Thoughts on Teaching Humanness Through Music Technology

Check out my first blog post for the CUNY Humanities Alliance

“When we talk about programming rhythm, I ask students to start quantized (rhythmically regular), and gradually give them ideas on how to incorporate irregularity. Each student comes up with different ways of balancing and organizing these forces. When we talk about choosing software, I explain the benefits of each program, but I also ask students how they approach individuality and expression in a world where so many people are working with the exact same tools. I ask them to think about technological determinism, and how the software influences their decisions and sounds. When we talk about digital audio (really fun stuff like file formats, sampling rate, and bit depth), we compare our everyday associations with the words “analog” (lo-fi, warmth) and “digital” (hi-fi, cold, clean) with an actual technical definition: continuous or discrete. They’re surprised when I say that typewriters are digital because they have a discrete number of possible characters, and have interesting arguments against this. One student said that yes, the characters are finite, but that the way a typewrite puts ink on a page and the alignment of each line is always a little bit different.”