Music 171: Computer Music I
Winter quarter 2020, University of California, San Diego
section IDs 990817, 990818
Textbook: online at
Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:30-4:50
CPMC (Conrad Prebys Music Center) room 136
Instructor: Professor Miller Puckette, CPMC 251,, .
Office hour Thursdays, 2:30-3:30, in the classroom
TAs: John Burnett - jcburnet at ucsd dot edu
Matthew Chung - mfchung at ucsd dot edu
TAs are available during lab hours (5PM Tu/Th) or by appointment.

This is an introduction to audio synthesis, both in theory and in practice, using Pd (Pure Data) as a platform. Pd is free and you can run it on Windows, Linux, or Mac OSX. You can get it at .

There are eight weekly assignments, due Fridays.

The exam (3-6PM, Tuesday, March 17) is a final project presentation. Assignments are worth 10 points apiece and the final is worth 20.

Patches from class will gather on - or here is a zip file.
Videos of this year's classes will appear here:
Videos of lectures, with searchable transcripts, from an earlier year are avalable on

List of topics (about one per week):

Jan. 7-9. Making sinusoids and controlling their amplitudes and frequencies. Read chapter 1 of the textbook, particularly looking at the examples at the back of the chapter. These are included in the Pd distribution (Pure Data/ from the "Browser....' help menu item).
Homework assignment 1 is due Friday, Jan. 17.

Jan. 14-16. Wavetables (Chapter 2).
Homework assignment 2 is due Friday, Jan. 24.

Jan. 21-23. Control and signal paths (chapter 3).
Homework assignment 3 is due Friday, Jan. 31.

Jan. 28-30. Polyphony and control strategies (chapter 4).
Homework assignment 4 is due Friday, Feb. 7.

Feb. 4-6. Waveshaping, FM, and ring modulation (chapter 5 and a bit of chapter 6).
Homework assignment 5 is due Friday, Feb. 14.
final project proposals will be due Feb. 21 along with homework assignment 6.

Feb. 11-13. Delays and delay effects: echos, comb filters, flangers, pitch shifters (chapter 7).
Homework assignment 6 is due Friday, Feb. 21.
A final project proposal is also due then.

Feb. 18-20. Filters and filter design (Chapter 8).
Homework assignment 7 is due Friday, Feb. 28.

Feb. 25-27. Patch design strategies: parameter controls, presets, mixing.
Homework assignment 8 is due Friday, Mar. 6.

Mar. 3-5. Classical waveforms (chapter 10).

Mar. 10-12. Miscellaneous: Fourier analysis and resynthesis (chapter 9), Gem and 3D graphics; audio analysis tools; networking; spooling sounds to/from disk.