Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session
In this course, you will learn how to build sounds and sound effects from scratch, using the open-source graphical programming environment Pure Data (Pd). You will learn how to analyze and synthesize everyday sounds and encapsulate them in dynamic sound objects that can be embedded into computer games, animations, movies, virtual environments, sound installations, and theater productions. Our work will be guided by Andy Farnell’s book Designing Sound.
Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:
- Reflect upon and analyze everyday sonic experiences and articulate them to others.
- Design and implement computer music applications using essential sound synthesis and programming techniques.
- Identify suitable synthesis techniques to develop a design strategy for a specific sound design problem.
There are no specific prerequisites for this course. Prior programming experience is not required.
Course Entrance Questionnaire
Because the course has a cap on maximum enrollment, students are selected for admission into the course via a questionnaire (PDF).
Required Hardware and Software
You must have reliable access to additional audio editing hardware and software to work on your assignments. Please see the Tools page for details.
- Desktop or laptop computer
- Studio headphones or nearfield monitor loudspeakers (not earphones or “earbuds”)
- Pure Data (Pd) software
- Audacity or other audio editing software
- Sonic Visualiser software
Ensure you have access to this hardware and software by Session 4! By that date, you should also have completed and tested the installation of all software packages.
Farnell, Andy. Designing Sound. MIT Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780262014410. (Book and accompanying Pd example files.)
I strongly recommend that you invest in a printed copy of this fantastic book, which you will most likely enjoy long after the end of this course.
Additional required readings and a schedule of reading assignments are listed on the Readings and Assignments page.
Assignments, Quizzes, and Grading
The following assessment items will count towards your final grade.
|10 written responses to reading assignments (RD1-RD10)||5%|
|3 Sound Design exercises (EX1-EX3)||5%+5%+10%=20%|
|3 Pd assignments (PD1-PD3)||5%+5%+10%=20%|
|1 Written assignment (WR)||5%|
|1 Recording / Editing assignment (ED)||5%|
|Final Project in 4 parts (FP1-FP4)||25%|
You need to complete all assignments and quizzes in order to pass this course, and you are expected to submit all assignments on time. Late submissions will incur a penalty of usually one letter grade per 24 hours.
There is no final exam for this course.
This is a 12-unit class, which means you should expect to invest about 9 hours of work per week beyond the 3 class hours.
You are expected to attend all class meetings in this course.
- Any absences have to be communicated to and approved by the instructor ahead of time, so please email me as soon as you know about any scheduling conflicts. If you will miss an in-class quiz, you need to simultaneously arrange an in-lieu oral exam with the instructor.
- Unexcused absences from any in-class presentations will not be tolerated and result in a fail grade for the course. Otherwise you are entitled to a single unexcused absence without penalty. Any further unexcused absences will negatively affect your final grade.
- In-class quizzes missed due to an unexcused absence cannot be repeated and will receive a zero score.
Use of Electronic Devices in Class
If you have a laptop, please bring it along to all class meetings that are marked accordingly in the calendar. The use of laptops is only permitted for actual coursework, and I will announce when this is the case. The use of cellphones in class is not permitted.
|LEC #||TOPICS||BRING LAPTOP||KEY DATES|
|1||Why and How to Design Sound?|
|2||The Sound Design Process||
|3||Everyday Sound Objects||
|4||Introduction to Pure Data (Pd)||✓||
|5||Physics of Sound||RD4 due|
|6||Pd Programming Concepts||✓||
|7||Perception of Sound||RD5 due|
|9||Shaping Sound with Pd||✓||
|10||Digital Audio Theory||RD6 due|
|11||Sound Recording and Editing Techniques||✓||
|12||Quiz 1; Review, Preview||
Quiz 1 in class
|13||Analysis and Requirements Specification||✓||
|14||Additive Synthesis||✓||RD7 due|
|15||Research and Model Making||✓||
|16||Waveshaping and Wavetable Synthesis||✓||RD8 due|
|17||Final Project: FP1 Student Presentations||✓||FP1 due|
|18||Modulation Synthesis (AM and FM)||✓||RD9 due|
|19||Method Selection and Implementation||✓||
|20||Steam Train Drive-by||✓||
|21||Granular Synthesis||✓||RD10 due|
|22||Final Project: FP3 Student Presentations||✓||
|23||Quiz 2; Student Presentations||✓||Quiz 2 in Class|
Final Project: FP4 Presentations