Electronic Music and Sound Design Vol 3

electronic music and sound design vol 3

This book, the inaugural volume in a three-volume series (also announced for 2012), provides both theory and practice of digital synthesis and sound design. The text follows a logical organization with theory chapters interspersed between practice chapters to allow concepts introduced in one to be put into effect during another chapter.


Synthesis refers to the process of synthesizing information from multiple sources into new ideas. It’s an advanced form of summarization, where key points from one source are shared before moving onto the next source.

Synthesis helps make your paper more cohesive by connecting its various ideas together and giving the paper an organic flow. Furthermore, it demonstrates that you have conducted sufficient research into a topic so as to fully engage with it.

A synthesis matrix chart can help you organize your sources and main ideas on a topic to see how they relate. Furthermore, it enables you to see how your sources differ from each other – essential when showing how they support one central point differently.

Sound synthesis refers to the process of using electronic instruments to generate sounds not normally heard in real life. Early techno producers used synthesizers to produce futuristic and otherworldly sounds which could not be accomplished using traditional instruments – this helped set techno apart from other forms of electronic music and gave rise to its distinct style of music.

Assembling music requires taking many factors into consideration, including timbre, frequency, amplitude and waveform. Furthermore, an extensive knowledge of electronics and software is also essential.

If you’re eager to expand your knowledge of synthesis, there are various resources that can help get you going. One such book is “Creating Sounds from Scratch”, a detailed book which explores sound design across many genres as well as topics such as microphone selection, field recordings, digital audio signal processing and foley workflow.

Experienced musicians may benefit from trying a software synthesizer to better understand synthesis. Many software synthesizers include presets that you can use to produce different sounds; then experiment with these sounds when changing parameters.

Synthesis is an integral component of sound design and will enable you to produce the sounds you’d like for your work. Furthermore, this process teaches various techniques and tools, such as filters, oscillators and modulators, which you will then be able to utilize when designing soundscapes.


This book offers a great introduction to sound generation and its principles, along with numerous examples from films, documentaries and video games to get you started in sound design.

The first part of this book covers fundamental concepts like frequency, amplitude and waveform as well as discussing physiology of ears and brain which is necessary to grasp sound properly. The second part covers sound effect creation with exercises to hone techniques and theories behind sound production.

It contains some of the best illustrations and diagrams to guide you through this intricate process, while its author is an acclaimed figure in sound design, having collaborated with several acclaimed artists and companies. Therefore, this book serves as an ideal resource for audio professionals seeking more knowledge about how sound works and why certain components are essential.

Getting Started With Noise provides an excellent introduction to sound synthesis, filters, noise generators and control signals. It outlines both theory and practice aspects of synthesis in an accessible way.

This book is ideal for people interested in computer-based or generative audio, and provides plenty of information on Max/MSP (a programming language used by musicians, artists and designers). With fantastic reviews from readers worldwide and great instructional materials included within, this book can provide all the fundamentals necessary for understanding audio synthesis.

The third part of this book focuses on learning to program using Pure Data’s visual programming environment, with detailed explanations and exercises designed to help readers grasp how best to utilize this visual programming tool. The authors offer ample explanation and practice exercises so readers can become proficient users.

Guy Marc’s seven-volume exploration of noise and electronic music provides another excellent work. Each volume traverses 20th century in an achronological order.

This book is ideal for anyone seeking to understand the history and development of noise and electronic music, with interviews of pioneering musicians who helped establish this genre.


Filters are one of the fundamental building blocks of sound design, enabling users to adjust frequency content within signals using synthesizer hardware or digital audio workstation (DAW) platforms.

Filters can cut out or boost specific frequencies. They can also produce phase shifts similar to that produced by phaser effects and alter the tone and timbre of audio recordings.

Low-pass filters are one of the most prevalent types of filters, and can be especially useful in balancing out an instrument’s low end or attenuating harshness in cymbals.

Band-stop filters isolate certain frequencies within audio. This can be particularly helpful when working with multitap delay chains as only select frequencies need effects applied to.

Peak filters may not be as commonly used, but they’re an effective solution for boosting specific frequencies without attenuating others – an especially helpful feature when performing live performances and trying to prevent mic feedback.

Resonance filters can be used to notch out a narrow range of frequencies with an increased slope, ideal for attenuating feedback when recording drum kits or loud sounds, as well as adding depth and dimension to audio files. Resonance filters may even add depth by subduing specific frequencies more heavily than they otherwise would do.

An all-pass filter is another type of filter designed specifically to be used with other effects, like phasers. It does not boost anything but instead modifies its phase.

This book is the second volume in a three-volume series dedicated to digital synthesis, signal processing and electronic music theory and practice. Intended to be used as part of university courses, it includes hundreds of sound examples and interactive examples along with videos, glossaries of theory and practice terms, tests as well as programs written specifically in Max as well as an object library created especially for these volumes and practical activities.


This book is exceptionally well organized, providing an effective learning agenda on digital synthesis and signal processing theory and practice. Together with its two upcoming companion volumes, this volume provides an ideal basis for an in-depth course in computer music either under the tutelage of an instructor or on your own.

The initial two chapters, 1T (theory) and 1P (practice), introduce the fundamentals of digital sound synthesis, including delay lines, MIDI, OSC, realtime control, delay line dynamics and graphics.

One of the hallmarks of this book is its impressive range of programming examples, many of which can prove truly useful to readers. This is particularly evident in Chapter 1, where readers are introduced to Max/MSP language and its unique quirks.

I found the glossary at the end of this chapter particularly helpful; it provides numerous acronyms related to audio and synthesis concepts and offers links to downloadable programs – the perfect way to test out an unfamiliar concept.

Cipriani and Giri put great care and effort into making this book both practical and entertaining, offering interactive examples to download on their Web site that not only help readers comprehend the material but also demonstrate practical applications of newfound abilities. Furthermore, the website includes useful additional features like an Errata section where readers can quickly check for any discrepancies or missing pieces of data.

Virtual Sound was written by Alessandro Cipriani and Riccardo Bianchini as an introduction to computer music using Csound as the programming environment, with EMSD1 serving as a text for an extended course in Max/MSP.

Sound Design (synthesis, recording and sampling) – Dynamics Processors, Delay Lines, MIDI Controllers and the Art of Arranging Sound

Basic Synthesis

Writing a research paper requires synthesizing multiple sources of information into one cohesive whole, which requires comparison and analysis, classification and division as well as extensive note taking and organizing.

One of the key steps of synthesis is keeping track of your notes as you read and analyze sources. A synthesis matrix chart allows you to record key points for each source and compare them based on themes or traits that emerge, for instance if authors agree or differ, expand on research done by other authors, or bring up new questions and ideas.

This book’s initial chapters (EMSD1T – Theory and 1P – Practice) focus on fundamental sound synthesis techniques. Furthermore, the text offers a comprehensive learning agenda, extensive online component with hundreds of interactive sound examples and videos, theory/practice glossaries/tests written in Max specifically for this series as well as many practical activities using Gen and Jitter for learning computer music both within classroom environments or individually. Thus it makes an invaluable resource for those studying computer music either classroom-wide or independently.

Additive Synthesis

Additive techniques of synthesis are among the most frequently utilized forms of sound creation, working by layering sine waves together to produce a timbre. Though seemingly straightforward in principle, adding layers can have complicated implications; one such complication stems from limited processor power and being able to simultaneously fine-tune multiple oscillators (without overwhelming your computer).

Digital technology advancement in the 1970s and ’80s marked an important turning point in sound design; digital instruments were now capable of synthesizing an unprecedented range of timbres than ever before, including RMI Harmonic Synthesizer, Fairlight CMI, New England Digital Synclavier II, Kawai K5m, and Wersi EX20 instruments that utilized this paradigm shift.

Additive synthesis remains popular today due to its wide array of possible applications; it excels at dissonant drones, bell sounds, and airy pads. Native Instruments’ Razor (designed by Berlin producer Errorsmith) is an outstanding additive plugin; many software synthesizers also include hidden additive engines – discover all that your favourite has to offer!

Vector Synthesis

Vector Synthesis has become an indispensable component of modern sound design and music production. First introduced by Sequential Circuits’ Prophet VS synthesizer in 1986, Vector Synthesis allows musicians and producers to smoothly morph four distinct sound sources across a two-dimensional plane using joystick control, creating complex sounds which cannot be produced using traditional subtractive synthesis techniques alone.

The Vector Pro plugin takes an innovative approach to applying this technique by combining it with SampleTank’s advanced multisampling technology, producing truly living and organic sounds perfect for electronic music production. Sounds are driven by LFOs and envelopes which modulate volume and panning of the samples. Furthermore, crossfading speeds between samples can either be set to run at a fixed rate or beat-synced to host tempo.

Though there are numerous excellent sound design books on the market that aim to demonstrate their author’s knowledge, finding one that helps you develop your skills and musical expression can be much harder. Alessandro Cipriani and Maurizio Giri have written exactly such an outstanding computer music book!

Noise Generators

Noise generators differ from oscillators by producing random signals across the entire audible spectrum, creating hissing sounds to use for various purposes such as scientific experimentation and audio testing, sleep therapy, relaxation and meditation techniques as well as providing masking effects for those suffering with tinnitus.

White noise generators are one of the most widely-used noise generators. They produce random signals with equal energy in all audible frequency bands – much like radio or TV static – that are used extensively in electronic music composition, telecommunications testing, acoustic testing and relaxation therapy applications.

Pink noise generators and brownian noise are other popular noise-producing devices. Pink noise has lower spectral power in higher frequency ranges while more power at lower frequency ranges, creating an effect similar to waterfalls or steady rainfall. Brownian noise follows a random walk pattern and changes its amplitude over time, making it useful in electronic music composition, scientific research, relaxation therapy and relaxation therapy applications.

Propellerhead offers these types of noise generators in their Malstrom and Reason rack extensions – the former offers Game Noise, Static Noise and White Noise while Bandwidth Noise Resonating Noise Pink Noise are among them.


The authors outline various filter types found in mixing desks and DAWs, along with how to calculate its slope (attenuation outside its pass band). Brickwall filters, multiband filters, phase vocoder filters and their use with bin shifting are discussed as well as analysis/resynthesis using spectral LFOs/bin shifting/STFT cross-synthesis of sampled sounds using STFT/STFT cross-synthesis; other topics of note include reverberation creative uses as well as dynamic processors like envelope followers/ compressors/limiters as well as real time processing/MIDI protocol/real time processing/Max for Live.

Cipriani and Giri’s work provides readers with a fascinating journey without weakening the theoretical basis or adding unnecessary specializations, creating an excellent balance of comprehensibility and functionality.

Subtractive Synthesis

When most people think of synthesizers, they tend to envision subtractive instruments. While other synthesis techniques exist such as FM synthesis and wavetable modeling synthesis synthesis synthesis (which uses FM techniques), subtractive synths remain the preferred choice among musicians today owing to their distinctive sound which cannot be easily replicated using sampled sounds or digital filters alone.

Subtractive synths work by starting from a source of harmonic complexity and filtering away anything unnecessary to create the final tone. This is usually accomplished using filters; however, other instruments use this technique as well. Filters may include all sorts of EQ functions like bands that boost or attenuate specific frequencies ranges, as well as being modulated via envelopes, LFOs or other sources to produce dynamic changes to sound’s tone.

Although all this might appear daunting at first, the process can actually be quite intuitive once you gain experience with all its elements. After playing around with some MIDI controller data (or even keyboard keys) for yourself, you’ll soon be making beautiful sounding synth patches!

Control Signals

MIDI is an interface for communicating information regarding how to produce and manipulate sound. A “Note-On” message receives triggers the recipient device to play a musical note at its designated pitch and velocity; “Control Change” messages allow devices to make real time adjustments of parameters like volume modulation filter settings in real time.

The book presents many techniques used to transform sampled sounds into acoustic ones, such as reverberation and creative use of reverb, spatialization with two or more channels, AM, RM and FM synthesis, wave terrain synthesis, splitting and granularization of sampled sounds, voice synthesis as well as analysis and resynthesis. Furthermore, dynamic processes such as envelope followers, recursive operations and repeating sequences are also covered as methods of audio transformation.

Through-out this book, theory and practice are seamlessly interwoven, engaging readers first with sound design before teaching them Max/MSP programming concepts. Each of the four theory/practice pairs features a 50-page interlude where readers can practice programming concepts such as working with integers and floating-point numbers, using metronome objects, creating subpatches without patch cords and managing lists and variables. An online support site also provides numerous downloadable patches and examples along with audio files and suggested tests.