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Andrew Davis

MS ’18, Computer Science
Story originally published on Sep 2018
I have a PhD in music composition and write music for orchestras and string quartets.

When I started dabbling with digital audio workstations and coding music, my path to marry music and computer science became clear.

Coding music is essentially the use of electronic devices to generate sounds of musical instruments. Imagine Lego blocks – each block represents a synthesized sound. When the blocks are connected to build a structure, they create the sound of an instrument. Multiple structures form an entire interconnected city – in essence, the song. Just like in computer science, you are recognizing and manipulating patterns to create something. This work led me to take notice of just how much music today is digitally produced and the opportunities it presented.

During the last year of my PhD I discovered the Computer Science Education Program at Stanford. It’s designed for people who hold a PhD in another discipline who want to teach computer science. Since computer science can now be applied to most fields, it has become increasingly more popular with students and, as such, there is a shortage of faculty to teach it. I immediately recognized this as an opportunity. Music today has transformed from playing an instrument to make music to using a computer program to write it. Having already ventured down this path, the transition was a natural fit for me.

Computer science is now integral across a broad range of disciplines – including music and the arts. For many, like me, it has opened new opportunities. I’ll be teaching at Wellesley as a lecturer in CS and will be working to incorporate the best of both worlds in my classes, blending science and creativity to offer a more enriched learning experience.

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