Electronic Music II: Programming and Electronics for Art & Music
This class is an introduction to the use of computer programming languages
and DIY electronics in the context of music and art-making. No previous experience
in either computer programming or electronics is needed, although you must be willing
to really dig in to both topics.
There are four main components to the class:
- Discussions covering historical and contemporary uses of programming and electronics in
in numerous disciplines, forms, styles, and movements, and the work of individual
artists. Occasional short readings will be assigned to accompany the discussions.
- Short research reports on student-selected topics related to the discussions.
- Lectures and hands-on experiments with programming and electronics:
programming will focus on Processing,
Java, and Python. Electronics will cover the basics
of electronics theory (Ohm's law, the different components and what they do), the design
and construction of simple sound/light circuits, different types of sensors and actuators, and
microcontrollers (focusing on the Arduino and
similar). These lectures and hands-on experiments are "live" -- we'll be learning
and doing together, looking things up, building experiments and mechanisms. Be prepared to
participate in every class.
- Art projects created by individual students or collaborative groups, including several small
studies and one ambitious and inspired final project.
We will also have visits from a number of guest artists during the term.
The class meets every THURSDAY afternoon from 3-5pm. I get very grumpy if students are late.
Please be on time. Prentis Hall is a 10-15 minute walk from main campus.
The online lecture notes/schedule are
here. Schedule subject to change based on number of students
in the class, the group's interests, and cosmic noise.
Grading is as follows:
final project: 50%
Come to class, do the presentations, do the final project, and you have an A. Don't do all of that,
and you don't have an A. Grading is purely mechanical, and does not involve the evaluation of your
work. This grading policy is designed to encourage you to stretch out and take chances with your
work, as the "success" of your pieces is not related to your grade in the class.
The Studio Access
Taking this class gives you access to the equipment in Prentis studios 324 (music room, disklavier) and 313
(electronics workbench, junk supplies). To reserve a
room use the signup sheet at:
The username and password will be given to you on the first day of class.
The Recommended Resources
- Physical Computing by O'Sullivan & Igoe
- Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking by Nicolas Collins
- Make: Electronics by Charles Platt
- Various Processing books
- materials and components
- Herbach and Rademan: surplus motors, mechanical components, power supplies
- All Electronics: surplus electronics, small motors, batteries
- Digikey: new electronic components, tools
- McMaster-Carr: new mechanical components, tools
- Adafruit: Lady Ada's DIY electronics & kits
- Sparkfun: kits, sensors, microcontrollers
- Many Radioshack locations have a limited stock of components, wire, tools, etc., in
little chests at the back of the store. The staff will not know anything about these things,
but they're there! There are at least three locations with electroncs components within 10 blocks
of main campus.
- communities, examples, downloads, etc.
(Have some fun!)