Sounds of the sea

Every fall Chris Chafe, professor of music and director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), takes students from Music 220A out on the high seas to record sound. In October 2015, 30 students chewed a bit of ginger and headed out for the day to dangle their self-built hydrophones over the side of the boat to capture whale and marine sounds of Monterey Bay.

The class is “Fundamentals of Computer-Generated Sound” but the natural sounds of the ocean provide important forays into listening and sound itself. Back on campus, students learn techniques for digital sound synthesis, analysis, effects, and reverberation.

Chafe describes his rationale for the annual outing: “Composing music and studying sound digitally can be tied to more than the studio and concert hall. Students learn how they can make art with a very wide range of ingredients and use technology as an extension of their own listening world.”