Basic Electroacoustics II: Music-Making Systems

Music G6602Y
TueThu 3:10-5:00pm
Spring 2008
Professor: Douglas Repetto [douglas at music columbia edu]
TA: Victor Adan [vga2102 at columbia edu]
Our Motto: "Why and how."
syllabus | lectures

Computer Music II: Music-Making Systems

This term we'll cover a wide range of works, ideas, and practices relating to the idea of a music-making (or more generally, art-making) system. It's a fun class; you'll have a fair amount of work to do, but it will mostly be casual, creative work on topics that you choose.

We'll also learn a new tool together: The Processing programing language.

Processing is an open source programming language and environment for people who want to program images, animation, and interactions. It is used by students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists for learning, prototyping, and production. It is created to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context and to serve as a software sketchbook and professional production tool. Processing is developed by artists and designers as an alternative to proprietary software tools in the same domain.

The Class

There are four main components to the class: discussions, programming asignments, student research, and student works.

Discussions cover historical and contemporary uses of music-making systems in numerous disciplines, forms, styles, and movements, and the work of individual artists. Numerous short readings will be assigned to accompany the discussions.

Programming assignments are weekly creative challenges that will help you get comfortable with thinking in a programming language.

Student research involves brief reports on student-selected topics related to the discussions.

Student works are art projects proposed and/or created by individual students or collaborative groups.

We may also have visits from a number of guest artists during the term.

Class discussion topics include:

systems & algorithms
human perception
generative art
kinetics/sound sculpture
data sonification
human-computer interaction
active/interactive/reactive installations

The Schedule

The class will meet in person on Tuesdays for class discussions and students presentations. Thursdays are lab days. You are welcome to work at the CMC or at home. Victor and I will be around the CMC for casual meetings/problem solving. Your assigments will be due online at the end of the day on Thursdays.

The online lecture notes/schedule are here. Subject to lots of change as we explore together.

The Grades

Grading is as follows:

attendance: 25%
assignments: 25%
midterm project: 25%
final project: 25%

Come to class, do the assignments, do the two projects, and you have an A. Don't do all of that, and you don't have an A. Grading is purely mechanical, and does not involve the evaluation of your work.

This grading policy is designed to encourage you to stretch out and take chances with your work, as the success of your pieces is not related to your grade in the class.

The Studio Access

Taking this class gives you access to the equipment in 313 and 324 Prentis and 803 Dodge. To reserve a machine use the signup sheet at:

The username and password will be given to you on the first day of class. You may do your work anywhere you like and use whatever tools you want. You are not required to use any particular software, hardware, techniques, equipment, etc. However, you will need to present your work regularly in class, so take that into consideration when deciding how and where to do your work. Assigments must be done in Processing.

The End

(Have some fun!)