Fall 2009»FYSM 117 Course Syllabus

FYSM 117 Course Syllabus

College of CharlestonAugust 25, 2009

FYSM117 Computers, Music and Art

Course Syllabus


Dr. Bill Manaris


Room: 223 J.C. Long Building
Phone: (95)3-8159
E-mail: manarisb@cofc.edu
Web: http://www.cs.cofc.edu/~manaris/

Office Hours:

Monday, Wednesday from 1-2:30PM.
Tuesday from 9-10:30AM.
Other hours available by appointment.

Course Description:

A course introducing the creative side of computing in the context of music, sounds, and related digital artifacts. Students will be exposed to media modeling and computational thinking in the liberal arts and sciences. Students will develop several digital artifacts.

Course is open to all majors. No previous programming experience required. Some experience with a musical instrument helpful but not required.

Tentative Outline:

Syllabus, Survey, College Survival and Success, Ways of Making Music with Technology, Library and Research Skills, Center for Student Learning, History of Music Technology, Audio, MP3, MIDI, Sounds, Audio Recording, Audacity, MIDI Sequencing, Algorithmic Music, and various music/art campus events.


A.R. Brown (2007), Computers in Music Education - Amplifying Musicality, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Richards R. (2001), "A New Aesthetic for Environmental Awareness: Chaos Theory, the Beauty of Nature, and our Broader Humanistic Identity". Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 59-95.
  • Spehar, B., C.W.G. Clifford, B.R. Newell, and R.P. Taylor. (2003). "Universal Aesthetic of Fractals." Computers & Graphics, vol. 27, pp. 813-820.
  • Hewitt, M. (2008), Music theory for computer musicians, Course Technology, CENGAGE Learning, Boston, MA.

Additional reading materials will provided via handouts, the class website, and/or WebCT.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Familiarity with appropriate data, information and knowledge-gathering techniques and research skills in the discipline.
    • This course will introduce you to computer data modeling, algorithmic techniques, and computer-related research in the context of music, sounds, and other digital artifacts. You will:
      • Learn how to creatively transform media such as music, sounds, and other digital artifacts.
      • Learn how to use computers to explore, visualize, speculate, and invent.
      • Develop an appreciation for computational thinking.
      • Gain experience with a scripting programming language and tools.
  2. Use of academic resources and student support services at College of Charleston, including the library, information technology, the Center for Student Learning, the Academic Advising and Planning Center, the office of Career Services, and other appropriate academic resources, student support services, and cultural resources.
  3. Using appropriate critical thinking skills and problem-solving techniques in a variety of contexts.
    • See (1) above.
  4. Understanding the goals of liberal arts and sciences education and the core values of College of Charleston.
    • Fact: Given that our civilization runs on software (and that this will be even more so 10-20 years from now), it is becoming necessary for liberally educated people to be able to engage in computational (algorithmic) thinking, as the effects of this thinking (i.e., software intensive systems) touch nearly every other discipline, and permeate nearly every aspect of our civilization.
    • This course is designed mainly to serve non-majors in the liberal arts and sciences by immersing them in creative computational thinking and design.
    • You will begin to gain appreciation of the fact that such systems can amplify human intelligence, but they cannot replace human judgment.
    • Readings will explore the intersection between computing and the liberal arts and sciences.
  5. Using effective skills and strategies for working collaboratively.
    • You will participate in various collaborative activities, such as collaborative written exercises, team programming in-class activities, and group projects.
    • At times, we will engage in inquiry-based learning and related activities.


To receive a passing grade for the course, you must average a passing grade on each of the following: assignments, tests, and final exam.

Scale: A: 90-100; B: 80-89; C: 70-79; D: 60-69; F: <60. The grades of B+/, C+/, and D+/ may be given at the professor's discretion.

Final Grade Computation: Assignments (4-6) 30%, Tests (2) 30%, Comprehensive Final Exam or Final Project 20%, Active Learning Events (see below) 10%, and Class Participation 10%.

Active Learning Events:

  1. You need to attend, at least, three Study Skills Seminars at the Center for Student Learning.
  2. Also, you need to attend, at least, three campus events related to music and art.
    • These events have to be on campus or be campus-sponsored to count.
    • You should bring an artifact from the event (program, ticket, etc.).
    • You should also hand in a notecard (choose your size) with a summary of what you went to and a short reaction.

Honor Code:

  • You must do your assignments alone (or with your teammates, for group assignments).
  • You are not allowed to discuss assignments and possible solutions with any person other than the instructor (or with your teammates, for group assignments). Any violation of these rules is an honor offense.
  • On assignments you will be asked to identify the person(s) you received help from, if any.
  • Also see the College of Charleston Student Handbook, especially sections on The Honor Code (p. 10), and Student Code of Conduct (p. 12). There is other useful information there.

Test Policies:

  • Attendance at tests is mandatory. Students must complete tests with no discussion or sharing of information with other students.
  • Calculators, computers, cell phones, etc. may not be used during a test, unless otherwise directed.

Classroom Policies:

  • You are expected to take good notes during lecture.
  • You are expected to participate in class with questions and invited discussion.
  • You are expected to attend all classes. If you miss class, you must get an absence memo from the Associate Dean of Students Office; also, you are responsible for announcements made in class, assignment due dates, etc.
  • You should turn off all electronic devices (e.g., cell phones, pagers, etc.).
  • Since we are in a lab, you must use the computers only as directed (e.g., no checking email, or playing games) during class.
  • In summary, you should contribute positively to the classroom learning experience, and respect your classmates right to learn (see College of Charleston Student Handbook, section on Classroom Code of Conduct (p. 62)).

Assignment Policies:

  • Assignment grades will be based on creative inspiration, design, style, and correctness of result.
  • Submission instructions will be provided for each assignment.

Late Policy:

  • You have four "late" days for the whole semester. You may use these days as you wish for assignment submission. If you use them up, no late assignments will be accepted.
  • If you submit everything on time (i.e., use no late days), you will earn an additional 2.5 bonus points on your course grade.