Music 128

The moment man ceased to make music with his voice alone, the art became machine-ridden. Orpheus’s lyre was a machine, a symphony orchestra is a regular factory for making artificial sounds, and a piano is the most appalling contrivance of levers and wires this side of the steam engine.”

Jacques Barzun, “Introductory Remarks to a Program of Works Produced at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center” (1961) in Critical Questions

Over 40,000 years ago humans used stone tools to fashion flutes from animal bone; since then music-making has continued to motivate and to be shaped by technological innovations. The undergraduate course “Music and Technology: From Bone Flute to Auto-Tune” surveys the relationship between music and technology from the Paleolithic Age to the present day. The course examines the origins and impact of diverse musical instruments, with particular attention to the connections between musical and technological developments, and to debates about the enhancement or destruction of music by technology. By studying the history of such instruments as the violin and piano, clavichord and glass harmonica, electric guitar and Moog synthesizer, we gain a window onto musical cultures of the distant and recent past, and an understanding of the interplay between technological change and the enduring human need for music.

This website provides a companion “textbook” to the course. An Introduction and Past Final Projects are public; access to other pages is reserved for course participants.

Professor Deirdre Loughridge (dloughridge at berkeley dot edu)

Spring 2016

Music 27 Review

Week 1 – Introduction: 3 Case Studies; Bone Flute and Other Prehistoric Technologies
Week 2 – Corpophones and the Case of the Castrato; Situated Instrument Design for Musical Expression
Week 3 – Viols and Violins; From Animal Horn to Valved Brass
Week 4 – Of Measurement and Monochords; Music Writing
Week 5 – Playing in Time
Week 6 – Keyboards; Tuning Trouble
Week 7 – Glass harmonica, ‘So Celestial a Tone’
Week 8 – Standardization: From A to MP3; History, Ethnography, Design
Week 9 – Orchestras; Saxophone
Week 10 –  Accordion and Globalization; Electric Guitar and Reconceptualization
Week 11 – Player Piano and Phonograph; Tape and Multi-Tracking
Week 12 – Theremin’s Musical and Military Instruments; Electronics Explorers
Week 13 – Going Digital; Samplers
Week 14 – Algorithmic Music; Auto-Tune