FRS 157: Techno Music, Old and New

FRS 157: Techno Music I: 100,000 BC to 1999

Perry Cook
Wednesday, 7:30 - 10:20
Wilson College Seminar Room B204

Course Description
Syllabus 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Syllabus As It Develops:

Course Description

This seminar will survey the influence that technology has had on music throughout history. It might seem at first glance that the invention of technologies such as the turntable, the guitar amplifier, or electronic (analog or digital) synthesizer have had the most profound effects on music and music making. But the use of a stone tool to chip a hole into a bone could have been an even more important event in the musical life of that ancient flute maker and others. The piano, the violin, percussion instruments, and even the voice have all felt the influence of technology in more or less influential ways. We will, of course, look at what the turntable, amplification, and computers have done to change music (and vice versa), but we will also look critically at other "technologies."

One example of this will be surveying the history of the violin and other bowed instruments. Initially the technology was that of the crafts of woodworking, making strings, making bows, etc. These are all still studied and argued about today. Amplification brought us new twists on the violin, but how new were they in actual use and practice? Were the "new" electric violin players mostly just frustrated electric guitarists? Digital sensor and synthesis technology has given us even more to deal with in the continuing evolution of the violin.

Even though the timeline officially cuts off at the year 1999, we will do some discussion on the present and future of music and technology. Those topics might include Napster, Web and Satellite Radio, PC-based retro synthesizer emulation programs, etc.

Readings and discussions will be the main focus of the course, but there will be some writing as well. Three papers, two short and one long, along with some concert reviews will be required.