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Music Technology

  • Official code: ITA01
  • Course period: Third quarter
  • Course year: 1,2,
  • Course type: Elective
  • Credits: 2
  • Coordinator: Julián Villegas
  • Instructor: Julián Villegas and Michael Cohen.


The purpose of this course is to study the fundamentals of audio signal processing and its application to music.
Besides reviewing the underlying techniques, this course focuses in practical implementations of sound effects, so the course is intense in hands-on exercises, mainly based on Matlab, C/C++, and Pure-data.


Students who approve this course are expected to:

  • Understand some basic techniques used in computer music, as well as the literature and terminology on this topic.
  • Be able to decide which of the presented techniques is best for creating a desired sound effect in music.
  • Be able to create their own (simple) sound effect chain.


  1. Introductions: Course overview, materials, examination, introduction to computer music technologies,
  2. FFT workshop: Spectrograms, long-term average spectrum, short-term average spectrum, etc.
  3. Consonance origin: Tonotopic theory, Roughness, Roughness models, musical sounds
  4. Consonance workshop Computing scales from spectra
  5. Shepard Tones: Pitch as a complex sensation, chroma, pitch-height, circularity
  6. Shepard Tone workshop: Create a parametric Shepard tone in Matlab
  7. PSOLA and DTW: Changing pitch and speed without artifacts
  8. PSOLA workshop: Time alignment of two audio signals
  9. Beat Detection: Onset detection functions, linear programming, signal transformations
  10. Beat Detection Workshop: Detecting the beat from different musical signals
  11. Intro to Pd audio objects: Pure-data introductions, Pure-data structures, C compilation
  12. Pd object workshop: Creating an audio processing object in Pd
  13. Intro to Faust: Functional languages, Faust syntax, libraries overview
  14. Faust Workshop: Creating an audio plugin in Faust
  15. Intro. to sound and micro-controllers: Micro-controller vs. Micro-processors, audio hardware architecture, Arduino, etc.
  16. Micro-controller: Workshop Creating a simple audio effect on a Arduino micro-controller.


  • U. Zölzer, editor. DAFX – Digital Audio Effects. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, USA, 2nd edition, 2011.
  • Various materials prepared by the instructors

Related courses which include important concepts relevant to the course

This class does not have prerequisites, but it is recommended that students be familiarized with Pure-data programming paradigm, and general audio signal processing techniques. These are some classes that students are encouraged to take:

  • ITC02 Introduction to Sound and Audio
  • ITA07 Advanced Signal Processing
  • ITA10 Spatial Hearing and Virtual 3D Sound

Evaluation method

  • Quizzes and homework: 50%
  • Exercises (workshops): 50%

Referential sources