Computer Music Studio Practice

ARTS 6961-01, Fall 2000

Thursday, x-x, DCC 161

Dr. Curtis Bahn


Office Hours by appointment or chance


This course is designed to provide graduate students in the MFA program with an exposure to the field of computer music composition/performance, a working knowledge of the graduate computer music facilities at the iEAR studios, and a solid theoretical foundation for continuing to learn as they use the facilities for creative work. Compositional issues and the philosophy behind a technologically facilitated music are addressed both by example and through discussion of student compositions.

Every member of the class will have a different level of experience with music and technology. The course is conducted as a graduate seminar with a strong emphasis on independent exploration of the materials discussed and self-motivated artistic application.


Computer music involves a diverse set of disciplines: mathematics, acoustics, psychoacoustics, physical and electrical sound transmission, methods of digital representation of sound, digital signal processing, digital sound synthesis, computer programming, musical representation (both for humans and computers), music composition (experimental and traditional), music performance, music theory, cultural/social implications of computer and electronic technology in music.

This course will examine the relationships between these disciplines, touching on some superficially and some in depth with the primary goal always being to enable you to work effectively and knowledgeably in sound and music production.

Classes will generally be divided between listening, presentation of new material, and discussion of student work. Much of the technical material will be presented quickly in class, students are expected to work independently with the manuals and readings in order to reach the level of proficiency demanded by the facility and the course. Working in groups to solve technical issues is helpful and generally encouraged. We will schedule several "private lesson weeks," usually prior to the end of a unit of study before the final class presentations of your work.

This course is held in conjunction with the technical seminar taught by the engineering staff. Your success in this class depends on your performance in both aspects.

Throughout the semester we will have student presentations on various musical topics to be announced. I would like each of you to examine and analyze a piece of electro-acoustic music on the listening list for the class, or some form of electronic music that you feel is important to your work, and present it to the class.

Over the semester you will be expected to complete at least 3 compositions focusing on the major areas of study in the course. Your final work will be a CD presenting your compositions from the semester. Of course, you are encouraged to present your best musical work at the MFA performances at the end semester.

The philosophy of the iEAR studios is based in the integration of the electronic arts. Whenever possible, combine sonic needs from your other classes into work for this course. Keep me informed of other projects and assignments so that I can best assist you in integrating the concepts that you are being presented with.


Physical and "on-line" readings will be assigned in class. Sometimes the material will be to technically advanced for your level, sometimes it may be to simplistic. Skim the readings for your level and engage them to your best ability.

Please purchase:

Joel Chadabe: Electric Sound, Prentice Hall 1997.

Available from the Electronic Music Foundation in Albany:


Grading is based on your participation in class activities, your demonstration of proficiency in the studio, and the completion of your final CD.