Courses in Electroacoustic Music & Art



Instructor: Barry Truax, K-9676, 778-782-4261, email:

Website: &


C. Dodge & T. Jerse, Computer Music. Schirmer, 1997 (ML 1092 D54), 2nd edition (ML 1092 D54 1997)

R. Boulanger, The Csound Book. MIT Press, 2000 (MT 723 C77 2000)

R. Bianchini & A. Cipriani, Virtual Sound. Contempo, Italy, 2000. (ML 723 B52 V6 2000) & CD-ROM

Computer Music Articles & POD System Articles (xerox collection on Library Reserve)

Recommended Reading:

J. Chadabe, Electric Sound, Prentice-Hall, 1997 (ML 1380 C43 1997).

C. Roads, The Computer Music Tutorial, MIT Press, 1996 (MT 56 R6 1996)

M. Simoni, ed. Analytical Methods of Electroacoustic Music, Routledge, 2006 (ML 1380 A53 2006)

R. Rowe, Interactive Music Systems, MIT Press, 1993 (MT 723 R7 1993)

R. Rowe, Machine Musicianship, MIT Press, 2001 (ML 74 R68 2001) & CD-ROM

D. Cope, The Algorithmic Composer, A-R Editions, 2000 (MT 56 C668 2000)

E. Miranda, Composing Music with the Computer, Focal, 2001 (MT 56 M57 2001) & CD-ROM

B. Schrader, Introduction to Electroacoustic Music. Prentice-Hall, 1982, Chapters 14 & 19 (ML 1092 S35).

P. Manning, Electronic and Computer Music. Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 1993 (ML 1092 M36 1993), 3rd ed., 2004, (ML 1092 M36 2004), Chapter 10.

C. Roads (ed.), Composers and the Computer. Wm. Kaufmann, 1985 (ML 1092 C65).

S. Emmerson (ed.), The Language of Electroacoustic Music. Macmillan, 1986. (ML 1092 L35). 


Computer Music Journal (bound vols. in stacks; current vols. in Periodicals).

Organised Sound (bound vols. in stacks; current vols. in Periodicals).

Proceedings, International Computer Music Conference (ML 36 I563)

B. Truax (ed.), Handbook for Acoustic Ecology, ARC Publications, 1978 (QC 221.5 W67), CD-ROM edition, Cambridge Street Publishing, 1999.

C. Roads and J. Strawn (eds.), Foundations of Computer Music. MIT Press, 1985 (ML 1092 F7).

C. Roads (ed.), The Music Machine, MIT Press, 1989 (ML 1093 M88)

F.R. Moore, Elements of Computer Music, Prentice-Hall, 1990 (MT 723 M6)

M. Mathews & J.R. Pierce, eds. Current Directions in Computer Music Research, MIT Press, 1989 (ML 1380 C87)

Contemporary Music Review, 13(2) "Computer music in context" (ML 197 C752)

Recommended Listening:

The Fine Arts Room (LB 3100) has a collection of computer music on CD's. Consult the librarian for assistance and index information. A certain portion of the Seminar & Lab will normally be used for listening to tapes and CD's of computer music works. Note also the compilations on CD published annually by the Computer Music Journal.

Grading: Grading will be based on a letter grade average of the three projects listed on page 2, weighted equally at 30% each. There will also be a mid-term quiz which will count for 10% in the grading.

Seminar Topics and Readings:

All readings are to be done for the seminar on the date shown. Readings from the Dodge book are strongly recommended, indicated by chapter section in the 2nd edition [with corresponding chapter sections in the 1st edition in brackets]. Supplementary readings are numbered as in the Computer Music & POD System Articles. The articles on Frequency Modulation Synthesis in the POD System Articles and the Handbook entry should be read during the first half of the term in conjunction with the Labs. Note that the Boulanger and Roads books contain additional information on synthesis and composition techniques.


Week 1


Dodge: Ch. 1 & 3 (note: Ch. 3 is only in the 2nd ed.).
Articles 1 (Buxton), 2 (Wiggen), 4 (Branchi).

Week 2

Synthesis Techniques I

Dodge: 4.7, 4.8, 5.1 [3.7, 3.8; 4.1].
Article 17 (De Poli) Introduction, Fixed-Waveform, Additive and Frequency Modulation Synthesis.

Week 3

Synthesis Techniques II

Dodge: 2.6, 2.7 [same].
Articles 18 & 19 (Risset), 20 (Chowning), 21 (Strawn).

Week 4

Composition Systems I

Dodge: 4.1 to 4.6 & 11.1 [3.1 to 3.6 & 8.1].
Articles 9 (Mathews), 10 (Tenney), 11 (Hiller).

Week 5

Composition Systems II

Dodge: 11.2 [8.2].
Articles 5 & 12 (Koenig), 13 (Laske), 15 (Chadabe).

Week 6

System Design & Live Performance

Dodge: Ch. 11 [Ch. 9] (all).
Articles 6 (Chadabe), 7 (Truax), 8 (Appleton), 14 (Mathews & Moore).

Week 7

Mid-term Quiz

material covered in the seminars, and on FM synthesis concepts (as covered in the FMTUT program).

Week 8

Newer Synthesis Techniques I

Dodge: Ch. 8 (Granular Synthesis, VOSIM & FOF) [only in 2nd ed.].
Articles 24 & 25 (Roads), 26 (Truax), 28 & 29 (Kaegi & Tempelaars).

Week 9

Newer Synthesis Techniques II

Dodge: 9.1 to 9.3 (physical modelling, 2nd ed. only), 5.2 (waveshaping), 7.1C, 7.1F (speech) [Ch 4.2, 6.3, 6.6, 6.10].
Articles 22 (Roads, waveshaping), 23 (Lansky, LPC), 27 (Karplus-Strong),

Week 10

Live Performance & Interactive Systems.

Article 16 (Moore), CMJ 14(1) & 14(2).
ICMA Video Demos.

Week 11

Composition Analysis I

POD System Articles 9, 10, 11 & 12 (Androgyny, Arras, binaural timbral construction, Solar Ellipse).

Week 12

Composition Analysis II

POD System Articles 13, 14 & 15 (granular synthesis and granulation).
Article 30 (Clarke)

Week 13




Exercises and Projects

90% of your grade will be based on the following projects (the remaining 10% being for the mid-term), weighted equally in determining the final grade, unless otherwise requested:

(1) Two assigned computer composition exercises (to be completed during the first half of the semester: due week 8).

(2) One independent compositional project (to be completed during the second half of the semester, due one week after the last class).

(3) One major term paper, as a follow-up to the seminar work (due week 11).

Project Notes:

The compositional work will centre around use of the Csound system for sound synthesis and composition. The program and tutorials will be demonstrated to you during the lab periods and documentation will be provided. It is up to you to complete the projects during your own work periods. Setting up your own version of Csound is recommended: consult the website:

Project 1: The project involves the following two exercises. You should also provide documentation about your work, including a descriptive analysis of the sound material and the compositional structures you have developed. The two exercises are:

(A) Design three Csound instruments (at least one of which is FM-based) and use them to produce three sets of sound objects (10-12 each) where a "sound object" may be produced by one or more sound events. These sets should illustrate the effect of various types of parameter organization; for instance, with FM this includes c:m ratio organization, use of carrier and modulating waveforms, or various types of modulation index envelopes. The sounds may be generated systematically or intuitively, but you should think of them as suitable compositional materials for further exploration. It is necessary to record the sounds on DAT or CD, clearly indexed and referenced to the Csound data.

(B) A short compositional exercise using the sounds generated in (A) and other Csound output, and organized into a short composition. In your documentation, you should comment on the compositional thinking that characterizes the sound design and score structure. Duration: 2-3 minutes.

Project 2: A computer music composition project using any of the software and hardware in the studios. Document the essential compositional structure and how the materials were generated. The composition will involve multi-track mixing in the EMS with material from Csound, or other software. Suggested duration: 4-6 minutes.

Project 3: Write an essay on any theme in Computer Music Composition arising from the seminar work. Length should be in range of 10-15 typewritten pages (i.e. 2500-3000 words) plus bibliography. Suggested topics will be discussed in class or with the Instructor. They will include any composer, compositional system, synthesis or performance technique, or any research area involving computer applications to music. Where applicable, your essay should include an analysis of at least one piece of music. Internet references may be used to supplement (not replace) course texts.



Note: CMJ denotes Computer Music Journal


1. William Buxton, "A Composer's Introduction to Computer Music," Interface 6(2), 1977.

2. Knut Wiggen, "The Musical Background of Computer Music," Fylkingen International Bulletin, no. 2, 1969.

3. Herbert Brün, "From Musical Ideas to Computers and Back," in Harry B. Lincoln, ed. The Computer and Music, Cornell University Press 1970.

4. Walter Branchi, "The State of Anxiety," CMJ, 7(1), 1983.

5. G. M. Koenig, "My Experiences with Programmed Music," Faire 4/5, G.M.E.B., 1977.

6. Joel Chadabe, "Some Reflections on the Nature of the Landscape within which Computer Music Systems are Designed," CMJ, 1(3), 1977.

7. Barry Truax, "The Inverse Relation Between Generality and Strength," Interface 9(1), l980.

8. Jon Appleton, "Live and In Concert: Composer/Performer Views of Real-Time Performance Systems," CMJ, 8(1), 1984.



9. M.V. Mathews, "The Digital Computer as a Musical Instrument," Science, 142, 1963.

10. J.Tenney, "Computer Music Experiments, 1961-64," Electronic Music Reports, No.1, 1969.

11. Lejaren Hiller, "Composing with Computers: A Progress Report," CMJ, 5(4), 1981.

12. G.M. Koenig, "Composition Processes," in Computer Music, M. Battier & B. Truax, eds. Canadian Commission for Unesco, l980.

13. O.E. Laske, "Composition Theory in Koenig's Project One and Project Two," CMJ, 5(4), 1981.



14. M. Mathews & F.R.Moore, "GROOVE - A Program to Compose, Store and Edit Functions of Time," CACM, 13, 1970.

15. Joel Chadabe, "Interactive Composing: An Overview," CMJ, 8(1), 1984.

16. F.R.Moore, "The Dysfunctions of MIDI," CMJ, 12(1), 1988.

See also: CMJ, 14(1) and 14(2); W. Andrew Schloss & David A. Jaffe, "Intelligent Musical Instruments: The Future of Musical Performance or the Demise of the Performer," Interface, 22, 1993, pp. 183-193.; Mari Kimura, "Performance Practice in Computer Music," CMJ, 19(1), 64-75



17. Giovanni De Poli, "A Tutorial on Digital Sound Synthesis Techniques," CMJ, 7(4), 1983.

18. Jean-Claude Risset, "Computer Music Experiments 1964-," CMJ, 9(1), 1985.

19. Jean-Claude Risset, "The Musical Development of Digital Sound Techniques," in Computer Music, M. Battier & B. Truax, eds. Canadian Commission for Unesco, l980.

20. John Chowning, "The Simulation of Moving Sound Sources," Journal of the Audio Engineering Society 19(1), 1971 (reprinted in Numus West, no. 1).

21. John Strawn, ed. "Lexicon of Analyzed Tones," CMJ, 1(3), 1977.

22. Curtis Roads, "A Tutorial on Non-Linear Distortion or Waveshaping Synthesis," CMJ, 3(2), 1979.

23. Paul Lansky, "Compositional Applications of Linear Predictive Coding," in Mathews & Pierce, eds. Current Directions in Computer Music Research, MIT Press, 1989, pp. 5-8.

24. Curtis Roads, "Automated Granular Synthesis of Sound," CMJ, 2(2), 1978.

25. Curtis Roads, "Introduction to Granular Synthesis," CMJ, 12(2), 1988.

26. B. Truax, "Real-Time Granular Synthesis with a Digital Signal Processor," CMJ, 12(2), 1988.

27. Kevin Karplus & Alex Strong, "Digital Synthesis of Plucked String and Drum Timbres," CMJ, 7(2), 1983.

28. Werner Kaegi, "Controlling the VOSIM Sound Synthesis System," Interface 15, 1986.

29. S. Tempelaars, "The VOSIM Sound Synthesis System," in Computer Music, M. Battier & B.Truax, eds. Canadian Unesco Commission, 1980.

30. Clarke, M. "Composing at the intersection of time and frequency." Organised Sound, 1(2), 1996.

31. Phil Thomson, "Atoms and Errors: Towards a History and Aesthetics of Microsound," Organised Sound, 9(2), 207-218, 2004.




1. B. Truax, "The POD System: Interactive Compositional Software for the DMX-1000," CMJ, 9(1), 1985.

2. B. Truax, "The POD System of Interactive Compositional Programs," CMJ, 1(3), 1977.

3. B. Truax, "Computer Music Composition: The Polyphonic POD System," IEE Computer 11(8), 1978.



4. J. Chowning, "The Synthesis of Complex Audio Spectra by Means of Frequency Modulation," Journal of the Audio Engineering Society 21(7), 1973; reprinted in CMJ, 1(2), 1977.

5. FMTUTorial document and related notes.

6. B. Truax, "Organizational Techniques for C:M Ratios in Frequency Modulation," CMJ, 1(4), 1977.

7. B. Schottstaedt, "The Simulation of Natural Instrument Tones Using Frequency Modulation with a Complex Modulating Wave," CMJ, 1(4), 1977.

8. J. Chowning, "Computer Synthesis of the Singing Voice," Proceedings, International Conference on Music and Technology, Melbourne, 1981.

see also: John Bate, "The Effects of Modulator Phase on Timbres in FM Synthesis," CMJ, 14(3), 1990.
Frode Holm, "Understanding FM Implementations: A Call for Common Standards," CMJ, 16(1), 1992.



9. B. Truax, "Polyphonic Timbral Construction in Androgyny," Proceedings, International Computer Music Conference, 1978.

10. B. Truax, "Timbral Construction in Arras as a Stochastic Process," CMJ, 6(3), 1982.

11. B. Truax, "The Compositional Organization of Timbre in a Binaural Space," Proceedings, International Computer Music Conference, 1983.

12. B. Truax, "A Case Study of Computer Music Composition: Spatial Timbral Control in Solar Ellipse," Proceedings, The Wired Society, The Music Gallery, Toronto, 1986.

13. B. Truax, "Composing with Real-Time Granular Sound," Perspectives of New Music, 28(2), 1990.

14. B. Truax, "Composing with Time-Shifted Environmental Sound," Leonardo Music Journal, 2(1), 1992.

15. B. Truax, "Discovering Inner Complexity: Time-Shifting and Transposition with a Real-time Granulation Technique," Computer Music Journal, 18(2), 1994. (with sound sheet examples in 18(1))