Berlin and the Digital Music Era

Freie Universität Berlin

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Berlin and the Digital Music Era

  • Host University

    Freie Universität Berlin

  • Location

    Berlin, Germany

  • Area of Study

    German Culture, Music (BA), Music Technology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    This course is open to all students. No previous experience studying music or technology is necessary.

    Please note that while the topic of technology is integral to the course, we will primarily examine it through the lens of music and cultural history, rather than learning how to program or engineer music technology.

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Over the past twenty years Berlin has become a thriving crossroads at the intersection of music and technology. It serves as the hub of techno/electronic music and dance culture, and as the home of leading music software developers such as Abelton. Berlin sets the trends in the fast-changing technological world. This course will examine significant developments in music and technology, such as Virtual Studio Technology (VST), Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), and digital distribution. In particular, we will focus on the growth of these technologies within Germany, specifically Berlin.

    Our first goal will be to understand how technology influences the production and performance of new music, primarily within the realm of popular music. We will discuss the history of electronic dance music and visit the impressive local venues constructed for the reception of this music. We will also explore Berlin's global role in the music production industry, by learning about the companies that supply the sounds of contemporary music (such as Native Instruments).

    Our second goal will be to explore how technology facilitates new modes of experiencing and acquiring music. For this portion of the course, we will discuss how technology is being used to reinvigorate an interest in classical music, by innovative establishments such as the Berlin Philharmonic. We will also look at the hot-button issue of digital music distribution, and how Berlin-based companies such as SoundCloud are finding ways of digitally distributing music in a manner that empowers, rather than overrides musicians.

    Finally, our third goal will be to explore how developments in music technology impact other artistic media, such as film, television, and contemporary art. In addition to examining the interaction between music and film/tv technologies, we will also visit a gallery in Berlin specifically devoted to contemporary sound art.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations