Music 170: Musical Acoustics - prompts for final project
Here are some possible ideas for a final project. Ideally, your final project
should be something you would like to do, and should help you learn about some topic from
this course that you'd like to focus on.
- Make either a piece of music or an experiment that focuses on a Shepard tone
(sometimes called a Shepard/Risset tone): a musical sound that can rise or fall in
pitch indefinitely without actually moving -- like an old-fashioned barbershop pole.
There's a patch in the Pd help files that you can use to generate the tone.
- Make a piece of music out of synthesized bird calls. (Hint: ornery birds might be
more fun to work with than sweet-sounding ones). Difficulty: no sampling please - make
- Make an automated composition machine that plays random notes, either with
a fixed or randomly varying rhythm. To give the music some sense of "shape" you can
have the speed or the pitch range varying over time, for instance. For inspiration
you can look at the music of Iannis Xenakis (really hard core) or of Paul Lansky
(Alphabet book for instance. Nice sounding).
- Use the Acoustics Library to make a rudimentary drum machine. You can imitate a
variety of different drums by applying a resonaont (bandpass) filter to a burst of
white noise. Metallic things (cowbells, triangles) can be imitated using either a
pulse into a collection of very high-Q resonant filters or with sinusoids with decaying
amplitudes. As in the bird-call idea above, no sampling allowed.
- Use the analog headphone output of a computer (you can use a USB headphone
adapter if yourcomputer doesn't have an analog headphone output) to power a 1" or
2" loudspeaker. You'll have to solder or otherwise make up a cable to get from the
headphone output to the speaker - total cost of materials should be well under $15.
Then mount the speaker inside a rag doll or other object of your choosing to make it
emit some unexpected sound. (Here, since you might want to use voices, it's OK to
use recorded samples. The emphasis here isn't on the sound production itself but on the
construction of the physical work of art (or toy).
- (For budding game designers) - use a game engine to make a "scene" in which something
reacts to incoming sounds - for instrance, a character's mouth opens and shuts in
response to sound level coming into the microphone.