LENS Online - the Laptop Ensemble in a time of covid19

Well, as with all ANU courses, we’re taking the Laptop Ensemble (COMP2710/MUSI2205) course online.

In some ways this will be easy (after all, it has Laptop in the course title), while in other ways this will be quite challenging (after all, it has Ensemble in the course title). The biggest thing is that the Ensemble is a relatively small (by CS course size standards) and engaged bunch of students, and so we can push some of the “what will this course look like if we can’t meet physically for the entire rest of the semester” question on to them1.

If you’re not familiar with the Laptop Ensemble course, we use a flipped lecture + weekly in-person crit/jam session model. Each week the students watch some videos, listen to some music, read some things, look at some example code, and make a 60 second video (with sound, obviously) exploring the week’s “creative provocation”. Then we get together, watch & discuss everyone’s video submissions (the crit part) and then get together in small ensembles (three musicians, different groups each week) to jam & finish the workshop with a 3-minute-long ensemble performances from each group. It’s super fun, we make noise every week, and the results so far (it’s the end of week 4) have been really great.

Now that we’re going online, the flipped part won’t change, but we won’t get our weekly workshop session. So, here’s the current plan:

  • students will still submit weekly videos, but alternating between individual submissions and group submissions

  • we’ll get together (synchronously) over zoom and watch the videos & have the crit

  • next week’s provocation: which models of collaboration work (and which don’t) in a computer music ensemble?

  • the final performance (the capstone of the course, usually held in a cool nightclub) will probably be an online streaming gig

Stay tuned—still lots to figure out, but I’m kindof excited. LENS will survive while the world collapses around us (seriously, though, be nice to each other, don’t hoard stuff and try and #flattenthecurve).

  1. the best educators, like the best programmers, are lazy 

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