CCRMA Fall 1998:

220a: Introduction to Sound Synthesis and Signal Processing


Sep 29* Randal (our TA) has created a keystroke by keystroke guide to xemacs and lisp that should help you get started (if you're not already up and running...). His office hours will be Fridays from 6pm to around 8:30pm.

Sep 28* Randal (our TA) will be available for questions tomorrow (Tuesday September 29th) in the Classroom (left of the main entrance) from 4:30pm till around 7:30pm. Thanks Randal!

Sep 25* Browse through the new Simp Dissection Tutorial and dive into an anatomically correct view of the entrails of our basic example clm instrument.

* Check out the new page being built by Randal, it includes very useful supplementary information to the course...

Sep 25* If you are an oldie at CCRMA it might happen that your account does not have the proper ".emacs" file in your home directory. One symptom of this is if you can't start the lisp interpreter inside xemacs by typing "ctrl-x" "l". Just copy this sample .emacs and .xemacs-options into your home directory and restart xemacs. Trivia: if you edit them you'll see that they contain lisp code! As I mentioned during the class most of xemacs itself is written in lisp so the configuration files are just lisp code.

* Just a quick question: does xemacs automatically color code and highlight the lisp source code when you edit a lisp file? If not then you're missing this .xemacs-options file. Just copy it to your home directory ("shift-click" the link and save the file to your home directory), start xemacs again and you'll see the magic of color and automatic parenthesis highlighting. Very helpful. I'll try to copy it to the already registered users...

Sep 24* If you signed up for the course, came to the first lecture but did not hand me a CCRMA registration form because you already have a CCRMA account please send me an email (to so that I can include you in the 220a mailing list!

* I have created all new accounts. Just drop by my office to get the random password I created for you.

* Check out the lecture 1 page, it has now a (I hope detailed) description of the first assignment... have fun...

* Course Description

This is a first course in sound synthesis techniques and digital audio effects, and their implementation in the CLM (Common Lisp Music) environment. We will design software instruments that implement additive, subtractive, FM, sampling, wavetable, granular, spectral, and physical modeling synthesis as well as digital-effects algorithms such as phasing, flanging, chorus, distortion, and reverberation. Introductory signal processing and perception topics will be included.

The new real-time CLM capabilities will also be covered in the course. This will include real-time instrument and GUI (Graphical User Interface) design, as well as the use of MIDI controllers.

Common Lisp Music (CLM) is a public domain sound design language written on top of Common Lisp, currently running in Macintosh PowerPCs and several UNIX environments including SGI, Sun, NeXT and PC's running Linux.

* Lectures

Sep 23Introduction to ccrma and clm
Sep 30Digital Sound, Additive and Wavetable Synthesis
Oct 7Sound Perception and Analysis
Oct 14Modulation Synthesis and Waveshaping
Oct 21Granular Synthesis and Sampling Rate Conversion
Oct 28Subtractive Synthesis and Digital Filters
Nov 4Spatial Processing
Nov 11Spectral Modelling
Nov 18Physical Modelling
Nov 25Digital Effects, In depth CLM and general Q/A session
Dec 2Project Audition Week!

Suplemmentary information and links, by Randal.

Pointers to last year's Lisp Workshop pages by Juan Pampin:

* Course Materials

All course materials will be placed on-line in CCRMA's World Wide Web server (

The on-line clm distribution (source code, examples and so on...)

The on-line "CLM Manual".

* Emacs and XEmacs editor references

Emacs cheat sheet
the most commonly used commands
References materials
getting started, reference card, the complete manual in html and more...
XEmacs Home Page
the official home of the xemacs editor...

* PC's, NEXTSTEP and Linux

Detailed instructions on how to reboot a PC into Linux

Suplementary texts

* Elements of Computer Music
F. Richard Moore, Prentice Hall, 1990
* The Computer Music Tutorial
Curtis Road, MIT press, 1996
* Musical Sound
John Pierce, Scientific American Books, 1990
* Computer Music: Synthesis, Composition and Performance
Charles Dodge and Thomas Jerse, Schirmer Books, New York, 1985

* Administrative Information

Music 220a meets Wednesdays from 10am to 11:50am (with a 10 minute break). Fall quarter only, in the Ballroom at CCRMA.

Units: The student may sign up for two to four units. Two units involves no project work, and the student is responsible only for completing the homework assignments. Signing up for three units implies at least three hours per week will be devoted to a project. Four units implies at least six hours per week devoted to a project.

Projects: The project may consist of clm work, independent study or a small compositional project. Requirements for the project include a written one-page proposal by the third week of the quarter, a written project report due by the end of the quarter and an in-class demonstration on the last day of class. For projects which span multiple quarters, interim write-ups are required each quarter.

Teaching Assistant: The TA is Randal J. Leistikow, his office hours will be Fridays from 6pm to around 8:30pm. Office hours for the instructor (Fernando Lopez-Lezcano) are Wednesdays from 2:30pm to 4:00pm. At all other times we can be reached by email.

Mailing list: As soon as we create all accounts at ccrma we'll have a mailing list available for discussions, tips, tricks and general consultation. The address will be "".

General Information: Feel free to browse through the "CCRMA User's Guide" which highlights the available facilities and how to best use them. The document also includes a link to the FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions"... try to browse through them before asking questions....

©1998 Fernando Lopez-Lezcano. All Rights Reserved.