Fall 2017 Syllabus

Instructor: Andrew Smith anchsmit@ucsc.edu

Class Meeting: Friday, 3:30 – 5:30 pm
Office Hours: TBD

Official Course Description

Continuing studio work in electronic music. Students carry out individual projects, meeting in weekly seminar to share problems and discoveries. Relevant advanced topics are covered, including new developments in the art.

Course Expectations

I hope that this course is, by and large, focused on supporting your independent projects. With that in mind, the course will be structured to be primarily student-driven in the beginning and the end of the term, with intermediate sessions focused on special topics of interest to the students enrolled. Not all class meetings are required, but I expect students to attend at least half of the guest artists and special topics meetings.


10%: Initial project proposal (1-2 paragraphs)
20%: Final project write-up (2-3 pages)
20%: Attendance (at least 3 times in weeks 3-8)
50%: Final project


There will be a few assignments throughout the quarter:

  1. Project proposal. Draft 9/29/17; Due 10/6/17. I expect a draft of your project proposal. This should be 1-2 paragraphs (about 300 words) and should clearly outline the scope of the work you hope to complete throughout the term. I expect your project to cover both new artistic (or conceptual) and technical territory; you should be pushing your skills in electronic music while building a body of artistic work. I am looking for you to tell me how to evaluate your project in terms of your other work and your prior knowledge.
  2. Project essay. Draft 12/8/17; Due 12/15/17. I expect a 2-3 page explanation of your final project. This should be more expansive and in-depth than the proposal, and should make connections to other artists, your own past work, and any technical topics that you learned throughout the course.
  3. Project. Due 12/15/17. The project submission should encompass whatever is necessary to evaluate your work. If it’s a VST or other library of code, I expect files or a GitHub link.


9/22/17 – Week 1: (Required)

  • Course overview
  • Decision of topics for following weeks

9/29/17 – Week 2: (Required)

  • Project proposal drafts due, in-class presentations of project proposals
  • Review the list of topics, and decide how they might feed into student projects

10/6/17 through 11/17/17 – Weeks 3 – 8: (Semi-optional)

Schedule TBD, based on our discussion about your own areas of focus, selection of special topics, and potential guest artists.

10/20/17 – Rick Walker & guest artists from the International Looping Festival

Santa Cruz-based artists using techniques of looping to build soundscapes. An example of how to build complex textures using simple materials, and how signal chains affect the experience of building a real-time composition.

12/1/17 – Week 9: (Required)

  • Student presentations of final projects. (~10 minutes / student)

12/8/17 – Week 10: (Required)

  • Student presentations of final projects. (~10 minutes / student)
  • Project write-up drafts are due

12/15/17 – Finals week: (NO MEETING)

  • Final projects and 2-3 page essays are due.

Possible Special Topics

  1. Ambisonic recording, decoding, transforming, encoding, using tetrahedral mics, and simple (free, open-source) VSTs in Reaper to handle 3D audio.
  2. Intro to Bela embedded computing systems for real-time audio. (And coding the Bela with PureData, SuperCollider, or C++.)
  3. Live-coding in SuperCollider.
  4. Analog synthesizers, Eurorack gear, and live-patching.
  5. Location recording, and mixing location recordings.
  6. Networked computer live-performance techniques.
  7. Writing low-level networking servers for electronic music.