Com Sci 295
Courses in the
Digital Sound Modelling
Department of Computer Science
The University of Chicago
Here is a picture showing the structure of the sound domain.
This is why sound is not so simple to model. If you understand the
picture thoroughly, please explain it to me. If you don't understand
it, enroll for the course.
... it is a tale
Act V, Scene V.
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
William Shakespeare mentioned
sound in many other plays and sonnets.
If it sounds good, it is good.
- [20 May] I will hold final interviews on Thursdays 1 June (for
graduating seniors) and 8 June (for the rest of you). Please check
and sign up for a time by Monday 29 May. (MO'D)
- Spring 2000, Tuesday-Thursday 12:00 noon to 1:20 PM, Cobb 214.
- Office: Ryerson 257A.
- Office hours: by appointment. Contact me by email
(firstname.lastname@example.org), phone at the office
(773-702-1269), or phone at home (847-835-1837 between 9:30 and 5:30
on days that I work at home). You may drop in to the office any time,
but you may find me out or busy if you haven't confirmed an
appointment. Check my
before proposing an appointment.
- Course Assistant
- Aquinas Hobor and Paul Jan are helping with logistics.
Course evaluations from previous quarters.
Last modified: Wed Mar 6 10:54:01 1996
In this course we learn how the basic structure of sound perception
affects the useful ways of processing sound through digital
computations. The focus is on basic synthesis techniques, rather than
on signal analysis, or on special applications of synthesis such as
music or speech.
Introductory computer programming (ComSci 105/106 or 110/111 or
115/116) or general familiarity with computers, basic knowledge of
elementary trigonometry and calculus.
There is no really appropriate textbook for this course, but there are
some books that cover some of the material rather well, and which you
should consider adding to your personal library.
Instead of going to the bookstore, you may wish to order texts from
Barnes & Noble online,
other book vendors. Amazon is engaged in a patent action against
Barnes & Noble, claiming exclusive rights to use one-click
shopping. Some people consider this an
intellectual property law, and prefer not to do business with
- A. J. M. Houtsma, T. D. Rossing, W. M. Wagenaars. Auditory
Demonstrations (an audio CD). Philips 1126-061 (1987). This CD
provides the most efficient way that I know to get a firm intuitive
grasp of auditory perception. Everyone in the class needs to listen
to the demonstrations on her own during the semester. I have a
number of copies that I will lend. The CD is available from the
Acoustical Society of America for
about $25. I bought my copies at the members' discount of $20. If
you would like to keep your own copy, I'll pass one on for
$20. Think about joining the ASA.
- Curtis Roads. The Computer Music Tutorial. MIT Press,
Cambridge MA, 1996. This book costs $50, but it's huge and has a lot
of interesting material. Much of it is about music performance, but
there is a lot of general material on sound, too. The bookstore has
this one. If you're serious about computer music, you need this in
- John Strawn, editor. Digital Audio Signal Processing: an
anthology. William Kaufmann, Los Altos CA, 1985. A-R Editions,
Madison WI. This is a nice cheap book (about $25), covering several
elementary topics in the basic mathematics of sound very well, and
with a particularly accessible treatment of digital filter
theory. It also has some wacky chapters. Unfortunately, it is out of
print. You may be able to find a used copy.
- Ken Steiglitz. A Digital Signal Processing
Primer. Addison-Wesley, 1995. ISBN 0-8053-1684-1. This is a
clearly written short text on the basic methods of digital sound. I
can't use it for a class text because it doesn't focus on listening
experiments, and it treats the techniques a bit too
uncritically. But, it could be very helpful for understanding the
- Ronald N. Bracewell. The Fourier Transform and Its
Applications. McGraw-Hill, New York, 2nd edition 1986. This is
a dense reference for engineers. It has a very nice pictorial
dictionary of Fourier Transforms in the back. It cost me $58. Most
people don't need this, but anyone who intends to really use the
Fourier Transform will bite the bullet and shell out the price, even
though it's rather high for a small and specialized item.
Stereo headphones with small jack plug and a long connecting wire
(probably a separate extension cord). They can be cheap. Headphones
from portable music machines suffice. The long wire or extension cord
is essential, since the headphone jack is on the back of the SGI
Resources for the Course
Final interview instructions
Instructions for getting started
Instructions for the class
Students in the class
Summary of human sound perception
pointers to external sound info
Perception, an online text with sound samples.
Spaces by Paul Henley, a college student in the class.
Previous instances of the course
at the University of Iowa
If you like Com Sci 295, you'll love the
University of Chicago Computer Music Studio.
Maintained by Michael J. O'Donnell, email:
Last modified: Mon Mar 26 11:02:11 CST 2001