Carnegie Mellon University

57-421/821 – Exploded Ensemble

Fall 2018 Instructors: Professors Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh (, Lance LaDuke (, & Jesse Stiles (
TA: Ethan Ludwick (
Time: Mon/Wed 12:30PM – 3:20PM
Location: Hunt Library Media Lab, HLA10A
Class website:
Annie’s office hours: Tuesdays, 2:00PM to 3:30PM – Hunt Library Media Lab, HLA10A.
Jesse’s office hours: Tuesdays, 3:30PM to 5:30PM – Hunt Library Media Lab, HLA10A.
Lance’s office hours: TBA.


Exploded Ensemble is Carnegie Mellon University’s experimental 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.


The online calendar is here.


Throughout the semester assignments related to developing work for the concerts will be given out. Due dates and particulars will be shared when each assignment is released. Unless otherwise noted assignments will be presented in class.


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 C, 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 we will produce two ambitious multimedia concerts. Your involvement in the concerts can comprise many different types of work including composition, performance, software design, sound design, production work, visuals, costume design, and beyond. We expect every student to identify many different ways in which they can contribute to the concerts and to be ambitious and independent in their contributions to these concerts. Your grade will be based on an assessment or your contributions in terms of commitment (total time spent on work), quality (the effectiveness of the performance), and vision (going beyond what is simply asked for, performing extra research to create deeply informed works). The first concert will count towards 30% of the final grade and the second concert will count towards 40% of the final grade. Concert-related assignments will count towards 20% of the final grade. Overall participation (both online as well as in class) counts for 10% of the final grade.