MUSC 208. Computer Music and Sound. Winter 2014

Course Project Details

Group 1 Project.pdf - due Unit 11
Group 2 Project.pdf - due Unit 19
Final Research Project.pdf - due Final Exam Period



Reference Links.html

Grading    Late Work    Reading Labs Homework     Course Materials    Academic Integrity    Academic Support


1/11/14: I researched some problems that happened during the Octave Installs in Lab 2 and have updated the web pages with possible fixes. If you have time to test them, send me an email with your results. I built a fresh Windows 7, 64 bit hard drive and went through the install steps. It worked for me. I do not have Windows 8.
Revised Octave Install for Mac. One fix.
Revised Octave Install for Win. Two fixes.

3/4/14: Slight updates to Group 2 Project.pdf and Final Research Project.pdf

Date-Unit Class Activities Homework Reading/Info
1/7 Unit 1

Lecture 1

Lab 1 - Introduction to Octave and ChucK, Sine Waves


Install ChucK on your laptop



1/9 Unit 2

Lecture 2

Octave Software Installs [ Mac ] [ Win ]

Lab 2 - Octave Function Files, Periodic Signals, 6 Basic Waveforms, Frequency Spectrums, Aliasing, Decibels, Equal Loudness Contours

Homework 1 (Units 1-2)

Octave Math and Function Files
due Unit 4

Octave Introduction read and do

Music Fundamentals review as needed

MIDI Basics read

Piano Note Reference - for reference

Animation of hearing process

1/14 Unit 3

Lecture 3

Lab 3 - Reading and Writing Audio Files in Octave and ChucK, Chuck time and duration, ChucK Control Structures, Sample Mangling, HID Keyboard, Spork, SndBuf


Homework 1-2 due Unit 4

Reading Assignment

1/16 Unit 4

Lab 4 - ChucK: Mapping the keyboard, MIDI, Recording


Homework 3-4 - Chuck: Drum Machine and Scales
due Unit 6

Mac MIDI Setup (Laptops)

Win MIDI Setup (Laptops)

Review Unit 3 Reading Assignment


1/21 Unit 5

Lecture 5

Mac MIDI Setup (Laptops)

Win MIDI Setup (Laptops)

Lab 5 - ChucK: Keyboard Mapping Template, Blackhole


Homework Extension

Homework 3-4 due
Saturday Jan. 25, 9:00 am.

1/23 Unit 6

Lab 6 - Octave: Wavetables and Interpolation

Lab 6 Code

Project groups

Homework 5-6 - Chuck: Change Speed, Frequency Sweep, ADSR
due Unit 8

Work on homework.

1/28 Unit 7

Lecture 7

Lab 7- ChucK: Impulse, Phasors, Interpolation, Random


Homework Extension

Homework 5-6 due
Saturday Feb 1, 9:00 am.



ChucK Floss Manual
Sections 17 - 25, pages 40-73

1/30 Unit 8

Lab 8 - ChucK: Arrays, Classes, Time Synchronization, STK Instruments,


Homework 7-8 - Metronome Class, Real time tempo control

Homework 7-8 file download

Homework 7-8 due
Saturday Feb 8, 9:00 am.

Work on homework.

Work on your Group Project.

2/4 Unit 9

Lecture 9

Lab 9 - ChucK: Envelopes, ADSR, Natural Decay

Homework 7-8 due
Saturday Feb 8, 9:00 am.

Work on homework.

Work on your Group Project.

2/6 Unit 10

Lab 10 - ChucK: Harmonic Series, Scales, Tuning, Cents


Work on Group Project 1

Work on homework.

Work on your Group Project.

Midterm Break
2/11 Unit 11

Lecture 11

Lab 11 - ChucK: Additive Synthesis,Phase Increment, Angular Frequency, Synthesis of 5 Basic Waveforms


2/13 Unit 12
Group Project 1 Presentation

Homework 11-12.pdf
Homework 11-12
Due Saturday February 22, 9:00 am.

2/18 Unit 13

Lecture 13

Lab 13 - Game Controllers, MIDI Input, and Modulation Synthesis




2/20 Unit 14

Lab 14 - Octave: The Fast Fourier Transform (FFT)

Homework 13-14.pdf

Due Saturday March1, 9:00 am

Work on Homework 13-14

2/25 Unit 15

Lecture 15

Lab 15 - ChucK: Time Domain Effects, SndBufUtils class



Work on Homework 13-14

2/27 Unit 16

Lab 16 - ChucK: Frequency Domain Effects, Filters I,
Processing GUI, OpenSoundControl, SignalScope FFT


  Work on Group Project 2 and Final Project
3/4 Unit 17

Lecture 17

Lab 17 - ChucK: Frequency Domain Effects, Filters II, Biquad Filter Implementation



Work on Group Project 2 and Final Project
3/6 Unit 18

Lab 18 - ChucK: Delay Lines, Karplus-Strong Plucked String Algorithm, Reverb


  Work on Group Project 2 and Final Project
3/11 Unit 19 Group Project 2 Presentation
3/15 Final Exam Final Project Presentation - Saturday 7:00-9:30 pm

Drop-add Deadline: Fri, Jan 17, 5:00 pm
Mid-term Break: Mon, Feb 10
Late Drop and S/CR/NC Deadline: Fri, Feb 28, 5:00 pm
Classes End: Wed, Mar 12
Reading Days: Th-Fri Mar 13-14
MUSC 208 Final: Sat, Mar 15, 7:00-9:30 pm

calendar 2014

Final Exams

final Exams

From the Carleton College Academic Catalog

MUSC 208. Computer Music and Sound This course will survey computer techniques for analyzing, synthesizing, manipulating and creating musical sounds. We'll study the basic components of digital sound: waveforms, oscillators, envelopes, delay lines, and filters. We'll analyze and modify sounds using the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT). We'll study several methods of sound synthesis and create and play original music using open source computer music languages. Course projects will include real-time performances on multiple computers using video game controllers. 6 cr., AL; ARP, Spring—J. Ellinger

Course Web site

Office Hours

By email appointment or setup in class.

Course Components

Computer Labs

Most of the class time will be spent in labs at the computer. There are more students in the class than the 20 available lab computers. I encourage you to install the course software on your laptop and bring your laptop to each class. An ideal situation would be to use the large screens in the lab to view the lab instructions and execute the assignment on your laptop. Earbuds, headphones are optional. You'll hear a lot of strange sounds throughout the term. Discussion, questions, and help offered to other students is encouraged during the labs.

lab pie chard

The following labs have MUSC 208 software installed. They are available whenever they are not used for classes.

  1. WCC 138 - the classroom
  2. WCC Idea Lab - lower level in Weitz
  3. Music Resource Center - Music Hall first floor opposite drinking fountain.

Class Projects

There are three projects; two group projects and one individual research project. Details at top of page.

projects pie chart


Attendance and Class Participation
Midterm project
Ensemble project
Final Research project

Grading Scale

Grade 100 percent scale
A 100-95
A- 94-90
B+ 89-87
B 86-83
B- 82-80
C+ 79-77
C 76-73
C- 72-70
D 69-65
F 64-0

Attendance and Late Work

You will be granted two absences for any reason without penalty. After that your attendence percentage will decrease by 3% for each additional absence. Counting starts after the drop/add period.

Homework due at Saturday 9:00 am on dates stated on Syllabus. 10% grade reduction after deadline and before the following Tuesday class meeting. Grade of 64 (F) after that.

Reading, Labs, Homework

Readings will introduce you to concepts used upcoming labs. The labs are designed to prepare you for the homework and group projects. If you miss a lab you'll be expected to make it up on your own. There are 6 homework assignments. They will be assigned on a Thursday and due in class the following Thursday. Allow 6-12 hours for them.

Course Materials

If you have a laptop, bring it to every class. Purchase a USB thumb drive. Recommended size would be between 8-16 Gigabytes. You'll use this in every lab to save your work. Have it available at the next lab. Back up regularly.

Software we'll use in Music 208. It's free open source software and cross platform.

If you have a Mac laptop you can copy most of the software directly from the Lab computers. I have modified both the Octave and its included plotting application Gnuplot for this class. Windows users can download and install the software from the links below.

ChucK 1.3.3

You will use ChucK and MiniAudicle for your group projects, preferably on your laptop.

MiniAudicle (editor for ChucK)


The version of Octave you would install depends on your OS version.The install can be complicated and you may need to configure settings and/or download supporting packages. You will only use Octave for the labs and homework. You do not need to install it on your laptop. You can use Octave on the lab machines. However, if you want to install it on your laptop start here. The standard recommendation is to back up your hard drive before you attempt this.

Audacity 2.0.5

All: download and install from:

A good programmer's text editor

MIDI Software Synthesizer


The terminal is used for command line ChucK and Octave.


A cross platform graphical user interface (GUI) builder for ChucK.

Academic Integrity at Carleton

Please read Academic Integrity at Carleton web page carefully. I have referred cases to the Associate Dean in the past. It is unpleasant for everyone.

Carleton Academic Support Center

The Academic Support Center is eager to work with faculty to help students succeed academically. They offer tutors, coaches, writing consultants, and prefects in math, science, writing, and public speaking.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center The Writing Center, located on the 2nd floor of Scoville and in the Libe (room 329), has peer writing consultants who can work with you during any stage of the writing process (brainstorming to final proofreading). Hours are listed here: You can reserve specific times for conferences in Scoville by using their online appointment system: Walk-ins are welcome at Scoville, though writers with appointments have priority. The Libe location requires no appointments.Writing Assistance for Students Whose First Language Is Not English

Writing Assistance for Students Whose First Language Is Not English

If you are a second language writer and believe you might benefit from working individually with a writing consultant on a regular basis this term, email Renata Fitzpatrick, Second-Language Writing Coordinator, call her at x5998, or stop by her office in 201 Scoville. She can arrange once- or twice-a-week meetings between you and a specific writing consultant throughout the term.

Math Tutoring

The Math Skills Center is located in the CMC, room 231, on the second floor between the Math Department and the computer labs and classrooms. Tutors assist students who are taking math courses and experiencing difficulty with them, but the MSC also functions as a great place to study, do homework, and meet for one-on-one tutoring. It's open Monday-Friday: 8:30am-11pm; Saturday: 11am-5pm; and Sunday: 2-5pm and 7-11pm. All visits are drop-ins; no appointments are necessary. Russ Petricka, Supervisor of the Math Skills Center, also provides assistance during daytime and most evening hours.

Public Speaking and Class Presentations

The Speakeasy is a student-staffed resource designed to assist you with class presentations and comps talks. Groups and individuals are welcome at either location: the Libe (room 314) and The IdeaLab (room 26 in the Weitz). A Speakeasy coach, Diana Fraser or Shavera Seneviratne, can also meet you at other mutually convenient times. Just email them at or For hours in each location, visit

Time Management, Study Skills, and Test-Prep Strategies

Greta Simons (, a Hall Director who also works in the Academic Support Center, can work with you to improve your time management and academic skills. Her goals are to heighten your awareness of your personal strengths and skills, and to offer different ways you can approach your academic work so you're more efficient and effective. Greta meets students during her regular drop-in office hours, which are listed on the Academic Skills Coaching website. You can also email her to set up a meeting outside her office hours.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Carleton College is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities. Students seeking accommodations should contact the Coordinator of Disability Services, Andy Christensen, at 222-4464 or, to begin the process. Carleton faculty are strongly encouraged to wait for official notification of accommodations before modifying course requirements for students.

Revised John Ellinger, Winter 2014