Electronic Music Interactive v2

About Electronic Music Interactive

Students taking "Music Theory I" must be able to read and write basic notation of pitch and rhythm; to understand concepts such as tempo, meter, timbre, dynamics, and transposition; to know major and minor scales, key and time signatures; and to spell major and minor triads. Nevertheless, when students begin their studies of electronic music they often find the subject dense and opaque.

While teaching electronic music I discovered that a true beginning electronic music text did not exist. Good texts that taught music fundamentals were readily available but no publisher offered the equivalent for electronic music. Many books for the beginner presuppose a working knowledge of sophisticated mathematics or computer programming, a background which many traditionally-trained musicians do not possess. Other texts are too "narrow-cast," concerned only with a single system of making music, resulting in material that is not necessarily applicable to all systems.

The text I was looking for needed to be a music theory primer for electronic music, but yet a survey that prepared students for study of music theory in a university curriculum. Because of the paucity of suitable material, in the end I decided that I was facing a challenge: if I wanted the proper syllabus then I had to create it myself. The result is Electronic Music Interactive.

I dedicate the body of the material to the preparation of the student for the study of electronic music in much the same way as another primer might prepare a student for the study of music theory. The discussion begins at a point where I believe my beginner students will be able to comprehend the material and follow the discussion as it delves into each succeeding level of information. With this in mind, Electronic Music Interactive makes only a few simple assumptions about its students. The first is that they understand that sounds can be recorded with a microphone and tape recorder, and that such recorded sounds can later be played back with an amplification system and loudspeakers.

Electronic Music Interactive also assumes that its students possess a basic music literacy. Because the production of electronic music is a rapidly changing field, the terms, concepts and techniques considered in Electronic Music Interactive will be applicable to many synthesis environments. The material is divided into two parts. The first deals with sound, its representation and its synthesis, while the second examines how created sounds can be played and arranged into a musical score. Additionally, the information is designed so that a teacher using this material could easily augment it and apply it to a specific studio or many other unique musical contexts.

Have I offered a complete and exhaustive discussion about each topic? No. My hope is that Electronic Music Interactive will be the first stepping stone on the path that prepares the student for further studies and understanding other, more advanced, sources.The newcomer to electronic music may profit most by proceeding linearly, in other words, by reading the discussion from beginning to end. But the information in each segment can fruitfully be used as a reference as well. Once the student has read through Electronic Music Interactive, or has a good working knowledge of the material, this work can serve as a topical refresher course, or quick-check handbook.

Electronic music can teach a musician many things. Bringing electronic music to life is a wondrously multi-faceted experience. To create sounds, the musician becomes the instrument builder. When selecting notes and rhythms, the musician becomes the composer. As the notes and rhythms are shaped, the musician becomes the performer. And finally, working to balance and coordinate the myriad and complex parts of the musical work, the musician becomes the conductor.

For these and many other reasons the study of electronic music offers an abundance of unique rewards. Perhaps no other pursuit of music is so intensely gratifying; and because of its amazing, seemingly infinite qualities, electronic music is a discipline that has riches to share with everyone, student, musician, and casual listener alike.

Second Edition Credits

First Edition Credits

© 2009 Jeffrey Stolet and the University of Oregon.