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MMEDIA 3MU3 Musics, Tech, Audio Cultures (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2019

Term: Spring

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Philip Rose


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 333

Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: Tuesdays 11:30-12:20

Course Objectives:

1. Critically interpret the impact of technology, media, and culture on the musical experience.

2. Understand how sound technologies and performance/listening practices have changed historically.

3. Discuss how historically changing media and reproduction technologies have shaped musical styles and cultural identities -- and vice versa.

4. Name, describe, and apply different modes of listening.

5. Identify, analyse, and evaluate the ways that technology, media, and culture have impacted various modes of listening.

6. Develop the ability to become more critical – more open-eared – listeners.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Albrecht, Robert. 2004. Mediating the Muse: A Communications Approach to Music, Media and Culture Change. New Jersey: Hampton Press.

Method of Assessment:

professionalism/participation: 10%

literature search (due Feb. 5):  5%

introduction and thesis/annotated bibliography (due Feb. 26):  10%

midterm (Feb. 28):  15%

final project - term paper/podcast (due April 4):  30%

final exam (date to be announced):  30%

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties: McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

Make-up tests/exams will be allowed in case of emergency only, with proper documentation; make-ups will be different than the original and will be scheduled by the Professor. The student has one week to contact the professor to schedule a make-up, after which time a make-up will not be permitted.

Since the university uses software that can check for plagiarism, you must submit final papers directly to the professor in hard copy and electronically through the link to 'Turn it in' on Avenue. Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day due. Papers are late if they are submitted the same day after class. LATE assignments, in order to document completion date, must be sent by email, but then submit hard copies of late papers directly to the professor as soon as possible. Hard copies must be identical to electronic copies or risk a mark of 0%. Retain a copy of your paper for your own files.

All late assignments incur a late penalty of 10% per day late (starting immediately upon collection of papers in class); weekend days are treated separately, due to the fact that you can initially submit electronically. Assignments more than ten days late will not be accepted. If you know you will not be in class on an assignment due date, it is your responsibility to submit work early.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Week 1: Music, Energy, and Performance

Jan. 8 -- Course Intro -- Albrecht, Robert. 2004. “Chapter 1 – Communication in a New Key” in Mediating the Muse: A Communications Approach to Music, Media and Culture Change. New Jersey: Hampton Press, pp. 17-46.

Jan. 10 -- Ferreira, Pedro Peixoto. 2008. “When Sound Meets Movement: Performance in Electronic Dance Music.” Leonardo Music Journal 18: 17–20. 

Week 2: Mimetic Soundscapes and Multimedia

Jan. 15 -- Albrecht, Robert. 2004. “Chapter 2 – In the Time Before Rhyme” in Mediating the Muse: A Communications Approach to Music, Media and Culture Change. New Jersey: Hampton Press, pp. 47-82.

Jan. 17 -- Cook, Nicholas. 1994. “Music and meaning in the commercials”, Popular Music, 13(1), 27-40.

Week 3: Audio Culture: Orality and Musical Notation

Jan. 22 -- Albrecht, Robert. 2004. “Chapter 3 – And the Word Was Made in Flesh” in Mediating the Muse: A Communications Approach to Music, Media and Culture Change. New Jersey: Hampton Press, pp. 83-135.   

Jan. 24 -- Small, Christopher. 2001. “Why Doesn’t the Whole World Love Chamber Music?” American Music 19(3): 340–359.

Week 4: Acoustic Space, Acoustic Ecology, and Listening

Jan. 29 -- Marshall McLuhan. 2004. “Visual and Acoustic Space.” Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, eds. Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner, 67-72. New York: Continuum.

     -- Schafer, R. Murray. 2012. “The Soundscape.” In The Sound Studies Reader, ed. Jonathan Sterne, 95–103. New York: Routledge.

Jan. 31 -- Chion, Michel. 1994. “The Three Listening Modes.” In Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen, ed. and trans. Claudia Gorbman, 25–33. New York: Columbia University Press.

Week 5: Aural Space and its Manipulations

Feb. 5 -- Morrison, James. 2009. “Acoustic, Visual, and Aural Space: The Quest for Virtuality in Music Production”, Explorations in Media Ecology, 8/2, pp. 81-98.

         -- MacFarlane, Thomas. 2015. "A Mosaic Approach to Abbey Road." Volume! 12/2, pp. 145-160.

-- literature search due --

Feb. 7 -- Rose, Phil. 2015. "Dark Side of the Moon". In Roger Waters and Pink Floyd: The Concept Albums, Madison, New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

Week 6: From Notational to Electronic Soundscapes: the Soundwork

Feb. 12 -- Albrecht, Robert. 2004. “Chapter 4 – The Muse Goes Electric” in Mediating the Muse: A Communications Approach to Music, Media and Culture Change. New Jersey: Hampton Press, pp. 137-182.

Feb. 14 -- Michele Hilmes. “On a Screen Near You: The New Soundwork Industry.” Cinema Journal 52.3 (2013: 177-182).

Feb. 19/21 -- Midterm Recess: No classes

Week 7: Gone Electric I

Feb. 26 -- Gould, Glenn. 1984 (1966). "The Prospects of Recording" in The Glenn Gould Reader. New York: Alfred K. Knopf, pp. 331-353.

                           -- proposals/annotated bibliography due --

Feb. 28 -- Midterm Test

Week 8: Gone Electric II

Mar. 5 -- Albrecht, Robert. 2004. “Chapter 11 – The Silent Song” in Mediating the Muse: A Communications Approach to Music, Media and Culture Change. New Jersey: Hampton Press, pp. 375-410.

Mar. 7 -- Peterson, Richard A. 1990. “Why 1955? Explaining the Advent of Rock Music.” Popular Music 9(1): 97–116.

Week 9: Other Audio Contexts

Mar. 12 -- Platoff, John. 2005. “John Lennon, ‘Revolution’, and the Politics of Reception”, The Journal of Musicology, 22/2, pp. 241-267.

Mar. 14 -- Hodgson, Jay. 2007. “Mapping Muzak/Hearing Interior Design”, Explorations in Media Ecology, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 49-66.

Week 10: Gone Digital I

Mar. 19 -- Lacey, Kate. 2013. “Listening in the Digital Age.” Radio’s New Wave: Global Sound in the Digital Era. Eds. Jason Loviglio, New York: Routledge, pp. 9-21.

Mar. 21 -- Byrne, David. 2013. “Technology Shapes Music: Digital”, How Music Works. San Francisco: McSweeney’s, pp. 117-137.                                   

Week 11: Music, Identity, and Technological Plurality

Mar. 26 -- Rose, Phil. 2011. “Radiohead and the Media Fallout of OK Computer”, Explorations in Media Ecology, Vol. 10, Nos. 1&2, pp. 75-90.

Mar. 28 -- Prior, Nick. 2013. “The Plural iPod: A Study of Technology in Action.” Poetics 42(1), pp. 1-16.

Week 12: Gone Digital II

Apr. 2 -- Prey, R. 2016. “Musica Analytica: The Datafication of Listening. ” In Nowak, R., & Whelan, A. (Eds.) Networked Music Cultures (pp. 31-48). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Apr. 4 -- film screening/final project due

Week 13: Concluding Thoughts

Apr. 9 -- Course Wrap-Up/Review/Questions