What you will study
This six-week course is structured around the following key themes:
Week 1: Beep: the beginnings of computer audio and computer music
You’ll be introduced to some of the first computers to make sound and examine how these were then used to make music. Though originally used to perform complex scientific calculations, experiments with computer-generated sounds in the mid-twentieth century demonstrated that they could also be used in creative, artistic settings.
Week 2: Beep again: computers outside the laboratory
Outside of research laboratories, computers have revolutionised the way sound is present in our daily lives. Thinking about the world around us, you’ll learn just how many computing devices make sound, such as pocket calculators, video games consoles and mobile phones. Some of these have even initiated new musical genres and musicians have explored new ways of performing music with computers.
Week 3: Coding sound: audio programming languages
Since the early days of computer audio, computer programming languages have been developed and used for making sound and music. You’ll be introduced to a range of audio programming languages, as well as learning to code audio yourself using the Processing programming environment.
Week 4: Creative machines: algorithms and generative processes
You’ll look at the ways in which computers have been used to aid the compositional process of music, introducing examples that demonstrate a range of approaches and outcomes. You’ll build on your existing experience of coding audio in Processing by programming your own musical composition.
Week 5: Synthesisers, samplers and sequencers: new sounds and structuring musical ideas
This week will focus on synthesisers, samplers and sequencers: devices developed for musicians to create sound as well as structure and control musical ideas. You’ll see the impact that these digital devices have had on the way that music is made, and see how the development of the digital audio workstation now allows musicians to synthesise, sample and sequence sound all on a single computer.
Week 6: Computer audio everywhere and for everyone
The course concludes with a look at how developments in computer audio have reached new audiences and practitioners, how they have been given access to new music opportunities, and how this has transformed musical practice and the use of sound in our day-to-day lives. You’ll explore two key ideas – access and impact – thinking about how easy it is or is not for people to access computer audio and music, and about the consequences that this has had.
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 computer audio and music practices up to the present day
- recognise the impact that computers have had on audio and music practice.
You should gain an ability to:
- understand and use key concepts and terminology relating to the study of computer audio and computer music
- refine your critical listening skills, enabling you to analyse different elements of musical examples
- reflect on the content discussed in the short course and be able to place it in a wider context.
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 and self-reflection to develop and direct your learning.
Practical and professional skills
You should develop an:
- ability to plan, study and manage a schedule of work that meets a deadline
- 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 Advisor, 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.