Berlin: Music and Sound in the Digital Age

Freie Universität Berlin

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Berlin: Music and Sound in the Digital Age

  • Host University

    Freie Universität Berlin

  • Location

    Berlin, Germany

  • Area of Study

    Electronics Engineering, Music

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • 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

    Course description

    The course is dedicated to contemporary developments in music and sound in the midst of digital culture. The specific conditions in Berlin will be examined in relation to other cities around the world – especially those in which the course participants live – as well as to global networking. Current texts from the fields of cultural studies, musicology, sound studies, and urbanism will be discussed. We will visit sites of music production and consumption in Berlin, and examine local music cultural phenomena and the spectrum of urban sounds. The course will thus cover the broad spectrum of music and sound, with a particular focus on electronic music (from techno and house to experimental electronica) for which Berlin is especially known, but also on sound art (in galleries or online), on interactive sounds (computer games), and on the acoustics of the built environment and urban noise. In many ways, Berlin is a center for contemporary electronic music. This is not least due to the strong connection between technological and aesthetic developments. Nightclubs, such as the Berghain, have dedicated sound systems, which allow a specific acoustic experience and encourage night-long dancing and partying. Berlin-based companies such as Ableton and Native Instruments are global leaders in their music software. The dominance of digital 'virtual' technology is at the same time characterized by an increasing focus on the virtual and haptic dimensions. Among other things, software companies have made strong efforts over the past years to develop their own hardware controllers for their computer programs in order to be able to better design musical processes manually. Based on such phenomena, the course will explore the relationship between aesthetic trends and technological developments with a focus on the cultural and economic conditions in Berlin. What makes Berlin a magnet not only for thrill-seeking club-goers but also for DJs, musicians, producers, and developers? How does this relate to the recent past of Berlin since the fall of the Berlin Wall, especially given the gentrification processes? To what extent is Berlin's creative scene at the same time internationally networked and can its conditions only be understood in a global context? Beyond the Berlin perspective, the course examines the current conditions of production and consumption as well as the performance and distribution of music. How do legal/illegal file sharing and streaming services affect listening to music? What is changing in music culture through sampling, remixing, and approaches to interactive music in video games? What opposing trends are out there? 2 A special focus of the course is on the manifold border areas and exchange relations of music, sound art, and environmental sounds. In addition to the joint discussion of texts and film excerpts, excursions also provide an opportunity for an exchange with proven experts in the course subject areas. At the end of the course, the participants can elaborate on and present a topic (either alone or in a group) of their choice in the context of the general list of topics on the course.

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


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