Week 8. Sampling + Studio

Sampling code examples

(see NAS folder):

  • Player
  • Sampler
  • Granular Synth
  • Effects

Midterm ideation exercise

Ideation exercise:

1) Review the concepts covered in class so far + the exercises you have done. Write down ideas that inspire/intrigue you. A specific concept you’d like to explore in more depth, a type of interface / interaction, anything.  

2) Write a first concept draft. What idea will you explore? Think of sonic/musical/visual/interactive references & context.

3) Start sketching the interaction. Musical elements & mappings.

4) Start drafting program in pseudocode. Look up relevant objects in docs / examples.

Discussed ideas from students:

  • ZZ: very long sample. Some refs:
  • Dyadra: colorful instrument / VR. Some refs:
    • VR:
    • Playthings by George Michael Brower
    • Family by Björk
  • Baaria: infinite triangle. Some refs:
  • Mary Kate and Skye: words, everyday language. Some refs:
    • Chassol, procedural harmony
  • Angela: choose your own adventure, found sounds (radio, dialog)
  • Maria: harmony, narrative


Week 7. Sampling part 2 + Remixes


Moondog, Tugboat Toccata


  • Birds, Pt 1
  • Carnaval, Pt II (Motor + Vuvuzela)

Hornero Migratorio in Villa Serrana

Language as music:


Revolution 9. Wikipedia

The Grey Album: Lucifer 9 (Interlude), Wikipedia


Sample-based track, video filmed nearby Shanghai:

A discussion about how the sound was accomplished , a pitchfork review , Who sampled.

Interactive remix example: http://samplestitch.com/

Optional assignment (feel free to start working on midterm):

Create a sample-based composition.

  • look for samples to use in music you like (or not dislike)
  • use the field recordings you took during the break.

Week 7. Timbre. Sampling (part 1)

Homework review

Timbre review

  • harmonic series on strings (interact here)
  • levels of energy at different harmonics impact timbre (interact here)
  • different synthesis methods based on this (+ physical modeling)

Musical examples
Alva Noto, Uni Asymmetric Tone


Another approach: sampling. Record a sample, play it back. Change pitch, play backwards, add envelope, filter, etc.

Hardware samplers. Software samplers. Examples on Ableton Live:

  • Simpler: record whistle; play instrument samples.
  • Sampler: more sophisticated controls.

Granular synthesis:

  • New timbres (interact here)
  • Functional use: change tempo while maintaining pitch (see this example)

Example use in performance: Edge of the Universe Project.

Week 6. Timbre. Synthesis Lab

1) Using our simple OSC ––> ENV synthesizer, try to re-create the following envelopes:
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2) Go to the Tone.js docs site, and look into Tone’s built-in synthesizers.

Design 3 sounds, using:

– DuoSynth

– AmSynth or FMSynth

– Noise synth or Membrane synth

Note: keep in mind they can be polyphonic if you use Polysynth

3) Create an interface for playing with the timbres of two synths of your choice.

Consider what the inputs are (mouse, keyboard, sliders, etc), what synth parameters they control, and add some visual feedback as well.

Your interface can either:

– be like an instrument, where the user plays notes/sounds

– play a pre-set or randomized melody or rhythm

But your controls should focus on playing with timbre.


Week 6. Timbre: Synthesis


  • Sound elements: pitch, timbre, volume
  • Waveforms: square, saw, triangle, pulse, sine
  • Synth components:
    • Oscillator
    • Amplifier
    • Filter
    • Volume envelope
    • Filter envelope
    • Pitch envelope
    • LFO


Sound: vibration. Synth: creating electrical vibrations (through amp to speaker to ears).

Pitch. Cycle and frequency. Audible range.

Timbre. Pitched instruments: harmonic series. Color analogy. Fundamental frequency + harmonics/overtones/partials. Bright and dark sounds. Percussive instruments. Synthesize a bell sound.

Volume. Sound shape: envelope.


Square wave: instantly on/off

Saw tooth wave: instantly on, gradually off

Triangle wave: gradually on, gradually off.

Sinewave: single pure frequency. Fundamental + harmonics are sinewaves. Other waves can be created by combining sinewaves.

Modulation: applying one waveform to another to affect the sound. For example, to pitch to create vibratto; to volume to create tremolo; to filter/pulse width to affect timbre.

Synth Components

Amplifier. Controls volume (louder/softer)

Oscillator. Controls frequency (pitch)

Filter. Controls harmonic content (timbre: bright/dark)

Volume envelope. Controls the amplifier. Determines overall shape of the sound. ADSR.

Filter envelope. Controls the filter. Gives shape to brighness.

Pitch envelope. Controls oscillator

LFO. Oscillator vibrating below hearable frequency range. Routed to pitch: vibratto. Routed to volume: tremolo. Routed to filter and Pulse width affects timbre.

Example: create a string sound from scratch.

These apply to all synths,for example this Moog synth:


Types of Synthesis




Examples in Max:

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