Final Projects

Final Project Proposal Submissions

Megan Small Project Proposal
Title: Animals and Music on Youtube

Project Description:
A large part of my personal involvement in cyberculture deals with animals. Since I currently have no pets living with me, I spend some of my free time looking at animals online. I am not alone in this type of activity. CBS News reported that “Fifteen percent of all Internet traffic is connected to cats.” Similarly, The Telegraph reports that “One in 10 pets [in the U.K.] has a social media profile.” These animals are gathering such a large following that some (for example Grumpy Cat, Boo, Lil’ Bub) are making a mark outside the Internet with book deals, public appearances, endorsements, and product lines. These animals stars, and many others, are impacting culture both on- and offline and are therefore worthy of study. My project will explore animals online and their connections to music.

Research: My first task will be to gain a wide knowledge of animal presence online. In order to limit my research, I will focus solely on youtube videos because they allow sound and the greatest video length. After watching and studying a large number of videos, I will categorize the videos into various types of connections between music and animals. Preliminary categories include: animals reacting to music, animals performing/playing music, music accompanying videos of animals, and music videos including animals. After categorizing, I will ask “why” the music and animals are connected in this way. I will hypothesize based on observation, and attempt to contact the producers of the video. I will also search for and read scholarly information regarding music and/or animals online. Currently, my main interests fall in the category “music accompanying videos of animals.” My research questions are: what musical characteristics are found in music to accompany animals; was the music composed specifically for this video; how, if at all, do the musical sounds reflect the sounds created by the animal; if the music is pre-composed, why was it chosen; how does the music reflect characteristics/personality of the animal; and how does the music reflect relationships between humans and animals. After I have gathered more information, I anticipate that I will need to set limits for the project. These may limits regarding type of animal, type of video, or number of views.

For my project, I will submit a written paper and some sort of media. This will be determined as the project develops but it will mostly likely be a list of links to the videos discussed.

For my presentation, I plan to do a multimedia presentation in which we will view videos and I will read from my paper.

Kelsey McGinnis—- Final Projects Proposal

Working title: “Cyber Sanctuaries: Virtual Places of Worship in American Evangelicalism”

In February 2015, Barna Group published a research report on the changing role of the internet and virtual spaces in American Evangelical churches. According to this report, nearly half of the pastors surveyed (over 1,000) believe that ten years from now, some of their congregants will be having all of their spiritual or religious experiences in online communities or through webcasting, online videos, and other media. Scholars from an array of disciplines have been interested in online religious communities for over a decade. I am interested in contributing to this growing body of research by exploring musical participation in sacred virtual spaces. My proposed research project focuses on the webcasting of congregational music and the experiences of those who choose to participate in it by proxy. How do virtual worshippers perceive the digital tools that mediate their experience? Do they sing aloud, or do they listen and observe? Do individuals choose this mode of participation for privacy? Are congregants “church shopping” for a particular style of music or aesthetic that cannot be found in a local church?

To answer these and other questions, I will conduct a survey of American Evangelical Christians who have tried or regularly participate in online musical worship. The purpose of the survey is to gather the qualitative data needed to present a nuanced, critical perspective on webcast musical worship. Participants who do not regularly choose this mode of participation will have the opportunity to explain why they prefer to attend a church service. I will present the survey findings within existing frameworks utilized by ethnomusicologists currently working on this subject (particularly drawing on the work of Monique Ingalls, Sara Moslener, and Julie Ingersoll). Through ethnographic research and engagement with current scholarship, I hope to present preliminary conclusions (or new hypotheses and questions) on this complex subject.

Project format: Research paper
Final presentation: Partial paper reading and multimedia presentation

Lily Gaetgaeow —- Final Project Proposal
Working Title: Case Studies in Re-Embodiment Through Virtual Musical Spaces

Inspired by Gitelman’s interpretation of player pianos representing a disembodied female body, I plan on exploring the themes of embodiment as mediated through digital technologies. We've touched upon the potential alienating or disembodied nature of interactions through the Internet. However, I would like to examine how we re-create our self through virtual spaces. In particular, I am interested in re-embodiment and how we adapt our bodily sense of self to different virtual sonic spaces and collective ensemble efforts. This project will culminate in a research paper and a combination of a partial paper reading with a multimedia presentation.

For the purposes of this project, I will focus on the theme of re-embodiment and its relation to virtual ensembles. One case study that I have in mind is the Youtube Symphony Orchestra. Based on my preliminary research, the audition process for the Youtube Symphony Orchestra is conducted through Youtube video submissions. From there, musicians are chosen to collaborate in a live concert. Here, the re-embodiment of musicians into a collective ensemble is completely physical. However, Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir provides a potentially more nuanced interpretation of re-embodiment. While the Virtual Choir utilizes a similar video submission process, participants' submissions are combined, synchronized and manipulated by Whitacre to create a piece that represents a singular performance of the chosen piece. After reading Hugill for this week, I realized I could loosely apply his categories of Internet music to my case studies. In particular, I envision exploring how our sense of bodily self relates to Hugill's "Music that uses the Network to Connect Physical Spaces or Instruments" and "Music that Uses the Internet to Enable Collaborative Composition or Performance"(Hugill 433-434).

** Jeff Shuter — Final Project Proposal**
Working Title: Virtual Audition: History, Meaning, and Architectonics of Silent Disco

The practice and culture of wireless headphone dance parties, often called “silent disco”, is an emerging medium for communal music listeners. Silent disco users wear wireless headphone canisters that stream audio content directly to their ear instead of dancing to sound amplified through loudspeakers. Style journalist Courtney Rubin proclaims silent disco as “clubbing for people who don’t want to be subjected to the will of one D.J. for the evening and, because the wearer controls the volume, clubbing for people who don’t want ringing ears and sore throats the next morning” (Rubin, 2015). The practice first gained attention in the early 2000’s when popular bands such as The Flaming Lips experimented with headphone sound amplification technologies in their concert performances. Eventually, local music festival planners who branded silent disco as a new way for young, portable-music savvy tastemakers to experience music performances, adopted wireless headphone technologies. As local music festivals grew in popularity, wireless headphone concerts were incorporated into their festival operation strategies, and, as a result, festivals expanded live concert programming and performance locations to sites otherwise restricted by civil noise ordinances. Now, in 2015, almost every major headphone manufacturer produces silent disco equipment ranging from permanent wireless headphone installations for clubs and auditoriums to consumer wireless-headphone hardware and software designed for private silent disco events. Several online silent disco companies rent packages of wireless headphones to wedding planners, college students, and performance artists alike.

As a media and performance scholar whose research focuses on the convergence of sound technics, social practice, and sensory experience, I want to examine the silent disco phenomenon as part of a larger history of music listening practices, which have long informed audio reproduction technologies. In particular, I want to examine how sonic experience and social behavior vary between loudspeaker and headphone machines.

As Jonathan Sterne suggests in The Audible Past, headphone apparatuses are the result of early capitalist and progressive social thought which sought to privilege the human ear over the voice. Loudspeaker systems, such as the amplification component of the phonograph (later improved by the gramophone horn), were intended to privilege sound sources. As such, the cultural origin of the loudspeaker is thought to impose sound on audiences, to broadcast a source, which, as Sterne suggests, extends from longstanding theological and oralist histories that equate sound sources with voices of the divine (or, “vox”). Headphones, which establish interior and exterior zones of audile experience, are thought to shift the listening experience from disembodied sacred sources to the user body, the sensorium.

The idea that headphones zone interior and exterior listening experience (the result of which is thought to empower an auditor) is echoed by one of the leading online silent disco headset providers: Silent Storm. The company writes, “We not only produce silenced events but also provide an easy way for organizations to rent equipment to “silence” any event…. Keep meaningful networking and personal conversations alive by allowing guests to converse freely without having to yell over blaring music” (Silent Storm 2015).

On the surface, it would seem that silent discos democratize the listening experience by allowing the auditor more control over their audio content feed (i.e. the user can freely switch between streaming music and the conversation of their friends). Silent Storm even gestures toward certain philosophical underpinnings from Shuhei Hosokawa’s “The Walkman Effect”, which portrays the Walkman portable music user as one who listens to an “open, public secret”. Hosokawa suggests portable listening is a public theater event – wherein a headphone user reveals to his/her cohorts secret interpretations of the music from which the user is privately listening. Silent Storm suggests that silent discos are public theater in their mission statement: “… After all, a dance floor grooving to apparent silence makes for great people-watching and will keep your guests talking” (Silent Storm, 2015).

By reclaiming the experience of listening as individual and embodied only in conjunction with shared music experiences, wireless headphone dance parties seem to postulate that the ear is more than an acoustic mirror that reflects vibrations out into the world – rather; that the ear is an active participant in the shaping of vibrations.

Yet, the notion that silent discos subvert all-powerful loudspeakers and/or draconian noise ordinances which impose the will of pre-set audio content seems… well, off. What of the concertgoer whose post-show tinnitus is a badge of honor, who delights in screaming over the music to the point of laryngitis? As Brandon Labelle suggests in Acoustic Territories, “Music serves as material experience through which we learn how to hear, to detect, and to engage with the auditory environment – as intervals that break up the day… as sensations existing below the auditory field, and within vibration sensing, also granting us a deep vocabulary for how to feel” (138).

Headphones virtualize how music interacts with physical space. The headphone user does not feel the audio content in their chest, and his/her teeth do not chatter with hi-frequency vibration. By virtualizing the audio spectrum, headphones make intelligible the feel of sound, but they do not reproduce the feel of sound. Can we really say that listening is enhanced, or that bodies are more agential when responding only to upper partials?

When sound is too loud at a concert, or when I feel uncomfortable listening to audio content amplified over loudspeakers, I easily leave that physical space and am no longer responsive to that sound. But as a frequent participant in silent discos over the years, I never need to leave the party. Whether I switch the audio feed in my headphones or observe my friends dance, I am immersed in myriad reasons to stay — to keep dancing. These concerns, rather, these feelings, are the core this project and perhaps the strongest link to our coursework in cyber music. As Lysoff and Gay note, “Because of human agency, technology can be politically oppressive yet also liberating; it might build community while simultaneously 
causing social alienation” (17). To what extent is a silent disco listening experience not listening at all – instead, the reproduction of social obligations and norms disguised by musical sonority and virtualized as communal experience?


Step One:
Prepare annotated bibliography for review (to be incorporated into final paper)

Step Two:
Prepare rough draft of paper for review

Final Submission: Seminar Paper

Final Presentation: Oral Reading of Paper


Hosokawa, S. (1987). Der Walkman-Effekt. Berlin: Merve.

LaBelle, B. (2010). Acoustic territories sound culture and everyday life. New York: Continuum.

Post, J. (2006). Ethnomusicology: A contemporary reader. New York: Routledge.

Rubin, C. (2015, June 18). Silent Discos Let You Dance to Your Own Beat. The New York Times.

Sterne, J. (2003). The audible past: Cultural origins of sound reproduction. Durham: Duke University Press.

Bo Atlas

Modernizing the sound of the tuba ensemble

My proposal is to take a standard tuba ensemble piece (Power, by John Stevens) and electronically remix it to sound like an track in the Electronic Dance music genre. Many audiences think the sound of a tuba ensemble is not enjoyable, or otherwise purely a novelty. I intend to show that this music with a different set of timbres would work in the popular music realm as well as it would in the classical sphere. This will be done through the use of technology, reorchestration, and remixing of parts.

Record the individual parts of the tuba quartet into Garageband, followed by adding percussion and other bass tracks below it. Then, I will affect the sounds of the tuba parts, followed by creating additional connective material in the style of an EDM song.

For the final submission, I will submit a finished remix of the song

For the presentation, I will present the original version and the new verison side by side, and discuss the tools used to affect the piece in such a way.

Back up idea:
Diversification of the consumption of music in the post internet Age

I intend to do a research paper delving into the music listening trends of the post internet age in comparison with before it’s advent. With more options and more access to music online than ever before, has the types/genres of music that people listened change, and also the types of performances (i.e. professional, amateur, live, studio).


Case studies of individuals from different age groups
-divided into subgroups by age/sex/occupational status
-multiple per group for comparison within subgroups
-Using genres to generally define listening habits

Final Submission: Data/charts based on the results and conclusion therein

Final presentation: Presenting the material from the submission.

Arthur Scoleri - Final Project Proposal
Working Title: Dancing in the (Deep)web: Exploring Education and Community in the Virtual World of EDM Production

Although it often goes unnoticed and underappreciated by academic musicians and scholars alike, electronic dance music (EDM) has captivated and moved audiences of thousands for nearly forty years. While EDM as we know it has grown exponentially in popularity since the new millennium, the processes behind the production and dissemination of this music still remains unfortunately mysterious. To a novice interested in music production- and eventually, mixing and perhaps even broadcasting- the resources available on the Internet are often nebulous and difficult to understand. Through a variety of platforms (i.e. YouTube, Soundcloud) I plan to gather functional production knowledge and interact with producers and listeners in the hopes of furthering my abilities and more fully understanding the virtual EDM community.

To begin this process, I will scour the Internet to find tutorials and live production feeds in order to begin working more comfortably with the media controllers and workstations I already have. Additionally, I may supplement this with credible literature as it surfaces. Throughout this initial phase, I aim to keep a record of this information, perhaps in the form of a blog or journal. As my comfort with the language and hardware of EDM grows, I will interact with various communities more regularly, as well as find a collaborative space to receive criticism of my own work. Eventually, I hope to produce at least one track, and maybe even broadcast some loops via through a live video platform like YouTube. By the end of this semester, I would like to demonstrate my ability to use these controllers in a physical and improvisatory capacity in class. Further, I would like to utilize my knowledge of the technology and EDM community to give a brief demo demystifying the process through which electronic music is produced and circulated in the context of the Internet.

Hayley Graham: Final Project Proposal

Working Title: The Use of Technology in Music Therapy

As the use of technology in music continues to expand, its influence becomes very present in music therapy practice. Technology, in this sense, can involve a variety of distinct manifestations. As we have discussed in class, recorded music has altered the past emphasis on participatory music, instead often creating a distinction between the musician and the consumer. As music therapy is inherently participatory in nature, this use of recorded music has implications for how clients engage with and respond to music therapy interventions. I plan to investigate the difference in effectiveness between recorded and live, interactive music in music therapy sessions with various populations. Additionally, recent technological advancements have led to the development of a variety of apps and tools that can be used to create music. In some situations, these serve to augment traditional music experiences, while in others they may replace traditional acoustic instruments. In music therapy, this can be beneficial in that it may allow individuals who lack cognitive or motor skills to make music through a non-traditional medium. Therefore, the second area of focus for my research will be on the role of these apps and tools in the therapeutic effectiveness of music therapy. By considering both recorded music and technological music tools and their roles in music therapy effectiveness, I hope to merge the ideas discussed in class with my own future practice.

To begin my research, I will search online databases to gather information on this topic. I am already aware of several journal articles and podcasts within the music therapy community that have focused on technology in music therapy, and hope to expand this to a substantial base of sources which will inform my research. I will compile these sources into a bibliography, then read each of them, taking note of common themes and trends that emerge. I will then write a review of literature synthesizing the information that I have found, including current practice and emerging trends, and ending with recommendations for future directions in both research and clinical practice in music therapy. My final product for this course will be a research paper on this topic, and my final presentation to the class will be a PowerPoint presentation illustrating my findings. If possible, I would also like to demonstrate some of the apps that are used in music therapy for the class to show the capabilities that they possess.

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