Creativity Beyond the Studio: Nomadic Playgrounds, Relational Machines - MUS00121C

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  • Department: Music
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Federico Reuben
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19
    • See module specification for other years: 2017-18

Module summary

This module explores the creative use of technology in music and sound art as digital technologies become more affordable, mobile, ubiquitous and interconnected.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Summer Term 2018-19

Module aims

For the last eighty years, the recording studio has become an important creative tool for musicians, producers and sound engineers. From Pierre Schaeffer’s early experiments in musique concrète in the 1940s to Brian Eno’s 1979 proclamation that the recording studio can be used as a compositional tool, the last century embraced the idea of the studio as a space for creativity. Studio practice incorporated distinctive ways of creating and listening to music, adopted particular social norms and made use of specific technologies, techniques and modes of operation and organisation.

Over the last two decades, as technology becomes more ubiquitous, we are starting to see changes in creative studio practice as it becomes more nomadic and less bound to particular spaces, tools, roles, workflows, and forms of presentation, distribution and consumption. As digital and sound recording technologies become more affordable, portable and interconnected, new models of musical creativity are starting to emerge.

This module explores the creative use of technology in an increasingly flexible and mobile post-studio practice. We will examine these emerging forms of musical creativity through recent critical debates in art theory, aesthetics, digital culture and sound studies. Of particular focus will be the relationship between these practices and Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of music, and his notions of nomadism, creativity and virtuality. Additionally, we will examine post-studio aesthetics through the work of other theorists including Jacques Attali, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Jonathan Sterne, Seth Kim-Cohen, Claire Bishop, Miwon Kwon, Nicolas Bourriaud, Slavoj Žižek, Robert Pfaller and Ronald Bogue.

Students will also gain basic theoretical and technical understanding of sound recording, processing and synthesis technologies allowing them to produce creative work for a variety of media and contexts. We will engage with a range of software tools, recording equipment and interfaces and will develop critical listening skills within the context of creative music production and sound art. We will also playfully explore creative approaches to producing and presenting work with easily available technologies by means of non-standard practices, cheap tools and equipment, open source software and DIY techniques.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the taught part of the project all students should:

  • have developed a good understanding of the creative use of technology in music and sound art as demonstrated in the practice of key contemporary artists.
  • be able to create artistic work informed by recent critical debates in art theory, aesthetics, digital culture and sound studies.
  • understand the spaces, tools, roles, modes of listening, workflows, and forms of presentation and distribution of studio practice and how they are changing as technology becomes more ubiquitous.
  • demonstrate a good basic knowledge of sound recording, processing and synthesis techniques and technologies and their application in creative work for a variety of media and contexts (performance, composition, music production, installation, etc.).

On completion of the module, in their independent work, students should demonstrate Learning Outcomes A1-A6, A8, A10 & A11


Task Length % of module mark
1500-2000 Word Analysis
N/A 30
Portfolio of creative work
N/A 70

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

A performance, composition, music production or installation using recording and digital technologies (70%) with written documentation (30%, 1500-2000 words) analysing the way the practical work relates to the artistic, technological and theoretical subjects explored in the project.


Task Length % of module mark
1500-2000 Word Analysis
N/A 30
Portfolio of creative work
N/A 70

Module feedback

Report form with marks to student no later than 6 weeks from submission of assessment.

Indicative reading

Adorno, Theodor W. (2002) Essays on Music, University of California Press.

Attali, Jacques (2002) Noise: The Political Economy of Music. University of Minesota Press.

Benjamin, Walter (1992) Illuminations. London: Fontana.

Bishop, Claire (2012) Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. Verso Books.

Bogue, Ronald (2003) Deleuze on Music, Painting and the Arts. Routledge.

Bourriaud, Nicolas (2002) Relational Aesthetics. Les Presses du reel.

Buchanan, Ian and Swiboda, Marcel (2004) Deleuze and Music. Edinburgh University Press.

Case, Alexander U. (2007) Sound FX: Unlocking the Creative Potential of Recording Studio Effects. London: Focal Press.

Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner (eds.) (2004) Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, eds., London: Continuum.

Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Félix (2004) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Continuum.

Kim-Choen, Seth (2009) In the Blink of an Ear: Toward a Non-cochlear Sonic Art. Bloomsbury. Continuum.

Kwon, Miwon (2004) One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Local Identity. MIT Press.

Miller, Paul D. (ed.) (2008) Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture. MIT Press Roads.

Rumsey, Francis and McCormick, Tim (2009) Recording and Sound. Focal Press.

Russ, Martin (2009) Sound Synthesis and Sampling. Chichester, Oxford: Focal Press.

Pallor, Robert (2014) On the Pleasure Principle in Culture: Illusions Without Owners. Verso Books.

Sterne, Jonathan (2003) The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction. Duke University Press.

Žižek, Slavoj (2003) Organs without Bodies: Deleuze and Consequences. Routledge.

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.