Re: new students

Subject: Re: new students
From: Rosemary Mountain (
Date: Fri Mar 05 1999 - 05:37:40 EST

> We have tried to work on a curricular design that would: (1) have enough
> courses, and (2) interest enough students to be able to run....
> The first years of ea courses are not that difficult to populate: but what
> are the cognate courses? Acoustics and psychoacoustics will not have
> enough interest (partly because of the need for some 'traditional music'
> background).

Earlier this week I was arguing a similar point re: the "saleability" of
acoustics when a colleague suggested optimistically that we could offer
it as an option course -- and thereby ensure that the students would be
likely to take it. To music students, the phobia of mathematical
formulae associated (at least in their minds) with the course will make
them want to shy away -- and I suspect that "PSYCHO!" acoustics has a
latent implication of the same phobia exacerbated by a psychotic
professor....? The field/subject matter formerly termed
"psychoacoustics" is often subsumed these days into "music perception
and cognition" and such words.

Apart from changing the name for promotional reasons (!), I think that
the subject matter of psychoacoustics does not require a "traditional
music" context. The related field of auditory scene analysis, for
example, is usually explained in terms of the sonic environment in
general -- how we distinguish between voices, cars, airplanes, gurgling
brooks, etc.
> [...] the 'sound' student doesn't have enough courses to have a
> "Major in Sound". What would these courses be? What areas would/could be
> included? Any ideas?

There are courses in England that I know of, such as at Bournemouth
University, where they offer a Master's in "Souhnd Deisgn for the Moving
Image". Included in their coursework are, apart from perceptual issues,
the relationship of sound and music with image -- this suggests various
semiotics, communication studies in general, even information theory,
but also our association of certain sounds/gestures with specific
actions -- an area that is being explored by people like Rolf Inge Godoy
-- and Jorge Antunes.

Then there are soundscape issues -- not only noise levels (see other
thread!) but the function of signals and the (shifting) importance of
characteristic sounds of the community (churchbells / honking cars), and
social issues more specifially music- (not sound-) related such as the
effect of a change of musical style on a public space (see Hargreaves
and North). I think that one reason so many universities are including
/ focussing on pop music is exactly to be able to talk about such
generic issues relating to music while using terms of reference much
more familiar to the students enrolled.
I can't believe that any student enrolled in ea has not listened to the
radio. Then it comes down to the professor being sufficiently
with a variety of styles to be able to draw comparisons.



Dr. Rosemary Mountain University of Aveiro Communication & Art Dept. P-3810 Aveiro, Portugal

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