CCOG for MUS 217 Spring 2024

Course Number:
MUS 217
Course Title:
History of Electronic Music
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Examines the historical whole of electronic music through the lens of technological invention, artistic innovation, and culture. Introduces electronic music pioneers, engineers, inventors, and composers and traces their rippling artistic influence through several branching genres. Investigates the intricate and ever-changing relationship between composer, performer, machine, and listener. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Describe the richness and diversity of influences found in electronic music.

  2. Assess the design and original purpose of technology and its resulting musical application and cultural impact.

  3. Describe the evolution of electronic music genres stemming from the following inventions: magnetic tape, tube and transistor circuitry, turntable, and computer.

  4. Identify key pioneers who used technology in new ways to create new sounds.

  5. Identify similar and contrasting musical approaches such as rhythm, harmonic, and melodic patterns, as well as production styles found in different genres of electronic music.

  6. Discuss the intricate and ever-changing relationship between artist, performer, machine, and listener.

Course Activities and Design

Historical and stylistic survey of electronic music and its pioneers from mid-century to today. Study the points where musical thought and technology intersect and the pioneers who lead the way. Observe and discuss the cultural soil from which each musical seed germinates. Focus on the technological inventions of the tape recorder, circuit, turntable and computer and the many various cultural and musical approaches to utilizing these technologies.

Follow the paths of music concrète, avant garde, jazz, rock and sound art to the newer generations of electronic musicians making hip-hop, house, techno, ambient and electronica. Featuring the work of major figures including Pierre Schaeffer, Edgar Varèse, Wendy Carlos, Pauline Oliveros, Brian Eno, Keith Emerson, Grandmaster Flash, Juan Atkins, J Dilla, Holly Herndon, and more.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Qualitative/Quantitative examination including historical/cultural perspectives.

Listening examination

Research papers and/or presentations

Class discussions that involve looking at historic and current events through the student’s understanding of technological invention and musical innovation within different cultural perspectives.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

  • Invention, experimentation and the early avant-garde
  • Birth of the recording industry and the beginnings of commercial music
  • Early tape music composition, effects and multi-tracking
  • Development of the analog synthesizer. Moog vs Buchla
  • Funk, jazz and soul of the 1970’s
  • Underground disco dance culture in NYC
  • Krautrock, synth pop and post-punk electronic music
  • Roland and the birth of hip hop, house and techno
  • The culture and music of early Chicago House & Detroit Techno
  • Digital transformations: intro to MIDI and computer music
  • 90’s rave culture, UK drum & bass, jungle, crunk, trance, IDM
  • East Coast vs West Coast hip hop
  • 2000’s EDM, dubstep, trap, R&B, house subgenres
  • Experimental electronic music of today & beyond