Hardware Interfaces and Software Tools for Computer Music

Liz Laverty

The purpose of this project was two-fold. The first purpose was to help set up a research laboratory for computer music, with both software and hardware tasks. The second was to aid in developing exercises and exploring software for a new experimental seminar course, CSC354, "Digital Sound and Music Processing."

The Digital Sound and Music Processing course, to be offered in Spring 03, focuses on areas of computer-based sound/music manipulation that overlap significantly with computer science disciplines. Part of the work this summer was to investigate publicly available music programming environments for the coursework. The two chosen were Keykit (www.nosuch.com/keykit), a programming language and graphical user interface for MIDI, useful for both algorithmic and real-time musical experimentation, developed by a researcher at AT&T, and Csound (www.csounds.com), a powerful and versatile software synthesis program, developed by a faculty member at MIT.

The research laboratory, called the CS Sound and Music Lab, is in room 105 McConnell. It is now set up with a top end Dell Workstation, an Alesis keyboard synthesizer, an Amadeus hardware pitch to midi converter, and useful software installed on the machine. This includes both Keykit and Csound described above, as well as CakeWalk’s Sonar (www.cakewalk.com/Products/SONAR/), the industry-standard for audio and MIDI production, with support for many effects, soft synthesizers, and hardware controllers. The background for selecting this software was the creation of a recording studio spreadsheet and investigation of two sound editing programs, Syntrillium Software’s Cool Edit 2000 and Pro, and Sonic Foundry’s Sound Forge 6.0.

Also included in the work were a search for acadmic computer music websites, developing music software functions in keykit, and analysis and development of recording capabilities in the lab, with recommendations for recording in the course laboratory.

(Supported by a Smith College internship)

Advisor: Judy Franklin