Sonic Wonders: Exploring Experimental Music With Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu - Atlas Obscura Experiences

Sonic Wonders: Exploring Experimental Music With Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu

4 sessions
$90 per person
See Dates
$90 per person
$90 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

In this four-part lecture series, explore philosophies, tips, and techniques for creating and appreciating experimental music.

Course Description

Join Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu for a sonic exploration of the dynamic, emotionally rich, and sometimes surprising landscape of experimental music. Over the course of four sessions, we’ll move through several demonstrations on creating novel sounds, covering experimental techniques for synths, effects, DAW-based sonic manipulations, electronic and acoustic percussion, and electric guitar. Along the way, we’ll pause for interviews with notable maestros, discussions about musical philosophy and experimental approaches, and collective listening sessions, tapping into the social nature of music and understanding how experiencing it with others can heighten its significance. We’ll touch on the nuts and bolts like equipment, background, and best practices, while also leaving room to explore the historical, aesthetic, emotional, and contextual importance of works during our collective listening sessions. By the end of our time together, you’ll not only have an expanded appreciation for artistry and the form, but also inspiration to continue experimenting!  

If you've attended Jamie's previous courses, please note that this course features all new course material.

Syllabus At A Glance

This course includes four total sessions, each lasting 1.5 hours on four consecutive Thursdays beginning September 8.

Session 1 (Thursday, 9/8, 7:30–9:00 PM ET)| Extreme Music Production, Demonstrations, and Deep Dive

Session 2 (Thursday, 9/15, 7:30–9:00 PM ET)| Modern Classical/Industrial Improvisation, Demonstrations, and Deep Dive 

Session 3 (Thursday, 9/22, 7:30–9:00 PM ET)| Applied Field Recording, Demonstrations, and Deep Dive

Session 4 (Thursday, 9/29, 7:30–9:00 PM ET)| Free Jazz, Noise Improvisation, Demonstrations, Deep Dive

Course Materials

While no materials are required to take this course, we recommend you wear the best headphones you can get your hands on, as we’ll be listening to music that has a wide frequency range that most computer speakers and earbuds can’t capture.

Between Sessions

Outside of class, students will be given two optional, weekly assignments related to the material covered in class—one intended for musicians and the other for music fans. Folks of all experience levels will be encouraged to participate and share their work in the Google Classroom!

Pricing Options

This course is available at three ticket prices. This tiered pricing model is designed to increase access for a wider range of students as well as to support our instructors. In addition to tiered tickets, we offer a limited number of no-pay spots for students who would not otherwise be able to take this course. No-pay spots are selected via a randomized drawing two weeks before each section begins. For more information and to apply for a no-pay spot, please click here. To learn more about our pricing model and randomized selection process for no-pay spots, please visit our FAQ page.

Community Guidelines for Students

Please take a moment to review our community guidelines for students, which aim to share our classroom ethos and help set the stage for the best possible learning experience.

Atlas Obscura Online Courses

Our online courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. Courses can take one of two forms: Seminars are intimate, interactive classes—capped at nine to 25 students—exploring topics and crafts through discussion, workshops, assignments, and in-class activities. We also offer lecture series that can be attended live, or viewed via a recording that will be shared within 72 hours after each session airs. Class recordings for lecture series will be available with a temporary password for up to two weeks following the final session of the course.

To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit

For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.

Where We’ll Be

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to each class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access all sessions of your course via Zoom.

About Your Instructor
Jamie Stewart
Jamie Stewart

Jamie Stewart has been a singer, engineer, multi instrumentalist and composer for the group Xiu Xiu since 2002. Xiu Xiu has released 16 full-length albums and countless adjunct projects and has collaborated with Swans, Vaginal Davis, Liars, Grouper, Sharon Van Etten, Deerhoof, Charlemange Palestine, Mitski, Lawrence English, master Haitian drummer Daniel Brevil, John Congleton, Mary Halverson, Ches Smith, Kid 606, Larsen, Devendra Banhart, Eugene Robinson and Merzbow, among many other luminaries and dignitaries.

Stewart has composed and performed commissioned pieces for the artist Danh Vo, LACMA, The Guggenheim, The Kitchen, Long Beach Art Museum, NYU, The Venice and Berlin Biennales and The Getty Center. He is also member of the Berlin-based art collective CHEAP and the post industrial band HEXA. With the blessing and support of David Lynch, Xiu Xiu released an album reinterpreting the music of Twin Peaks and has had songs featured in films by John Cameron Mitchell and numerous horror and experimental films. Stewart is the author of several volumes of haiku and is publishing his first novel, Anything That Moves, early next year. He holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from SFSU and a PhD in ornithology from Cornell.

What Else You Should Know

This lecture series is designed so students can participate live or watch a recording of each session, after it airs, at a time that is convenient for them. Sessions will take place live over Zoom, with dedicated Q&A segments for students to ask questions via video or chat. Within 72 hours after each session meets, students will receive access to a recording of the live session, which they can watch for up to two weeks after the course concludes.

Instructors may use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Google Classroom, instructors may use this platform to post resources, discussion questions, or assignments. This platform also offers a space for students to connect with one another about course material between sessions.

We provide closed captioning for all of our courses and can share transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at if you have any questions, requests, or accessibility needs.

Dates and Availability

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