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ARTS 371 Syllabus sp14

January 20, 2014

Sound Art (ARTS 371)


Instructors: David Dvorin:


Office Hours: PAC 211

M 10:30am-12:30pm;

W 10:30am-12:30pm;

F 10:30am-11:30am; or by appointment


Sheri Simons:


Office Hours: AYRES 114

Monday 1-2, Tuesday 9-11am and Thursday 10-11am


Class Meetings: M, W 2:00pm-4:50pm in Ayres 122

FINAL: May 15 12 noon – 4pm


Prerequisites: MUSC: 102, 109, 241, 342 (concurrent); or Instructor’s permission

ARTS: 123, 270; or Instructor’s permission;

Students from other departments such as Engineering, Physics, etc. are also encouraged to take the class with Instructor’s permission.


Course Description: This course emphasizes collaboration. This is reflected by both the collaborative instruction (from Departments of Art and Music), and by students working in cross-discipline groups. Our aim is to expose students to some of the similarities between the disciplines of music/sound and art. The goal is to provide a setting for co-authoring expressive works that involve and evolve both disciplines. We will use sound as a material, and likewise, use art as a vehicle integral to hearing or listening to a work.  In order to blur the boundaries of each area, students will work together to explore technical and creative concepts common to sound and art. Lectures, demonstrations, and assignments will assist students in their understanding of sound principles, design concepts, and fabrication techniques.  Students will have studio time for group work.


Topics and Lectures:
  • Sound Art: historical precedence and contemporaries
  • The nature of sound: What is it? Why make it?
  • Music notation as art and vise versa
  • Breaking into sound: transducers, circuit bending
  • Intro to MIDI as a transmission protocol
  • The Wiimote: sensors, activating a space


Required Attendance:


  • 3/1 @ 7:30pm New Music Symposium: The Golem
Required Materials:
  • Wiimote (Gamestop on Mangrove has used and new, about $20-$30)
  • Osculator software (group buy, $13 each group)


Make Up: There will be no making up due dates and exams unless previously arranged with the instructor.


Grading Breakdown:
  • Assignments/Projects: 45%
  • Final project 50%
  • Attendance/participation 5%


Grading and Evaluation Criteria: Grading will be based on standards found in the University Catalog under  “Academic Policies”. See the catalog for an explanation of letter grading.

An ongoing personal self-assessment is important. Refer often to the list below. The evaluation categories are broken into percentages. These apply to the criteria used for grades in individual assignments as well as the computation of your final grade in the course.


A.  Courage [nerve!] –  30% :

➡      Student demonstrates a sense of adventure, curiosity and bravery in exploring solutions and materials.

➡      Student goes outside of their comfort zone in an effort to learn new ways of understanding.

➡      Student listens to peer and instructor feedback about their work; makes use of suggestions and observations made in critiques and class discussions.


B.  Tenacity and Quality [practice/discipline] – 30%:

➡      Through trial and error, several attempts are made at working the problem’s methods, materials and ideas into a well-crafted form.

➡      The principles and techniques assigned are practiced, analyzed, and understood.

➡      Student doesn’t settle for half-baked results.

➡      Requirements of the assignment are met and, ideally, surpassed.


C.  Personalization [concept] – 20%:

➡      As a result of the above practices, student develops a personal sensibility and raises their level of confidence in their methods of thinking.

➡      There is intellectual and intuitive rhyme and reason behind their decisions.

➡      It is clear that the student pursues nourishment by looking at other artists in tandem with learning to develop a voice of their own. Student is exploring contemporary currents in order to understand their own context. Note: personal sensibility is different than “talent” or even “style”. It is more important that you explore many paths than protect a safe haven.


D. Professionalism [proof] – 20%:

➡      Consideration of your impact on and contribution to the learning environment; attitude towards peers, safety in the studio, concern for the work of others.

➡      Investment in the quality and presentation of your work as well as meeting deadlines on all assignments.

➡      Fostering a mindset of self-nourishment: attending events in the arts, reading, figuring out what works best for your inspirational needs and pursuing knowledge.


Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act: If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the DSS Office (Disability Support Services) to establish a record of their disability.


Special accommodations for exams require ample notice to the testing office and must be submitted to the instructor well in advance of the exam date.

Disability Services: Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss your specific needs. Please also contact the Disability Support Services office to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Disabilities Support Services online:


Academic Integrity: Students are expected to be familiar with the University’s Academic Integrity Policy. Your own commitment to learning, as evidenced by your enrollment at California State University, Chico, and the University’s Academic Integrity Policy requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. The policy on academic integrity and other resources related to student conduct can be found at:



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