Interactive Music Systems (21M.385 / 6.4550 - formerly 6.185)

Read the Course Description, see recent Syllabus, or check out Final Projects from previous years.

Interactive Music Systems is always over-subscribed and has a limited number of slots (36).

Priority will be given to students who pre-register for the class. Pre-registered students will receive a questionnaire two weeks before Reg Day. Enrollment is determined based on answers to the questionnaire and a lottery of the qualified students. You will be notified as to your enrollment status a few days before reg day.

If you did not pre-register and want to take IMS this Fall, you must come to the first day of class (Wed, Sept 7). We will put you on a waitlist, ask you to fill in the survey by the end of the day, and you'll know whether you can take the class by the end of the first week of classes.

This upcoming academic year, IMS will be offered twice. First:

  • Fall 2022. MW11-12:30.
  • 4-270
  • Instruction: Ryaan Ahmed
  • TA: Tiffany Huang

And next:

  • Spring 2023. MW11-12:30
  • 4-270
  • Instruction: Eran Egozy
  • TA: Tiffany Huang

Course Description

Interactive Music Systems is a hands on programming and design course that explores audio synthesis, musical structure, HCI (human computer interaction), and visual presentation as the ingredients for the creation of engaging real-time interactive musical experiences.

These experiences allow users to connect with music more deeply than through passive listening. The most successful ones give users intuitive control, greater musical insight, and a deeper emotional response to the musical experience.

Some examples include:

Students will learn about the principles, design considerations, and aesthetic qualities of interactive music systems by exploring the following topics:

  • Music perception and audio synthesis
  • Dynamic multi-track audio mixing and looping
  • MIDI/audio synchronization
  • Generative composition systems including rhythmic and melodic synthesis
  • Exploration of non-standard control devices such as game controllers, motion sensors (Kinect, Leap Motion), and pad controllers.
  • Analysis and application of design elements in music games.
  • Building graphics for UI, music visualization, and aesthetic cohesion.

The course is taught using the python programming language and therefore fluency in python is a prerequisite. Weekly assignments consist of programming exercises and content creation that equally emphasize the development of technical skills and creativity. The class requires a final project where student teams propose, design, and build an original, dynamic, and engaging interactive music system.

Final Projects from Previous Terms

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