STL 145 -- Scientific and Technological Literacy Program:
Computer Music Systems

Victor Stanionis
Iona College

A course designed to develop the foundation for literacy necessary to deal with science and technology through a study of computer music using the MIDI. The course employs the student's understanding of science, technology, and systems to assess the societal impact of computer music along with its costs, benefits and detriments.

Prerequisite: STL 100 -- Scientific and Technological Literacy Program: Matter, Energy, Life, and Systems. (Please note: a description of this course is included in a separate entry in this disk.) Class meetings include lecture and laboratory. Special fee required. 3 credits. Scheduled every semester.

This course builds on the foundation laid in the prerequisite first STL course. A student entering this course is expected to bring experience with and the ability to make practical use of problem-solving techniques, modeling approaches, the systems viewpoint, and quantitative techniques involving graphing, standard algebra, and probabilistic reasoning. She/he is also expected to have had some practice in making, organizing and recording measurements, and in writing appropriate reports based on observations and hands-on activities. Moreover, fundamental concepts such as energy, the cell, atomic and molecular structure, the scientific laws of conservation, the genetic code, etc. should be familiar. By organizing this course about the theme of computer music systems, we are able to apply some of our basic skills and emerging literacy to interesting problems that illustrate many of the facets of science and technology at work in our society.

Course Objectives
At the completion of the course students

- should have an understanding of a MIDI music system;

- should have an understanding of the fundamental concepts of science and technology that underlie the operation of a MIDI system;

- should have developed skills in using the computer, wiring electrical equipment, understanding musical coding;

- will have developed an appreciation and knowledge of creating, entering and orchestrating music using technology;

- would have knowledge of the societal impact of this relatively new technology and be able to assess its strengths and shortcomings.

Grading (typical)
Three Major Quizzes 45%
Lab Activities Reports 20 %
Projects 20%
Final Examination 15%

Plagiarism, cheating or any form of intellectual dishonesty on any work for this course results in forfeiture of all credit for that work with no opportunity to make up the loss.

Student Responsibilities
To become eligible to earn a passing grade in this course, a student must first complete the course, which means: attend virtually all lectures, complete all laboratory activities, complete all assigned readings on time, submit all the required written assignments and reports, and take both the mid-course test and the final examination. Allowance is made for a minimal number of absences, but the professor must be informed in each case and, when possible, in advance. It will frequently not be possible to make up missed lab work, but arrangements can sometimes be made if the absence is anticipated or reported immediately. Make-ups are not automatically given for tests and exams. The reason for the absence must be documented and compelling, and the opportunity to take a make-up test is decided on a case by case basis.

Two public STL lectures take place during the semester. Both lectures take place during college activities hours. The schedule contains the dates and identifies the speakers. Their topics are announced as soon as the arrangements are confirmed. Students in this course are required to attend and will present written reports on the lectures.

Laboratory reports are due one week after completion of the laboratory exercise. No late laboratory reports is accepted without prior permission. Failure to hand in a lab report will result in a grade of zero for that lab.

All lab reports and other written assignments are to be done using a computer word processing program.


1. The MIDI System
2. Computers
3. Waves
4. Music and Coding
5. Sound
6. Interference and Diffraction
7 Speakers
8. Electricity
9. Synthesizers
10. Amplifiers
11. Magnetism
12 MIDI coding
13. Musical Form


1. Orientation
2. Activity 1: The MIDI System
3. Activity 2: Wave Motion and Sound
4. Activity 3: Orchestration
5. Activity 4: Properties of Waves and Sound Demonstrations
6. Activity 5: Entering a Melody using the Computer Keyboard
7. Activity 6: Entering a Melody using the Piano Keyboard
8. Activity 7: Electric Circuits
9. Activity 8: Rhythm Tracks and Melody
10. Activity 9: Sequencer Gold
11. Activity 10: Sequencer Options
12. Activity 11: Electromagnetic Induction Effects
13. Activity 12: Transform and MIDI Editing
14. Activity 13: Project Reports