Computer Music

Columbia University
Spring, 2007 -- G6611Y
Brad Garton/Victor Adan

course syllabus
general resources

For a variety of reasons, this semester's class will be very different from previous incarnations of Computer Music II. Depending on how you count, this year marks the 50th anniverary of the CMC. We thought it might be fun to devote the class to a consideration of the RCA Mark II synthesizer. Our goal isn't to 'emulate' or otherwise recreate the RCA, but instead to think about what it was to the world when it was actively used, and to use this as a guide towards project development in the class. We will be participating in the 2007 New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) conference, and we'd like to present the work done in this course if possible.

So it won't be a "tools and techniques" class like in the past, although we will be covering tools/techniques that you identify as being important. As such, our syllabus will be very flexible, and we can't say exactly where we will be going through the rest of the term. Sounds like fun!


Class meets on Tuesdays n 313 Prentis from 5:45 to about 8 or so. We can't really say too much more about the structure, because we're making it up as we go along.

Such is life.

We'll be putting links in on the syllabus to point towards particular applications or information as the need arises.


Nearly all of the CMC studios and hardware resources are available for you to use in this class. If you prefer to work on your own computer using applications you find comfortable, 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 (this link is also located on the resources page). If you are having trouble getting access to the hardware or software you need to work, 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 (again), our happy students!

At this point, we assume that you sort-of know your way around our studios and hardware. Please let us know if you are having problems gaining access to our facilities or getting equipment to work for you. Victor and Jeff are both happy to help you gain access to whatever you need for the course.


The course syllabus is located here.

Contact Information

The best way to reach us is through e-mail: If the machines are in flames and our e-mail server is down, you can also contact me via: garton-at-columbia-dot-edu. I will also be holding semi-official office hours from 10:30 AM-12:00 noon on Wednesdays in Dodge (my Dodge office is room 807). I will usually be around before or after (except when I have to frantically drive like a maniac to get home) class.

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. 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!

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!