This page focuses on the course 21M.380 Music and Technology: Sound Design as it was taught by Dr. Florian Hollerweger in Spring 2016.
In this course, students learned how to build sounds and sound effects from scratch, using the open-source graphical programming environment Pure Data (Pd). They also learned how to analyze and synthesize sounds and encapsulate them in dynamic sound objects that can be embedded into computer games animations, movies, virtual environments, sound installations, and theater productions. Their work was guided by Andy Farnell’s book Designing Sound.
Course Goals for Students
Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:
- Reflect upon and analyze everyday sonic experiences and articulate them to others.
- Design and implement computer music applications using essential sound synthesis and programming techniques.
- Identify suitable synthesis techniques to develop a design strategy for a specific sound design problem.
Possibilities for Further Study/Careers
This course prepares students for projects and further study in games, film/video, theater, music, and other fields that employ sound.
21M.380 Music and Technology is offered every fall and spring semester, with topics that vary each term. The Sound Design topic has been taught each spring for the past few years, alternating with a fall course focused on recording techniques and audio production.
Below, Dr. Florian Hollerweger describes various aspects of how he teaches 21M.380 Music and Technology: Sound Design.
- Course Inspiration and Design
- Teaching with Technology (and Without)
- Learning Actively in Groups
- Using Surveys to Get to Know Students
- Assessing Student Learning in Creative Contexts
- Engaging Deeply in the Design Process
The students’ grades were based on the following activities:
- 5% Written responses to readings
- 20% Two quizzes
- 40% Sound Design exercises and Pure Data assignments
- 10% Written assignment & Recording/Editing assignment
- 25% Final project in four parts (FP1-FP4)
Instructor Insights on Assessment
Read Dr. Florian Hollerweger’s insights about assessing student learning.
Breakdown by Year
Breakdown by Major
Students tend to come from a variety of majors, with a significant number from computer science and engineering.
Typical Student Background
Students typically have an interest in the intersection of sound and technology, and the uses of sound in creating environments.
How Student Time Was Spent
During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:
- Met 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 25 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
- Class sessions included brief lectures, group work, discussions, and hands-on sound design experiences.
Out of Class
- Written assignments
- Preparation for quizzes
- Sound Design exercises
- Pure Data assignments
- Recording/editing assignment
- Final project
- Consultation with instructor during office hours