Sound: Advanced Topics I

Columbia University
Fall, 2016 -- G6610X
Brad Garton and Onur Yildirim

course syllabus

Live digital signal processing (DSP) of instruments is almost a staple at many new-music concerts these days. We thought it might therefore be a good idea to discuss it in this class. Yay! Fun with sound! We'll be going into some of the theory behind various DSP techniques as well as covering a few of the practicaliities of 'doing' real-time processing. We won't be delving too much into advanced control mechanisms for integrating computer processing into live work; for more information about this you might want to scan through the web pages for last spring's class. If you have quesions about those things, send 'em my way.

We'll also be using this as an excuse to show you different computer music languages, such as RTcmix, SuperCollider, possibly pd, and of course Max/MSP. Many of you will know one or more of these languages. Our goal in the class is to highlight the particular differences between them that makes them good for one application or another. We also plan to hit a few of the more 'esoteric' capabilities available in each language. If you do have a decent amount of experience with these languages, then the class should still be informative because of the specific tools and techniques we will be covering. Plus there's all that music stuff we do. During the term, if you are having serious problems, please come to talk to Onur or me so that we can work with you or adjust the syllabus to get things back on-track.

The ultimate objective is to create snazzy and amazing sounds. We have no doubt that you will!


Class meets on Tuesdays in 320H Prentis from 6:00 to about 8/8:30 or so. We may make a few assignments throughout the term, mainly to spur class discussion. Hopefully some of the assignments may lead to your final projects for the class.

Here (again) are few links to software that we may be using in class:

We will have several guest speakers in the class during the term. Watch for announcements on the course syllabus.


Nearly all of the CMC studios and hardware resources are available for you to use. If you prefer to work on your own computer, that's perfectly fine. Otherwise you may sign up studios and machines for doing your work at the CMC using our on-line signup system. If you are having trouble getting access to the hardware or software you need, please let us know. The CMC is intentionally in a state of perpetual flux, reflecting the rapid evolution of the field of computer music. Our primary guide for the kinds of hardware and software investments we need to make comes from you, our happy students!

Again, please let us know if you are having problems getting equipment or software to work for you. In general, if you are having difficulty understanding the programming paradigms we are using or the applications and information we are covering. be sure to talk to us. We'll be happy to sit down and work through any issues with you.


The course syllabus is located here.

Each week we do will become a link to information relating to that class. We'll try to keep up with linking in class patches, examples and information, but we may fall behind. Yell at us when we do.

Contact Information

The best way to reach us is through e-mail: I will be holding semi-official office hours from 10:30 AM - 12:00 noon on Wednesdays in Dodge Hall (my Dodge office is room 807). I will also usually be around before or after class. In addition to being around the CMC on various days, Onur will be available by appointment for informal "lab" sessions. If it looks like we need to schedule some more formal sessions for additional info, we will.

It's always a good idea to make an appointment to see me, even during my purported office hours, because I often have to run around campus like a maniac doing strange, computer-music stuff. If you need to contact someone at the CMC or Music Department using your actual voice, the relevant phone numbers are:

Security and Access Policy

For graduate students and external auditors taking our classes, the policy is 24/7 with card-swipe access. You will need to be approved for access -- Prentis is not open to all CUID holders. For undergraduates, however, you will not be allowed to be in Prentis between midnight and 7 AM. Card-swipe access for undergraduates will be turned off during these hours, and (unfortunately) we will need to enforce sanctions against any undergraduate student who remains in Prentis during this time-period. This policy is also listed here. External auditors will also need to obtain a CUID card for access, obviously. Talk to me about how we can arrange that.


Grades will be based mainly on the final projects you do, and of course they will be completely subjective and based on our own personal whims -- so ya better treat us right! We will discuss projects as the semester progresses. As noted above, we may be making some assignments throughout the term and discussing these in class. It'a always fun to see what you all can do.

I say this every year, and generally people believe it (I think): by this point in your career the last thing you should be worrying about is a grade. The main thing is to find something that you'd really like to do and then do it. Please don't try to impress us with your consummate knowledge and skill, we are more impressed by people who do things. Honest!

Hope you enjoy the class!