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3.12 Berlin: Music and Sound in the Digital Age - FULLY BOOKED

Instructor: Kim Feser
Language of instruction:
Course type:
Subject course, B-Track
Contact hours:
48 (6 per day)
Course days
: Tuesday & Friday
ECTS credits
: 5
Course fee:
€ 1,300
Can be combined with all A-Track courses

Course Description

The course is dedicated to contemporary developments in music and sound in the midst of digital culture. The specific conditions in Berlin will be examined in relation to other cities around the world – especially those in which the course participants live – as well as to global networking.

Current texts from the fields of cultural studies, musicology, sound studies, and urbanism will be discussed. We will visit sites of music production and consumption in Berlin, and examine local music cultural phenomena and the spectrum of urban sounds. The course will thus cover the broad spectrum of music and sound, with a particular focus on electronic music (from techno and house to experimental electronica) for which Berlin is especially known, but also on sound art (in galleries or online), on interactive sounds (computer games), and on the acoustics of the built environment and urban noise.

In many ways, Berlin is a center for contemporary electronic music. This is not least due to the strong connection between technological and aesthetic developments. Nightclubs, such as the Berghain, have dedicated 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. The dominance of digital 'virtual' technology is at the same time characterized by an increasing focus on the haptic dimension. Software companies have made strong efforts over the past years to develop their own hardware controllers for their computer programs in order to better control 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. 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? Berlin's creative scene is internationally networked and its conditions can only be understood in a global context. But what kind of digital inequality exists, locally and globally? Furthermore, we discuss the extent to which some popular myths, especially about the early Berlin techno days, neglect issues of diversity – for example, in relation to the partying crowd and influential personalities.

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 streaming services with their algorithmic recommendation systems influence listening to music? What is the impact of the dynamic development of artificial intelligence in the field of music? What is changing in music culture through new ways of sampling, remixing, and interactive sound in video games? What are opposing trends?

A special focus of the course is on the borderlands and intersections of music, sound art and environmental sounds.

In addition to the joint discussion of texts, 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.

Download Syllabus (printable PDF incl. day-to-day schedule)

Recommended Course Combinations (Selection)