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Interactive Symposium: Beats, Rhymes & Bytes

September 21, 2017

4:30-6:00 pm

Tapley 227

Spelman College

Session Description

Dr. David James, Assistant Professor of Practice at George Washington University, will discuss and demonstrate how algorithms and loops are integral to creating Hip-Hop and R&B songs. Workshop attendees will take a snippet of recorded music and create their own remix by rearranging these music samples through looping. Attendees will also create a simple drum machine to make or augment a new remix.

Dr. James will share his expertise in composing music from movement, generating music from data and images, and controlling musical instruments using mobile devices. Music-oriented libraries in Python and Java, which can be used as a teaching tool in computer science, will be shared. Aspiring computer scientists can learn and apply these computational skills, tools and techniques in identifying solutions to open challenges in the Digital Arts and Humanities domains.


Biography: Dr. David James is a teacher, researcher and songwriter, who focuses on the intersection between art, music and computing. Over the past ten years he has used digital audio workstation software as a tool to write and record songs. His dissertation research focused on how musicians used this software in online communities to write funk songs while living in different cities and countries. Dr. James shifted his focus to creating and remixing black music, as a creative process through which students can learn about computer science concepts. While teaching Computer Science at Loyola University Maryland, Dr. James developed two introductory Computer Science courses that use the creation of music as a problem space for all projects and assessments. He is currently serving as an Assistant Professor of Practice at George Washington University, and is developing a music based course in Algorithms and Data Structures.

Dr. James’ efforts at building courses that infuse black music, are aimed at retaining and recruiting students that have been underrepresented in Computer Science and Information Technology. He served as research advisor and teaching fellow for undergraduate students at the University of Pittsburgh’s iSchool Inclusion Institute, which has the goal of exposing underrepresented students to careers in computing. Dr. James has also given workshops on the interconnection between Computer Science and Black music for faculty and staff at Syracuse University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Howard University and the Virginia Department of Education.

Dr. James, a native of Brooklyn, NY, has earned a PhD and Master’s Degree in Information Science and Technology from Syracuse University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer and Systems Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

This workshop is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No.1547714 and the Spelman College’s Computer Science Department.

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