Return to homepage Skip to navigation Skip to site search Skip to main content Skip to footer

Module Catalogue

SCQF Level: 09  

Module Code: AUD304

Credit Value: 20  

Year: 2017/8

Term: Term 2

School: School of Arts, Media and Games

Description

This module explores creative sound synthesis and procedural and algorithmic approaches to sound generation. Taking a ‘bottom up’ approach, it begins by introducing students to the sine wave, the fundamental building block of sound, before exploring how these can be combined and manipulated in different ways to create interesting, dynamic sound textures.

Aims

The aim of this Module is to provide the student with : This module will provide students with: an understanding of how sound synthesis and simple algorithmic techniques may be used as the basis for electronic music production and in the design and implementation of sonic art installations.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Explain synthesis theory through its history and context and evaluate works of electronic music or sound art.

2.  Identify technologies that facilitate electronic music or sound art production and performance and recognise issues involved in planning and realising electronic works.

3.  Select and apply appropriate synthesis and sound manipulation techniques to produce an electronic music or sound piece.

4.  Reflect critically on their approach to work and on the quality of the work itself.

Indicative Content

1 Background/context

The history and context of synthesis will underpin teaching throughout this module. In addition, we will explore key ideas, including Musique Concrète and Elektronische Musik, illustrating how technology was a principal driving force behind this 'new music'.

2 Background/context

Throughout, we will explore the contextual application of the synthesis methods we discuss, including electroacoustic music; electronic composition; installations, performance and sound diffusion; radio art, and soundscapes

3 Technical issues

We will introduce supporting technologies and key approaches: Sound recording, processing and editing; generative, algorithmic, interactive and stochastic systems; feedback and iteration; sensors, microprocessors and control systems, and playback and delivery systems.

4 Aesthetics

We will explore the notions of sound-as-art and sound-in-art alongside music. What makes music music? And what makes for good music? How do we make value judgements about music and are these ideas universal?

5 Synthesis development systems

We will examine different systems for developing and working with synthesis methods, including rapid prototyping and software development systems, focusing on Pure Data, a visual programming language.

6 Header 6

We will continue by investigate the conceptual inverse of Additive Synthesis, Subtractive Synthesis. Building on ideas about harmonically-rich tones and noise, we will show how different combinations of filters can be used to carve frequency spectra in a similar way to how a sculptor may shape a block of marble. We use Subtractive Synthesis to build a simple vocal synthesiser.

7 Synthesis

We will continue by investigate the conceptual inverse of Additive Synthesis, Subtractive Synthesis. Building on ideas about harmonically-rich tones and noise, we will show how different combinations of filters can be used to carve frequency spectra in a similar way to how a sculptor may shape a block of marble. We use Subtractive Synthesis to build a simple vocal synthesiser.

8 Synthesis

AM Synthesis takes the idea of tremolo, the periodic modulation of a sound’s amplitude, and extends upon it, in the process, introducing new frequency components – sidebands – into the sound spectrum. With recourse to simple trigonometric identities, we can show where these new frequency components come from and can characterise their relationship to both the original and modulating signals. We demonstrate its use by building a Dalek simulator.

9 Synthesis

Like AM Synthesis, FM extends upon the idea of vibrato, small, periodic modulations of a sound’s frequency. FM also introduces new frequency sidebands, but it does it in a much more complex way. We introduce the idea of Bessel functions and the index of modulation to help characterise the results of FM. We show how FM synthesis is used to create electric piano sounds.

10 Synthesis

Granular Synthesis refers to a range of techniques that all split sound waves into smaller, discrete atoms, called grains. With reference to Quantum Mechanics, on whose concepts Granular Synthesis was conceived, we show how the approach can be used to generate interesting organic textures like bubbling and applause, and how it can be used to process the pitch and rhythm of sounds independently.

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

This module explores the sound design from the ‘bottom up’, exploring the manipulation of simple sound elements like sine waves to create complex sounds. Delivery will be focused around one 1-hour lecture, which introduces the key concepts and theories of sound synthesis, and one 1-hour tutorial each week, where students will get the chance to apply the theory and work through a set of themed examples. Students will be set additional development exercises for completion outside of scheduled class time. For assessment, students will be set two key tasks, a technical exercise, which is designed to test the students knowledge and understanding of the technical vocabulary of synthesis and how this relates to practice, and a creative exercise, which is designed to allow the students to demonstrate applied knowledge by applying synthesis theory in a creative way.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 200
Lecture 12
Tutorial/Seminar 12
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 24
Assessment 60
Independent 92

Back


Guidance notes:

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.

Disclaimer: We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2017/18 , and may be subject to change for future years.

Top