Tag: teaching

ep-4yy13 DSP – week 8





ep-4yy13 DSP – week 7

frequency domain

transforming signals

  • The FFT produces a stream of complex numbers representing energy at frequencies across the spectrum
  • The length of the FFT determines the frequency resolution (number of bins)
  • Increasing length of FFT frame degrades resolution in time domain (rhythmic accuracy)
  • Amplitude = root of (r*r) + (i*i)  = magnitude
  • Phase = arctangent of i/r = angle

Practical Applications

  • Convolution/Deconvolution
  • Analysis
  • Spectral processing (pitch and timbre)
  • Amplitude processing: noise gates, crossovers
  • phase vocoder
  • radio


  • Max/MSP tutorials 25-26
  • Max/MSP Example DSP patches (in Extras | ExamplesOverview | MSP | FFT fun
    • convolution workshop
    • Forbidden planet
  • Fourier Filter (Vetter)
  • fft-tz2 (basics, SSB ring modulator)
  • fplanet-tz.maxpat: hacked version of forbidden-planet example which uses granular indexing to do spectral convolution and make spaceship sounds. To use patch: 1 ) turn on audio, 2) then press message boxes inside the green panel
  • fp-fft-tz.maxpat: pfft~ subpatch for above
  • fourierfilter (folder) containing fourierfiltertest.maxpat: Katja Vetter’s complex spectral filter example
  • Tristan Jehan’s frequency detector object
  • Little Tikes piano: http://reactivemusic.net/?p=6993
  • Helicopter frame rate video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQDjJRYmeWg
download example Max patches here:


See notes from previous weeks: http://reactivemusic.net/?p=10109 




ep-4yy13 DSP – week 6

Stop the experimental music

(click the picture)

from http://emoctv.tumblr.com

DSP – according to the Arctic Monkeys…

The time domain:

The frequency domain:

Samples, impulses, and convolution

(in the time domain)

  • Decomposition
  • Unit impulse (delta function)
  • convolution (from the input side and output side)
  • filters
Reference: http://www.dspguide.com “The Scientist and Engineer’s Guide to DSP”, By Steven Smith – chapters 6-7


Time, under a microscope.

Granular synthesis

Audio under a microscope.

Andy Farnell, “Designing Sound” http://aspress.co.uk/sd/index.php

Chapter 16.7 Methods “Granular” p. 257

Chapter 13 “Shaping Sound” p. 205

Destroying information

Abstract is what remains after shedding details.

Example Max patches:

  • timestrech3.maxpat
  • nothingness.maxpat


See notes from last week. http://reactivemusic.net/?p=10059

Work through the convolution examples on your own. Its important to have a physical concept of signals, in various transformations. Become a wave. Have an out of body experience. Take a good look at yourself.

ep-4yy13 DSP – week 5

transforming music into music



  • Solving problems
  • Exploration
  • Stories


Mystery field recording: (email to me this week)

  • Record a very short sound clip (less than 15 seconds)
  • It should be something that you hear, not something you produce – for example, a fire-truck, a refrigerator, the wind…
  • Please don’t tell me where the sound came from. We will try to guess. When you send the file, just have your name on it. For example: field-recoding-keithMoon.mp3
  • Alternative: Record an impulse response in an interesting space. We will try to guess the space. The impulse can be anything, for example: hand clap, yelling “hello”, a trumpet.
  • Extra credit – transcribe your recorded event. For example, what chord or rhythms do the machines in a coffee shop produce?
  • Email a link or attachment to: tzicarelli@berklee.edu

Composition: Sound-byte (due March 17th)

  • The sound-byte is a short audio clip of speech.
  • The speech can come from anywhere. Something familiar, something famous, something unusual.
  • Every sound in the composition is derived only from the sound-byte. You can use any tool or method.
  • The sound-byte in its original form should occur somewhere in the piece
  • Duration: roughly 2-3 minutes?  That is up to you.

Music from the future:

Please send me a link to your future music piece – sometime before the end of the semester

ep-4yy13 DSP – week 2

new composition tools

from various artists

tools that make tools


ep-4yy13 DSP – week 1

Digital Signal Processing, theory and composition

Spring 2014

teacher: Tom Zicarelli – http://tomzicarelli.com

You can reach me at:  tzicarelli@berklee.edu 

Office hours: Wednesday 2:30-3:30 PM, at the EPD office #401 at 161 Mass Ave. Please email or call ahead.

Assignments and class notes will be posted to this blog: http://reactivemusic.net before or after the class. Search for: ep-4yy13 to find the notes

Examples, software, links, and references demonstrated in class are available for you to use. If there is something missing from the notes,  please ask about it. This is your textbook.


The focus will be on composition – and sparking your imagination. Composition plus science fiction. After you take the course, you will have composed several new pieces. You might design a musical instrument. You will have opportunities to solve problems.  You will become familiar with how artists use DSP to compose music and to build musical instruments. You will be exposed to to a world of possibilities – which you may embrace or reject.

In particular we will compose, by improvising, using tools that transform signals and movement. For example, generative music.

We will explore a range of topics in DSP, and have opportunities to use them in projects. Most applications of DSP involve one or more of the following actions using signals:

  • analysis
  • measurement
  • transformation

For example, statistics is a form of analysis.

Topics: (subject to change)

  1. Future music tools
  2. Improvisation
  3. Signals: the time domain – granular synthesis
  4. Signals: the frequency domain – convolution
  5. Problem solving, prototyping, portfolios
  6. How to get ideas
  7. Sensors
  8. Demodulation and reversibility
  9. Artists
  10. Voices
  11. Music from data – sonification, Internet API’s
  12. Statistics
  13. Radio waves and ultrasound
  14. Visualization


Grades will be based on compositions, several small assignments, and class participation. Please see Dr. B’s EP-4yy13 syllabus for details. I encourage and will give credit for: collaboration with other students, outside projects, performances, independent projects, and anything else that will encourage your growth and success.


Go to the future. Make music. Bring it back to the present.

It should be a very short piece or an excerpt. Less than two minutes. It can be a remix of a song that you believe represents a future direction in music. Near future or distant future – your choice. Use any tools to create the music. The result: an audio file (mp3) or a link to audio or video on the Internet, or a live performance in class

Due: in 2 weeks.

Programming Electronic Music in Pd

By Johannes Kreidler.

An amazing resource for Pd programming, with downloadable examples.



Pd was initiated by American software engineer Miller Puckette, who previous co-developed the well known and similarly structured software Max/Msp. Pd is not commercial software; i.e., it was not developed by a corporation and is not for sale. Instead, it is “open source”: its source code is not the (patented) property of a corporation, but is rather freely available to all. One drawback to this is that a detailed operating manual for users who lack programming experience has not existed until now. In contrast to a corporation— which has a monetary interest in ensuring that first-time users can easily operate new software—the open source movement lacks such a driving force to make itself accessible. This book is an attempt to fill that gap.

This tutorial is designed for self-study, principally for composers. It begins with explanations of basic programming and acoustic principles then gradually builds up to the most advanced electronic music processing techniques. The book’s teaching approach is focused primarily on hearing, which we consider a faster and more enjoyable way to absorb new concepts than through abstract formulas.

The patches described are available for download.