Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session
This class examines the ways humans experience the realm of sound and how perceptions and technologies of sound emerge from cultural, economic, and historical worlds. In addition to learning about how environmental, linguistic, and musical sounds are construed cross-culturally, students learn about the rise of telephony, architectural acoustics, and sound recording, as well as about the globalized travel of these technologies. Questions of ownership, property, authorship, and copyright in the age of digital file sharing are also addressed. A major concern will be with how the sound/noise boundary has been imagined, created, and modeled across diverse sociocultural and scientific contexts. Auditory examples — sound art, environmental recordings, music — will be provided and invited throughout the term.
Attali, Jacques. Noise: The Political Economy of Music. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1985. ISBN: 9780816612871.
Bull, Michael, and Les Back, eds. The Auditory Culture Reader. Oxford, UK: Berg Publishers, 2004. ISBN: 9781859736180.
Students will write three 7-page papers, on the subjects of sound word, sound technology, and sonic communities. The sonic communities papers will also be presented in class on the last day. No emailed papers will be accepted. Papers are docked by a letter grade for each day they are late. Students will also be evaluated on class participation, including discussion and in-class writing exercises. Punctual attendance is obligatory. There will not be a final exam.
|Class participation: discussion and in-class writing||25%|
|LEC #||TOPICS||GUESTS||KEY DATES|
|2||Thinking about sound|
Soundwalk at MIT
|5||Voices||Sound word paper due|
Telephones and radio
Soundscapes, revisited through sound sculpture
|Beth Coleman, Comparative Media Studies, MIT|
|7||Phonograph and gramophone records, compact discs, MP3s||Kieran Downes, History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society, MIT|
|8||Sound, culture, property||Ian Condry, Foreign Languages and Literatures, MIT|
|9||A political economy of sound and noise||Andres Lombana, Comparative Media Studies, MIT|
|10||The sound of music||Peter Whincop, Music, Harvard University / Music and Theatre Arts, MIT||Sound technology paper due|
|12||Styles of silence|
|13||The sounds of science||Dale Joachim, Media Lab, MIT|
|14||Class presentations of sonic communities paper||Sonic communities paper due|