The development of systems for the storage, reproduction, and distribution of sound as well as for its analysis and synthesis have enabled fundamental changes in musical life. As music publishers evolved into recording companies, recording engineers and producers became artists. Ethnomusicology finds some of its origins in the impulse to make permanent records of vanishing musical cultures through recording. In addition, entirely new forms of "auditory culture" have emerged. In film, the interplay of dialogue, music, and sound effects has become the complex, yet readily understood, language of "sound design." In architecture, the Muzak corporation has extended this concept of sound design to public and private space.
Artistic response to these changing conditions has not been one of unequivocal approval. John Cage first conceived of a "silent piece" as a silent recording to be inserted into the constant stream of Muzak. R. Murray Schafer's term "schizophonia" refers to the separation of a physical sound from its electroacoustic manifestations (via amplification, recording, or broadcast) in pathological terms. John Oswald's "Plunderphonics" are meticulously documented appropriations from other recordings that would be illegal to sell. Others have responded with entirely new disciplinary identifications. The composer Nam June Paik became an iconic figure in video art; the percussionist Max Neuhaus, a germinal figure in sound art.
This course will explore the history of these artistic practices in sound through readings, listenings, and discussion while reviewing the techniques of recording and sound design required to create your own.