This course is an interdisciplinary workshop which explores the intersection between music & sound art, technology, and the natural sciences. Students will develop an essential understanding of the use of natural sound in art, including its origins, types, manifestations, and aesthetic concerns as they have appeared throughout the Western musical canon, and through to our modern era. Working closely with a master composer and field recording artist, and a professional quartet, students will learn to apply relevant practical, theoretical, and philosophical knowledge & wisdom in the pursuit of meaningful artistic and academic endeavors, and as a tool for activism. Through a mixture of field recording sessions, lectures, reading, writing & listening assignments, and hands-on training, students will gain skills in (1) listening to, understanding, analyzing, and discussing natural sound, (2) field recording – including an introduction to portable recording devices and mobile recording techniques, and (3) compositional techniques. Field sessions will take place at nearby locations, ripe with a diverse reservoir of natural sound, including Stanford University’s Lake Lagunita and Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Palo Alto’s Foothills Park, and the Pacific Coast at Half Moon Bay. Each student should develop a personal approach to the use of natural sound as art, by making original field recordings from which to creatively respond.
The class will also attend a live performance and participate in discussion with a professional quartet. The Vera Quartet will serve as the 2019 SPCS Quartet in Residence. The Vera Quartet made an exceptional showing at the 2018 Wigmore International String Quartet Competition and is currently the quartet in residence at The Curtis Institute — America's preeminent music conservatory.