Oberlin Center for Convergence (StudiOC)

Sonic Storytelling

Be. Hear. Now.

Photo of David Gutherz
David Gutherz
photo by Tanya Rosen-Jones '97
Photo fo Tom Lopez
Tom Lopez
photo by Tanya Rosen-Jones '97


Look out across the Oberlin campus at almost any hour on any given day, and you’re guaranteed to see one thing: headphones. Students are constantly–in some cases, compulsively–curating their own sonic universes. For many of them, podcasts are a prime source of information, a key means of engaging with scholarship and forming judgments about current events. And yet, outside of the Conservatory, our classrooms are often silent spaces that privilege visual learning and where discussions center on texts that no one would ever dream of reading out loud. In this learning community, we want to help students to a) critically examine their own soundscapes while expanding their sonic palette, b) develop new ways of listening, and c) create new stories in sound.


Students in this class must also enroll in both classes for the complete StudiOC Learning Community experience. 


Course Instructors for this learning community are Professor of Computer Music and Digital Arts Tom Lopez , and Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics David Gutherz.

Tom Lopez, Instructor

TECH 108OC: Tools for Sonic Storytelling

Meets Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

Do you have a story to tell? Are you interested in using technology to share it with others? Whether you distribute your work through radio, podcast, cassette, or vinyl, this class will help you learn the tools for recording and editing your story. Students will develop listening skills through soundwalks and sound art, tune their ears to the nuances of audio in architecture, soundscapes, and sonic environments, and learn about the histories of recording. Students in this class must also enroll in WRCM 220OC “Writing for the Ear” for the complete StudiOC Learning Community experience. 

David Gutherz, Instructor

WRCM 220OC: Writing for the Ear

Meets: Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 - 10:45 AM

The soundscape of our world is changing rapidly. Whale songs are moving farther in warming oceans; the number of podcast listeners worldwide will soon surpass the population of earth in 1650; every forty days, a human language goes extinct. How should we–as writers and citizens–respond to such shifts? How can we make sense of them? This course will focus on the art of crafting stories and scholarship with a strong aural component. Students will learn to critically analyze and create radio plays, aural documentaries, and sonically-rich research by scholars like Lawrence Abu Hamden, Daphne Brooks, and R. Murray Schafer. This course is part of the "Sonic Storytelling" learning community.