Carnegie Mellon University

IDeATe

Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology

Portal Courses

15-104 Introduction to Computing for Creative Practice

An introduction to fundamental computing principles and programming techniques for creative cultural practices, with special consideration to applications in music, design and the visual arts. Intended for students with little to no prior programming experience, the course develops skills and understanding of text-based programming in a procedural style, including idioms of sequencing, selection, iteration, and recursion. Topics include data organization (arrays, files, trees), interfaces and abstraction (modular software design, using sensor data and software libraries), basic algorithms (searching and sorting), and computational principles (randomness, concurrency, complexity). Intended for students following an IDeATe concentration or minor who have not taken 15-112.

18-090 Twisted Signals: Multimedia Processing for the Arts

This course presents an overview on manipulating and synthesizing sound, video, and control signals. Signals are the raw materials used in many forms of electronic art and design - electronic music, interactive art, video art, kinetic sculpture, and more. In these fields, signals are used to represent information about sound, images, sensors, and movement. By transforming and manipulating these types of signals, we are able to create powerful new tools for digital art, multimedia applications, music, responsive environments, video and sound installation, smart products, and beyond. In this course we will study Signal Processing from a practical point-of-view, developing tools that can be easily integrated into art-making using the graphical programming environment Max (a.k.a. Max/MSP/Jitter). We will present a survey of Signal Processing techniques used in the sonic and visual arts, and will discuss the mathematical theories underlying these techniques. Students will be encouraged to combine, modify, and extend working examples of software to create original digital artworks.

Fall 2017 instructor: Jesse Stiles

Program: Intelligent Environments Sound Design

Offered by: Electrical and Computer Engineering

60-212 Electronic Media Studio: Interactivity and Computation for Creative Practice

This is an intermediate level course in "creative coding," interactive new-media art, and computational design. Ideal as a second course for students who have already had one semester of elementary programming (in any language), this course is for you if you’d like to use code to make art, design, architecture, and/or games -- AND you’re already familiar with the basics of programming, such as for() loops, if() statements, and arrays.

This course satisfies the EMS-2 (60-210: Interactivity) requirement for BFA and BXA-Art majors. As with EMS-2, students in this course will develop an understanding of the contexts, tools, and idioms of software programming in the arts. Unlike EMS-2, this course additionally satisfies the computing portal requirement for CFA students pursuing IDeATe minors and concentrations. (Students with no prior programming experience should register instead for 15-104, 15-110, or 15-112.)

This is a "studio art course in computer science," in which the objective is art and design, but the medium is student-written software. The course develops skills and understanding of text-based, imperative programming techniques in a variety of popular open-source arts-engineering toolkits, including p5.js (JavaScript), Processing (Java), and openFrameworks (C++), with the aim of applying such skills to interactive art and design, information visualization, generative media, and other creative cultural practices.

Rigorous programming exercises will develop the basic vocabulary of constructs that govern static, dynamic, and interactive form. Topics include the computational manipulation of: point, line and shape; texture, value and color; time, change and motion; reactivity, connectivity and feedback; interactive graphics, sound, and simulation; and the incorporation of various modes of input (sensors, cameras) and multimedia output.

Programs: Animation & Special Effects, Game Design, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Learning Media, Media Design, Sound Design

Offered by: Art

62-150 Introduction to Media Synthesis and Analysis

New creative industries are empowering new modes of collaborative consumption, creation and reuse of media. This often relies on successful collaborations between cross-trained artists, designers and technologists as well as critical reflection on distribution, participation, interaction and audience. This course is designed to prepare engineers and scientists to work in these contexts. By the end of the course, students will be able to think critically across several media theory paradigms; formulate the intent of their creative work; articulate relationships to art/design practice and theory; and respond insightfully to creative outcomes. The goal is not just to make creative media rich outcomes but also to think critically about their production.

The class will introduce core concepts through foundational texts, in-class exercises, collaborative projects, and group critique. Students will ground concepts such as critical design, computational performance, embodiment, emergence, composition, participatory interfaces, and media editing through hands-on, applied exploration. Weekly lab sessions will also support the development of new skills and practical development of digitally mediated content.

Fall 2017 instructor: Nina Barbuto

Program: Animation & Special Effects Game Design Learning Media Media Design Sound Design

Offered by: Art

Collaborative and Supportive Courses

57-458 Business of Music

This class will teach you the fundamentals of how to survive in the music industry. A diverse set of speakers, hands-on projects tailored to your interests and needs and group activities will introduce you to the challenges you'll face during your career. How to manage your money, what you need to know about copyright, who do you need on your side? We'll cover all of these and more!

Fall 2016 instructor: Lance Laduke

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Music

15-323 Computer Music Systems and Information Processing

This course presents concepts and techniques for representing and manipulating discrete music information, both in real time and off line. Representations of music as explicitly timed event sequences will be introduced, and students will learn how to build efficient run-time systems for event scheduling, tempo control, and interactive processing. The MIDI protocol is used to capture real-time performance information and to generate sound. The course will also cover non-real-time processing of music data, including Markov models, style recognition, computer accompaniment, query-by-humming, and algorithmic composition. This course is independent of, and complementary to 15-322, Introduction to Computer Music, which focuses on sound synthesis and signal processing.

Spring 2016 instructor: Roger Dannenberg

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Computer Science

54-267 Conceptual Sound Design

Students explore the unique qualities of audio as a design element and the development of a design process through script analysis. Emphasis on the creative application and utilization of the studio in sound shaping and soundscape design. PREREQUISITE: 54-166 Introduction To Sound Design for Theater, 54-231 Design For The Stage. Drama majors have priority, however this course is also open to Music Technology majors and minors, or with permission of instructor.

Fall 2016 instructor: Joseph Pino

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Drama

57-347 Electronic and Computer Music

This course builds on the concepts learned in Introduction to Music Technology (57-101) and gives added knowledge in the areas of composition using digital and analog devices as well as various computer programs. Building computer models of both analog and digital synthesizers as well as drum machines, loop players and various other sound processing effects will be covered in detail. Students will be required to produce several projects throughout the course demonstrating their understanding of various concepts in electronic music. More emphasis is placed on the overall quality of the end musical product than in 57-101 in order to prepare students for music production in a professional setting.

Fall 2016 instructor: Ben Opie

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Music

57-425 Expanded Music Performance

In his 1970 manifesto Expanded Cinema, Gene Youngblood presented the idea that emerging video technology would lead to an new form of cinematic expression in which art and life are united. In this course we will explore this idea in the realm of music through the creation of new technologies that will expand the possibilities of live performance. The technologies we develop will be used in a series of public concerts by CMUs Exploded Ensemble, a group of high-caliber musicians dedicated to electro-acoustic performance of avant-garde concert music. The course will work closely with the Exploded Ensemble to develop expansive technologies that will transform the music the group performs. These transformations may take place in many different modalities. In the realm of sound we will investigate several areas: the development of new software for sound processing and synthesis, the creation of new instruments, and experimental methods of sound amplification and distribution. In the visual realm, we will develop software for live video performance, will investigate experimental techniques for video projection including mapping and the use of depth cameras, and will develop tools for computer controlled lighting systems. In the physical realm we will develop wearable technologies for performers, sensor-based responsive systems, and will explore experimental approaches to costume and decor.

Spring 2017 instructors: Jesse Stiles, Lance Laduke

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Music

57-344 Experimental Sound Synthesis

In this course we will explore a variety of experimental approaches to music, sound design, and sonic artwork.  Topics will include: composing and mixing in multichannel sound formats, building analog smart-synthesizers, electroacoustic music performance, 3D sound recording, reactive sound environments, sonic sculpture, and beyond.  In this course students from a variety of disciplines will work together to design, prototype, and execute a series of ambitious projects.

This course makes use of the IDeATe Media Lab, an adaptable multimedia "black box" located in the lower level of Hunt Library.

Students are expected to be proficient in one or more of the following areas:

  • Real-time graphical programming environments (Max or PD)
  • Physical computing platforms (Arduino, Raspberry Pi)
  • Experimental music composition/performance
  • Instrument design
  • Interactive art

Spring 2015 instructor: Jesse Stiles

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Music

57-345 Hacking the Music World

In this course we will perform a series of real-world experiments that examine new models for music creation, promotion, and distribution. We will produce original music videos, explore social media marketing & optimization, examine new platforms for monetization, and official release digital albums and apps.

The proliferation of digital music distribution has revolutionized how music is experienced in the 21st century. Technologies for music listening, music sharing, and music discovery are in a state of rapid and limitless evolution. There is no longer a single model for a rewarding life in the world of music - we must learn to adapt to the constantly evolving landscape of the 21st century. We must hack the music world!

While examining new approaches to distribution and publication, we will also explore the question of how electronic media is redefining our understanding of music-making itself. Does a new album necessarily need to be a fixed set of sound recordings? What if it was a mobile app that reacts to the listener's environment? What if our new album used mutating algorithms to generate new musical experiences every time the listener hits play?

Throughout the semester, we will form teams combining musicians, software programmers, artists, and entrepreneurs. Our teams will work together to produce new music, to design new music distribution methodologies, and to perform social media experiments that enhance the visibility of our work.

Students participating in the course should have proficiency in one or more of the following areas:

  • Social Media Optimization
  • Music Recording or Video Production
  • Leveraging Web Application APIs
  • Mobile Application Design & Implementation

Fall 2015 instructor: Jesse Stiles

Offered by: Music

15-322 Introduction to Computer Music

Computers are used to synthesize sound, process signals, and compose music. Personal computers have replaced studios full of sound recording and processing equipment, completing a revolution that began with recording and electronics. In this course, students will learn the fundamentals of digital audio, basic sound synthesis algorithms, and techniques for digital audio effects and processing. Students will apply their knowledge in programming assignments using a very high-level programming language for sound synthesis and composition. In a final project, students will demonstrate their mastery of tools and techniques through music composition or by the implementation of a significant sound-processing technique.

Fall 2016 instructor: Jesse Stiles

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Computer Science

54-166 Introduction to Sound Design for Theatre

Students explore the basic principles and theories of sound design from technical, psychological and aesthetic standpoints. Course work includes instruction in the controllable properties of sound, practical planning of sound plots, cue creation, and the design process. Drama majors have priority, however this course is also open to Music Technology majors and minors, or with permission of instructor.

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Drama

60-352 NOISE: Toward a Critical Theory of Sound and Hearing

This seminar will explore audio art in its widest sense: sound sculpture and installations, radio art, the soundtrack, just about anything audible but not conceived as music. Special focus on the production (and reception) of sound by artists, amplifying those creative efforts that, in having explored acoustics, soundscapes, and listening, might also serve to inspire students to incorporate sound in their own work. Contemporary critical theory, by and large, is still glaringly silent on aurality and auditory phenomena; it seriously fails to consider sound as an object of study, instead focusing quite exclusively on visual culture (film, TV, video, computer screens, which are, of course, technologies of vision and sound). This seminar will address this roaring silence by examining some suggestive but disparate theoretical work related to sound and by engaging with a range of artistic practices that explore the production and reception of sound itself.

Fall 2015 instructor: Melissa Ragona

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Art

33-114 Physics of Musical Sound

An introduction to the physics and psychophysics of musical sound. Elementary physics of vibrating systems. Propagation of sound: traveling waves, reflection, and diffraction. Addition of waves: interference and beats. Anatomy of the ear and the perception of sound: loudness, pitch, and timbre. Standing waves and natural modes. Qualitative description of general periodic systems by Fourier analysis: the harmonic series and complex musical tones. The acoustics of musical instruments including percussion instruments, such as drums, bars, and struck and plucked strings; and instruments exhibiting self-sustained oscillations, including bowed strings, blown pipes, reeds, brasses, and singing. Intervals and consonance, musical scales, tuning and temperament. Basic room and auditorium acoustics. There are no formal prerequisites, but an ability to read music and having some previous musical experience will be very useful.

Program: Sound Design

Offered by:

57-337 Sound Recording

This course centers around the recording studio in the School of Music: how the studio works, and how to record various types of music, including classical music, using the recording studio and Kresge Recital Hall, which has audio and video links to the recording studio. The method of instruction is to learn by doing, and the goal, from the very first session, is to achieve professional-sounding results. Equipment includes a complete 24-track Pro-Tools system, professionally designed control room that can accommodate up to 24 people, outboard preamps and other gear, and an interesting array of microphones. All recording is direct to hard disc.

Fall 2016 instructor: Riccardo Schulz

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Music

76-285 Team Communication

This mini will introduce you to research and theory on how to create effective teams. In it, you will learn: - leadership strategies for managing projects and getting everyone to contribute to their best capacity - interpersonal skills for negotiating team conflict - communication strategies for working with individuals from very different professional and cultural backgrounds. - techniques for fostering trust and inspiring team innovation and creativity - how to use technology to manage teams that are geographically separated Professor Joanna Wolfe has been studying student and professional technical teams for fifteen years and is the author of multiple books and award-winning articles on team communication. This course will be hands-on with assigned readings and video cases that are discussed in class with plenty of opportunities to role-play different communication strategies and techniques.

Program: Animation & Special Effects Game Design Innovation and Entrepreneurship Intelligent Environments Learning Media Media Design Physical Computing Sound Design

Offered by: English

54-509 Theatrical Sound System Design

Intensive course exploring the theory, art and technology of large scale sound system design for entertainment, specifically live theater productions. Prerequisites: Intro to Sound Design for Theatre and Production Audio, OR permission of instructor.

Fall 2016 instructors: Christopher Evans and Joseph Pino

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Music

76-352 Listening Spaces

The proliferation of portable as well as computerized audio technologies has radically changed the way the human beings listen, consume, and produce music and sound. With the emergence of "cloud" storage services like Dropbox, Amazon, and Google you can effortlessly store and share music files anonymously or with friends. Services like Facebook, Pandora, Spotify, Last.fm, Amazon, and iTunes use finely tuned algorithms to make musical recommendations and in the process further personalize your experience as a consumer of music. All of these services, many of which are virtual, have come to mediate our intensely personal and communal experiences with music. The Listening Spaces seminar seeks to understand the overwhelming impact these mediating technologies have had on our social, political and personal interactions with music. Foundational readings will include Jonathan Sterne's MP3: The History of a Format, Alexander Galloway's Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture, Trebor Scholz's Digital Labor: The Internet as Playground and Factory. The seminar will be focused around developing and completing critical projects that cross technological and humanistic boundaries.

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: English

57-829 Contemporary Soundscapes

In the late 1960s on Canada's West Coast, composer R. Murray Schafer started the "World Soundscape Project" (WSP). Originally conceived as an inquiry into the growing problem of noise pollution in Vancouver, the Project expanded to encompass the wider study of the relationship between sonic environments and human communities, both historical and present. From a small group of sound researchers making field recordings in natural landscapes and urban areas has grown the modern study of Acoustic Ecology on a global scale, and also the creative practice of Soundscape Composition, in which recorded elements of sound environments are expressively explored through electronic music. Beginning with a history of the WSP, this course surveys aspects of the field of Acoustic Ecology as an aesthetic, political, and ethical phenomenon, with special attention to its relationship with the creative and sound practices of "Soundwalking," "Deep Listening," and Soundscape Composition. This course will also contextualize the WSP within a broader history of music and sound in the background, including Satie's Furniture Music, Muzak®, and coffee shop music. Throughout the course, students will participate in the activity and design of soundwalking, sonic field documentation / recording and sonic-environmental sampling, and the performance of background music. The course will culminate in a soundscape project entailing the composition of a Soundscape work, or the presentation of a creative mapping of aspects of their own sound environments; special guests will provide students with instruction in sound capture and manipulation.

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Music

57-911 Music Since 1945

A survey of Western art music from WWII to the present, with a focus on compositional techniques, influential trends, and experimental approaches. This course will address total serialism, aleatory music, the rise of technology, minimalism, and soundscape composition, among others. Students will engage with primary sources, close listening, multi-media resources, and secondary sources, and demonstrate competency through varied assessments, including in-class performance activities and presentations.

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Music

57-421 The Exploded Ensemble

The Exploded Ensemble is a group dedicated to the performance of music that pushes the boundaries of traditional performance and composition. The ensemble has a strong emphasis on electro-acoustic performance technique, experimental approaches to staging and amplification, and visuals (live video, computer controlled lighting, wearable technology, etc.). The group will perform works by new/experimental/electro-acoustic composers and will create new arrangements of works for which scores may not currently exist - for example, music by rock bands, electronic musicians, and sound artists. The overall goal of the ensemble is to explode the idea of traditional concert music performance. In so doing we shall advance students skills in music performance, music appreciation, and to advance the very important conversation on the future of concert music. For undergraduate and graduate students. Registration is by special permission after an audition and interview.

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Music

57-425 Expanded Music Performance

In his 1970 manifesto Expanded Cinema, Gene Youngblood presented the idea that emerging video technology would lead to an new form of cinematic expression in which art and life are united. In this course we will explore this idea in the realm of music through the creation of new technologies that will expand the possibilities of live performance. The technologies we develop will be used in a series of public concerts by CMU's Exploded Ensemble, a group of high-caliber musicians dedicated to electro-acoustic performance of avant-garde concert music. The course will work closely with the Exploded Ensemble to develop expansive technologies that will transform the music the group performs. These transformations may take place in many different modalities. In the realm of sound we will investigate several areas: the development of new software for sound processing and synthesis, the creation of new instruments, and experimental methods of sound amplification and distribution. In the visual realm, we will develop software for live video performance, will investigate experimental techniques for video projection including mapping and the use of depth cameras, and will develop tools for computer controlled lighting systems. In the physical realm we will develop wearable technologies for performers, sensor-based responsive systems, and will explore experimental approaches to costume and decor.

Program: Sound Design

Offered by: Music

Archived Courses

60-439 Hybrid Instrument Building

This course introduces students to the theories, practices, aesthetics and communities surrounding the design, building and performance with hybrid interactive instruments.  We espouse an expansive definition of the word instrument that includes "a device for the production of sound/music", as well as "a means whereby something is achieved, performed, or furthered" (from merriam-webster.com.  We study the process of translating gesture into another sensory medium (e.g. sound or light).  Our approach to instrument design will depart from the double meaning embedded in the notion of composing instruments: first, consideration of instrument building as an act of composition; second, instruments that compose of their own right.  While emphasis is placed on musical instruments, course work will also encompass instruments that produce light, image, movement, etc.   This course unfolds in two phases: literature review and individualized projects.  The first half of the course will introduce students to a wide range of existing examples from contemporary music and composition, installation art and human-computer-interaction.  Students will study theoretical and computational frameworks for working with gesture in instrument design.  Topics of interest include: gesture data acquisition, data analysis, and mapping gesture data to hybrid-software-hardware computational systems that generate sound/image/movement.  We will investigate the software and hardware technologies underlying the design and fabrication of hybrid instruments with electronics, sensors, signal processing, digital fabrication.  The second half of the course will allow teams of students to choose an area of specialization, design and fabricate a functioning instrument.  The course culminates in an event where all students demonstrate their final instruments in a performance setting.

Spring 2016 instructor: Ali Momeni

Program: Physical Computing Sound Design

Offered by: Art