Procedural Audio – 2016 Spring

Spring 2016 26th April – 13th May

Lecturer: Andy Farnell and Koray Tahiroğlu

Selected Topics for the Student Projects:

  • environmental systems (weather systems – natural-complex)
  • character animation ( vocal, movement, non-speech sounds)
  • vehicles (racing game)
  • puzzle game (music, sound effect, non-diegetic sounds)
  • dynamic music composition
  • New Interfaces for Musical Expression (physical modelling, traditional instruments, computer music)

Project Description should include:

  • working title
  • abstract (100 words)
  • context ( utility, toy, installation, game, musical instrument)
  • design constraints (platforms, languages)
  • hardware ( what does it require, sensors, microphone, etc.)


Tue 26/04/2016 9:00 – 12:00 – Procedural and Meta Creation

What is meta-creation and procedural audio? What are its technical, artistic
and economic advantages? How does a philosophy of contingent form
relate to tools and methods of production and use?

  • Media – Static and Dynamic
  • What is process?
  • How does procedural audio relate to generative process
  • Structure of procedural a) behaviour; b) model; c) methods; d) implementation.

Wed 27/04/2016 9:00 – 12:00 – Psychoacoustics

How do we listen to, understand and construct sound? What features of
sound affect us emotionally or informationally? This lecture lays a
foundational understanding of sound, and the gap between the physical
world of vibrating, sound producing objects, and our perception.
Knowing the human side of analysis and synthesis will enable us as
sound designers.

  • auditory scene analysis
  • listening strategies
  • level of audio detail -LOAD
  • quality of sound
  • causality and procedural systems
  • practicalities examples and exercises: a) masking; b) mixing; c) temporal masking; d) inband masking; e) present…

Thr 28/04/2016 9:00 – 12:00 – Practise of Procedural Audio

We will learn about the steps to creating sounding objects for use
in interactive software, analysing signals and behaviours, building models,
and finding effective ways to simulate them using digital processing code.

  • methods of analysis and synthesis
  • developments of model
  • adding behaviour
  • integration – situating your procedural audio
  • practicalities examples and exercises

Fri 29/04/2016 9:00 – 12:00 – Analysis and Synthesis I

Our first examples of a creating procedural audio code for a real
problem. Here we will explore the relationship between physical and
signal models of vibrating objects, and synthesise interesting and useful

  • FFt analysis – from signal analysis to model
  • practicalities exercise (bell sound) and task (trumpet sound)

Tue 03/05/2016 9:00 – 12:00 – Analysis and Synthesis II

In the second practical example we will see how iterative design
allows the methods and behavioural control mechanisms to evolve
and how we can generalise problems. For the cases of “fire” and “water”
we discover they have a lot in common.

  • physically informed model – based on physical analysis
  • practicalities exercise (fire sound) and task (bouncing ball sound)

Wed 04/05/2016 9:00 – 12:00 – Implementing Procedural Audio in Game – UNITY

Taking the examples from the last two practical lectures, how can these
be embedded into applications? We look briefly at options for turning
Pd code into plugins. Specifically, an example of running procedural
code in the Unity game engine is examined.

  • code structure of game
  • object – message relationships
  • how game audio works
  • practicalities exercise – unity + plugin pure data
  • practicalities exercises – code structure of puzzle game a) libpd in Android b) libpd in iOS

Thr 05/05/2016 9:00 – 12:00 – Music
Procedural audio overlaps with generative music, and many game and interative
applications use similar techniques to handle both. Here we look at more
traditional musical issues, sequencing, interfaces, NIME, MIDI and much more.


  • MIDI
  • generative music
  • working with dynamic game
  • meta composition
  • practicalities exercises – harmonic tree

Fri 06/05/2016 9:00 – 12:00 – Real Time Control of Procedural Audio

Here we can see how elements of procedural audio be brought together
in a simple interactive project, including embedded hardware.
How can sensors, networks and synthesis software function together
in a product or musical instrument?

  • adaptive behaviour
  • practicalities exercises – object to NIME – ocarina – shaker

Tue 10/05/2016 9:00 – 12:00 –Tutoring and project work


Wed 11/05/2016 9:00 – 12:00 – Tutoring and project work


Thr 12/05/2016 9:00 – 12:00 – Tutoring and project work


Fri 13/05/2016 9:00 – 12:00 – Project Work and Presentations



  • Tutoring and final problem solving (morning)
  • Project presentations (afternoon)


Paja (Media Lab 4rd Floor, Miestentie 3, Otaniemi)


You can download both Pd-extended and Pd-vanilla from

Readings – Text Books

  • Designing Sound by Andy Farnell
  • Machine Musicianship by Robert Rowe
  • The Theory and Techniques of Electronic Music by Miller Puckette

Useful Links – Documentation & Tutorials


 DOM-E5074 Procedural Audio – Participants List