Computer Music Composition

Music 151/215, Winter 2009

University of California, Irvine

Tuesday and Thursday, 12:30-1:50
Music and Media 216

Professor Christopher Dobrian
Music and Media 211
Office hours by appointment


Course Description

Composition and production of recorded music using personal computers for digital signal processing and control of synthesizers. Practical application of digital audio production software and MIDI, and investigation of new ideas in computer-aided composition.

Course Requirements

Course Topics

Special Events

The Gassmann Electronic Music Series is a full season of concerts and lectures at UCI focusing on music and computers. Most of the events during this quarter were organized specifically to be of value to the students in this class, and you should plan to attend as many of them as possible. If you are unable to attend any of these events, arrange for one of your classmates to report to you about the content of the event; the content of these events may be the subject of questions on the final exam.

The series this quarter will include two concerts featuring live virtuoso instrumentalists - Mari Kimura and Anne La Berge - performing with interactive computer systems. The series will also include several lectures by Visiting Professor Marc Battier of the University of Paris-Sorbonne, specialist in the history and analysis of electroacoustic music.

Some of the lectures will be held during the class sessions of this course. Below is a terse list of all the events relevant to this class, so that students can plan ahead to make the times available in their schedule.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009 - 5:00-6:20 pm
Marc Battier: Noise and artificial sound in music and art, and the role of technology (part 1)
Thursday, January 22, 2009 - 12:30-1:50 pm
Marc Battier: Noise and artificial sound in music and art, and the role of technology (part 2)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 - 5:00-6:20 pm
Marc Battier: 60 years of electroacoustic music in France, from musique concrète to acousmatic music (part 1)
Thursday, January 29, 2009 - 12:30-1:50 pm
Marc Battier: 60 years of electroacoustic music in France, from musique concrète to acousmatic music (part 2)
Tuesday, February 3, 2009 - 3:30-4:50 pm
Marc Battier: From image to sound, the making of Audioscan, based on the works of surrealist painter Roberto Matta
Wednesday, February 4, 2009 - 1:00-2:20 pm
Marc Battier: The study of electroacoustic music in East Asia
(Light refreshment will be served at 12:45.)
Thursday, February 5, 2009 - 12:30-1:50 pm
Marc Battier: Transparence, based on the sound poetry of Henri Chopin
Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - 1:00-2:20 pm
Mari Kimura: 'Woods and Chips': Traditional Musical Instruments with Computers
(Light refreshment will be served at 12:45.)
Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - 5:00-6:20 pm
Mari Kimura: Traditional Musical Instruments in Interactive Computer Music, pre-concert lecture/demonstration
Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - 8:00 pm
Mari Kimura: Reinventing Tradition: Violin and Computer plays the East and Beyond, concert
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 - 1:00-2:20 pm
Anne La Berge: Resonant Dendrites, lecture/performance
Wednesday, March 4, 2009 - 5:00 pm
Anne La Berge: Music for Flute and Computer, concert


The Gassmann Electronic Music Studio is a state-of-the-art Macintosh-based studio for digital recording, production, and computer music composition. It is located on the first floor of the Mesa Office Building in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts.

The Arts Media Center has four computer music workstations, each including Mac Pro computer, Mbox audio interface, MIDI synthesizer keyboard, and audio mixer. Music software includes Pro Tools, Digital Performer, Reason, Sibelius, Max/MSP, Audacity, GarageBand, and iTunes.

Some listenings for this class are available online as streamed audio files, and others will be placed on reserve at the Arts Media Center. Unlicensed duplication of digital audio files for personal use is illegal.


For additional consultation with the professor, you can make an appointment for office hours by speaking with the professor before or after class. You can also contact the professor by email.

For announcements or questions to/from your classmates, it is suggested that you use (and check regularly) the class MessageBoard.

There is a class email address, which addresses all registered students and the professor. This email is moderated by (i.e., must be approved and forwarded by) the professor, and thus should generally be used only for information that will definitely be of interest to all in the class, and that you want to be sure they receive. The MessageBoard is generally a less obtrusive way to provide information to colleagues in the class, but of course there's no way to know exactly when and by whom a MessageBoard post will be read.

Assignments are posted online for the next class session.

Final Exam

The originally scheduled final exam time, Friday, March 20, 10:30am-12:30pm, has been changed by mutual agreement among the professor and the students in the class. The new correct time for the final written exam is Thursday, March 12, 12:30-1:50, Music and Media 216. The (mandatory) listening/discussion session for final composition projects is Wednesday, March 18, 5:00-7:20, Music and Media 216.

Regarding Academic Integrity:

Collaboration between students in this course is strongly encouraged. Students are urged to exchange ideas, opinions, and information constantly, and to help each other with the composition of their technical/creative projects. However, plagiarism of any kind is in direct violation of University policy on Academic Honesty, and penalties for plagiarism can be severe. In this class you will be expected to attribute due credit to the originator of any ideas, words, or music that you incorporate into your own work.

March 3, 2009
Christopher Dobrian