Readings and Listening

Course bibliography (PDF)

Reading and Listening Assignments

These citation abbreviations are used in the table.


  • [Braun] = Braun, H. Music and Technology in the Twentieth Century. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780801868856.
  • [Collins] = Collins, N. Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2009. ISBN: 9780415998734.
  • [Holmes] = Holmes, T. Electronic and Experimental Music. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Routledge, 2008. ISBN: 9780415957823. [Preview in Google Books]


  • [OHM] = OHM: The Early Gurus of Electronic Music, 1948-1980. Ellipsis Arts 3CD+DVD, 2005 (reissue).

Part I. Foundations
1 Music and music technology  

Kid Koala. “Like Irregular Chickens.” Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Ninja Tune, 2000.

Oswald, John. “Dab.” Plunderphonics 69/96. Seeland/Fony, 1989.

Cage, John. “Sonata V.” Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano (1946-48). Boris Berman, piano. Naxos, 1999.

Aphex Twin. “Cock/Verlo.” drukqs. Rhino, 2001.

2 The science and visualization of sound

[Holmes]. “Principles of Analog Synthesis and Voltage Control,” pp. 173-206.

Sousa, J. P. “The Menace of Mechanical Music.” 1906. (PDF)

Young, La Monte. Excerpts from “31 | 69 c. 12:17:33-12:25:33 PM NYC” & “31 | 69 C. 12:17:33-12:24:33 PM NYC.” On [OHM].

Nine Inch Nails. “The Warning.” Year Zero. Interscope, 2007.

Aphex Twin. “Ventolin.” I Care Because You Do. Rhino, 1995.

Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto. “Noon.” Vrioon. Raster-Noton, 2002.

Part II. Recording
3 The history of analog audio

[Collins]. “Tape Heads,” pp. 58-63.

In [Braun]:
- Katz, Mark. “Aesthetics out of Exigency: Violin Vibrato and the Phonograph,” pp. 174-185.
- Magoun, Alexander B. “The Origins of the 45-RPM Record,” pp. 148-157.
- Millard, Andre. “Tape Recording and Music Making,” pp. 158-167.

1860 phonautograms by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, restored by “Au Clair de la Lune.”

Edison, Thomas A. “Around the World on the Phonograph,” 1888.
Internet Archive (MP3 - 2.12MB)
iTunesU (MP3 - 2.12MB)

Paul, Les. “Lover (When You’re Near Me),” 1948.

4 Microphones and Radio

In [Collins], pp. 11-26:
- “Circuit Sniffing: Eavesdropping on Hidden Magnetic Music.”
- “In/Out: Speaker as Microphone, Microphone as Speaker.”
- “The Celebrated Jumping Speaker of Bowers County: Twitching Speakers with Batteries.”

Horning, S. S. “Engineering the Performance: Recording Engineers, Tacit Knowledge and the Art of Controlling Sound.” Social Studies of Science 34, no. 5 (2004): 703-731.

Gould, Glenn. “The Idea of North.” from Solitude Trilogy, 1967. On Glenn Gould: The Radio Artist. CBC Recordings, 2007. [Excerpt]

Frank, Joe. “Eye in the Sky” (1996). 

Vallee, Rudy. “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” Posted by NPR’s “What Makes It Great” program.

Zanni, Adriano. The Sound of the Ants.

subbasshead. “Recording Wind with a Contact Mic.” April 1, 2007. YouTube. Accessed Feb. 8, 2010.

Contact mic on a grand piano. (Courtesy of Towson University.)
Internet Archive (MP3 - 3.46MB)
iTunesU (MP3 - 3.46MB)

5 Discussion and workshop

[Collins], pp. 31-57, 64-70.

Fouché, R. “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud: African Americans, American Artifactual Culture, and Black Vernacular Technological Creativity.” American Quarterly 58, no. 3 (2006): 639-661.

Pinch, T. J. and W. E. Bijker. “The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology Might Benefit Each Other.” Social Studies of Science 14, no. 3 (1984): 399-441.

Lucier, Alvin. Music for Solo Performer (1964-65). Lovely Music LP 1014 (out of print).
6 Digital audio

In [Holmes]:
- “The Microprocessor Revolution (1975-90),” pp. 271-293.
- “The Principles of Computer Music,” pp. 294-318.

Sterne, J. “The mp3 as Cultural Artifact.” New Media & Society 8, no. 5 (2006): 825-842. (PDF)

League of Automatic Composers. “Oakland One.” League of Automatic Music Composers 1978-1983. New World Records, 2007.

Noto, Alva. “Xerrox Meta Phaser.” Xerrox Vol. 2. Raster-Noton, 2008.

7 Processing audio and the modern recording studio

Horning, S. S. (Braun). “From Polka to Punk: Growth of an Independent Recording Studio, 1934-1977.” In [Braun], pp. 136-145.

Nielsen, S. H., and T. Lund. “Overload in Signal Conversion.” AES 23rd International Conference. 2003. (PDF)

The Southern Four. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Recorded 1921.

Parliament. “Mothership Connection.” Mothership Connection. Polygram, 1976.

8 Musique concrète and electronic music In [Holmes]:
- “Early Electronic Music in Europe,” pp. 41-78.
- “Tape Composition and Fundamental Concepts of Electronic Music,” pp. 119-140.

Ruttman, Walter. “Wochende (Weekend)” (1930). On An Anthology of Noise & Electronic Music, Vol. 1. Sub Rosa, 2004.

Schaeffer, Pierre. “Quatre études de bruits, 3. Etude aux chemins de fer” (1948). On [OHM].

Varèse, Edgard. “Poème électronique.” (1958). On An Anthology of Noise & Electronic Music, Vol. 1. Sub Rosa, 2004.

Le Caine, Hugh. “Dripsody” (1955). On [OHM].

Stockhausen, Karlheinz. “Gesang der Jünglinge” (1955-56). Elektronische Musik 1952-1960. Stockhausen Edition no. 3.


Barron, Luis and Bebe. Soundtrack for film Forbidden Planet (1956). Excerpt on [OHM].

Iannis Xenakis, Concrete PH, 1958 On An Anthology of Noise & Electronic Music, Vol. 1. Sub Rosa, 2004.

Schaeffer, Pierre. “Etude aux objets, 2. Objets étendus” (1959). L’oeuvre musicale, Vol. 3. INA GRM, 1990.

9 Discussion and workshop In [Holmes]:
- “Early Electronic Music in the United States,” pp. 79-104.
- “Classical and Experimental Music,” pp. 333-375.

Cage, John. “Williams Mix” (1952). On [OHM].

Reich, Steve. “It’s Gonna Rain” (1965) and “Piano Phase” (1967). Early Works. Nonesuch, 1992.

Lucier, Alvin. “I Am Sitting in a Room” (1970). [Listen or download at UbuWeb]


Reich, Steve. “Come Out” (1966). Early Works. Nonesuch, 1992.

Part III. Interfaces
10 Mechanical automations and innovations

In [Braun]:
- Bijsterveld, K. “A Servile Imitation,” pp. 121-135.
- Hocker, J. “My Soul is in the Machine - Conlon Nancarrow - Composer for Player Piano - Precursor of Computer Music,” pp. 84-96.

Brown, B. “The Noise Instruments of Luigi Russolo.” Perspectives of New Music 20, nos. 1-2 (1981): 31-48.

Russolo, Luigi. “Gorgogliatore (gurgler),” “Crepitatore (crackler), and “Risveglio di una Citta.” [Listen to these and other Russolo tracks at UbuWeb]

Nancarrow, Conlon. Studies for Player Piano, no. 1 (1951) and no. 36 (1977). On Sound Forms for Piano. New World Records, 1995.

Smith, Jimmy and Wes Montgomery. “OGD (Road Song).” Ultimate Wes Montgomery. Polygram, 1998.

Medeski Martin and Wood. “Hypnotized.” Combustication. Blue Note, 1998.

11 Electronic and electromagnetic instruments

[Holmes]. “Electronic Music Before 1945,” pp. 3-40.

McSwain, R. “The Social Reconstruction of a Reverse Salient in Electronic Guitar Technology: Noise, The Solid Body, and Jimi Hendrix.” In [Braun], pp. 186-198.

Clara Rockmore theremin video. On [OHM].

Messiaen, Olivier. “Oraison” (1937). On [OHM].

Cage, John. “Imaginary Landscape No. 1.” (1939).

———. “Cartridge Music” (1960). Music for Merce Cunningham. Mode, 1995.

Hendrix, Jimi. “Machine Gun.” Band of Gypsys. Capitol, 1970.

12 Discussion and workshop

Bimber, B. “Karl Marx and the Three Faces of Technological Determinism.” Social Studies of Science 20, no. 2 (1990): 333-351. (PDF)

In [Collins]:
- “The World’s Simplest Circuit: Six Oscillators on a Chip, Guranteed to Work (pp. 129-145)
“Getting Messy: Oscillators that Modulate Each Other…” pp. 152-167.

Pinch, T. J., and W. E. Bijker. “The Social Construction of Facts and Artefacts: Or How the Sociology of Science and the Sociology of Technology Might Benefit Each Other.” Social Studies of Science 14, no. 3 (1984): 399-441.

13 Modular synthesizers

In [Holmes]:
- “Early Synthesizers and Experimenters,” pp. 141-172.
-“The Voltage-Controlled Synthesizer,” pp. 207-226.

Pinch, T., and F. Trocco. “The Social Construction of the Early Electronic Music Synthesizer.” [Braun], pp. 67-83.

The Sounds and Music of the RCA Electronic Music Synthesizer, 1955.

  • Played in class: “Side 3: The Synthesis of Music-Synthesis by Parts (Part 2)” (MP3)

Babbitt, Milton. “Philomel.” 1964. On [OHM].

Carlos, Wendy. “Cantata #147, BWV 147,” “The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 - Prelude & Fugue #2 In C Minor, BWV 847,” and interview “Initial Experiments.” Switched on Bach. East Side Digital, 2001 (reissue of 1969 original).

Koenig, Gottfried Michele. “Funktion Grau” (1969). (Courtesy of Gottfried Michele Koenig. Used with permission.)
Internet Archive (MP3 - 23MB)
iTunesU (MP3 - 23MB)

Subotnick, Morton. Silver Apples of the Moon, 1967. On [OHM].

Oliveros, Pauline. “Alien Bog,” 1967. Polydor, 1998 reissue. [Listen to this, on bandcamp]

14 Sequencers, rhythm machines, and samplers

Oswald, John. “Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative.” Wired Society Electro-Acoustic Conference, 1985.

Walser, R. “Rhythm, Rhyme, and Rhetoric in the Music of Public Enemy.” Ethnomusicology 39, no. 2 (1995): 193-217.

Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force. “Planet Rock.” Planet Rock: The Album. DBK Works, 1982.

Oswald, John. “Black.” Plunderphonics 69/96, Seeland/Fony, 1989.

Public Enemy, “Fight the Power.” Fear of a Black Planet. Def Jam, 1990.

15 Discussion and workshop

In [Collins]:
- pp. 197-210.
- “In the Loop: Creativity and Constraint in 8-bit Video Game Audio,” pp. 209-227

Vaggione, Horacio. “24 Variations, 2002.” ICMC 2002 - Göteborg Sweden. LJ Records, 2002. (Courtesy of Horacio Vaggione. Used with permission.)
Internet Archive (MP3)
iTunesU (MP3)
16 Turntables [Holmes], “Rock, Space Age Pop, and Turntablism,” pp. 407-428.

Pablo, Augustus “555 Dub Street,” King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown. Shanachie, 1976.

Grandmaster Flash. “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” (1981). Grandmaster Flash: More of the Best. Rhino/WEA, 2005.

Eric B. & Rakim, “I Ain’t No Joke.” Paid in Full. Island, 1997 (reissue).

Hancock, Herbie. “Rockit.” Future Shock. Columbia, 1983.


People Under the Stairs. “Stay Home.” Question in The Form of an Answer. Om Records, 2000.

D-Styles. “Felonius Funk.” Phantazmagorea. Red Rocket, 2002.

17 Live electronics and circuit bending

[Collins], pp. 80-112

Ghazala, Q. R. “The Folk Music of Chance Electronics: Circuit-Bending the Modern Coconut.” Leonardo Music Journal 14, no. 1 (2004): 97-104.

[Holmes], “Live Electronic Music and Ambient Music,” pp. 376-406.

Mumma, Gordon. Hornpipe, 1967. [Listen or download at UbuWeb]

Ashley, Robert. “The Wolfman” (1964). [Listen or download at UbuWeb]

———. “Automatic Writing.” Automatic Writing. Lovely Music, 1979.

Tudor, David. “Rainforest IV” (1973). Tudor: Rainforest - Versions I (1968) & IV (1973). Mode, 1998.

———. “Pulsers” (1976), with Takehisa Kosugi. Three works for live electronics. Lovely Music, 1996.

———. “Toneburst” (1975). CD accompanying Leonardo Music Journal, v. 14. 2004.

18 Discussion and workshop  

Musica Elettronica Viva (MEV).
“Spacecraft” (1967). MEV 40 (1967-2007). New World Records, 2008.

AMM. “The Great Hall 1” (1982). Laminal. Matchless, 1997.

SuperSilent. “5.1.” SuperSilent 5. Rune Grammofon, 2001.

———. “6.2.” SuperSilent 6. Rune Grammofon, 2003.

Part IV. Languages
19 The history of notation and MIDI Loy, D. G. “Musicians Make a Standard: The MIDI Phenomenon.” Computer Music Journal 9, no. 4 (1985): 8-26.

Stravinsky, Igor. “Bransle Gay.” From Agon. Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Robert Craft. On Stravinsky: Three Greek Ballets (Apollo, Agon, Orpheus). Naxos, 2005.

Kyrie (excerpt)

 Corelli, Arcangelo. “Trio Sonata, Op. 3, No. 2.” On Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Vol. 1, Ancient to Baroque. 5th ed. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Sons, 2006. 9780393106084.

Bach, J. S. “Goldberg Variation No. 24.”

Martino, Donald. Notturno. Performed by eighth blackbird, 2000.

Lockwood, Annea. “World Rhythms” (1975). Excerpt on New Music For Electronic And Recorded Media: Women In Electronic Music-1977. New World Records, 2006 (reissue).

Eno, Brian. “1/2.” Ambient 1: Music for Airports. Caroline/Virgin, 1978.

20 The early history of music programming and digital synthesis

[Holmes], “Early Computer Music (1953-85),” pp. 251-270.

Roads, C. “Interview with Max Mathews.” Computer Music Journal 4, no. 4 (1980): 15-22.

Reconstructions of CSIRAC music (Courtesy of Paul Doornbusch. Used with permission.): 

(a) “Colonel Bogey”
Internet Archive (MP3)
iTunesU (MP3)

(b) “In Cellar Cool”
Internet Archive (MP3)
iTunesU (MP3)

Christopher Strachey on the Ferranti Mark I Computer. “God Save the King.” On Fildes, J. “‘Oldest’ Computer Music Unveiled.” BBC News, 17 June 2008.

David Caplin and Dietrich Prinz on the Shell Ferranti Mark 1 (MIRACLE). Mozart’s “Dice Game.”

Guttman, Newman. “The Silver Scale.” Computer Music Currents Vol. 13: The Historical CD of Digital Sound Synthesis. Wergo, 1995.

Tenney, James. “Analog #1 (Noise Study).” (1961) Selected Works: 1961-1969. New World Records, 2003.

Risset, Jean-Claude. “Mutations” (1969). Excerpt on [OHM].

Spiegel, Laurie. “Appalachian Grove I” (1974). On [OHM]. (RM)

Vercoe, Barry. “Synapse for Viola and Computer.” Digital Rewind: MIT Experimental Music Studio, 25th Anniversary, 1974-1999. MIT Media Lab, 1999.

  • Video of performance with Marcus Thompson: MIT+150 From the Vault. “MIT Experimental Music Studio (c. 1973).” Feburary 9, 2011. MIT TechTV. Accessed July 21, 2011. [Performance begins at 12:10]

Dashow, James. “In Winter Shine” (1983). Digital Rewind: MIT Experimental Music Studio, 25th Anniversary, 1974-1999. MIT Media Lab, 1999.

21 Synthesis with code  

Wishart, Trevor. Red Bird, 1977. [Listen or download at UbuWeb]

Roads, Curtis. “Now.” Point Line Cloud. Asphodel Ltd., 2004. (Courtesy of Curtis Roads. Used with permission.)
Internet Archive (MP3 - 14MB)
iTunesU (MP3 - 14MB)

22 Discussion and workshop   Ariza, Christopher. “onomatopoeticized” (2004). Music from SEAMUS, Vol. 15.
Internet Archive (MP3 - 20MB)
iTunesU (MP3 - 20MB)
23 Intellectual property and copyright

Lessig, L. “Eldred.” Chapter 13 in Free Culture. 2005. ISBN: 9780143034650. (PDF - 1.0MB)

24-25 Sonic system project presentations    

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2009
Learning Resource Types
theaters Lecture Videos
notes Lecture Notes
group_work Projects with Examples