Behzad Bolandi, Sophia Bachetti, Zeena Biro, Nicholas Papador, Martin TranMusic professor Nicholas Papador (fourth from left) led the masterclass “Tune into STEM through Music and Sound.” He is pictured here with students Behzad Bolandi, Sophia Bachetti, Zeena Biro, and Martin Tran.

Masterclass marries music and sciences

Science and engineering students got a chance to express themselves creatively through music and sound in the SMArt Masterclass, organized by the faculties of science and engineering, May 7 through June 12.

Tune into STEM through Music and Sound” was the fourth in a series of non-credit courses offering students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines the opportunity to hone their communication skills.

Percussionist and composer Nicholas Papador, a music professor in the School of Creative Arts, gathered a community of students to create original sound works with basis and inspiration from science and engineering concepts.

“I was pleased to have had the opportunity to work with students across the Windsor campus who were interested expressing themselves artistically through sound,” says Dr. Papador.

“In the SMArt Masterclass we listened to music that worked with probability and chance, architectural concepts, and sound physics, and we also explored experimental music practices to create musical soundscapes.”

The course culminated with a 40-minute sound piece in the atrium of the Essex Centre of Research (CORe) building that was inspired by scientific concepts.

“The piece incorporated a dataset of COVID-19 cases in Windsor during the 2021-22 academic year to develop the piece's duration and intensities of sound and volume,” says Papador.

“However, the listening experience of the work sounded more like an enhanced ecological field recording that included bells, sirens, drums, frog-like scraping sounds, and even the dropping of dried rice to imitate rainfall. Students brought scientific items like Newton’s Cradles to add to the overall sound of the music.”

Recent forensic science graduate Sophia Bachetti (BSc 2022) says she hoped to learn how to apply science in a musical context and enjoyed being creative in her music compositions and contributing to the large group performance.

“I took this course to see how my two passions of science and music could be related. As a part-time music teacher, I wanted to gain more knowledge of the interface of science and music so that I can educate my students in future lessons and masterclasses,” says Bachetti.

“I would take more courses that explore how other science concepts relate to music for my knowledge and teaching.”

The collaborative masterclass aims to increase communication skills for STEM students, allowing them to share scientific results, from research to what they are doing in the community.

Masterclasses in visual arts and film were offered earlier in the year.

Dora Cavallo-Medved, associate dean of science, says planning is already underway for future masterclasses in drama and creative writing.