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Audio Cultures & Modernities - MUS00099M

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  • Department: Music
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Amandine Pras
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module summary

Recent empirical studies revealed a harsh level of social discrimination in the recording studio. Also, the strongly unbalanced gender and racial demographics of the audio workforce directly impact quality standards and aesthetic canons, thus gatekeeping the diversity of technologies, techniques, and creative processes that get legitimised in music production. This module requires you to reflect upon the problematic aspects of the cultures and traditions of the discipline by discussing and proposing alternatives to the dominant modernity narrative.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

In this module, you will engage with feminist and post-colonial theories published in a range of related fields (e.g. Computer Sciences, Ethnomusicology, Music Education, Music Theory, Science and Technology Studies, and Sound Studies). You will be encouraged to confront these theories with their past studio experiences and current aspirations to find their own voice in music production. Also, methods to apply mediation theories and critical listening approaches to analyse commercial productions will complement the process of deconstructing music studio meritocracy myths.

Seminars will focus on topics including (among others) gendered notions of recording fidelity; deep listening practices; sonic fictions, afrofuturism, afro- and post-modernities, and DIY approaches of music production; and accessibility of audio education, high tech, studio and performance spaces. In parallel, critical listening sessions and track analysis presentations will enable you to draw interconnections between sonic aesthetics, production personnel, scenes, and cultures. Assessment will consist of an essay on an album, producer, production collective, label, studio, and/or movement with critical thinking based on the module content.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module you should be able to:

  • analyse existing music productions within their sociocultural context and impact, beyond a description of production techniques and technologies

  • select appropriate academic references, critically evaluate and cite them in presentation and essay

  • identify social biases and absences in the relevant literature and recording industry

  • contribute to the dialogue around transforming and diversifying music production narratives

  • defend your own production approaches, with awareness of gatekeeping mechanisms


Task Length % of module mark
Essay : Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will submit an essay that will focus on the aesthetics, socialities, creative processes, and production context and impact of an album, producer, production collective, label, studio or movement, with links to the module content and references (c. 3000 words)


Task Length % of module mark
Essay : Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

You will receive written feedback in line with standard University turnaround times.

Indicative reading

Cox, Christopher, & Warner, D. (Eds.). (2017). Audio Culture Readings in Modern Music

Bates, E. (2016). Digital Tradition: Arrangement and Labor in Istanbul's Recording Studio Culture. Oxford University Press.

Eshun, K. (1998). More brilliant than the sun: adventures in sonic fiction / concept engineered by Kodwo Eshun. London: Quartet Books.

Gaston-Bird, L. (2019). Women in Audio. Focal Press.

Reddington, H. (2021). She’s at the Controls: Sound Engineering, Production and Gender Ventriloquism in the 21st Century. Equinox.

Weheliye, A. G. (2005). Phonographies: grooves in sonic Afro-modernity. Duke University Press.

Zagorski-Thomas, S. (2014). The musicology of record production. Cambridge University Press.

Background reading:

Albertine, V. (2014). Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.: A Memoir. Macmillan.

Tutti, C. F. (2017). Art Sex Music. Faber & Faber.

Womack, Y. (2013). Afrofuturism: the world of black sci-fi and fantasy culture / Ytasha L. Womack. (First edition.). Chicago: Chicago Review Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.