For your final project in the course, you will develop an extensive project related to some aspect of sound and music recording. The form of your project is for you to determine. A research paper is a standard and entirely acceptable project, although I am also very open to projects that use an alternate format (creation of a webpage, say) or projects that incorporate a creative element. I am particularly happy to help you develop ethnographic research projects, if this interests you. The only requirements are that the project engage with some aspect of music recording and that it is rigorous. The project should be approximately 10 pages (typed and double-spaced) or the equivalent amount of work, if using another format.

Your project is due by 8:40am on Friday, May 6 (the beginning of final exam period).

If you choose to write a research paper, you are required to go well beyond the material we have covered in class. You can draw on our class materials, of course, but you will be expected to conduct substantial independent research. Some ideas for research papers might include (but are certainly not limited to): a paper about the recording techniques or procedures of a particular musician, producer, engineer, or studio; an exploration of some particular theory of concern to recording (such as “aura,” “fidelity,” “liveness,” or any number of others); a study of how recording(s) are central to a particular scene or subculture. If you have personal experience with recording—as a musician, engineer, or whatever—you can write about that experience, although you should ground your interpretation of your experiences through independent research. If you want to produce a recording (and have the means to do so—remember, this is not a “hands-on” class!), you should also write a commentary accompanying and interpreting your production.

These are only a small number of the many, many possibilities for what you can do for your project. Be creative; think outside the box. And please feel free to talk to me at any point in the process, if you’d like some suggestions or want to talk through ideas!


The first stage in the project is a proposal. This will be due online (instructions to be provided) by Wednesday, March 30 (the first day back from Easter Break). Your proposal should be a short discussion of what you want to do for your project: describe your proposed topic, explain its importance, discuss challenges you expect to face and how you plan to complete the project. You should also include a brief discussion of sources you plan to consult, explaining their relevance to your project. Include a short bibliography (maybe 5–7 sources) that indicate the direction you wish to take. (If you are proposing a non-research-based project, you may omit this part of the proposal.) After you submit your proposals, I will arrange times to meet with you one-on-one to discuss your plans for the project.