Monday Jan 27

For Today, please complete the following:

Study for a short quiz

  • To help sum up the past two weeks, we’re going to have a short, *painless* quiz on Monday.  It will cover:
    • Basic information about sound waves (things like period waves vs. non-periodic, representing sound over time on a graph, etc.) The MSP reading will be excellent review for this. (Though the quiz won’t go into as much detail — it will focus on what we’ve covered in class).
    • Voltage, Current, Resistance and Ohm’s law (voltage = current * resistance, or V=IR, where I is current).  Also know their unit of measurement (voltage is volts, for example).
    • Be able to describe what the following electronic components do: resistor, capacitor, inverter (or not-gate).
    • Be able to describe (in broad-brushstrokes) what the circuits we made on Wednesday did.
    • Who invented the Theremin, and when.  What’s being affected (besides the pitch and not the loudness) when you move your hand closer and further away from the antenna.
  • We learned more experientially than through discussion/lecture, of course, so if you feel like anything above is unclear, feel free to set up a time to meet with me before class, or try to seek out one of your classmates to study.  It’s really intended to be a short and painless quiz, just giving you a chance to review stuff while it is fresh in your mind.  All of the information is available on this website.


  • Read the MSP guide to how digital audio works.  It’s a really nice summary/overview of a lot of important concepts.
  • Read pages 6-9 of Attali’s Noise and Politics  (Begin with the subsection labeled ‘The Sounds of Power,’ and end before the section labeled ‘Science, Message and Time’.  I’ve included the entire chapter on Listening for those of you who would like to read more.


  • Watch (listen, really) to John Cage talk about sound.  Seriously wonderful stuff. Chill-inducing.
  • Watch part 2 of the BBC series.  More cheese!  The first part of this 12 min segment is all about found sound and tape music — we will be getting to this in the next few weeks, but it doesn’t hurt to learn a bit now.  The second part talks more about sound synthesis from oscillators.
  • If you haven’t already, check out the noise machine examples posted by fellow classmates to the blog.


To Do – by Sunday 1/26, 10 pm.

1. Last time I had you cut straight to the chase and look for a noise machine.  Since we’re still working on ways to build the noise itself (moving now from electronics hardware to software), I’d like you to find some noise inspiration.  This could be something you listen to regularly, or something new you seek out. In one sense, it can be anything.  However, the most important thing is that it can be defined as noise, and that it sounds interesting. Then write a blog post entitled ‘Reduced Listening.’  Be sure to include your name. Write 1-2 paragraphs as follows:

  • Without divulging the source of the noise (‘what it is’) attempt to describe the sound itself well enough that someone else can hear it, and perhaps guess what it is, or where you heard it.
  • Describe what is interesting about this noise to you.  At this point you are describing both the sound and your perception of it.  Again, for this part of the exercise, do not give clues about what the sound is or where you heard it, that are not directly related to the sound.  For instance: “Even though I heard in a Cathedral, it didn’t really fill the space” = bad.  “While the acoustics of the space were quite reverberant, the sound was soft enough that I didn’t perceive many reflections.”  My main concern is *not* actually about vocabulary — rather it is that you make an effort to separate the sound from its meaning/context.

2. Revisit your noise machine ideas.  Pick one to pursue a bit more seriously (or come up with a new one).  This doesn’t have to be your final noise machine, but it should be a serious contender.

  • Spend some time fleshing out your idea.  You don’t need to post anything new, but be prepared to describe your project idea in some detail to a classmate, including any questions/challenges/concerns/tangents/what have you.  We’ll spend a bit of time working through ideas together to help you work towards a feasible project goal.

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