Music 220a | Spring
Fundamentals of Computer-Generated
Ge Wang and
Barbara Nerness (TA)
and Mike Mulshine (TA)
| homework factory
Class meeting: Spring Quarter MW
Location: (virtual over Zoom)
Prerequisite: This is an
introductory course; all are welcome.
(subject to update)
This is an introductory course to computer music, covering a variety of
topics including computer-based sound generation, programming tools for
music creation, digital synthesis techniques, as well as technological,
aesthetic, and social issues in computer music. The course uses the ChucK programming
language for assignments. The format consists of lectures,
discussions, code-based creative projects, studio-style critiques, and a
final project. Programming experience is recommended but not required;
all are welcome.
What is computer music? (we believe every student will gain a good
initial grasp of these topics by beginning of Week 3)
How to make computer music? Bread and butter programming elements
- What is a digital sample?
- What is digital audio?
- What are some common tools people use to work with digital audio?
- Basics of time domain, frequency domain, and time-frequency domain for
audio. (forming an intuition for “reading” these and “knowing what they
- A brief survey of some active areas in the domain of computer music
How to make computer music (part 2)? Basic techniques for sound synthesis
- What is a unit generator?
- How to work with control rate vs. audio rate (block-based processing vs.
- Techniques for structuring musical events occurring over time
- Interactivity (responding to QWERTY, mouse, MIDI, OSC)
How to make computer music (part 3)? Computer music system thinking
- Generators: oscillators, noise, sample playback
- Envelopes and filters
- Processing: echo, reverb, other effects
- Basic synthesis techniques: additive, subtractive, physical
modeling, frequency modulation, and more
- Paying attention to psychoacoustics in sound synthesis (auditory
streaming, masking, critical bands, loudness curves, knowing how to use
the whole frequency spectrum)
Why make computer music? Some aesthetic questions
- Interconnectivity (getting your software to work with other software)
- Breaking larger software into smaller chunks (procedures, subpatches,
- Designing for the total experience (audio, musical, performative, visual,
Who makes computer music, where and when? Some social questions
- Why, indeed, make computer music?
- What makes for “good” computer music?
- What are the unique affordances of the computer for music making?
- Historically, who makes computer music?
- Combatting the problem of under-representation in computer music
- Technology and the “democratization” of music production
GDoc/Glossary Log (GLOG)
- homework #0:
due date: Friday, 2021.4.2, 11:59:59pm
in-class listening: Monday, 2021.4.5
- homework #1:
due date: Tuesday, 2021.4.13, 11:59:59pm
in-class listening: Wednesday, 2021.4.14
- homework #2:
milestone: Wednesday, 2021.4.21 (in-class)
final due date: Monday, 2021.4.26, 11:59:59pm
in-class listening: Wednesday, 2021.4.28 (in-class)
- homework #3:
"Composing with Percpetion"
milestone: Wednesday, 2021.5.5 (in-class)
final due date: Tuesday, 2021.5.11, 11:59:59pm
in-class listening: Wednesday, 2021.5.12 (in-class)
- final project:
"Design Your Own"
milestone 1: Monday, 2021.5.17 (in-class)
milestone 2: Monday, 2021.5.24 (in-class)
final due date: Tuesday, 2021.6.1, 11:59:59pm
listening party: TBD
Music Department |