Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Columbia University

Sound Design Course: Experimental Foundations

Columbia University via Kadenze


This course will focus on the application of historical and experimental analog electronic, recording, and studio techniques to deepen an understanding of the building blocks of sound creation. Presenting this course is instructor Seth Cluett, artist-in-residence at Nokia Bell Labs and instructor at Columbia University’s Computer Music Center.

By translating classic techniques ranging from Musique Concrete and Elektronische Musik to the studio experiments of Dub mixing and Les Paul into modern production platforms, composers, sound designers, sound editors, and independent filmmakers can expand their craft outside of their routine practices. Learners will create their own compositions using Ableton Live 10 and Audacity while drawing from the rich legacy of invention in electronic and experimental music. Session planning, score, and production analysis exercises will complement both small-scale sound creation and large-scale structural thinking for music production workflow.


  • The Studio as Instrument
    • In this session, we will discuss delay and reverberation, sound-on-sound, as well as creative use of phasing and flanging without using plugins. Performative recording techniques using the audio workstation as a mixing console to capture real-time effects manipulation will be demonstrated.
  • The Sound Field - Designing Space
    • In continuation of Session 5, this session will highlight techniques for designing and controlling the sense of space and immersion within the sound field of the work. Panning, amplitude, and EQ will be used in tandem with reverberation to create a compelling sound world for the listener.
  • Spectral Balance - Timbral Orchestration
    • This session will focus on large-scale layering of parts, distribution of instruments over the total frequency range of the mix, and EQ and compression as orchestration tools for production.
  • Time and Structure - Planning your Sound Composition
    • In this session, we’ll talk about developing ideas through digital and paper sketching sessions and timelines for mapping the energy of a piece. We’ll also discuss pre-production workflows including sound file management, collecting, and versioning.
  • Early Tape Studio Techniques
    • In this session, we'll explore various techniques for developing non-musical field recordings into usable material for creative production. Techniques such as the cut bell, speed change, and sample stacking will be discussed in the context of shifting from the recording to processing stage.
  • Training Your Ear for Production Analysis
    • This session will be devoted to the development of advanced listening skills. Using a library of recordings, we'll identify studio techniques in familiar songs that might go unnoticed but are crucial to successful sound production.

Taught by

Terry Pender


Start your review of Sound Design Course: Experimental Foundations

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.

Someone learning on their laptop while sitting on the floor.