2.02 Berlin and the Digital Music Era

Instructor: Kim Feser
Language of instruction:
English
Course type:
Subject course, A-Track
Contact hours:
72 (6 per day)
Course days
: Monday & Thursday
ECTS credits
: 6
Course fee:
€ 1,650
Can be combined with all B-Track courses
  • Syllabus (printable PDF incl. day-to-day schedule)

Course Description

In many ways, Berlin is a center for contemporary electronic music. This is primarily due to the strong connection between technological and aesthetic developments. Nightclubs, such as the Berghain, have a worldwide reputation for their sound systems, which allow a specific acoustic experience and encourage nightlong dancing and partying. Berlin-based companies such as Ableton and Native Instruments are global leaders in their music software, especially in the context of techno, electronica and electronic dance music. Many DJs and musicians´ market themselves or their tracks via blogs and streaming services. Particularly in the context of sound art, there are fairly strong parallels with media art.

Due to the key 'digital' aspects of such phenomena, we often speak of a 'Digital Age' in which Berlin plays a particular role in the field of music. However, the 'analog' phenomena are constantly growing, so that there is some debate over the beginning of a 'post-digital age'. This corresponds with an increasing focus both on the virtual and haptic dimension. Among other things, software companies have made strong efforts over the past years to develop their own hardware controllers for their computer programs in order to be able to better design musical processes manually.

Based on such phenomena, the course will explore the relationship between aesthetic trends and technological developments with the focus on the cultural and economic conditions in Berlin. Particular emphasis will be made on the past and present of techno, (experimental) electronica and electronic dance music. What makes Berlin a magnet not only for thrill-seeking club-goers, but also for DJs, musicians, producers and developers? How does this relate to the recent past of Berlin since the fall of the Berlin Wall, especially given the gentrification processes? To what extent is Berlin's creative scene at the same time internationally networked and can its conditions only be understood in a global context?

Beyond the Berlin perspective, the course examines the current conditions of production and consumption as well as the performance and distribution of music. How do legal/illegal file sharing and streaming services affect listening to music? What is changing in music culture through sampling, remixing, mashup and approaches to interactive music in video games? What opposing trends are out there?

In addition to the joint discussion of texts and film excerpts, excursions also provide an opportunity for an exchange with proven experts in the course subject areas.    

At the end of the course, the participants can elaborate on and present a topic (either alone or in a group) of their choice in the context of the general list of topics on the course.

Student Profile

This course is intended for students of any disciplines. No prior music and technology background is required. The course aims to provide an insight into the relationship between aesthetic, social and technical developments regarding the topic 'Berlin and the Digital Music Age'. It also examines the conditions of the current production methods of electronic music, but does not teach the specific programming or composing of music.        

Prerequisites

None

Required Language Skills

The language of instruction is English. Language proficiency on an advanced Intermediate level (Mittelstufe II) is a prerequisite for participation. For orientation purposes, you can assess your language skills here (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Course requirements        

  • Active participation
  • Course schedule and excursions
  • Presentation with handouts
  • Course presentation

Grading                                

  • Active participation: 40%
  • Presentation of a text (lecture with handout): 25%
  • Presentation of a chosen topic with a written summary at the end of the course: 35%

Reading

A course reader will be provided.

Recommended Course Combinations (Selection)