Course Description

As citizens of the twenty-first century, we conceptualize, create, consume, and critique music and musical experiences differently as our world becomes increasingly embedded in the cyber-experiences of digital technology and mobile devices. While our contemporary musical lives are shaped by these digital devices (e.g. laptops, iPhones, and iPads), the lens through which we interpret our cybermusical world reflects issues and debates of past generations concerning the shifting values of a musical culture caught in the tide of technological innovation. Thus, as new modes of computer-mediated musical interactivity raise questions about what it means to be musical in the digital age, we must look back, as well as forward, in order to contextualize musical life in the twenty-first century.

In this course we will investigate various critical issues relevant to Internet-centered musical culture. These themes may include:

  • digital technology and musical agency
  • user-generated musical content
  • ownership, authorship, and copyright law in the digital age
  • Internet communities and musical collaboration
  • interactive sound installations and networked musical compositions
  • musical culture in virtual worlds
  • musical cyborgs
  • mobile music technology

In addition to studying pertinent issues related to music and cyberculture through select readings and research assignments, the very nature of computer-mediated society will allow us to investigate musical cyberculture firsthand from the classroom. This course will, therefore, include a hands-on approach to digital musical creativity and cybercultural participation. Lab exercises and assignments will include learning and using basic digital music technologies, such as MIDI, digital audio editing, digital synthesis, virtual musical instruments, etc.

Because digital technology and the Internet have been embedded into nearly every facet of contemporary global society, musical cybercultures are not limited to popular or electronic musics. Rather this course will draw on a wide variety of musical styles and traditions, including Western art music, popular music, and traditional musics from around the world with the hope that all students will be able to draw relevance from course materials to their own particular research topics and interests. Although musicological in its approach, students from other disciplines who are interested in a critical analysis of digital and Internet-related technologies in contemporary musical culture are also welcome to participate in the course.

Course Objectives

During the course of this semester, I expect that you will:

  • gain a working knowledge of electronic/digital music terminology and techniques and apply these to musical compositions.
  • create musical experiences via Internet technology, including musical composition and performance.
  • critically analyze assigned texts and relate their primary concepts and theories to your own creative/research projects.

Course Resources

Required Readings

Readings consist largely of articles and book chapters, available via links on this site or on ICON.

Course Website

You should visit the course website ( regularly for up-to-date course documents and related information. You will need to register (free!) on Wikidot to have full acces to the course website. You will be required to submit some assignments electronically by posting them to the course website. Instructions on using and adding content to the course website will be posted on the course home page. Please note that many of our assignments will be available for public access on the Web.

Course Requirements

Attendance Policy

Class meetings will generally operate in one of two modes: seminar-style discussions or lab-based instruction. In either case, class attendance is necessary not only for your learning, but for the edification of your colleagues as well. It is therefore necessary for you to make every effort to attend all sessions in their entirety. Naturally, your personal and professional life may keep you from a class during the course of the semester. If you anticipate missing a class meeting, or in the event of illness or serious personal emergency, please let me know as soon as possible and make all necessary efforts to obtain notes, handouts, or other missed materials from another student in the class.

Class Conduct

I hope to create a classroom atmosphere that encourages participation and respect. Establishing such an environment depends on your involvement in maintaining certain standards of courtesy. It is important to remember that much of our weekly class meetings will consist of student presentations. Please be courteous to your student colleagues by:

  • arriving to class on time.
  • being prepared to present and discuss any assignments and readings.
  • participating through the sharing thoughtful comments and questions.
  • encouraging your student colleagues in their work and efforts.

In addition to the above points, please note that we will be meeting in the computer lab where you will be seated at computer workstations. Please use those computers (or other computing devices such as cell phones) for class-related activities only.


Peer-reviewing and collaborative brainstorming are an important and valuable aspect of participating in an academic community and, as graduate students, I encourage you to develop the skills and attitude of peer support. To this end, you are welcome to get writing help from me or the writing center, and you may—indeed, you are encouraged to—discuss ideas and drafts with your classmates for proof-reading or editing help. Your final submissions, however, must represent your own ideas, research efforts, and writing. Additionally, this course will require collaborative work on a number of assignments. I expect you to approach these assignments in the spirit of cooperation and good-will toward your classmates. If you have any questions or concerns regarding collaborative assignments, please ask!

Assignments and Evaluation


See the Assignments section for a description of assignments.


20% — In-class Participation
20% — Wiki Participation
10% — Lead Wiki Reading Response/In-class Discussion
5% — GarageBand Loop Composition
5% — Remix 1
5% — Remix 2
5% — Online Communities Field Report
5% — Virtual World Field Report
5% — Final Creative/Research Project Annotated Bibliography
20% — Final Creative/Research Project Presentation/Report

Grade Scale

93-100% = A 83-86% = B 73-76% = C 63-66% = D
90-92% = A- 80-82% = B- 70-72% = C- 60-62% = D-
87-89% = B+ 77-79% = C+ 67-69% = D+ 0–59% = F

Musician’s Health and Safety

For information about how to protect your hearing, neuro-musculoskeletal and vocal health, please visit the “Resources” page of the School of Music website, found here:

Additional CLAS Policies and Procedures

Administrative Home

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) is the administrative home of this course and governs matters such as the add/drop deadlines, the second-grade-only option, and other related issues. Different colleges may have different policies. Questions may be addressed to 120 Schaeffer Hall, or see the CLAS Student Academic Handbook.

Electronic Communication

University policy specifies that students are responsible for all official correspondences sent to their University of Iowa e-mail address ( Faculty and students should use this account for correspondences. (Operations Manual, III.15.2. Scroll down to k.11.)

Accommodations for Disabilities

A student seeking academic accommodations should first register with Student Disability Services and then meet privately with the course instructor to make particular arrangements. See for more information.

Academic Honesty

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences expects all students to do their own work, as stated in the CLAS Code of Academic Honesty. Instructors fail any assignment that shows evidence of plagiarism or other forms of cheating, also reporting the student's name to the College. A student reported to the College for cheating is placed on disciplinary probation; a student reported twice is suspended or expelled.

Making a Suggestion or a Complaint

Students with a suggestion or complaint should first visit the instructor, then the course supervisor, and then the departmental DEO. Complaints must be made within six months of the incident. See the CLAS Student Academic Handbook.

Understanding Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment subverts the mission of the University and threatens the well-being of students, faculty, and staff. All members of the UI community have a responsibility to uphold this mission and to contribute to a safe environment that enhances learning. Incidents of sexual harassment should be reported immediately. See the UI Comprehensive Guide on Sexual Harassment for assistance, definitions, and the full University policy.

Reacting Safely to Severe Weather

In severe weather, class members should seek appropriate shelter immediately, leaving the classroom if necessary. The class will continue if possible when the event is over. For more information on Hawk Alert and the siren warning system, visit the Public Safety web site.

Additional University Resources

Writing Center

110 English-Philosophy Building, 335-0188,

Speaking Center

12 English-Philosophy Building, 335-0205,

Tutor Referral Service

Campus Information Center, Iowa Memorial Union, 335-3055,

Syllabus Change Policy

This syllabus is a guide and every attempt is made to provide an accurate overview of the course. However, circumstances and events may make it necessary for the instructor to modify the syllabus during the semester and may depend, in part, on the progress, needs, and experiences of the students. Changes to the syllabus will be made with advance notice.

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