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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "DMA 228"
COURSE NAME: "Sound Design in Media Arts"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2021
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Kwame Phillips
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: W9:00 AM 11:45 AM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES:
OFFICE HOURS: By appointment

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
This course provides an overview of sound culture and nonlinear audio production with an emphasis on theoretical, historical and practical approaches. In this introductory-level course, students will gain familiarity with the historical trajectory of sound technology and sound art, and get an overview of the theoretical reflections that have accompanied sound artistic creation as well as the basic tools and techniques for nonlinear audio production. The projects devised for the class are aimed at improving listening skills, raise awareness of aural and sonic experience and integrate sound with narrative visual media, so as to allow students to communicate and conceptualize with sound. During the course of the session three fundamental aspects of sound will be addressed: 1)Sound as Sound/Listening/ Field Recordings/ Soundscapes; 2) Sonic Narratives; 3) Sound & Image Relations.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

Though often overlooked, sound plays a fundamental role in experiences of media and culture. From the mundane sounds of our everyday lives, to the more designed and constructed sounds of popular media, to the more obscure sounds of sound art, sound is fundamental to communication and to our perceptions of the world. This class aims to introduce you to sound culture and sound studies, and to explore “what sound does in the human world and what humans do in the sonic world” (Sterne 2013). 

In the course, we will consider the role sound plays in various media through topics such as: soundscapes and the way sounds affect our understanding of space, sound design and how sound and music create narrative, sound art and its manipulation of sound to bring attention to artistic perspective, listening in an era of digital sound, and technologies of sound production. You will also put these theories into practice through audio assignments such as the creation of an audio essay or podcast and other sound works. You will learn the basics of digital audio recording and editing software and both practical skills for creating digital audio projects and theoretical concepts for understanding what it means to think sonically. 

 

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

By the end of this course you will have greater general knowledge of the field of sound studies. You will develop critical listening skills and be more attuned (intellectually and sonically) to sound. You will develop basic proficiency in designing sound (recording, monitoring, editing, processing, mixing). You will be exposed to various important sound works. You will learn to use digital audio recording and editing technologies to create your own sound works.

**It is highly recommended that you make use of the Communications Library Study Guide that is found at this link: https://johncabot.libguides.com/communications. It is an introductory guide for communication and media studies, journalism and cinema, and is extraordinarily valuable as a resource.

**Course homepage: http://moodle.johncabot.edu/. Enrollment key: DMA228S20
TEXTBOOK:
NONE
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
Discussion/ParticipationStudents will be expected to have done all the readings and to attend and contribute in all classes. Students will be required to present their assignments in the course and complete in-class exercises. Students will be required to comment on each others’ work critically. 10
Practical Exercises7 separate short projects (Take a ride, sound walk, sound map, process, interview, playlist, foley). Projects will be graded on a 4-point scale (3 for excellent work, 2 for good work, 1 poor work, 0 for incomplete work).30
Audio Essay / PodcastStudents will be required to complete a 5-7 minute audio essay or podcast. This assignment will be reviewed in class. Failure to complete this project will result in automatically failing the course. 20
Final Creative ProjectStudents will be required to complete an 8-10 minute creative audio project. This assignment will be reviewed in class during the exam period. Failure to complete this project will result in automatically failing the course. 25
OutlinesStudents are required to submit one page outlines for the midterm and final projects.5
Sound JournalStudents will record a sound journal entry each week. Each entry will be a short reflection on a positive and a negative sound heard AND one reflection on the reading. Be descriptive and thoughtful. Entries will be submitted to Moodle by Sunday night at the latest and will be discussed in class.  Each entry should be dated and time stamped and appropriately labeled. Entries should not be longer than 2 minutes. 10

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:

This course is practical and includes a number of in-class exercises. As such, being present and being on time are crucial for success. This course also requires a significant amount of work to be completed outside of class hours.  

-GRADING RUBRIC

Projects will be graded using the following criteria (and judged whether excellent, good, fair, needs work or insufficient):

 

1. Concept: Project presents evidence of conceptual preparation. A coherent and logical design statement is provided.

2. Design: Designer’s intention is apparent. Student displays attention to detail within the total design. Project meets time requirement. Each included sound has been scrutinized to determine its coherence with the whole of the design. Overall quality of the design

3. Content: Student displays creativity in design. Student has utilized original sounds or synthesized source material. All sound regions and tracks are labeled properly. The final project is free of audio defects such as pops, clicks, and other unintended distortions

4. Presentation: Overall fluidity of the design. Final media is functional and properly labeled according to content.

EXPLANATION OF GRADES

Grading will be done with letter grades using the 4.0 system. At present, Moodle calculates this as a percentage, so a B is 3.0 and shows as 75% (3.0 out of 4.0). This means that percentages that you may be used to will not translate in the same way. The table below indicates how the grades are calculated.

A :: 4.0 :: 100%
A- :: 3.7 :: 93%
B+:: 3.3 :: 83%
B :: 3.0 :: 75%
B- :: 2.7 :: 68%
C+:: 2.3 :: 58%
C :: 2.0 :: 50%
C- :: 1.7 :: 43%
D+:: 1.3 :: 33%
D :: 1.0 :: 25%
D- :: 0.7 :: 18%
F ::0.0::0%

 



 

ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE

WEEK 1: INTRODUCTION TO SOUND STUDIES  
In-class exercise 1.1: Listening exercises
In-class exercise 1.2: Monday morning project 

For Next Week
Sound Journal: #1
Reading: The Three Listening Modes (Chion)

WEEK 2
: LISTENING AND AMBIENCE
In-class exercise 2.1: Sound Journal #1 discussion 
In-class exercise 2.2: Monday morning project discussion
In-class exercise 2.3: How old are your ears?
In-class exercise 2.4: Listen blindly / Recording practice 

For Next Week
Sound Journal: #2
Exercise 1: Take a ride/Listen and describe
Reading: The Music of the Environment (Schafer) 

WEEK 3
: SOUND IN SPACE, FIELD RECORDING 
In-class exercise 3.1: Sound Journal #2 discussion 
In-class exercise 3.2: Take a ride review
In-class exercise 3.3: Moving sounds 
In-class exercise 3.4: Audition introduction 

For Next Week
Sound Journal: #3
Exercise 2: Soundwalking
Readings: Soundwalking: creating moving environmental sound narratives (McCartney); Sound Maps in the 21st Century (Kannenberg) 

WEEK 4
: SOUNDSCAPES
In-class exercise 4.1: Sound Journal #3 discussion 
In-class exercise 4.2: Soundwalking review 
In-class exercise 4.3: Audition tutorial
In-class exercise 4.4: JCU sound map
In-class exercise 4.5: Trastevere sound map preparation 

For Next Week
Sound Journal: #4
Exercise 3: Sound Map
Reading: Radio: An Illustrated Guide (Abel and Glass)

WEEK 5
: AUDIO ESSAYS AND PODCASTS
In-class exercise 5.1: Sound Journal #4 discussion 
In-class exercise 5.2: Sound map review and finalization 
In-class exercise 5.3: Audio Essay/Podcast introduction 
In-class exercise 5.4: Audition tutorial (using video)

For Next Week
Sound Journal: #5
Exercise 4: Set a process to music
Outline 1: Audio Essay/Podcast topic idea
Reading: On Sound and Pleasure: Meditations on the Human Voice (Bonenfant)

WEEK 6
: VOICE
In-class exercise 6.1: Sound Journal #5 discussion 
In-class exercise 6.2: Audio Essay/Podcast outline discussion
In-class exercise 6.3: Process review 
In-class exercise 6.4: Onomatopoeia and Imitation 
In-class exercise 6.5: Interview practice

For Next Week
Sound Journal: #6
Exercise 5: Record a conversation/interview
Reading: Tape Hiss, Compression, and the Stubborn Materiality of Sonic Diaspora (Chien)

WEEK 7: EVOLUTION OF SOUND
In-class exercise 7.1: Sound Journal #6 discussion 
In-class exercise 7.2: Interview review
In-class exercise 7.3: New and old sounds
In-class exercise 7.4: Write a jingle
In-class exercise 7.5: Audio Essay/Podcast discussion 
In-class exercise 7.6: Workshop

For Next Week
Midterm Project: Audio Essay / Podcast 

WEEK 8
: SOUND ART
Midterm exercise: Audio essays/Podcasts presentation and discussion 
In-class exercise 8.1: Audition tutorial on effects

For Next Week
Sound Journal: #7
Exercise 6: Shape of sounds 
Reading: Mixtapes v. Playlists: Medium, Message, Materiality (Glennon); The People Who Keep On Going: A Radical Listening Party (Redmond & Phillips)
Listening: https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/3513-the-people-who-keep-on-going-a-futures-of-black-radicalism-listening-party-vol-i

Week 9: RADIO AND MIXTAPES
In-class exercise 9.1: Sound Journal #7 discussion 
In-class exercise 9.2: Audition tutorial on mixing
In-class exercise 9.3: Radio exercise

For Next Week
Sound Journal: #8
Exercise 7: A playlist to your day
Reading: Remix[ing] Theory (Navas)

WEEK 10
: REMIX AND SAMPLING
(Guest lecturer: Charles Burchell)
In-class exercise 10.1: Sound Journal #8 discussion 
In-class exercise 10.2: Playlist review

For Next Week
Sound Journal: #9
Reading: William Friedkin’s The Exorcist and the Proprietary Nature of Sound (Beck)

WEEK 11
: FOLEY
In-class exercise 11.1: Sound Journal #9 discussion 
In-class exercise 11.2:  Final project discussion
In-class exercise 11.3: Hypothetical Foley project 

For Next Week
Sound Journal: #10
Exercise 8: Sound effects / Foley project
Reading: Songbook, Chapters 1-3 (Hornby)
Outline 2: Final creative project idea 

WEEK 12: SOUND DESIGN AND SOUNDTRACKS 
In-class exercise 12.1: Sound Journal #10 discussion 
In-class exercise 12.2: Present final project ideas
In-class exercise 12.3: Listen to fear 
In-class exercise 12.4: Sound of horror
In-class exercise 12.5: Create horror sounds

WEEK 13
: FINAL PROJECT WORKSHOP

FINAL PROJECT PRESENTATION IN EXAM WEEK