ARTS 2020: Music and Technology I

Arts Department, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Monday/Thursday, 10:00-11:50pm, West Hall 118

Instructor: Rob Hamilton, West Hall 114

Office Hours: Wednesdays 12:00 - 2:00, West Hall 114

e: hamilr4 [at] rpi [dot] edu

w: http://homepages.rpi.edu/~hamilr4/arts2020

lms: 1509_Computer Music [1509_ARTS_2020_01]

COURSE SYLLABUS - Fall, 2019

PREREQUISITE

None

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is an introduction to music and sound-art created through the use of computers and electronics. This is a studio course, and students will be expected to participate creatively in class by listening, taking an active role in discussions, and making your own work through significant, intelligent uses of technology. Although a component of this class includes learning how to use computers and other technological tools, this is not a "how-to-use technology" course. We will focus primarily on learning enough about technology to realize personal creative projects.

CATALOG DESCRIPTION

Music composition taught in the context of modern computerized production methods. Technical topics include basic principles of computer sound generation, digital sound sampling, and the use of small computers for musical control of electronic instruments. Musical topics include a study of important musical works and compositional techniques of the 20th and 21st centuries. Student projects involve hands-on work on a variety of computer instruments and software. This course is a prerequisite for further creative work with Rensselaer's computer music facilities.

LEARNING OUTCOMES

    Students who successfully complete this course will demonstrate...
  1. an understanding and appreciation of computer music through an awareness of the many disciplines underlying the field including: listening skills, musical theory, musical acoustics, psycho-acoustics, software design and programming, digital audio theory, and digital signal processing.
  2. basic technical facility in the areas of audio recording, editing, sound synthesis, software development and post production.
  3. creativity and resourcefulness through the creation and composition of your own sonic projects

EVALUATION

Evaluation is based on the following:

CLASS PARTICIPATION

You will be required to present all of your musical assignments to the class, to show your work within the software environment you used to create it, and to engage the class in discussion of your work. When you are not presenting your own work, you need to be attentive to whoever is presenting, and to engage them in discussion of their work. Failure to participate in class will lower your grade.

ATTENDANCE

You must attend class to succeed in this course.

  1. Since much of the class is focused on listening to and discussing work in class, attendance is mandatory.
  2. ** More then two unexcused absences will affect your grade, detracting 1/2 grade each additional 2 unexcused absences. **
  3. Absences can only be excused by a letter from a medical doctor or from the Dean of Students' office.
  4. Late arrivals are very disruptive - continued late arrival will affect your grade.
  5. It should go without saying but no use of mobile devices or personal computers during class time (except for as required by the coursework itself) is acceptable. Continued violations will be treated as an unexcused absence.

STUDIO RESOURCES

Throughout this course, you will make use of the resources in the Undergraduate Computer Music Studio (WH118). Students enrolled in the course will have access to the studio 24 hours a day, and should expect to spend several hours working in the studio each week. You will also have access to recording equipment in the equipment room, which you will be checking out from time to time in order to make field recordings.

When appropriate for an assignment, or to explore sound in general, we encourage the use of your own computer, electronic instruments, etc. Often times, smaller components of a large project can be done on your laptop or home studio facilities and then brought into the main studio to be mixed and mastered.

STATEMENT REGARDING ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

Collaboration between students in this course is strongly encouraged. Likewise, students are encouraged—indeed, to some extent required—to exchange ideas, opinions and information . You are also encouraged to help each other in the lab and with performance, production, and presentation of composition projects.

Plagiarism of any kind is in direct violation of University policy on Academic Dishonesty asdefined in the Rensselaer Handbook, and penalties for plagiarism can be severe. In this class you will be expected to attribute due credit to the originator of any ideas, words, sounds, or music which you incorporate substantially into your own work. This applies particularly to citation of sources for sonic "samples" included in your compositions.

Submission of any assignment that is in violation of this policy may result in a grade of F for the assignment in question. Violation of this policy will be reported, as defined in the Rensselaer Handbook

DISABILITY SERVICES FOR STUDENTS

Students requiring assistance are encouraged to contact Disability Services: http://doso.rpi.edu/dss to discuss any special accommodations or needs for this course.

COURSE SCHEDULE:

The proposed course topics and schedule will be as follows (take note of project due dates!). Based on class progress and interests, this schedule is subject to change. Special topics, guest lectures, supplemental reading, listening and additional assignments to be announced.

Week 1:
Thursday, 8/29
Iannis Xenakis - Concret PH (1958) [link]

Gyorgy Ligeti - Artikulation (1958)

Charles Dodge - Speech Songs (1973) Any Resemblance is Purely Coincidental on Naxos Music Library (NOTE: you need to be either on campus networks or logged in via VPN. Lo-fi backup available @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UjhJfnJi_Y) [link]

T-Pain/The Lonely Island - I'm On A Boat (2009)

Holly Herndon - Eternal (2019)

Conlon Nancarrow - Player Piano Study No.40a "Transcendental"

Jean Claude Risset - Duet for One Pianist Chrysi Nanou (piano) [link]

Homework:
    Home Reading: The Digital Computer as a Musical Instrument by Max Mathews, off-campus link
    Home Listening: Presque Rien no. 1 (parts I, II and III) by Luc Ferrari - http://rpi.naxosmusiclibrary.com/catalogue/item.asp?cid=INAG6017-26
Week 2:
Tuesday, 9/3
Introduction: What is Computer Music? The History of Computers, Sound and Music
"Voices" of Computer Music: from The Voder, to HAL to I Am T-Pain
The Digital Computer as a Musical Instrument by Max Mathews, off-campus link

Introduction to Chuck, Audacity

History of the development of UNIX and Bell Labs: Ars Technica link


Thursday, 9/5
Composing with Sound: Musique Concrete, Soundscapes and fixed media.
    Listening: Presque Rien no. 1 (parts I, II and III) by Luc Ferrari - http://rpi.naxosmusiclibrary.com/catalogue/item.asp?cid=INAG6017-26

Listening (class): Etude aux chemins de fer by Pierre Schaeffer

Listening (class): Pre-Composition by Mark Applebaum
Representing Sound and Music: Time and Frequency, Analog-to-digital representations

Pure Data: Introduction to PD (hands-on):

Pure Data Tutorial Patches: pd_lab.zip
Ultra-mega-ok-pd-tutorial-patch: pd_tutorial.zip

Homework:
    READING (Assigned): Recording in the Field by Aaron Ximm
    READING (Assigned): How Microphones Work
Week 3:
Monday, 9/9
Cory Ryan: Split Tree [Wintergarden] for saxophone orchestra and fixed media

READING: Recording in the Field by Aaron Ximm
READING: How Microphones Work

Field Recording Exercise - Record the following:

  • one sound "from Nature"
  • one sound that is inherenty "man-made"
  • one sound that is short
  • one sound that is long
  • one sound that is loud
  • one sound that is quiet

In-class Recordings:

  • Copy all files to your laptop
  • Create a simple text file with a short description of each file (e.g. “1.wav = Sound of a duck near Sage Labs”)
  • Put your names on the doc.
  • Upload files and doc to a Share drive (e.g. Google Drive, Box, etc)
  • Send me a link to download your stuff (hamilr4@rpi.edu)
  • Delete all files from the recorder.
Homework:
    Homework (Listening): Hildegard Westerkamp, Talking Rain
    Homework (Assigned): Upload your files to a shared directory (Google Drive, Box, RPI Share) along with a text file describing and naming each file. Send me and your team a link.

Thursday, 9/12
Download Recordings: History of recording technologies, basics of audio formats, compression, loudness, John Mayer
Lecture slides: .pdf
Microphones 101: How Microphones Work
Working with Microphones in the Studio, AVID I/O
* condensor vs dynamic microphones
* Compression, Limiting
Audacity: Basic Features and Editing overview

Pro Tools: Getting started, basic editing and features.

Effects/Processing in Audacity and Pro-Tools
Exporting projects, file formats

Homework:
    Homework (Reading): Hildegard Westerkamp "Linking Soundscape Composition and Acoustic Ecology"

    Assignment #1 (Project): Found-sound Sketch/Radio Play w/visual score/photos (Due 9/25)
Week 4:
Monday, 9/16
Amanda Palmer's 'Idioteque
Paul Lanksy Night Traffic, Mild und Leise
Radiohead's
Idioteque (video), Lansky sample
Compare the two...
Piano Chords: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-R3ZzD4thM

Trent Reznor / Nine Inch Nails remix files: Download...

Introduction to Pro Tools: Getting started, basic editing, make some noise.
READING: Intro to Pro Tools 11: pp. 1-37

Thursday, 9/19
Visual Score for Soundscapes example: https://ccrma.stanford.edu/~sylin/coexistence.html

HASS Network Share Drives:

Apple Users: cifs://hass11.win.rpi.edu/classes
Windows Users: \\hass11.win.rpi.edu\classes, Map a network drive instructions, prefix your RCS ID at login with "WIN\"

MIDI: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Player Pianos: Westworld and beyond

Black MIDI
Conlon Nancarrow: Study for Player Piano No. 37, Graphic version, analysis
Pure Data: Introduction to PD (hands-on with MIDI): [notein], [noteout], [midiin] - break the piano
Week 5:
Week 6:
Monday, 9/30
Homework #1 Class Presentations Continued...
Week 7:
Monday, 10/7
Audio Sampling in PD: Audio buffers, recording, playback, looping (loop~)
Pure Data Tutorial Patches: pd_lab.zip
Mouse input: cyclone/mousestate (install via package-manager or https://github.com/porres/pd-cyclone)
Installing externals: link

PD analysis: fiddle~/sigmund~, bonk~
Week 8:
Monday, 10/14
NO CLASS - COLUMBUS DAY
Week 9:
Monday, 10/21
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE DOWNLOADED AND RUN PD ON YOUR COMPUTER!!!!!!!!!!!
Bring in examples of code you're working on/have discovered online
Homework #2 will be due on 28th
Week 10:
Monday, 10/28

Assignment #2:Composition/Instrument/Performance Environment (Due 10/28)

In Pure Data, build an interactive composition or instrument that you will play, present or perform in class.

To complete this assignment please do the following:

  1. Create a composition in Pure Data using synthesis techniques, interactive controls, sequencing, sample-playback and/or any other aspects of the language that speak to you. This composiiton should be at least 2 minutes in length. You can perform the work live in class or record a performance as your submission. NOTE: if you record a submission, be prepared to demo your code live in class.
  2. Using the tutorial patches we looked at in class or your own creations, put together your own system that lets you create music and/or sound in real-time.
  3. Your patch should let you do things like trigger notes on and off, control the volume of your instruments, and let you change additional parameters during a performance with your class-mates - the more interactive, the better!

Your submission for the assignment will consist of the following files to be uploaded to your folder on the class share drive (\\hass11.win.rpi.edu\classes\ARTS-2020\), into a folder named "Assignment 2":

  1. Your PD patches plus any samples or required files to perform your composition.
  2. (if you're submitting a recording): A Stereo Mix of your sketch (44.1 or 48 kHz, 16 or 24 bit) uploaded to the class share.
  3. A brief program-note for your sketch, including a title and description of your work (suitable for a concert's program).

Week 11:
Monday, 11/4
Appolonian Gasket by Ignacio Pecino: video, Singularity by Ignacio Pecino: video, demo (Firefox, Safari)
More ChucK: basic synthesis, time => now, control structures
Week 12:
Monday, 11/11
SlorK Medly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmXSdOilSQQ
Open Sound Control Networking in Chuck Assignment #3: CHUCK Composition/Instrument/Performance Environment (Due 11/18)

In ChucK, build an interactive system, composition or instrument that you will play, present or perform in class.

To complete this assignment please do the following:

  1. Create a composition in ChucK using synthesis techniques, interactive controls, sequencing, sample-playback, STK instruments and/or any other aspects of the language that speak to you. This composiiton should be at least 3 minutes in length. You can perform the work live in class or record a performance as your submission. NOTE: if you record a submission, be prepared to demo your code live in class.
  2. Using the tutorial patches we looked at in class or your own creations, put together your own system that lets you create music and/or sound in real-time.
  3. Your project should let you do things like trigger notes on and off, control the volume of your instruments, and let you change additional parameters during a performance with your class-mates - the more interactive, the better!

Your submission for the assignment will consist of the following files to be uploaded to your folder on the class share drive (\\hass11.win.rpi.edu\classes\ARTS-2020\), into a folder named "Assignment 3":

  1. Your ChucK scripts plus any samples or required files to perform your composition.
  2. (if you're submitting a recording): A Stereo Mix of your sketch (44.1 or 48 kHz, 16 or 24 bit) uploaded to the class share.
  3. A brief program-note for your sketch, including a title and description of your work (suitable for a concert's program).

Week 13:
Monday, 11/18
Chuck Project Due
Week 14:
Monday, 11/25
Final Project Proposals Due: Submit a written 1-page description of your proposed final project for this class. Your project may encompass any or all of the three primary compositional/music/sonic techniques and technologies we have investigated during the course of this class including fixed media composition with Audacity or Pro Tools, workflow interactive programming systems with Pure Data, and text-based programming with ChucK. Your proposal should be clear, concise and well written (typed) and should include both creative ideas and descriptions alongside technical tools and concepts.
Week 15:
Monday, 12/2
Final Project Work
Week 16:
Monday, 12/9
LAST CLASS