ECE4893A: Electronics for Music Synthesis
Instructor: Prof Aaron Lanterman
Time: 12:05-1:25 Tuesday/Thurdsay
Place: Van Leer C341
Are you tired of classes that teach you nothing but theory? Are you yearning
to put theory into practice?
Are you sick of classes that make you plod through pencil-and-paper
homework sets, but never give you the chance to do anything real?
If you answered “yes” to either of the above questions, then this class is
Learn how to synthesizers from the 1960’s to today work!
Build real working synthesizers!
Develop the skills to design your own! No previous knowledge of music theory
or synthesizer operation
is necessary. There will be some soldering, but no
previous knowledge of soldering is necessary.
Important: If you are interested in taking this class, please sign up
immediately once registration reopens. If not enough people sign up a few days
into the new registration period,
the academic office will cancel the class, which will make me extremely sad.
If you are interested in taking it, please e-mail me at
so I can have a rough “head count” of how many people are interested. If you
are interested in the class but don’t have the required “prereqs with
concurrency” (i.e. you can take the prereqs in the same semester or have had
them in a previous semester) listed below, go ahead and e-mail me anyway and
tell me about your interest.
This course is open to students who will be taking (in Spring 2008) or
have already taken either (a) both ECE3050 and ECE3041 or (b) ECE 3042.
(Note that the marking in OSCAR as “prereqs with a minimum grade of C” is
incorrect. You can sign up even if you haven’t taken those classes.)
If you have any difficulties signing up in OSCAR/BANNER/whatever it’s called,
let me know ASAP.
To get a feel for what we’ll do, check out the
website for an earlier
version of this class, which went under the name “ECE4803B: Theory and
Design of Music Synthesizers.” In that earlier version, I tried covering
too much material, considering the time needed to work on the final projects.
So this time, we’ll essentially cover the material that we covered from
1/9/06 to 4/3/06, along with some of the FM synthesis material from 4/26/06
(which I’ll probably move to earlier in the course).
I’ve set this up as a lecture/lab class instead of a usual lecture class.
We will “front load” the lectures, so the lecture material will only take
up the first 2/3 of the semester, and we’ll spend the last 1/3 of the
semester focusing on working on the final projects.
The final project will be to design a component of a modular synthesizer,
breadboard it, debug it, and then build a prototype on perfboard. After the
semester is over, I plan to design and have fabricated a nice custom box,
with a cool looking front panel for knobs and switches and such, to house
everyone’s prototypes. This box will then go over in the Music Department,
and students can make music with your designs for years to come! How cool is
For the project, we’ll spent a lot of time looking at different
tricks for prototyping.
We’ll probably also do some small, sporadic labs over the course of the first
2/3 weeks, so you can get comfortable with playing with some of the
specialized synthesizer parts before we launch into the full-fledged final
project. These will be “quickies,” and
not require monster writeups like in ECE3042.