Electroacoustic Music Composition (MUS4203)

Baylor University MUS4203 Spring 2021 course syllabus and online course-guide.


Dr. Ben Johansen

Course Description

Literature study, composition, and performance of fixed and interactive electroacoustic music.

Students who do well in MUS4203 may move on to MUS4V09 (Adv,. EA Music Comp.) in order to work on a significant electroacoustic music project of their choice in the style of an independent study.


  • TBD


  • Online = you will receive an email with a Zoom link

Required Attendance Outside of Scheduled Class Time


School of Music's COVID Protocols

You must follow the School of Music's COVID Protocols = https://www.baylor.edu/music/coronavirus

You must wear a face mask and respect social distancing when meeting with your instructor in person.

Defining Electroacoustic Music

New York City Electronic Music Festival (NYCEMF) definition:

Electroacoustic music is music whose sound incorporates electronic tools and instruments, including software, in its production or performance. Electroacoustic music often seeks to explore all the sonic possibilities of new technologies, and it includes both works performed live on stage and works created in the studio and played back in concert ...

Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS) definition:

Electro-Acoustic music is a term used to describe those musics which are dependent on electronic technology for their creation and/or performance.

Composing Electroacoustic Music

Baylor Composition Area's ultimate mission is to help students develop their creative abilities to uniquely compose the music of the future (rather than just "learn the trade of composing"). MUS4203 begins with projects focusing on typical pedagogical electroacoustic works (a musique concréte piece, an interactive piece using Max, etc.) in order for students to develop timeless audio editing and manipulation techniques. By the time students take MUS4V09, they should be creating works that move the electroacoustic music world forward (rather than "treading water" in the known pool of electroacoustic possibilities).

Sequence of course topics:

The following indicates the order of topics covered. Some topics take longer to cover and some projects take longer for students to complete than others. Each topic has supplemental reading material that changes yearly in order to stay current.

  • History of Electronic Music (mediums and aesthetic foundations)

  • Digital Audio (how it works … how filters work at a sample level)

  • musique concréte (how to manipulate recorded sounds)

    • Minute Project 1 for speakers alone (fixed media)

  • Audio Synthesis

    • Minute Project 2 for fixed media and live musician

  • Interactive Music (introduction to Max)

    • Minute Project 3 for computer (Max) and live musician

  • Extending inputs and outputs with microcontrollers (and a deeper look into computer hardware and software)

    • Minute Project 4 for Arduino

  • Video art and film scoring with electroacoustic music

    • Minute Project 5 for moving image and electroacoustic music (all fixed media)

  • Minute Project 6 - EA Analysis

    Projects given only to graduate students:

  • Minute Project 7 for live generated computer music (generative music)

  • Minute Project 8 for interactive video art (Jitter) and live musician

Course Objective

Principal Objective = by the end of this course, you will be able to compose electroacoustic music.

Additionally, by the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • List various forms of electroacoustic music along with historical examples.

  • Perform basic electroacoustic music analysis.

  • Identify and describe foundational/basic digital signal processing (DSP) tools.

  • Creatively manipulate recorded sounds to fit your compositional objectives using DSP tools.

  • Develop code to use in live electroacoustic music performance.

  • Create an original electronic music complete with edited score(s) and parts (if applicable).

Course Materials


Engage and take risks with technology. Search and be curious.

  • 20% - Listening, Reading, and Recording Assignments + Class Attendance

  • 40% - Minute Projects

  • 40% - Project performed in front of a live audience (one of the Minute Projects fully developed into a performable work) - Due to the impact of COVID-19, the performed work may be pre-recorded and uploaded to a location for the public to view.


  • A = 96-100

  • A- = 90-95

  • B+ = 87-89

  • B = 83-86

  • B- = 80-82

  • C+ = 77-79

  • C = 73-76

  • C- = 70-72

  • F = 0-69


During this unprecedented time of a global pandemic, class attendance must be approached differently from the way it would in a standard semester. If you are sick or have any symptoms (even if they are slight) that might relate to COVID-19, please stay home to protect yourself, your classmates, and your professors. As your instructor, I will expect that you work with me to enable you to receive any necessary course content (including class lectures) and complete any assignments, quizzes, or exams that you may miss due to being sick or having COVID-19-related symptoms. I also expect you to notify me prior to class if you will be missing for COVID-19 or any other health-related reason. If you are well, have no symptoms, and are not required to remain at home for any COVID-19 or other health-related reason, you should attend class and abide by all of the University’s health protocols. Attendance during this time may take many forms due to the various course formats being offered this fall. Be sure to pay careful attention to the additional details below that describe how attendance and class participation will be incorporated into my course.

Importantly, Baylor’s Health Services department on the Waco campus no longer provides notes to “excuse” students from missed classes. Please do not ask Health Services for such documentation.

The following is straight from the School of Music Undergraduate Handbook:

School of Music policy requires that to earn credit in a course a student must be officially enrolled by the end of the second full week of the semester and attend at least 75% of all class meetings. Faculty members may establish additional attendance requirements as outlined in course syllabi. Any student who is not present for at least 75% of the scheduled class sessions for any course will automatically receive a grade of “F” in the course. Any University-related activity necessitating an absence from class will count as an absence when determining whether a student has attended the required 75% of class meetings.

Missing 20min of any portion of a class meeting during the official class meeting time, will result in a 1/2 absence (for example, leaving a Zoom virtual class meeting 20min early). This is waved if the reason for missing has to do with COVID-19.

Academic Success

I believe every student who has been admitted to Baylor can be successful and I want to partner with you to help you thrive academically. Be sure to take advantage of the many resources available for academic success, including coming to see me during my office hours. Students who regularly utilize the great resources in the Paul L. Foster Success Center (http://www.baylor.edu/successcenter/) are among my most successful students. If your academic performance in this class is substandard, I will submit an Academic Progress Report to the Success Center so that the team of coordinated care professionals can ensure that you get the help you need.

First Generation College Students

Baylor University defines a first-generation college student as a student whose parents did not complete a four-year college degree. The First in Line program at Baylor is a support office on campus for first-generation college students to utilize if they have any questions or concerns. Please contact First in Line at [email protected], call 254-710-6854, or visit www.baylor.edu/firstinline to learn more about the services available.

Academic Integrity

Plagiarism or any form of cheating involves a breach of student-teacher trust. This means that any work submitted under your name is expected to be your own, neither composed by anyone else as a whole or in part, nor handed over to another person for complete or partial revision. Be sure to document all ideas that are not your own. Instances of plagiarism or any other act of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Honor Council and may result in failure of the course. Not understanding plagiarism is not an excuse. As a Baylor student, I expect you to be intimately familiar with the Honor Code at: http://www.baylor.edu/honorcode/

Students Needing Accommodations

Any student who needs academic accommodations related to a documented disability should inform me immediately at the beginning of the semester. You are required to obtain appropriate documentation and information regarding accommodations from the Office of Access and Learning Accommodation (OALA). See www.baylor.edu/oala or email [email protected] today if you have not done so already.

Baylor University Title IX

Civil Rights Policy and Sexual and Interpersonal Misconduct Policy

Baylor University does not tolerate unlawful harassment or discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, race, color, disability, national origin, ancestry, age (over 40), citizenship, genetic information or the refusal to submit to a genetic test, past, current, or prospective service in the uniformed services, or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal, Texas, or local law (collectively referred to as Protected Characteristics).

If you or someone you know would like help related to an experience involving:

  1. Sexual or gender-based harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, intimate partner violence, or retaliation for reporting one of these types of prohibited conduct, please visit www.baylor.edu/titleix, or contact us at (254) 710-8454, or [email protected].

  2. Harassment (excluding those issues listed in #1) or adverse action based on Protected Characteristics, please visit www.baylor.edu/equity, or contact us at (254) 710-7100 or [email protected].

The Office of Equity and Title IX understands the sensitive nature of these situations and can provide information about available on- and off-campus resources, such as counseling and psychological services, medical treatment, academic support, university housing, advocacy services, and other forms of assistance that may be available. Staff members at the office can also explain your rights and procedural options. You will not be required to share your experience. If you or someone you know feels unsafe or may be in imminent danger, please call the Baylor Police Department (254-710-2222) or Waco Police Department (9-1-1) immediately.

Except for Confidential Resources, all University Employees are designated Responsible Employees and thereby mandatory reporters of potential sexual and interpersonal misconduct violations. Confidential Resources who do not have to report include those working in the Counseling Center, Health Center and the University Chaplain, Dr. Burt Burleson.

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Veterans and active duty military personnel are welcomed and encouraged to communicate, in advance if possible, any special circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployment, drill requirements, disability accommodations). You are also encouraged to visit the VETS Program Office with any questions at (254) 710-7264.