Fall 2014»HONS 381

HONS 381

Computer Music on a Laptop

Composing, Performing, Interacting


MWF 12-12:50PM / CATO 234


Co-taught by Drs. Yiorgos Vassilandonakis and Bill Manaris.


Principles of music composition and computer programming for developing interactive computer music environments. Team-based, project-driven exploration of Python programming, time-based structures, algorithmic processes, soundscapes, graphical user interfaces, musical language and style.

Prerequisites by Topic:

  1. Basic computer experience, including file organization and software installation.
  2. Interest in developing intelligent-listening and sound-structuring skills.

Additional Course Requirements:

  1. Bring your laptop to class
  2. Bring headphones to class

Test Dates

  • Quizzes: TBA
  • Final: noon-3pm, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014


Homework #1, Homework #2, Homework #3, Homework #4, Homework #5.

Final Exam / Performance

Here we will provide instructions for the final exam.

For now, as an example, we provide instructions from the Spring 2013 offering of the course:

Readings & References

  1. Avant-garde cellist Zoe Keating demonstrates her intricately layered compositions. Using a computer, some 'janky code', a cello and her imagination, the classically trained musician shapes her music into something wonderful.
  2. The CofC Laptop Orchestra performing Terry Riley's "In C".
  3. The Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) is an ensemble of computer-based musical meta-instruments. Each instrument consists of a laptop, a multi-channel hemispherical speaker, and a variety of control devices (keyboards, graphics tablets, sensors, etc.).
  4. An introduction to pair programming. This 9-minute video describes what pair programming is, the do's and don'ts of effective pairing, and the pros and cons of pair programming.
  5. Intro to Python

Artifacts & Rules

  • Sounds - find sound effects and musical instrument samples.


  • jythonMusic provides software for music-making and creative computing. It is a collection of Jython libraries for music, images, graphical user interfaces (GUIs), and connecting to external MIDI devices, smartphones, and tablets, among others.
  • Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems.
  • Noteflight is an online music writing application that lets you create, view, print and hear music notation with professional quality, right in your web browser. Work on a score from any computer on the Internet, share it with other users, and embed it in your own pages.