Lewis Jones

Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas

Studio brief

Music, Technology, and Ideas invites you to consider music and associated arts – especially but not exclusively sound arts – in relation to the world of ideas and practices of making: the making of place, things, art, performance.

It encourages you to explore how and why we make music; how we conceive of it; how it might have originated; and how it relates to technologies, including notations, instrument technologies, and means of dissemination. We will consider how we perceive and receive music, and what its uses and effects are.

This studio aims to encompass a wide range of music- and sound-related disciplines and modes of work.  Although initially conceived with students of the BSc Music Technology and BSc Musical Instruments courses in mind, Music, Technology and Ideas (Studio 15) welcomes from all courses students who share any of these interests, and seeks ways of working in which the benefits of embracing a wide range of interests and backgrounds are explored and realised.

This studio will encourage the use and interpretation of primary source materials: both existing documents and newly gathered data.

Several initial themes are proposed:

  • made in London: place, things, performance
  • the creation and dissemination of music in the digital era
  • musical instrument design: form, acoustics and ergonomics
  • soundscapes of the air and mind
  • quantitative methods: capturing and analysing data
  • psychological aspects of sound and music
  • musical instrument histories: technical, social, cultural and political

After weeks 1-3, in which general and individual topics will be considered and discussed, we may cluster into groups according to themes and mode of work.  Shared or parallel activities, which may extend beyond week 7, might include: field trips, site visits, laboratory experimentation, archive visits, and training in particular research methods and techniques. 

Summer preparation:

Do three of the following:

  1. Voices and instruments: consider how voices (and vocal practices) and instruments (and instrumental practices) relate to one another.  Listen to some examples – the choice is yours, but be adventurous – and make some initial comparative notes for us to discuss.
  2. In the field: plan a short walk through varied sound environments, making brief notes of what you hear at several points.  On the return journey, make short (e.g. one-minute) recordings (it would be nice to have fancy equipment but it’s likely that your phone will do) at the same points (and others if you hear something interesting).  How do your initial observations and your recordings compare?
  3. Visualising and measuring sound: download a basic sonogram app, such as Spectral Pro Analyzer or Androspectro, to your phone; go for a walk though varied sound environments (keep an eye on the traffic as well as the spectrogram), or make a journey by bus, and observe keenly the varying intensities and densities of the sound spectrum displayed.  Try changing settings (e.g. frequency range, display colours) and see how the displays compare. Try the same exercise using a noise-level meter app, such as SPL Meter or Noise Level.
  4. Sound and the visual: look at Cornelius Cardew’s graphic score Treatise (Buffalo, NY: Gallery Upstairs, 1967), which is available as a pdf; select two or three pages and perform them, preferably with friends.  Then compare Treatise, performed by the Cardew Trio with Treatise, An Animated Analysis and Cornelius Cardew's Treatise - Realization (2001) by Shawn Feeney.  What does the comparison tell you?
  5. Read Nicholas Cook, Music: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press,1998; revised edition 2000); or two of the recommended articles in the Reading List below.

Lectures and seminars will be tailored to the interests of the group.
In week 14 there will be a dissertation conference in conjunction with Studio 3, and in Week 15 a writing workshop.

Reading list

  • Nicholas Cook, 'Music: A Very Short Introduction' (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998; revised edition 2000)
  • Richard Leppert, 'Seeing Music' in 'The Routledge Companion to Music and Visual Culture', ed. by Tim Shephard and Anne Leonard (New York and London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 7-12
  • Steven Feld, 'Acoustemology' in 'Keywords in sound', ed. by David Novak and Matt Sakakeeny (Durham [NC] and London: Duke University Press, 2015), pp. 12-21; and other chapters in the same book
  • Jean-Claude Risset and David L. Wessel, ‘Exploration of Timbre by Analysis and Synthesis’, in 'The Psychology of Music', ed. by Diana Deutsch, 2nd Edn. (Academic Press, 1999), pp. 113-169
  • Eric F. Clarke, 'Music, Space and Subjectivity' in 'Music, Sound and Space: Transformations of Public and Private Experience', ed. by Georgina Born (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 90-110
  • Alan Davison, 'Representing Music-Making' in 'The Routledge Companion to Music and Visual Culture', ed. by Tim Shephard and Anne Leonard (New York and London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 87-94
  • Tim Shephard, 'Leonardo and the Paragone' in 'The Routledge Companion to Music and Visual Culture', ed. by Tim Shephard and Anne Leonard (New York and London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 229-237
  • 'Printed Music: Music Printing as Art' in 'The Routledge Companion to Music and Visual Culture' (New York and London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 171-179
  • Sander van Maas (ed.), 'Thresholds of Listening: Sound, Technics, Space' (Harrogate: Combined Academic Publishers, 2015)


Tutor Lewis Jones

Tutor biography

Dissertation Studios

Studio 1: Another India

Harriet McKay

Studio 1: Another India will examine, reflect upon and critique the historic use of "exotic" motifs in design.

Studio 2: Contemporary Ecology

Nabil Ahmed

In Studio 2 we will explore environmental topics through the lens of art, architecture, spatial practice, media and design disciplines.

Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry

Christina Paine

Studio 3: Music is the Weapon: Performance, Culture and the Music Industry is an exploration of race, gender, class and more in music.

Studio 4: Not allowed

Emma Davenport

Studio 4: What Not to Wear? will investigate the roles that dress and fashion play in our workplaces.

Studio 5: Imperfect Theories

Ektoras Arkomanis

Studio 5: Imperfect Theories allows you to critically examine any work that can be seen as theory or presents an interesting relationship with theory.

Studio 6: Curating as a Spatial Practice: From the Wunderkammer to Installation art

Nico de Oliveira

Studio 6: This dissertation studio is designed to help students who are interested in curating as a broad subject, as well as those who wish to contextualise their own practice within the scope of displaying art.

Studio 7: Souvenir

Dr Lesley Stevenson

Studio 7: This studio is concerned with those objects that are lent a particular enchantment because of their relationship with the past.

Studio 8: Post – card

Edwina Attlee

Studio 8 will look at one element of that system – the picture postcard – from a number of different perspectives.

Studio 9: ‘The Form of the Text’

Danielle Hewitt

Studio 9: Together we will explore the space of criticism; acknowledging our point of encounter with objects, places, sites and processes and the relationship between text, writer and reader.

Studio 10: Constellating

Sinead Evans

As creative practitioners we digest and produce images every day – as citizens of the digital age we consume between hundreds and thousands of images each day. This dissertation studio will slim down your daily diet to one image.

Studio 11: Science Fiction Futurity

Luke Jones

Speculative descriptions of the future reveal a magnified — or distorted — reflection of the fears and desires of the present.

Studio 12: Alternative Fashioned Modernities

Lezley George

Much is happening in the world today that foregrounds questions pertinent to our identities in a globalised world.

Studio 13: Desire, Trauma, History

Jonathan Whitehall

How does the relationship of memory to fantasy affect history? What are the links between desire, sexuality and trauma? How are these relationships played out or negotiated in visual and written practice? These questions will form the beginning of our enquiries into artworks, films and literature.

Studio 14: Design and Nature: Forms of an Entanglement

Gabriele Oropallo

We will look at how the idea of nature has been constructed over time and place, and study its impact on design practice in an age marked by the sustainability imperative.

Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas

Lewis Jones

Studio 15: Music, Technology and Ideas encourages you to explore how and why we make music, including its origin, relationship to technology and more.

Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling

Jon Baldwin

Studio 16: Narrative and Storytelling will see you produce storygraphs, storyboards and various forms of narrative analysis in the seminars.

Studio 17: Knowing Audiences

Jeremy Collins

Studio 17: Knowing Audiences will encourage you to study an audience group using qualitative research methods in your investigations.

Studio 18: Time and the Image

David Howells

This workshop will address some perennial problems of writing in the field of visual culture.

Studio 19: Material in Motion

Heidi Yeo

Studio 19: This studio will explore a reading of objects focusing on the interplay between materials, the objects they form and their context.

Studio 20: The Liminal

Andrew Hewish

This Dissertation Studio examines instances of the liminal as they occur in critical theory and culture, and is open to any topic and students from all disciplines.

Studio 21: Reading the library (and nothing but the library)

Joseph Kohlmaier

This year, Studio 21 will stage an unusual experiment. It will move, unpack, catalogue, and perform readings from one private library; and make this library, without exception, the single resource for all the research and writing in the studio.

Studio 22: Meaningful work

Paul Harper

Studio 22: Meaningful work explores the value of making and the idea of craft as meaningful work.

Studio 23: A Common Thread

Gina Pierce

Studio 23: In A Common Thread, we unpick and examine the importance of textiles and how they underpin culture, industry, and global connections.

Cass Studios archive by year