University of California, Irvine
Fall 2016

Library Study Guide

Music 215A study guide – In addition to the collection of resources listed below, UCI music librarian Scott Stone has compiled a study guide of readings relevant to this course.


Advanced Reverberation Part 1 and Part 2 – by Paul White, from Sound on Sound magazine, October and November 2001.

Algorithmic composition – A collection of essays on algorithmic composition, with sonic, musical, and visual examples in Max, by Christopher Dobrian

The Art of Noises – futurist manifesto in the form of a letter to his friend Balilla Pratella, by Luigi Russolo, 1913

Audio file formats – “Creating AIFF Audio Formatted Files” [and WAVE files] by Paul Bourke

Audio Queue Services Programming Guide – Apple’s model for audio programming in MacOS and iOS

Beyond the Pan Pot - A Plea for the Depth Dimension – by Alex Case

Computer Music Journal – Professional journal of technical topics in computer music

Core Audio – Audio programming API for MacOS and iOS

Core Audio APIs – Audio programming API for Windows

“Cross-Domain Mapping”, Chapter 2 of Conceptualizing Music: Cognitive Structure, Theory, and Analysis, by Lawrence M. Zbikowski, pp. 63-95. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. [Scroll down to the Table of Contents and click on “Chapter Two Cross-Domain Mapping”.]

David Cope – Website of writings, compositions, and software by computer music composition professor.

The Decibel – An explanation of the term as it's used to discuss sounds in the real world. The same principles apply when talking about digital audio, except that the 0 dB reference amplitude in digital audio is usually the greatest amplitude the system can produce, rather than the softest sound we can hear.

Digital Audio – An introduction by Christopher Dobrian

Don Norman – Expert on user interface design

Event Priority in Max (Scheduler vs. Queue) – Article by Cycling ’74 programmer Joshua Clayton

The Experience and Perception of Time – in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

"Experimental Music: Doctrine" – from Silence by John Cage, 1937.

Fletcher-Munson curves – Wikipedia entry, showing the conclusions of some early cognitive experiments on the subjective perception of loudness as a function of frequency and amplitude (see also Robinson-Dadson curves)

"The Future of Music: Credo" – from Silence by John Cage, 1937.

Guide to Sound Objects – a scholarly summary by Michel Chion of Pierre Schaeffer's groundbreaking work and writings on musique concrète.

How Hearing Works – An explanation of the human auditory system

Improving Your Stereo Mixing – by Paul White, from Sound On Sound magazine, October 2000

Introduction to Digital Filters (with Audio Applications) – Complete online textbook by Julius O. Smith

Java Documentation – The official documentation for Java 8 Standard Edition

The Java Tutorials: Sound – Explanation of how audio and MIDI are handled in Java

Leonardo Journal – Journal of technological and media arts

Leonardo Music Journal – Journal of technological music

"The Liberation of Sound" – Collected writings of Edgard Varèse, 1936-1962, edited by Chou Wen-chung, Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Autumn - Winter, 1966), pp. 11-19.

Linear interpolation – Wikipedia entry

Max Documentation – Web version of the Max Reference Documentation that comes with the Max application

A Method for Computer Characterization of ‘Gesture’ in Musical Improvisation – Description of a computer cognition research project, by Christopher Dobrian

Microphone Techniques: Live Sound Reinforcement – PDF document, 1.4 MB, a Shure Educational Publication

MIDI – An introductory essay by Christopher Dobrian

MIDI file format – Standard MIDI File (SMF) specification 1.1

MP3 Learning Object – A tutorial on MPEG I Layer 3 by Nathaniel Tull Phillips

MSP Tutorials – Web version of the MSP Tutorials that come with the Max application

Music and Computers – A Theoretical and Historical Approach – Online textbook/course by Phil Burk, Larry Polansky, and others

Music Technology Facilities – A thorough description of all technological facilities for sound and music in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine

Ocarina: Designing the iPhone’s Magic Flute – Article by programmer Ge Wang

120 Years of Electronic Music – An online history

Programming Electronic Music in Pd – An online text by Johannes Kreidler

Programming New Realtime DSP Possibilities with MSP – Article by Christopher Dobrian

Reactable – An innovative computer music instrument with a Maxlike interface

Robinson-Dadson curves – Wikipedia entry, showing the results of some later experiments on the subjective perception of loudness as a function of frequency and amplitude, comparable but not identical to the results of the earlier Fletcher-Munson curves

Rudiments of Max – Excerpt from an old version of the Max documentation

Sound Waves and Music – Tutorial on the physics of sound

The Soundcraft Guide to Mixing – PDF document, 2 MB

Start Developing iOS Apps Today – Apple tutorials on basics of iOS programming

Stevens’ power law – Wikipedia entry

Strategies for Continuous Pitch and Amplitude Tracking in Realtime Interactive Improvisation Software – Article by Christopher Dobrian

The Theory and Technique of Electronic Music – Complete online textbook by Miller Puckette

Tutorial on MIDI and Music Synthesis – Provided by the MIDI Manufacturers Association, written by Jim Heckroth

W3C: Web Audio API – Specification for the Web Audio API

Web Audio API – Online version of an O'Reilly e-book by Boris Smus

Weber-Fechner law – Wikipedia entry, theorizes the relationship between empirical stimulus (measurable physical phenomena) and human perception of the stimulus


Android Developer Tools – Includes Eclipse, the ADT plugin, and the Android SDK

Audacity – Free open-source cross-platform audio editing application

ChucK – A free audio/music programming language optimized for live coding

Csound – A free programming language for audio and music synthesis

CsoundPad – A free implementation of Csound for iPad by Jason Timm

Drum Kit – An online “drumming” program by Ron Winter

Eclipse – Integrated Development Environment for various programming languages

Gibber – Web Audio API-based environment for writing music and graphics code in JavaScript

JavaScript – Object-oriented web-based programming language

Max – Object-based graphical multimedia programming environment

MuLab – Free open-source cross-platform digital audio workstation application

NetBeans – A free IDE for Java and other programming languages

Notepad++ (Windows) – Free text editor with automatic formatting for programming

Ohm Studio – A free digital audio workstation application for online collaboration

Pd – PureData open-source object-based audio programming environment similar to Max

PortAudio – Cross-platform open-source C library for audio I/O programming

REV – A software instrument that focuses on the use of reversed sound sources

RGB MusicLab – An application that converts image documents into music algorithmically

SuperCollider – A programming language for realtime audio/music synthesis

SynthPond – An algorithmic composition application for iPhone and iPod Touch

TextWrangler (Mac OS) – Free text editor with automatic formatting for programming

Web Audio API – Audio programming in HTML 5

Web Audio Demos – Collection of Web Apps using the Web Audio API, with source code

Web Audio API Demos – Another collection of Web Apps using the Web Audio API, with source code

Whitney Music Box – A software realization of phase relationships between geometry, time, and musical tone, by Jim Bumgardner

Xcode – Swift IDE for Mac OS and iOS programming

Learning Resources

App Inventor – Object-based environment for Android application development

Chrome Music Lab — Diverse Web Audio apps for music, with some source code

Code Academy – Beginner course in JavaScript programming

Codelab – A collection of various Max resources – Discussion forum of Max for francophones

Computer Music Programming – Examples in Max programming by Christopher Dobrian

Cycling ’74 User Forum – Discussion of Max/MSP/Jitter

EarLevel Engineering – Nigel Redmon posts a blog of well made and comprehensible tutorials on many topics of digital audio

JavaScript – Reference for the JavaScript language

JavaScript Guide – Mozilla Developer Network lessons on JavaScript programming

JavaScript Tutorial – W3Schools lessons on JavaScript programming

Khan Academy – Online beginner course in JavaScript and Processing programming

Tutorials for Max/MSP/Jitter – Collection of tutorials written by electronic music professor Peter Elsea 

Web Audio API – Audio programming in HTML 5


Akihiko Matsumoto – Artistic works made in Max by Akihiko Matsumoto

Batchelor Max Tutorials – Tutorial videos on Max by Peter Batchelor 

Baz Max/MSP Tutorial – A set of video tutorials demonstrating various audio and video techniques in Max/MSP/Jitter

Bicycle Built for Two – Audio recording of an early example of digital sound synthesis, by Max Mathews

Drum Kit – A drum sample player programmed in Flash by Ron Winter

Eclipse and Java for Total Beginners – Free video tutorial in the form of 16 lessons

Fanfare – An interactive musical Flash animation by Aude Picault and realized by Zanorg

Gesture Follower – Research project by the team on Realtime Musical Interactions at IRCAM 

Light Music – A gestural music/video performance by Thierry De Mey and Jean Geoffroy

MCMMax – Examples of mapping motion capture data directly to musical information by Christopher Dobrian

Rhythmicon – Demonstration of 1931 electric rhythm generator and some other subsequent rhythm machines

6 pianos – An algorithmic improvisation done in Max/MSP by Maurizio Giri

SLABS – A music controller developed by professor David Wessel at UC Berkeley, which sends multiple streams of signal data from pressure- and location-sensitive touchpads to Max

The Sound of Sorting – 15 sorting algorithms visualized and sonified in 6 minutes by Timo Bingmann

Tesla coil music – "In the Hall of the Mountain King" played on musical Tesla coils

Theremin - Classic performance on one of the first and most extraordinary electronic instruments by its foremost virtuosa, Clara Rockmore

Umezaki video tutorials – Professor Kojiro Umezaki explains certain Max objects on his YouTube channel 


Electronic Music – A sonic history of classic works of electronic music

Electronic Music History in 476 Tracks – A collection of historical works of electronic music – A website providing thousands of royalty-free sound samples

Women Making Electronic Music – Seven hours of electronic music by women composers

Other Readings

Cipriani, Alessandro, and Giri, Maurizio. Electronic Music and Sound Design – Theory and Practice with Max/MSP. Rome: Contemponet, 2010.

Cope, David. The algorithmic composer. Madison, WI: A-R Editions, 2000.

Cope, David. Computer models of musical creativity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005.

Cope, David. Computers and musical style. Madison, WI: A-R Editions, 1991.

Cope, David. Experiments in musical intelligence. Madison, WI: A-R Editions, 1996.

Dodge, Charles and Thomas A. Jerse. Computer Music: Synthesis, Composition, and Performance, 2nd ed. New York: Schirmer Books, 1997.

Harries, Dan. The new media book. London: BFI Publications, 2002.

Kahn, Douglas. Noise, water, meat : a history of sound in the arts. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.

Loy, Gareth. Musimathics, v. 1 and 2. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2006.

Manovich, Lev. The language of new media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.

Manzo, V.J. Max/MSP/Jitter for Music “A Practical Guide to Developing Interactive Music Systems for Education and More”. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Miranda, Eduardo Reck. Composing music with computers. Oxford; Boston: Focal Press, 2001.

Miranda, Eduardo Reck. Computer sound synthesis for the electronic musician. Oxford; Boston: Focal Press, 1998.

Miranda, Eduardo Reck. Computer sound design: synthesis techniques and programming. Oxford; Boston: Focal Press, 2002.

Miranda, Eduardo Reck. New digital musical instruments: control and interaction beyond the keyboard. Middleton, WI: A-R Editions, 2006.

Miranda, Eduardo Reck. A-life for music: music and computer models of living systems. Middleton, WI: A-R Editions, 2011.

Moore, F. Richard. Elements of Computer Music. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990.

Norman, Donald. The Design of Everyday Things. UCI Langson Library ANTPAC listing with a link to online edition of the book, available with UCI login.

Ornstein, Robert. "The Problem of Temporal Experience". On the Experience of Time. Chapter 1, pp. 15-24. Westview Press, 1997 (originally published in 1969).

Puckette, Miller. "Interprocess Communication and Timing in Real-time Computer Music Performance". Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference, pp. 43-46. San Francisco: ICMA, 1986.

Puckette, Miller. The Theory and Technique of Electronic Music (Links to an external site.). Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co., 2007. Also published online at the above link.

Roads, Curtis, et al. The Computer Music Tutorial, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1996. The single greatest concentration of computer music information.

Rowe, Robert. Interactive Music Systems. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993.

Rowe, Robert. Machine Musicianship. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.

Schank, Roger C. and Robert P. Abelson. Scripts, plans, goals, and understanding : an inquiry into human knowledge structures. Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates, 1977.

Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Montfort, Nick. New media reader. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003.

Zbikowski, Lawrence M. Conceptualizing Music: Cognitive Structure, Theory, and Analysis. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.


This page was last modified on September 16, 2016
by Christopher Dobrian