What is sound art? This curious term became popular in the 1990s and has loosely been used to refer to works of art incorporating sound that are created for gallery installation (as opposed to works intended for concert performance). “Sound art” also has a more flexible and ambiguous use, applied to a wide range works involving sound that do not fall under the category of music. This course will explore both the recent history of sound art and questions of acoustic ecology in conversation with local sound artists in Philadelphia, while simultaneously delving into a long history of sound art, understood in its broadest sense. Over the course of the semester, we will explore topics including Aeolian harps and the idea of “nature music,” sound design, the relationship between sound and architecture, musical machines and automata, John Cage and the history of listening. Student assignments will involve contributing to a class blog, short writing assignments, as well as creative projects, such as making an environmental recording.

college.upenn.edu/freshman-seminars

provost.upenn.edu/initiatives/arts

sas.upenn.edu/music

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