What is the course about?
In this introductory course we will explore the two main concepts that have driven the production of electronic music in art music composition and popular musics: synthesised music and sampling.
Please note that City Lit also offers a related practical course
BBC Radiophonic workshop techniques, where you can learn how to create this kind of music yourself.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
These ideas start with the European post 1945 electronic music studios: the synthesised focused German Elektronische Musik and the sampling focused French Musique concrète.
We will trace the development of synthesised music as it breaks away from its institutional modernist context and via the postmodern revolution of mass produced syntheseisers and personal computers and goes on to underpin dance music from the 1980s onwards.
We will trace sampling from Pierre Schaeffer’s early field recording experiments, through Steve Reich’s tape work to John Ozwald’s copyright defying Plunderphonics and hip-hop.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Understand the technological and artistic context for the post war electronic music studios in Paris and Cologne and the early electronic work of Pierre Schaeffer and Stockhausen.
Have some familiarity with electronic art music composition in the middle of the c20th including repertoire by Eliane Radigue, Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram.
Trace the leap synthesised music made from German technological modernism to African American techno music via Kraftwerk in the 1970s.
Understand sampling’s use of fixed media or found materials in an art music context (Pluderphonics, Jennifer Walshe) and as the predominant technique used in hip hop.
Understand how technological changes that created cheap consumer goods to make electronic music (Yamaha keyboards, Apple computers, tape players) drove the aesthetic shift from modernism to post modernism in the late c20th.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for absolute beginners. However, we may look at some music scores (both handwritten and electronic) and learn to identify key features of music notation (e.g. how many singers, or orchestral parts), so this will be suitable for those who are curious and ambitious to learn.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
This is an online course:
Sessions will be held via video-conference (google meets or Zoom) and comprise combinations of lecture, discussion, quizzes, guided listening, video and score study. Course materials (handouts, scores, links to online videos) will be shared via google classroom.
You will be encouraged to do extra reading outside class.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will need a good internet connection and a computer with microphone & webcam. If using a tablet it will need a screen large enough for you to comfortably view the class handouts.
You may also wish to purchase some of the music books or recordings discussed in class, links to these materials will be available online after each session.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
To find out more about music history classes Music history courses in London and online which lists our full programme of classes ordered by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.
You may also be interested in creating your own electronic music. See our range of courses you can take online.