Computer Music Composition


Computer Music Composition
Music 151 - Winter 2014
University of California, Irvine

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

Professor Christopher Dobrian
Music and Media Building, Room 211
(949) 824-7288

Teaching Assistant Martim Galvao
Contemporary Arts Center, Room 2022


A course on the composition of music made uniquely possible by computer, including the study of computer control of synthesizers and processors, digital signal processing, and algorithmic composition.


Course Topics

Course Requirements


For additional consultation with the professor or the teaching assistant, you can make an appointment for office hours by speaking with the professor or TA before or after class. You can also contact the professor by email or by phone at 949-824-7288, and you can contact the teaching assistant by email, as well.

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 and TA. This should generally be used only for information that will be of interest to all in the class, and that you want to be sure they receive. The MessageBoard is 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.

Special Events

The Gassmann Electronic Music Series is a full season of concerts and lectures at UCI focusing on new music, including experimental instrumental music, electronic music, and computer music. The events during this quarter will be of value to the students in this class, and you should plan to attend them if possible. If you are unable to attend 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.

A particularly noteworthy event that you should make every effort to attend is the free concert Synthesizers Live! Wednesday January 15 at 8:00 in Winifred Smith Hall. It will feature original electronic music compositions by student groups using synthesizers from the Gassmann Studio collection dating back as far as 1970.

Guest professor Dr. Marc Battier of the Université de Paris-Sorbonne will give several lectures at UCI in January on various topics in electronic and computer music. Two of those will take place in this class January 16 and 21, and two of them will be in the same location at 3:30 on January 16 and at 2:00 on January 23.

Computer music researchers from McGill University, Dr. Marcelo Wanderley and Ian Hattwick, will give presentations in February pertaining to innovative instrument design.

The MFA Thesis Colloquium is also a good opportunity to learn about current work by composers using computers in their work. You are welcome to audit the class, which meets Tuesdays 3:30-4:50 in MM 316.


The Gassmann Electronic Music Studio is a 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 six computer music workstations, each including Mac Pro computer, Mbox audio interface, MIDI synthesizer keyboard, and audio mixer. Music software includes Pro Tools, Reason, Sibelius, Max/MSP, Audacity, and GarageBand. One computer is connected to an adjacent small recording room. You may also check out portable recording equipment from the AMC to record in other locations for class projects.

A document detailing all the music technology facilities at UCI and the policies that govern their use is available online.

Final Exam

The final project critique session is scheduled for Tuesday March 18, 2014, 12:30-2:30pm, in MM 216. This is an obligatory session during which students hear each other's final compositions and contribute to a critical discussion of them.

The written final exam will be held in the tenth week of class. (The final exam time appears in the Schedule of Classes as Friday March 21, but in fact there will be no exam or meeting on that day. The final critique session on Tuesday March 18 will be the only meeting during final exam week.)


If you have a disability that inhibits you from performing any of the stated requirements of this course, as approved and documented by the UCI Disability Services Center, please ensure that the professor and the teaching assistants are thoroughly aware of the matter as early in the term as possible.

Academic Honesty:

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, each student is responsible for completion of his/her own assignments, and plagiarism of any kind is in direct violation of the UCI 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.

This page was last modified March 5, 2014.
Christopher Dobrian,