Media and Methods: Sound

A photograph of a "glass disc," an early type of audio recording, made in the 1880s.

This is a glass disc recording, produced photographically on March 11, 1885. This disc contains a male voice saying names, the recording date, and "Mary had a little lamb" repeated twice. A video including transcription is available courtesy of SmithsonianAmHistory on Youtube. (Photo courtesy of Richard Strauss, Smithsonian. This image is public domain.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2012



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This course explores the ways in which humans experience the realm of sound and how perceptions and technologies of sound emerge from cultural, economic, and historical worlds. It examines how environmental, linguistic, and musical sounds are construed cross-culturally. It describes the rise of telephony, architectural acoustics, sound recording, and the globalized travel of these technologies. Students address questions of ownership, property, authorship, and copyright in the age of digital file sharing. There is a particular focus on how the sound/noise boundary is imagined, created and modeled across diverse sociocultural and scientific contexts. Auditory examples will be provided. Instruction and practice in written and oral communication provided. At MIT, this course is limited to 20 students.

Related Content

John Picker. CMS.407 Media and Methods: Sound. Fall 2012. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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