What you will study
The course is structured along key themes:
Week 1: What is a sound system?
You’ll be introduced to the subject of how sound can be amplified, and have the chance to explore the history of sound amplification. Understanding the basic building blocks of sound systems will help you navigate your way through the different narratives that unfold in the rest of the course.
Week 2: Jamaican roots
Nowhere in the world is more synonymous with the concept of the sound system than Jamaica. For many, Jamaica is the birthplace of the sound system as we know it today, and the impact of this small island on both amplified sound and the many different musical styles, genres and movements cannot be overestimated. You’ll learn how sound systems evolved in Jamaica, who some of the key players were, and how some of the many innovations sowed the seeds for cultural influence on a global scale.
Week 3: Rock concert sound
A story that runs in parallel with the development of the sound system in Jamaica is the amplification of popular music, and especially rock. This week you’ll learn about different approaches to amplifying live music from the mid-twentieth century to the present day.
Week 4: Sound systems in the UK
This week will focus on a series of UK-based case studies that explore some of the many fascinating ways in which sound systems have become woven into society. These studies will reveal a variety of approaches towards how a sound system is designed, who it is for, and where it is used, and enable you to consider ideas of place, events, tradition and cultural phenomena.
Week 5: Sound systems on display
Given that a sound system is usually physically large, it has a significant visual presence. You’ll look at specific examples of Jamaican, rock and EDM sound systems to see how they can communicate ideas of identity and musical style.
Week 6: Sound systems and politics
In the final week of the course, you’ll explore how sound systems have been used by political movements, learn how politics is defined in the context of sound systems, and follow this path into thinking about sound systems and the environment.
You will learn
By the end of this course, you should gain the following learning outcomes.
Knowledge and understanding
You should be able to:
- demonstrate an awareness of the development of sound amplification up to the present day
- recognise the cultural context and diversity of a variety of different sound systems
- demonstrate some understanding of the complex relationship between sound systems and different aspects of society.
You should gain an ability to:
- understand and use key concepts and theories when discussing sound systems
- use examples, illustrations and case studies when assessing an argument
- reflect on your standpoint and the standpoint of others with respect to the content discussed in the course.
You should gain an ability to:
- effectively communicate information accurately and appropriately to the subject, purpose and context
- communicate with and learn from others in an online environment
- use feedback from peers and self-reflection to improve your own learning.
Practical and professional skills
You should develop:
- an ability to plan, study and manage a sequence of work that meets a deadline
- an understanding of future study opportunities.
This course helps you to develop transferrable skills including communicating clearly through writing, self-reflection, time management and engaging in discussion forums.
Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a Study Adviser, who will respond to you directly. Other support is available via the course forum, StudentHome website and computing helpdesk.
If you have a disability
The course is delivered online/onscreen and the material is visually rich, using video and audio. Descriptions of visual elements (including transcripts) will be provided where appropriate. There are no alternatives that fully replace aural experience. However, relevant details about musical materials will generally be described wherever possible as part of the activity discussions. Students with hearing or visual impairment may find an external study helper useful in order to achieve some learning outcomes.