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271B - Survey of Electronic Music Techniques I

Spring 2018
Wednesday 2:00 - 4:50
WLH 2155

This is an overall introduction to using computers and electronics in music composition. All classes are supported by relevant and eclectic historical background, and are divided into lecture and practice. Each class focuses on a single general topic in computer music. The class begins with a history lecture on the specified topic, and proceeds to examine works centered around that topic. There will be suggested reading and weekly assignments.

Topics include elementary and advanced sampling techniques, basic digital signal processing, methods of synthesis, human-computer interface, hand-built circuits, and experimental video. By the end of the quarter, the student should have a comfortable grasp of the fundamental topics covered in the class. The primary software taught in this course is Max/MSP. This course culminates in a final project, which includes both a written (text) and creative (musical) component. The musical component must be done in Max/MSP.


Final Project


Class 1: Electronic Instrument History/Intro to Audio

Download Sample
Electronic Musical Instrument Resource :
Scientific American article on the Telharmonium (1907)
Hermann von Helmholtz: On The Sensations of Tone as a Physiological Basis for the Theory of Music

Ryan Maguire's mp3 compression art project : The Ghost in the mp3

Patches from class



Class 2: Recording/Sampling

Max patches
Patches for class 2

Scientific American articles on Edison: 1877, 1878
Yasunao Tone : mp3 Deviation #6
Solo for a Wounded CD (part 2)
Everything is a Remix (remastered)
Carter Family Can't Feel at Home
Woody Guthrie I Ain't Got No Home Anymore
First tape piece : Halim El-Dabh The Expression of Zaar
John Cage : Williams Mix, Tom Erbe remix
The Flying Saucer
James Tenney : Collage #1 (Blue Suede)
KLF : Whitney Joins the JAMS
John Oswald : Plunderphonics

Download Soundflower
Download JackAudio (pc users)

Patches from Class 2
(Including solutions to homework assignments)

Samples for Assignment
Public Enemy Fight The Power List of Samples and timings

Assignment 2 Solution


Class 3: Synthesis

Percy Grainger : Free Music Machine
Electronic Music in South America : Fondation Langlois
Norman McLaren : Loops (1940)
RCA Demo tapes
Article on and examples of early speech synthesis at Bell Labs

Fun speech synthesis: Utterance Robot , Euphonia



Class 4: DSP

Max patches
Patches from class 4