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271B - Survey of Electronic Music Techniques I

Spring 2019
Wednesday 9:00-11:50
CPMC 231

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/Noise

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


Homework helper patch (for part 1)


Class 2: Recording/Sampling

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

Patches from class 2 (recording/sampling)

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

Class 3: Recording/Sampling (II)

The Jubalaires: Preacher and the Bear || Sugarhill Gang: Rapper's Delight
Bill Buchanan/Dickie Goodman: The Flying Saucer
Object Collection: It's All True
William Basinski: Disintegration Tape Loops
James Tenney: Blue Suede
Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
KLF: ABBA (The Queen and I)
Vaporwave: Macintosh Plus
Girl Talk: Hands In The Air
Natacha: Self-Portrait


Class 4: Synthesis

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

Fun speech synthesis: Utterance Robot , Euphonia
Wendy Carlos: Switched on Bach
Wendy Carlos: Clockwork Orange Soundtrack (13:41)
Suzanne Ciani: GE commercial, Coca-Cola Pop & Pour
Suzanne Ciani: Buchla concerts (1975)
Iannix (open-source web tool based on Xenakis' Upic): Iannix
George Lewis: Voyager: Interactive Trio
Loud Objects
Reed Ghazala (circuit-bending)

Patches from class 4 (synthesis) including canon helper



Class 5: Delay Lines and poly~

Max patches
Patches from class 5


Class 6: Delay Lines (2)

Max patches
Pitch Shifter

Class 7: Jitter

Max patches

Class 8: OpenGl intro/random stuff

Max patches
Open GL
Picture to sound

Class 9: Final Projects