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 technique and apply these to musical compositions.
  • critically analyze assigned texts and relate their primary concepts and theories to your own research projects.

Course Resources

Required Books

I have only pre-ordered one text, which should be available in the bookstore:

Duckworth, William. 2005. Virtual Music. Routledge.

We will discuss other possible texts in class, and additional books may be required. Various articles and chapters will generally be made available in PDF format on Blackboard.

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.

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.

Assignments and Evaluation


See the Assignments section for a description of assignments.


25% — Participation
25% — Reading Responses
25% — Other Assignments
25% — Final Research Project and Presentation

Grade Scale

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

Academic Honor Policy

The Florida State University Academic Honor Policy outlines the University’s expectations for the integrity of students’ academic work, the procedures for resolving alleged violations of those expectations, and the rights and responsibilities of students and faculty members throughout the process. Students are responsible for reading the Academic Honor Policy and for living up to their pledge to “be honest and truthful and…[to] strive for personal and institutional integrity at Florida State University.” (Academic Honor Policy)

ADA Policy

Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should:

  1. register with and provide documentation to the Student Disability Resource Center
  2. bring a letter to the instructor indicating the need for accommodation and what type

This should be done during the first week of class. This syllabus and other class materials are available in alternative format upon request.

For more information about services available to FSU students with disabilities, contact:

Student Disability Resource Center
108 Student Services Building
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4167
(850) 644-9566 (voice)
(850) 644-8504 (TDD)

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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