2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Music, Math and Cybernetics: Things + Relations = Systems


Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 quarters

Arun Chandra music composition, performance , Richard Weiss mathematics, computer science
Fields of Study
aesthetics, computer science, mathematics, music and philosophy of science
Preparatory for studies or careers in
music composition, music performance, computer science and mathematics.
A strong interest in technology, mathematical ways of thinking, and creative thought.

Systems are not only of things but the relations between them.

Mathematics offers an elegant language for the creation and analysis of relations and patterns, in and out of time. In its essence it is about order, continuity and difference.

Music (when not merely reproduction) comes into being when a composer desires, specifies and implements sounds in a system of relations. ("Style" being a short-hand for a particular system of sounds and their relations.)

Thus, music realizes the offer of mathematics when an implementation of desire involves systems of thought: what you want is what you get---but you have to want something! and articulate it! in a language! of things! and relations!---which is cybernetics.

"Cybernetics is a way of thinking about ways of thinking, of which it is one." --Larry Richards.

This program interleaves the composition of computer music with the mathematics and analysis of sound. We will explore how it relates to scientific methodology, creative insight and contemporary technology. We will address "things" such as music and sound, rhythms and pulses, harmonics and resonances, the physical, geometrical, and psycho-physical bases of sound, acoustics, and their differing sets of relations by which they become "systems".

A composer/musician and a computer scientist/mathematician will collaborate to offer a creative and practical, accessible and deeply engaging introduction to these subjects for interested non-specialists. Our math will be at a pre-calculus level, though students may do research projects at a more advanced level if they choose. Interdisciplinary projects could include creating music algorithmically with computers, or analyzing sound mathematically.

Cybernetics offers both a philosophy underlying systems of thought, as well as frameworks with which one can both analyze and create. This program is designed for those who find their art in numbers, their science in notes, their thoughts on the ground, and their feet in the stars. By combining music, mathematics and computer science, this program contributes to a liberal arts education, and appeals to the creativity of both buttocks of the brain.

Online Learning
Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online
Greener Store
Required Fees
$75 per quarter for performance tickets.
Special Expenses
It is optional but highly recommended that students buy high-quality headphones for the computer music workshops.
Upper Division Science Credit
Upper division science credit is available on prior consultation with the faculty. For example, a student might do an advanced independent research project designed with the faculty.
May be offered again in
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
April 17th, 2012 This program is now lower-division, offered to freshmen and sophomores.