Music 170 / ICAM 103: Musical Acoustics
Fall quarter 2008. University of California, San Diego

Prerequisite: Music 1a, 2a, or 4.
Textbook: Rossing, Moore, and Wheeler, The Science of Sound.
Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30-1:50, Mandeville B202
Instructor: Professor Miller Puckette, Atkinson Hall room 1601E, 858-534-4823, msp(at)ucsd(dot)edu, http://crca.ucsd.edu/~msp/ , office Hours: Tuesdays 11:00-12:00
Cooper Baker: cb(at)ucsd(dot)edu; office hours: Tuesdays 2:00-3:00, Mandeville B131
Jason Ponce: jbponce(at)ucsd(dot)edu; office hours: Thursdays 2:00-3:00, Mandeville B131

This course is designed to give students of the digital arts an understanding of the workings of sound, not only in traditional musical roles but also as a medium that is used in many different artistic practices. Four main areas concern us. First, how sound travels through the air and how solid objects either emit or absorb it. Second, how and what we hear when the air moves. Third, sound technologies: computers, microphones and speakers, musical instruments. Finally, sound and its artistic uses.

Although there is a textbook, much of the content of the course is presented in class (so it is essential to attend regularly). There are weekly problem set/laboratory assignments, to be turned in during class.

The ``final exam" is to design and build your own musical instrument, and play some music on it for the class. You'll divide up in pairs. The music should have pitches (so just a rattle isn't suitable) and should demonstrate that you know about vibration and projection of sound. On Oct. 30 you should turn in a written, one- or two-page proposal so that we can check that your project idea is reasonable. The proposal should contain a drawing and a short description of the materials you propose to use and what kind of sounds you expect should come out. The actual instrument and your performance are due during the regularly scheduled final exam period; each pair will have three minutes to show and play their work.

The laboratory assignments use the Pd program which you should download. You can get it from http://www-crca.ucsd.edu/~msp/software.html .

Final grade is a weighted average of homework (40%), labs (40%), project proposal (5%) and final project (15%).

Topics :

1. Sound and vibration (Sep. 25 - Oct. 2) Textbook: chapters 1-2.
Homework 1 and Lab 1 are due Thursday, Oct. 2. Here are some notes and equations and general instructions for the labs.

2. Waves and radiation (Oct. 7-9) Textbook: chapters 3-4.
Homework 2 and Lab 2 are due Thursday, Oct. 9. Here are more notes and equations .

3. Hearing (Oct. 14-16) Textbook: chapters 5-6.
Homework 3 and Lab 3 are due Thursday, Oct. 16. Here are more notes and equations .

4. Pitch, spectrum and timbre (Oct. 21-23) Textbook: chapter 7.
Homework 4 and Lab 4 are due Thursday, Oct. 23.

5. Pitch and harmony (Oct. 28-30) Textbook: chapter 8.
Homework 5 and Lab 5 are due Thursday, Oct. 30.

6. Musical scales (Nov. 4-6) Textbook: chapter 9.
Homework 6 and Lab 6 are due Thursday, Nov. 6. Here are more notes and equations .

7. Room acoustics (Nov. 11-13) Textbook: chapter 23.
Homework 7 and Lab 7 are due Thursday, Nov. 13. Here is one note and equation (formula for frequency of a vibrating string).

8. Computers and audio (Nov. 18, 20, 25) Textbook: chapter 21.
Homework 8 and Lab 8 are now due Tuesday, Nov. 25. (Put off from Nov. 20 because the website was down). Here are more notes and equations .

9. Sound and art (Dec. 2-4)

Final Presentations: Friday, Dec. 12, 11:30-2:30, same classroom.