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FU-BEST 29: Music in the Digital Age (Fall only)

InstructorDr. Hilary Baker
Credit Points5 ECTS / 3 U.S. credits

Fall semester only


From virtual instruments to illegal downloads, recent decades have seen the landmark effects of digital technology on the production and dissemination of musical content. In this course, we will examine the nature of these shifts and sample salient and productive intersections of music and technology in transatlantic contexts. Through specific case studies, we will tackle the following questions: How have these technologies encouraged unprecedented modes of hearing and acquiring music? In what ways has digital music technology enabled personal and communal experiences with musical content and style? And how do we reconcile the long-established connections between music and place in an era when music seems to exist largely in “the cloud?”

The first unit of the course will examine the nature of experiencing music in the digital era. Our second unit will explore the manner in which musicians and producers have employed digital tools to develop new industry standards. Our third goal will be to consider the manner in which digital music technologies have been applied to media outside of the mainstream music industry.

Throughout the semester, we will consider how these technological shifts have encouraged and enabled a globalized reception of music that simultaneously hinges on the role of geographic centers. Berlin will serve as our primary example of this, as it is a well-respected center of multiple musical scenes (including classical and electronic dance music) that participates in a globalized mainstream music industry. Thus, our discussions of these topics will often reference musical movements, companies, and technologies associated with Berlin (and elsewhere), but we will situate these topics within the broader transatlantic music industry.