Digital Interactive Sound & Intermedia Studio
Virginia TechCollege of Liberal Arts and Human SciencesSchool of Performing ArtsICATCHCI

"And so the arts are encroaching upon one another, and from a proper use of this encroachment will rise the art that is truly monumental."
--Wassily Kandinsky

IMPORTANT! Please note that the syllabus is subject to change. Should such a change occur, it will be announced in the Latest Updates section and/or the course mailing list. For this reason, you are strongly encouraged to check this site frequently for changes. Last Updated

Digital Sound Manipulation Syllabus (MUS3064)
Time: T H 9:30 - 10:45 AM
Classroom: DISIS (Newman 121)
Instructor: Dr. Ivica Ico Bukvic
Office: Henderson 313
Office Hours: By appointment only
Instructor Email: ico_AT_vt_DOT_edu
Course Mailing List: TBA

Latest Updates
•  08/18/16 -- Syllabus posted online.

Course Objectives
This course develops skills of digital manipulation of sound for creative applications. Topics include recording technology and its effects on music, aesthetics of electronic music, recording and editing digital sound, visual programming for live sound synthesis and processing, acoustic compilers for programmatic sound processing and synthesis, and the use of external devices to control live computer-based sound manipulations.

Learning Outcomes

•  Learn how technical capabilities for sound manipulation have affected the ideas and aesthetics of electronic music

Recognize and appreciate the manipulation of sound in various contexts such as film and television scores, in Web audio, in live processing of acoustic instruments, and in the development of new musical means of expression afforded by new instruments designed to take advantage of the possibilities of digital sound manipulation

Learn how to record, edit, and process digital sound on your personal computer
Learn how to use various freely available programs for live manipulation of sound
Learn how to design your own sound manipulation tools
Apply tools and ideas presented in class to your own creative projects

In addition to shared learning objectives, students will have the opportunity to explore applications of digital sound manipulation as it pertains to their own areas of specialization.

Evaluation and Grading
Students enrolled in this class will be graded using a combination of research milestones, the final deliverable, as well as attendance and in-class participation. Below is a brief overview of the projects:

Project 1: A “sound library” that is an itemized collection of sound recorded, performed, and transformed by the student. These sounds will be itemized according to: a collection of objective (e.g. source) and subjective (e.g. what it sounds like) classifications. It is expected that this sound library will also be used in other class projects. (15%)

Project 2: A fixed media sound montage demonstrating the ability to edit, sequence and mix sounds to a particular theme or concept to be determined by the student. (20%)
Project 3: A collaborative, in-class performance or demonstration of live digital sound manipulation. (20%)
Final Project: A student-determined, variable-format project such as: creating sound for a video; creating digital sound for a web page; designing creative digital sound for a theatrical production; composing an original piece of computer music; remixing or recreating an existing piece of music; researching an aspect of digital sound manipulation. (30%)

The final grade will be aggregated as follows:

3 Projects  55%
Final project  30%
In class participation and homework  10%
Electronic-sound based event  5%

Please note that a part of your grade is associated with in-class participation. The in-class participation also includes the following policy: no texting, using mobile telephones, laptops, and other technology, or doing anything else that may distract others and/or impede the overall in-class productivity. Any disregard of this policy may (at instructor's discretion) result in removal from the class and consequently an unexcused absence. Given the in-class attendance will be paramount to students being able to keep up with the material, students will be allowed to have 1 unexcused absence. Every additional unexcused absence will result in a half-grade penalty that will be applied to the final grade.

Honor Code
The Undergraduate Honor Code pledge that each member of the university community agrees to abide by states:

“As a Hokie, I will conduct myself with honor and integrity at all times. I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor will I accept the actions of those who do.”

Students enrolled in this course are responsible for abiding by the Honor Code. A student who has doubts about how the Honor Code applies to any assignment is responsible for obtaining specific guidance from the course instructor before submitting the assignment for evaluation. Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the University community from the requirements and expectations of the Honor Code.

For additional information about the Honor Code, please visit:

Course Materials
Below is a collection of free software used in-class:
•  Pd-L2Ork software page
Pure-Data software page
Purr-Data software page (IMPORTANT!, this is alpha software, so it may be unstable)
Audacity software page
Supercollider (optional)
RTcmix (optional)

While most materials will be covered in class, students will also have the following OPTIONAL supplemental resources at their disposal:
•  The Theory and Technique of Electronic Music (free online book by the Pd author Miller Puckette)
•  Bang Book (free online collection of Pd articles)


Internet access


A Valid VT Email Account

A laptop (needs to be brought to every class)
Audio recording equipment (can be rented out from the Innovation Space)

Any student who may need an accommodation because of a disability please make an appointment to see me as soon as possible.

Course Calendar

08/23/2016   •  Introduction & Demo
08/25/2016  •  Audio editing and recording -- Audactiy
08/30/2016  •  Basics of sound and music aesthetics
09/01/2016  •  Advanced audio editing


 •  ...
09/08/2016  • 


09/13/2016  •  Project 1 due + presentations
09/15/2016  •  Form and structure
09/20/2016  •  ...
09/22/2016  •  Workshop
09/27/2016  •  Project 2 due + presentations
09/29/2016  •  Project 2 presentations cont.
10/04/2016  •  Introduction to Pd-L2Ork
10/06/2016  •  Collaboration strategies
10/11/2016  •  Pd-L2Ork cont.
10/13/2016  •  Other programming languages
10/18/2016  •  Team building/workshop
10/20/2016  •  Pd-L2Ork cont.
10/25/2016  • 


10/27/2016  • 


11/01/2016  •  Project 3 due
11/03/2016  •  Final project brainstorm


 •  Kontakte performance in the Cube


 •  Project-specific topics
11/10/2016  •  Project-specific topics
11/15/2016  •  Project-specific topics
11/17/2016  •  Project-specific topics
11/22/2016  •  Thanksgiving break
11/24/2016  •  Thanksgiving break
11/29/2016  •  ...


 •  Workshop
12/05/2016  •  730pm: Fall DISIS event in the Cube
12/06/2016  •  Final project showcase

Any additional changes to the schedule will be communicated via the class mailing list and updated here accordingly. Also, please make note of the calendar with important dates listed on the registrar's webiste. The registrar's calendar can be found here.

•  In addition to the materials linked above, all supplemental course materials and supporting documentation will be distributed via the class mailing list.