School of Music

MUS 207: Music, Science and Computers

FALL 2022

UVic’s most recent health and safety protocol can be found here: COVID information 2022 and here: Health & Safety

Please do a daily health self-assessment before coming to campus. If you're sick or have symptoms of COVID-19:

•stay home and let your instructor or supervisor know about your absence
•students: learn what to do if you have to miss class
•use the COVID-19 self-assessment tool to see if you should get tested
•call 811 if you need medical advice
•follow the BCCDC guidance for how to self-monitor and self-isolate

Even if you do not have COVID-19, you should stay home if you feel sick. This will help stop the spread of other illnesses, especially during cold and flu season.

Dr. Andrew Schloss
Office: MacLaurin A177 Local: 721-7931
Office hours: Tues 4:30-5:30 pm or by appointment (email to confirm in either case). The link is: MUS 207 zoom link
email: aschloss at uvic dot ca

----NOTE: All emails to me pertaining to this class must have "MUS 207" in the title----

TA: Samuel Kaiser
Office: MacLaurin A172
Office hours: Weds 1-2 pm or by appointment

Classes are face-to-face: MacLaurin A169: Tues, Weds, Fri 11:30 am

Text: The Science of Musical Sound, by John Pierce, coursepack (in bookstore) (ISBN 9780716760054) -- also on library reserve at the Music and Media Desk:
(coursepack also includes "Communicating with Meaningless Numbers" by David Zicarelli)


text annotations/questions: 4 parts (15%)
20th century sonorities: electroacoustic and acoustic music critique (10%)
quizzes (3) 25%
mid-term exam 25%
final project 25%

Policy on Academic Integrity
Undergraduate Grading Scale
Academic Important Dates

This course blends Musical Acoustics, History of Science, an introduction to computer music, and (for some students) an introduction to 20th century music and non-Western music. Issues involving the relationships among technology, culture and society are examined and are important to discussions. There are no prerequisites for this class, but some knowledge of music and/or computers is extremely useful. Note: students enrolled in MU207 are entitled to use the facilities in the Studios for Integrated Media (SIM), in the Fine Arts building across the ring road. In addition, the Media Centre in the library also has music/audio software and hardware. NOTE: if you want to use the Max/MSP software at home (optional software used in this class) you can get it for your own use here:


Student Wellness resources - List of community, local and private resources, relating to mental health and wellness.

Counselling Services - Counselling Services can help you make the most of your university experience.They offer free professional, confidential, inclusive support to currently registered UVic students. A note to remind you to take care of yourself. Do your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle this semester by eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep and taking some time to relax. This will help you achieve your goals and cope with stress. All of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone.

Health Services - University Health Services (UHS) provides a full service primary health clinic for students, and coordinates healthy student and campus initiatives. We encourage students to use UHS as their primary point of health care while at UVic. We are located at the Petersen Health Centre.

Centre for Accessible Learning - The CAL staff are available by appointment to assess specific needs, provide referrals and arrange appropriate accommodations . The sooner you let us know your needs the quicker we can assist you in achieving your learning goals in this course. 

Elders' Voices - The Office of Indigenous Academic and Community Engagement (IACE) has the privilege of assembling a group of Elders from local communities to guide students, staff, faculty and administration in Indigenous ways of knowing and being.

On reserve or available in the library:
The Science of Musical Sound, by John Pierce
Wave Tutorial, by Peter Wolfenden (manuscript)
Current Directions in Computer Music Research, Mathews and Pierce
The Technology of Computer Music, Mathews
Computer Music Journal (CMJ) Strawn, et alia (in stacks, not on reserve)
The Music Machine Curtis Roads
Electric Sound, The Past and Promise of Electronic Music Joel Chadabe (may also be on reserve for MU307)
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn
Spectrum Analysis Tutorial, Jaffe (from Computer Music Journal)
Gravikords, Whirlies and Pyrophones/book & CD Bart Hopkin Ellipsis Arts CD 3530 (pending acquistion by the library)

Khan Academy tutorials -- A superb source of free educational videos on humdreds of topics. A good way to brush up on math concepts at any level
The Physics of Waves -- An optional primer on the physics of sound. Assumes knowledge of calculus and some differential equations

CLASS SCHEDULE (please note that this is subject to slight variations)

This course is supported by the Brightspace online learning site (click to go to Brightspace)

Week 1 Sept 7            Reading: Chapt. 1 Sound, Music, and Computers
Introduction and Overview; what to expect
Related courses at UVic in music/technology (not an exhaustive list)
The extreme interdisciplinarity of music technology! An informal survey of the class to find relative backgrounds of students in Music, Mathematics, Computer Science, etc. What are digital media? All digital media are approximations of reality -- so what are the advantages? Geometric version of approximation of circle. The first music produced on a computer (at AT&T's Bell Labs). What does human evolution have to do with music? Is music really "auditory cheesecake" (cf Steven Pinker) ?

Week 2 Sept 13          Reading: Chapt. 2 Periodicity, Pitch, and Waves
Introduction to acoustics. What is sound? (Ambient pressure = 101 kPa). What is the simplest possible sound? What is the loudest possible sound? The quietest?
Sinusoids, Hooke's law of 1660, SHM (simple harmonic motion), sinusoids uniquely determined by amplitude, frequency/period and phase, phase cancellation: mathematical (in the computer) vs physical (in the room), phasors/complex sinusoids SHM: Simulation of multiple masses.

Week 3 Sept 20           Reading: Chapt. 3 Sine Waves and Resonance
Acoustics cont'd. The vibrating string, harmonics, harmonics vs overtones vs partials, the harmonic series, Nodes, modes, harmonics. Fourier Theory, additive synthesis, recipe for constructing complex waveform, time domain vs. frequency domain (square wave example), sndpeek demo, Fourier demo
text annotations/questions Part 1: DUE SEPT 24

Week 4 Sept 27            Reading: Chapt. 4 Scales and Beats
Acoustics cont'd: v = f λ Resonance, constructive and destructive interference, beats. Slinky demo of traveling waves and standing waves. Harmonic series demo with spinning tube vs Max/MSP simulation. Wave behavior (Light vs. Sound): reflection, linear superposition, refraction, diffraction, doppler shift.
Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (Available in library: Music and Media Desk -- ML1380 T467)

Week 5 Oct 4          Reading: Appendices A-F
QUIZ 1 SHM and sinusoids, Harmonic series -- WEDS, OCT 5
The physics and mathematics of intervals -- Intervals are RATIOS!
Tuning systems -- Just and Pythagorean tuning
Basic Music Theory Musical intervals, scales, musical notation, the keyboard.

Week 6 Oct 11 Meantone tuning and equal temperament, and cents. Beats of mistuned consonances.
Bach in equal temperament vs. "well-tempered" on the harpsichord
How to tune a harpsichord in Bach's temperament (as theorized by harpsichordist Bradley Lehman)
La Monte Young -- concert video
Jacob Collier -- using mictronal intervals in a harmonic context.
Microtonality in Western Music
Alternatives to 12 Tone Equal Temperament)
Just intonation vs. equal temperament
text annotations/questions Part 2: DUE OCT 15

Week 7 Oct 18         Reading: Chapt. 5 Consonance and Dissonance and Chapt. 6 Consonance, Dissonance, and Harmony
Information Theory, Digital Audio, Sampling, Nyquist and Shannon's Theory. Aliasing (discrete time) and quantization (discrete amplitude).
The wheels of the stagecoach in cowboy movies--what exactly happens?
QUIZ 2 Tuning and temperament-- TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25

Digital audio -- zooming into a time-domain signal, from the overall amplitude envelope down to individual samples (and back again):

Week 8 Oct 25           Reading: Chapt. 7 Ears to Hear With, Chapt. 12 Sound Reproduction
The "ideal" lowpass (anti-aliasing filter). A/D and D/A converters. Lossy vs. lossless compression (eg Huffman coding). Perceptual coding (eg mp3 files).
How does a computer make music? "No air molecules were disturbed in the making of this sound." Pure synthesis vs sampling.

Week 9 Nov 1          Reading: Chapt. 8 Power and Loudness, Chapt. 9 Masking, Chapt.10 Other Phenomena of Hearing
Psychoacoustics: anatomy of the auditory system, the recording chain vs. the ear as a transducer, the ear as a frequency analyzer (tonotopicity).
ANIMATION: Auditory Transduction
QUIZ 3 Digital audio and sampling -- FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4
text annotations/questions Part 3: DUE NOV 5

Week 10 Nov 8         Reading: Chapt. 13 Musical Instruments, Analysis, and Synthesis
Protect your hearing! Loud noise is damaging to the ear:
Psychoacoustics cont'd: pitch perception, jnd, critical bands, Fletcher-Munson equal loudness contours

Week 11 Nov 15         Reading: Appendices G, H
Missing fundamental (virtual pitch/periodicity pitch), periodic vs aperiodic / harmonic vs inharmonic, Seebeck's siren, localization of sound, JASA CD

Week 12 Nov 22        Reading: Chapt. 11 Architectural Acoustics, Chapt. 14 Perception, Illusion, and Effect
Musique Concrete, Early Electronic Music, Film Music. More examples/demos of Max/MSP/jitter
text annotations/questions Part 4: DUE NOV 26

Week 13 Nov 29
Listening session: A brief overview of the 20th century.
Recording technology, MIDI and computer music systems, Pro Tools, Reaper, Luna, Logic, Audacity etc.
"Intelligent" musical instruments, AI and machine learning in music, what is MIR?
Algorithmic music. The radiodrum, the MUGIC controller. Visualization of music, sonification
20th century sonorities: electroacoustic/acoustic music critique DUE DECEMBER 2
FINAL PROJECT, DUE DECEMBER 15th Reading: Appendix I
DEADLINE FOR WRITEUP: DECEMBER 18 (to give you time to look at other student's videos).

Studios for Integrated Media All students in MUS 207 have full access to this lab (across the Ring Road in the Fine Arts Bldg).

sndpeek 3D waterfall display of spectrum, also oscilloscope and Lissajous
Damped sinusoid (pendulum or mass-spring system)
Standing waves, resonance, reflected pulses, beats (monaural and binaural), sympathetic vibrations, etc.
Examples: Tacoma Narrow Bridge, singing in the shower, spilled coffee
Harmonics demo: whirling toy in conjuction w/ MSP patch that matches harmonics (and contrasts w/ ET approx of harmonics)
Music software: Max/MSP/Jitter, Pro Tools
Auditory Demonstrations CD (Acoustical Society), Video: International Computer Music Society ICMA
The radiodrum and physical modelling: Demo

Listening examples:
Max Mathews: Bicycle Built for Two 1961 Wergo/ Computer Music Currents Vol 13
Tuvan throat singing (harmonic singing), Inuit throat singing (totally different from Tuva)
Digital Domain Elektra/Asylum Records. Contains Lions are Growning, Towers of Hanoi, Love in the Asylum, etc.
Any Resemblance is Purely Coincidental, Charles Dodge 1980 Wergo/CMC 11
Flora, Tod Machover 1989 Bridge BCD 9020
Wildlife CDCM/ Centaur
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Well-Tempered Productions
just-more-idle-chatter Paul Lansky CDCM/Centaur CD
wasting (same CD)
Rite of Spring, Stravinsky
Ionization, Varese
Oraison (1937) performed by Ensemble d'Ondes de Montreal -- played on Ondes Martenot (nearly a sine wave)
Quartet for the End of Time, Messiaen
Laurie Anderson
Steve Reich, Drumming, Music for 18 Musicians
David Jaffe, Racing Against Time, Underground Economy
Radiohead/Paul Lansky/guitarist uses Max/MSP and now jitter for live video feeds

Videos (selection from list below):
CalTech Resonance documentary
Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey
Chladni patterns of a vibrating plate
interesting website-- has some very interesting material and videos
NOVA documentaries
Forbidden Planet: the first all-electronic music sound track
Modulations documentary
Moog documentary
Wildlife performance at Stanford with David Jaffe (Theremin also performed at this concert)
Suite from Seven Wonders at Western Front
MSNBC video at CCRMA
UNI live performance in Cuba
NYU Interactive Arts Performance Series concert with Hilario Durán
DVD of Rhythmic Light, Fred Collopy
Seattle City Hall fiber-optic installation 2005

International Computer Music Association (ICMA) videos
Public Art video: Seattle Public Library
NIME 2005 DVD excerpts
Claudet Shannon: The Bit Player

Kadenze Max/MSP tutorial by Matt Wright