Electronic Production & Design Courses
Csound: Sound Design and Composition
In this class students will learn how to use Csound, a powerful and versatile sound synthesis and processing software environment, for electronic composition, production, and innovative sound design. Students will design sounds and compose pieces using classic synthesis techniques such as additive, subtractive, waveshaping, wavetable, granular, and physical modeling. Students will learn how to use Csound as a plug-in for Ableton Live and the iPad to produce innovative sound design for TV, film, multimedia installations, and games. Students will also use Csound as the basis for graduate-level research in computer music and music perception.
Electronic Composition and Sound Design for Commercial Production
This course explores working in situations which typify the demands of commercial music production. This includes composing in a wide variety of idioms, to specific stylistic direction, and under common constraints that effect commercial music composition. These projects require the student to draw upon their skills in composition, electronic music production, and sound design. This course will confront the student with issues and problems common to the working composer, music producer, and sound designer.
Speech and Vocal Synthesis
An overview of the electronically produced/processed voice, with exploration of: human voice mechanics; formants in speech and singing; time-stretching granular techniques; channel and phase vocoders; parametric EQ; and formant (fixed) filters. Theoretical underpinnings and practical examples of the transformative power of convolution are presented. Synergistic dymaxion music composition approaches that exercise elements learned in class are suggested, as alternatives to familiar software sequencer production. Students are provided weekly hands-on access to EP/D labs, where a variety of software and hardware systems are available. This course culminates in a public concert, and is suitable for those who recognize the central role that electronically produced and processed voices play in: video games; animation; advertising; contemporary songwriting; and telecommunications.
Programming Interactive Audio Software and Plugins in Max/MSP
A class in electronic production and design using Max/MSP, arguably one of the world's most powerful and intuitive multimedia programming languages. Students will prototype, design, and program stand-alone audio applications and VST plugin versions of wind chimes, music boxes, softsynths, samplers, drum machines, groove boxes, audio processors, and remixers and learn to control them with game controllers such as the Nintendo wiiMote. Students will apply algorithmic composition techniques to the systems that they design, and learn to utilize noise, fractals, and chaos as a means of humanizing their software creations. The class culminates in a public laptop jam session using the original software designed by the students.
Advanced Studies in Digital Sampling Techniques
This course focuses on the study of the generation of original, exotic sound textures and unusual synthetic instrumental timbres derived from acoustic sounds recorded from studio and field sources. Digital signal processing and studio production techniques as used by the industry's top game and film sound designers are discussed and practiced.
Audio Programming in C
In this class students will learn to program musical examples and projects in the C programming language. Working initially from the Terminal application, using the GNU Compiler Collection on Mac OS X, and later with Apple's XCODE Integrated Developer Environment (IDE), the student will write musical programs that do algorithmic composition, software synthesis, and signal processing and in the process more deeply understand the underlying algorithms that power all electronic music programs. This software engineering class is the first step toward the design of synthesis and signal processing tools. It will provide a marketable technical skill which is often a prerequisite for industry jobs in sound design and game audio, as well as for graduate programs in computer music and music technology.
This class provides the student with an opportunity to create portfolio pieces of original compositions using software and hardware tools. We will study a variety of approaches to composing and realizing works with an emphasis on developing the use of line, rhythm, harmony, orchestration and form. Weekly assignments include electronic realization of musical excerpts, readings by composers, listening, and analysis. Technical topics will be explored by the group as needed.
Sound Design for Animation
A project-based course covering basic design principles and production techniques used in producing sound for animation. Students will work in collaboration with senior animation students at the Massachusetts College of Art to produce three short animation projects. Animation is a part of practically every form of entertainment that uses visual elements, from feature films and television programs to video games and websites. Most, if not all, musicians will work with this medium at some point in their career. Class meetings will explore the historical roots of sound and music for animation through screenings, case studies, and assigned readings. From this, students will develop the skills necessary to analyze an animation and create a variety sound elements: music, sound effects, and vocal elements. At various times throughout the semester, the class will meet at MassArt in joint meetings with student animators for directed review of their work.
Digital Audio Production and Design
This course challenges students to design and produce audio content for a series of projects. Utilizing the studio and lab resources of the department, students will produce content that ranges from spoken word to sound and music mixed in surround. Students are introduced to techniques and applications that are essential for pursuit of a variety of professional opportunities in the areas of sound design and audio production for film, video games, TV, and radio, as well as all types of music production.
Circuit Bending and Physical Computing
In this class, students develop the basic electronics skills necessary to do creative circuit-bending, to modify and rewire sound-making toys, and to build custom performance interfaces using game controllers and a wide variety of sensors. Students breadboard and build a custom analog synth. They develop sensor-based controllers using the Arduino and program them using the Processing language. They design and program their own interactive games and audio/video remixers. Using these skills, students will develop strategies to control a range of hardware and software synthesis systems. By the end of the course, a student will have developed their own expressive MIDI and audio control system.
A precursor to EP-491, Advanced Seminar combines master class and private lesson settings for the electronic production and design major. Master class topics include group assessment of each student's portfolio work, group critiques, and technical instruction as needed. Assessment and analysis tools are provided to discuss music composition/production as well as the integration of music and sound design for picture and games. Business and career preparations will also be discussed. The private lesson component allows each student to develop skills and musicianship with direct mentoring from the instructor.
Digital Signal Processing: Composition and Sound Design
In this course, students learn innovative production, remixing, and compositional uses of new spectral and time-based digital signal processing techniques. Students will use, adapt, and mutate sounds in unique and unusual ways that are fresh, new, and ideal for a variety of professional sound design projects. Students will also use these new spectral tools to compose and produce in a variety of musical styles from cutting-edge, DSP-based audio art to innovative pop songs.