Carnegie Mellon University
57-421/821 – Exploded Ensemble

Instructors: Professors Lance LaDuke ( & Jesse Stiles (
TA: Ryan Flint (
Time: Mon/Wed 2:00PM – 3:20PM
Location: Hunt Library Media Lab, HLA10A
Class website:
Jesse’s office hours: Wednesdays, 3PM to 5PM – Hunt Library Media Lab, HLA10A.


The Exploded Ensemble is Carnegie Mellon University’s experiumental music research wing. Our research areas include, but are not limited to: Electro-acoustics, Multi-channel sound, Audio-visual performance (live video, computer-controlled lighting), Wearable electronics & hybrid instruments, Performance of non-Western and/or non-notated musics, Creation of new music


We will use a Facebook group for course-related discussions, announcements, file-sharing, & cetera. Please be sure to join the Facebook group and monitor discussions in realtime so you don’t miss anything.


We will use a Google Drive Folder for the sharing of files related to our work (Ableton Sessions, Max Patches, samples, videos, pictures & cetera).


Please read and become familiar with the IDeATe lending and purchasing policies, which can be accessed at The IDeATe facilities are shared student resources and spaces. As such, all members of the IDeATe community are expected to be respectful of the equipment, the spaces, and fellow students and their projects. Always clean up after completing your work, put things back in their correct place, and leave the lab in better condition than you found it.

Students may be required to purchase materials to complete class projects. For convenience, some materials are available for borrowing and for purchase at IDeATe Lending (Hunt A29).

If you experience any issues with IDeATe facilities such as swipe card access, access to the room reservations system, non-functioning or damaged equipment, etc., send an email describing your issue to:


You will have access to the Media Lab outside of class hours – it is an excellent environment for you to rehearse and develop work. To use the Media Lab outside of class time you must make a reservation using the online reservation system. When using the Media Lab outside of class you must comply with the policies indicated on the IDeATe website.


Attendance: Unexcused absences are disruptive and disrespectful. And in the case of a music ensemble, an unexcused absence may make a potential rehearsal impossible.

If you are unable to attend class for any reason you must email the instructors in advance. Failure to contact the instructors before the start of our meeting times will result in an unexcused absence. Unexcused absences will result in the drop of one letter grade per absence. This means that if you have one unexcused absence and would otherwise receive an A in the class, you will receive a B. If you have two unexcused absences and would otherwise receive an A, you will receive a B, etc. Arriving more than 5 minutes late to class twice will result in an additional unexcused absence.

Participation: You are invited, encouraged, and expected to engage actively in discussion, reflection and activities. Our class time is precious and limited. Please refrain from distracting electronic behavior such as texting during class time.


In the course of the semester every student will compose two pieces to be performed by the ensemble. You will also perform in many of the pieces written by your fellow students. If you are not performing in a piece you will be expected to engage in other production elements of the piece including sound engineering, visuals, video/sound documentation, social media, & cetera.

Your grade will be determined based on the ingenuity, dedication, and insight that you demonstrate in your compositions, in your performances of your fellow students’ compositions, in your production work, and in your over-all level of participation and engagement (both in class and online). The breakdown of this assessment shall be:

Your two compositions: 60%
Performance and production: 30%
Overall participation: 10%


If you are participating in Exploded Ensemble for the first time it is strongly recommended that you read Curtis Road’s Composing Electronic Music: A New Aesthetic so as to immerse yourself in the vocabulary and history of this medium.