Final Project Proposals

In class: CtrlMarkov demo


By next Tuesday, post your final project proposal to the documentation blog. It should include:

Concept. A short description of what you intend to create. You may include sketches.

Prototype. A first working iteration (or second, if you started last week)

Plan. Break down your project into specific taks, such as ’send data from two potentiometers to p5’, ‘gather MIDI files and convert to JSON’, ‘create animation’, etc.

The focus is more on getting started, working on your prototypes, and identifying any challenges that might take time to solve. Don’t agonize over your concept: it can evolve as you work on your project.

Week 11. Markov Chains

Coding in class

  • Play a JSON score generated from a MIDI file using Tone.Part
    • look into the score structure to find relevant parts / clean up if necessary
    • use the event callback to play (and perhaps manipulate) notes, and draw to the screen
  • Modify yesterday’s markov chain example so that its source sequence comes from the score.json file


  1. Generate a melody using a Markov chain created by analyzing a melody (and/or durations) from a MIDI file of your choice (you can download one from many sources online)
  2. Present progress towards your final:
  • Develop your midterm further. Pick an improvement you wanted to make and implement it.
  • Or, start a different project. Tell us what your concept is, and show us your first working code draft.

Week 10. Formal Techniques in Music Composition

A brief history

Discussed + listened to examples:

Came up in discussion:

– Process music: It’s Gonna Rain by Steve Reich

Longplayer: a piece that lasts 1000 years

– Eno’s Music for Airports and Bloom app

– Bach’s Fugue in G minor

Pieces that shocked audiences in their time:

– Beethoven Grosse Fuge

– Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring

– Stockhausen’s Helikopter-Streichquartett (vid here)

Week 10. Discussions. Synths, Robots, Science, Art

As promised, a report of the Loop Summit.

Discussion: Buchla’s approach vs Moog’s approach

Discussion: scientific vs. artistic projects

Discussion: machine-made music vs human-made music

Came up in conversation: Hatsune Miku

Week 9. Midterm documentation format

1. Concept. In one or two sentences, what is your project? What does it do?

Why this: What were your motivations/inspirations? What were you looking to explore/express/learn? (particular elements of music, interface mappings, sound techniques, aesthetics, etc.)

What context do you envision it living in? What do you hope people will get out of experiencing it?

2. Project.

Link to working project hosted on NAS

– Demo video / screen capture of you performing it (especially if interaction / intent not obvious on interface)

3. Technology. How does it work?

4. Process. What stages did you go through in creating it? Include early sketches, describe challenges and solutions/workarounds. Next steps: what would you improve in a next iteration?

5. Acknowledgements and references If you used code from examples or other projects, cite them, and tell us what you did. If you got help from fellows/teachers, thank them.

Documentation posts are due on Tuesday.

Next two classes: 

– Thursday: Gaming lib with Owen Roberts

– Tuesday: Communication from Arduino to p5 with Jiwon Shin

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:

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.