Spring 2017 semester


A 21st. century approach to Music Theory: fundamental elements of music illustrated through logical and mathematical concepts, unencumbered by stylistic considerations. The goals of the course are to define the internal structure of sounds and to present a few general methods of organizing them into complex compositions.

Musicians with limited familiarity with mathematics as well as scientifically oriented people with little musical background are encouraged to enroll.

Among the main topics to be discussed are:

Recommended readings

Herbert Brun When Music Resists Meaning
From Nusical Ideas to Computers and Back
Lejaren Hiller Experimental Music
Gareth Loy Musimatics
Abraham Moles Information Theory and Aesthetic Perception
Karheinz Stockhausen ...how time passes...
Aurel Stroe Morphogenetic Music
Iannis Xenakis Formalized Music
Various articles from
  • The Computer Music Journal
  • Interface
  • Leonardo

There will be 24 assignments following each sub-topic discussed in class and a final project. They will involve the use of dedicated software, listening to selected works, and solving or designing solutions for specific musical problems.

Recognizing the difference in students' backgrounds, some assignments will include options allowing the participants to choose between more music-oriented topics and topics requiring greater familiarity with mathematics or computer science. Assignments involving the use of the software introduced in class (DISSCO) will be required of everybody.

Nobody will pass this course without completing ALL the required work in time.

Attendance policy. You are allowed one unexcused absence all semester. Each further unexcused absence will lower your final course grade by 2%.

Attendance and participation in class are crucial to success in this course. Since there is no book or manual for it, you are responsible for taking detailed notes during lectures.

Final examination: Thursday, May 8, 2017, 1:30 - 4:30 pm.