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Computational Thinking in SoundTeaching the Art and Science of Music and Technology$
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Gena R. Greher and Jesse M. Heines

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199826179

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199826179.001.0001

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Computational Thinking in Music Courses: How to Get Artsy Types to Start Thinking like Geeks and Vice Versa

Computational Thinking in Music Courses: How to Get Artsy Types to Start Thinking like Geeks and Vice Versa

Chapter:
Chapter 1 Computational Thinking in Music Courses: How to Get Artsy Types to Start Thinking like Geeks and Vice Versa
Source:
Title Pages
Author(s):

Gena R. Greher

Jesse M. Heines

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199826179.003.0006

When we began to develop our interdisciplinary course in computing+ music, which we call Sound Thinking, we made the deliberate decision that computational thinking would be the foundation upon which all of our projects would be based. But what exactly do we mean when we refer to “computational thinking” (CT) and what might it look like in practice? Jeannette Wing coined this term in 2006 to characterize analytical thought processes that are subject-matter independent. She wrote: . . . Computational thinking involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior, by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science. Computational thinking includes a range of mental tools that reflect the breadth of the field of computer science. While the “mental tools” of which Wing speaks may originate in—or at least be most visible in—computer science, she stresses that “computational thinking is a fundamental skill for everyone, not just for computer scientists.” We wholeheartedly agree. Too often we see students attack problems in a hodgepodge manner, devoid of planning, hoping that trial and error will eventually lead them to a solution. When they are lucky enough to arrive at a desired result through random processes, students too often fail to understand or appreciate why a particular approach worked. This makes it impossible for them to generalize the approach and apply it to related problems. Analytical skills are the essence of computational thinking. What’s more, we feel that these skills are just as important to music and other arts majors as they are to computer science majors. Both groups are hampered by habit, which limits their abilities to imagine alternative possibilities. By getting students from disparate disciplines to work together, or at least by getting students to look at things from the perspective of someone whose discipline is different from their own, we aim to break the bonds of those habits and help students learn to think analytically.

Keywords:   Beatles, MP3 files, Microsoft Office, OGG files, WAV (WAVeform) files, algorithmic thinking, chunking and connecting chunks, data analysis, discovery, iTunes, mental tools for computational thinking, metadata, path counter, problem-solving

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