History 390: The Digital Past, Spring 2021

Record Cutting Lathe

Zoom Link: https://gmu.zoom.us/j/93141696007?pwd=SWtwblJQdEpJMmhQaXhUV0J5T242dz09

Michael O’Malley Spring 2021
This course will explore the history of American music and music technology, focusing especially on digital technology as it developed after WWII. The course will alternate between the history of digital media and the history of American music, looking at where they merge. We will be considering the larger question of what communications technology does not just for you, but to you—what does it mean to adopt a new technology? Your final project will be to make a song using GarageBand or similar software, and annotate the experience. The song does not have to be good.

Required books
Nicholas Carr, The Shallows
Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman, A Mind at Play
Karl Miller, Segregating Sound
Stephen Witt, How Music Got Free

Four reading quizzes, due as described below
Class participation 20%
Final Assignment, 50%

Other requirements:
GarageBand or similar music production software
Willingness to learn how to use DAW software


Monday, January 25. Introduction:
Wednesday January 27. Why does music sound like it does? Come to class having read/watched The Loudness War

Monday, February 1 Lecture: Technology and Culture
Wednesday, February 3 Lecture: The Cold War

Monday, February 8 Discussion Group A, Abdush-Shaheed to Johnston. Carr, The Shallows
Wednesday, February 10: Discussion Group B, Leslie to Wemple, Carr, The Shallows

Monday, February 15 1st reading quiz due. Lecture: Analog computers. Come to class having watched https://youtu.be/_8aH-M3PzM0 and https://youtu.be/w-wemKmlaBk.
Wednesday, February 17 Group A discuss Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think,” The Atlantic (July 1945)

Monday, February 22 Group B Discuss Bush, Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think,” The Atlantic (July 1945)
Wednesday, February 24 Lecture: History of the internet and HTML Come to class having watched how the internet works and History of the Internet

Monday, March 1 Group A discuss Soni and Goodman, A Mind at Play
Wednesday, March 3 Group B discuss Soni and Goodman, A Mind at Play

Monday, March 8  Lecture: American Popular music: an introduction Reading quiz #2 due
Wednesday, March 10 Lecture: History of Recording.

Monday, March 15 Lecture: The making of musical genre and the history of distribution
Wednesday, March 17 Lecture: Music and displacement

Monday, March 22 Lecture: Imperialism and musical movement
Monday March 24 All class, Miller, Segregating Sound

Monday, March 29 Lecture: Open source, Wikipedia and crowd sourcing: read this article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/15/wikipedia-20-year-anniversary/
Wednesday, March 31 Third Reading quiz due. Lecture: Sampling and Hip Hop

Monday, April 5. Lecture: Copyright and Sampling
Wednesday, April 7 Come to class having completed the Digital scavenger hunt

Monday April 12 DAW Workshop.
Wednesday April 14 Lecture: Enclosure of the Commons

Monday April 19 Group A Discuss Witt, How Music Got Free
Wednesday April 21 Group B Discuss Witt, How Music Got Free

Monday, April 26 Reading Quiz four due. Lecture, Streaming, taste, and community Read this article on How Garageband sounds are made
Wednesday, April 28 Review: Modeling the final project.