Applications for Game Design (Spring 2019)

With pre-enroll around the corner, I have now opened up applications for the game design courses next semester (CS/INFO 3152, CS/INFO 4152).  This post is not an attempt to promote more interest in these courses.  I will get twice as many applications as I can accept into the course; applications are extremely competitive.  But there are some new opportunities available for composers this year, and I wanted to bring them to your attention.

The courses are not designed to support composers that only work on music.  I do not have the training for this and large parts of the course would need to be rethought.  We only allow composers into the course when they can do one of the other three traditional tracks: programming, character art, UX design/testing.  We make the bar lower for good composers (so a programmer/composer is competitive with CS 2110 and does not need CS 3110), but we still require some expertise outside of music.

However, some groups in the past have asked if they can contract music out to their friends.  Not only have we allowed this, but these students were invited to our showcase.  In addition, if the game is accepted to a national game festival (like Boston FIG), I include these “contractors” when I offer to pay for the transportation costs.

This year, we have decided to make this a little more formal.  We have added an external member option to the application.  You can apply to join a team as a pure composer.  While we cannot enroll you in the full course, we can give you INFO 4900 (Independent Study) credit for joining the team.  The commitment is up to you.  We award 1 credit hour for each 2.5 hours of work a week.

If this interests you, I am accepting applications at the link above until December 15th.

Music of Stranger Things

Since winning an Emmy last year for their soundtrack to Stranger Things, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein having been giving interviews about their development process. As a synthwave fan myself, I was originally planning to post these when we talked about synthesizers. However, many of the ideas that we talked about in Tuesday’s class come out in these interviews.  In particular, they show how thinking about sounds this way is relevant to commercial music and is not just an experimental art form.

There are two interviews of note, both which took place this past June.  The first is the Vanity Fair interview where they specifically talk about Stranger Things.

Vanity Fair Interview

Here are two things to look for in this interview.  First, they point out how they use atonal and microtonal sounds to create feelings of horror or action.  One of the sounds used was recorded on a field recorder that they carried around with them.  Related to the larger question of “what is music?”, they also explain why they prefer analog synths over modern computers; they feel that the irreproducibility of the experience is important to music as an art form.

The Spitfire Audio interview is a slightly longer interview where they discuss their history with the band SURVIVE.

Spitfire Audio Interview

In this interview they talk about how they got into computer music.  In the beginning, they would capture sounds with a field recorder and learn how to compose with these sounds.  This experience taught them to use analog synthesizers not just as tools, but as musical instruments.

Jordan Wolkon – Assignment 0

Hi everybody, I’m Jordan Wolkon. I have been playing classical piano for about 14 years and recently started playing some jazz. I also just started playing guitar but am still very much at the beginner level. I purchased Ableton Live a few months ago but have not learned much on how to use it past some audio and MIDI recording. I would like to deepen my knowledge of music production and use it to record and produce my own music, as well as to collaborate with others. I am mostly just taking this class for fun, but would also like to get as much learning experience as I can out of it. Looking forward to working with you all!

MUSIC 1421 Assignment 0 – Alan Polyak

My name is Alan, a senior majoring in Statistics and Information Science. I am originally from Brooklyn, NY, which I think is one of the modern hearts of electronic music. I can’t play any instruments, but I’ve dabbled around with GarageBand and Audacity, and would say I’m an amateur; thus, I want to take this class to get better. Music has been a staple in my life, particularly electronic music, so I’d like to become a part of the community to give back what I’ve been given. I am also interested in the applications of statistics to music and waves, so having a fundamental knowledge on the subject is necessary for such analyses.

Assignment 0 – Ervin Flores

In terms of musical background, I’ve only played about 2 years of piano and not much else. Most of my interest and motivation in taking this course is to learn about the technical aspect of mixing music. I want to test my creativity and see what I am capable of. I am also interested in meeting people who can help me or teach me what they know to help me create more complex music. My main interest is in Hip-Hop production. I want to mix elements of jazz, electronic, and rock into hip-hop music. In terms of an agenda, I hope to produce music people can sing or rhyme over.

Brendan Elliott

Hi everyone! My name is Brendan Elliott and I am a senior in Arts and Sciences studying Information Science and UX Design. I have been fascinated in music all my life, but only as a listener. This past year I started learning how to do basic DJ mixing and DJed some events. However, I want to learn more about production using DAWs as I want to start making my own music. I would love to collaborate with others and explore ways that different genres and sounds can be put together.

isabel gareau, assignment 0


I am Isabel, a Senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Science, completing my major with an Interdisciplinary Study in Ethnopharmacology and a minor in Anthropology.

My interests and academic pursuits orbit mostly in the universe of medicine and science. I am a botanist, herbalist, a hobby chemist, and an amateur mycologist. I love being outside and I connect with the earth in very emotional and fundamentally pagan way. Other passions of mine include riding my bike, cooking, listening to and engaging with all types of music, and high-intensity dancing.

I identify, only distantly at this point, as a musician. My capabilities fell apart in the stress and concern for developing other aspects in my life. I have recently returned to this part of myself and have every intention of prioritizing its cultivation once again. I am classically trained in the piano, with some experience in guitar and other stringed instruments. I love to sing and identify that as one of my more remarkable musical abilities.

After living six months abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, it occurred to me that I have a creative inclination towards electronic music in all forms. I have spent years listening to and appreciating electronic and synthetic music, but it had never crossed my mind to actually pursue music for myself in that form. I found myself spending night after night in warehouses on the outside of the city learning to really love and appreciate techno. I went to a CPH Boiler Room, I sat in at noise shows, I actively sought ambient performances that happen (with no prior announcement) in churches across the city, and I returned to America feeling very called to produce electronic music of my own.

I am very fortunate to have had some local friends (who can actually call themselves musicians) to loan me gear and give me advice during this past Summer. I have already begun the arduous process of reorienting my indoctrinated objective mind towards the more emotional predispositions of musical creation, and I am absolutely thrilled to be working through this process, using this course as a tool.

Some of my influences as I move through my own production process are: Björk, Baths, Animal Collective, Grimes, Iglooghost, and SOPHIE.

Hanna Arfine – Assignment 0

Hi all I’m Hanna, and I’m a senior in ISST. I’m excited for this class since music and tech are both pretty big parts of my life, and I want to experiment more at the convergence of the two.

Since getting to Cornell, music has been more on the back burner for me, so I’m looking forward to getting back into it more. I’ve played piano since I was 6, and I played cello from 4th grade through senior year of high school. Throughout high school I played in the orchestra, jazz band, pit orchestra, chamber, and some bands with friends. Since getting to Cornell, the extent of my music has pretty much been just the occasional piano practice session, so I’m excited to get back to practicing and also to learn more about the creative process here. I also really enjoy combining technology and creativity/design, so I think this will be a great opportunity to expand into that realm and make something pretty cool.

Looking forward to working with you guys and seeing what everyone makes!

Music Introduction

I am Edwin Ramos-Vazquez

This is a course I have had interest in for a while.

More than anything else, I have a strong interest in computer music going back since 10th grade, in which I began learning music theory on my own time.

I began with Logic, and taught myself entirely. The program is not important; I only chose Logic because I could get some sheet music out of it.

However, I have an increasing interest in FM, a dying technology.

I hope that I can refine my skills and bring them to the zenith of mastery in this class.

Assignment 0

My name is Rohan Kandel; I’m a senior studying Ag Sciences, and I’m originally from Omaha, NE. From elementary school to high school, I played both the violin and percussion (both concert band and marching band). Now, I use my guitar skills in writing and performing original songs with my roommates from freshman year. From the one charity concert we’ve played in, people describe our sound as a mix between Arctic Monkeys and Hippo Campus. I’ve attempted to enroll in this class since freshman year, because I’d love to learn how to proficiently record my band’s sound.

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