate how to use it.
You listen to a classmate’s work and suggest certain techniques they could use or artistic changes they could make.
You and another student in the class make recordings (instruments, found sounds, etc.), and each use them individually in your projects, crediting each other as co-recorders.
Examples of actions taken in this course that DO NOT follow the OC Honor Code:
A creative composition assignment is due tonight but you don’t have much time to complete it. You ask a friend in the course to send you their composition, which you then re-arrange (so as to not be too close to the other student’s assignment) and turn it in as your own work.
You download a set of loops from a website and cut and paste and arrange them and turn this in as your own work, without crediting your sources.
If you have any questions about what is permitted and what is not, please feel free to ask your TA or myself.
For every assignment, students must indicate whether they followed the Honor Code in completing the assignment. If so, students should end each assignment by writing and signing:
I have adhered to the Honor Code in this assignment.