Electronic music research paper recommendations

I’m working on a PhD looking at the impacts of modular synthesis upon how we compose music and think about music composition. Along the way, I often come across really interesting academic papers and dissertations that I imagine might be of interest to others on lines.

I’m thinking we could use this thread to share links to papers (that are available outside of gated academic systems - many of them are).

I’ll kick things off somewhat egotistically with a paper I presented last year at the computer music conference in Australia, looking at the history of synthesizers as event generating compositional tools and some impacts of these processes on my own practice:


I’d be keen for thoughts and feedback from the lines community :slight_smile:


To prove my intentions aren’t entirely egotistical here is a paper that I love by Matt Dalgleish looking at the relationship between modulars and keyboards:

The Modular Synthesizer Divided THE KEYBOARD AND ITS DISCONTENTS

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Coren, D., & Smoliar, S. W. (1976). Some experiments concerning the musical theory of voltage‐controlled synthesizers. Interface, 5(3), 109-123.

Teboul, E. (2017). “The Transgressive Practices of Silicon Luthiers.” In Guide to Unconventional Computing for Music (pp. 85–120). Springer.

use the above-linked database. fuck a paywall


Wow - I hadn’t’ come across the Coren and Smoliar before - thank you!

I’m just going to put this here…

Peter Blasser - Stores At The Mall


Here is a cliche computer music paper with some context. Apologies in advance if it is too off topic.

“The Digital Computer as a Musical Instrument” By Max Mathews in 1963 is probably (one of) the first published papers on computer music.

I only mention it because even then, you could see the influences that analogue modular synthesis had in digital music making.

In a particular section, he talks about building instruments in MUSIC N (known as the “orchestra”), and basically describes a simple modular patch:

The interconnected blocks of program which make up the instrument unit are called unit generators. There are a number of different types of unit generators, each of which has a specific function. A typical instrument unit is shown in Fig. 2. This instrument-unit is composed of five unit generators; three of them are oscillators, one is a random number generator, and one is a summing circuit. Each oscillator has two inputs and one output. The upper input specifies the amplitude of the output; the lower input specifies the frequency of the output. The wave shape of the output need not be sinusoidal and can,indeed,be any one of 20 arbitrary functions stored in the computer memory. In the example given,the wave shapes are sketched on the oscillators,oscillator 1 producing a damped sinusoid, oscillator 2, a triangular attack-and-decay function and oscillator 3,a sinusoid.

Nearly six decades (!) later, it’s easy to dismiss this because that’s just how we do things now. However, keep in mind that two years before, John L. Kelly and Carol C. Lochbaum had created the first computer-based physical model of a musical instrument: the singing voice [1], which is conceptually a very different approach to instrument design. Had things gone just a bit differently, perhaps computer music today would consist of people building instruments using virtual wood, steel, and glass materials, rather than connecting modules together using virtual cables.

0: http://www.jaimeoliver.pe/courses/ci/pdf/mathews-1963.pdf
1: https://ccrma.stanford.edu/~jos/pasp/Singing_Kelly_Lochbaum_Vocal_Tract.html

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Link dumps, sorry, but these may be of use: