Computer Music

Columbia University
Spring, 2003 -- G6611Y
Brad Garton and Luke DuBois

course syllabus
general resources

Hi there, and welcome to the continuation of the Computer Music class, started last fall as G6610X. Check the syllabus from that class for a relatively complete listing of what we did. It's probably a good idea to review both of these documents, because (as we said last term!) this semester is a direct continuation of the last fall's class. We will continue to explore several different computer music languages and programming paradigms, attempting to show both the coding aspects of these packages as well as demonstrating some nifty, "higher end" applications that we develop in class.

We will begin by continuing, after a short review, with RTcmix -- building instruments and integrating the language into higher-level programming environments. Following the RTcmix unit, we will delve into the use of JSyn, a java-based langauge that works well in web applications. Finally, we will finish this year by exploring SuperCollider, a very different approach to music and DSP programming.

As before, we'll be doing a a fair amount of coding, but (again!) the intent of this class is not necessarily to turn you all into ace-crackerjack-a-number-one C/C++/Lisp/java programmers. Everything we do will be from a "musical" standpoint. And we do realize that there are at least a few of you who would like to take this class to continue work on a particular piece of computer music, or perhaps survey the extant stuff that is "out there". This is fine, but we warn again: the class will probably be really boring for you.

Also like last year, we will be hosting a number of visiting spakers after the class (free food and drink!). We will be announcing visitors in class, plus you can also check out the CMC Calender. for announcements and information about these and other CMC events.

Unlike last term, grades will be based upon a final project: a finished piece of music, a computer application, a nifty new piece of research, ground-breaking visions, whatever. This project should be the culmination of the entire year-long class, although we do recognize that the final project for this course-sequence may be just the first step towards a larger project. This is fine, but we will require something to be presented by the end of the year. The really good news is that we are in the fortunate position of being able to support much of what you do, should your project require investment in resources currently not available at the CMC. We'll talk more about this later in the term.

If you are becoming concerned about this, Luke and I are both available through e-mail, phone, whatever (see below for contact information). Obviously, if you are feeling totally dazed and confused by the class, please let us know.


The course syllabus is located here.

We'll be trying to keep it up-to-date with class activities, but you know how that goes...

The general resources link (also at the top of this web page) will contain links to class applications/patches/etc. as well as links to sources of information -- programming packages, general "theoretical" descriptions, etc. -- beyond the scope of the class. Most everything that we will cover this term is in the public domain. You can use the CMC hardware or your own resources for your project.

Contact Information

The best way to reach us is through e-mail: or If the machines are in flames and our e-mail server is down, you can also contact me via: I will also be holding office hours from 10:30 AM-12:00 noon on Wednesdays. My office is room 807 Dodge Hall. 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 maniacal, computer-music stuff. You can also call on the phone, but please refrain from calling my home much after 11:00 PM or my wife will mutter evil curses that will affect Your Future. Relevant phone numbers are:


Grades will be based mainly on the final project you do, and of course they will be completely subjective and based on our own personal whims -- so ya better treat us right!

Words from last term: Seriously, 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!