Sound Design-Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology - Carnegie Mellon University

Sound Design

Sounds communicate information to us in ways that are not always obvious. Chimes on our smartphones let us know when someone in our social networks have replied to us. The musical score of a video game tells us that we're about to play in a scary or funny or heartwarming scenario. Sound designers work carefully to ensure that the sounds that we hear in life and entertainment convey the information that we need.

Students in the Sound Design concentration will explore the processes and products of digital sound and music. They will receive basic training in key component areas: principles of computer music, hybrid instrument building, concepts in sound design. Combining this training with courses that bring together experts from many disciplines, they will create experimental music or explore new, technology-enabled, applications and markets for sound design, music creation, and performance.


Arts and Humanities students will take the Introduction to Computing for Creative Practice or Introduction to Signal Processing for Creative Practice portal courses. Engineering and Sciences students will take the Introduction to Media Synthesis and Analysis portal course. Both groups of students will then be able to take either three (or four, for a minor) relevant courses from the following lists, or two from these lists plus one elective from the other IDeATe courses.

New Courses:

  • 57-xxx Experimental Sound Systems and Synthesis - developed and instructed by Jesse Stiles, launching Spring 2015
  • 15-322 Introduction to Computer Music (online version) - developed by Roger Dannenberg, instructor TBA, launching Spring 2015
  • 57-xxx New Markets for Music - developed and instructed by Music, launching Fall 2015

Existing Courses:

Please note that existing, upper-level courses may have prerequisites. Please see the department for a full description.

  • 60-439 Building Hybrid Instruments - offered by Art
  • 57-xxx Introduction to Electronic Music - offered by Music
  • 54-267 Conceptual Sound Design - offered by Drama
  • 54-509 Theatrical Sound System Design - offered by Drama

Capstone Project Course

Students will also have the option of proposing a one-semester, interdisciplinary mentored project that needs to be approved by both their primary and IDeATe advisors.