MUMT 618: Computational Modeling of Musical Acoustic Systems

Music Technology, Schulich School of Music
McGill University

Fall 2018

Course Description

This seminar focuses on methods for discrete-time modeling of musical acoustic systems. Topics to be covered will include discretization techniques, lumped vs. distributed system characterizations, and delay-line interpolation, with applications to delay-based audio effects (phasing, flanging, chorus), artificial reverberation, and musical instrument models (plucked, struck, and bowed strings, winds, and percussion). Multi-dimensional modeling techniques will also be presented. Assignments will make use of Matlab and C++.

At the end of this course, students should have a fundamental understanding of musical acoustics and be able to implement efficient methods for physics-based sound synthesis.

Instructor: Gary P. Scavone

Office:  Rm. 504, Suite 500, 550 Sherbrooke Street West
Email:  gary at music dot
Phone:  514-398-4400, x-089843
Office Hours:  By appointment

Course Details

Time:  Wednesdays 9:35 AM - 12:25 PM
Place:  A-512
Credits:  3
Prerequisites:  Practical experience with calculus, differential equations, digital filters, Matlab, and C/C++
Text:  Physical Audio Signal Processing for Virtual Musical Instruments and Digital Audio Effects by Julius Smith


Homework:  50%
Presentations:  15%
Final Project:  35%
Each student will be required to make one in-class literature review presentation during the semester. The presentation topic can (and probably should) correlate with the final project topic. Assignment due dates will be indicated for each homework. Homework handed in after the due date will receive no credit (it will receive a grade of zero).

Final Projects

Students are required to work on a final project of their own design. Project topics should relate to the course material and might include an in-depth study (literature review) and/or model development of a particular acoustic system or instrument, a psychoacoustic study, or the development of a new C/C++ model implementation for real-time control. Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor in the development stages of the project. Written project proposals (email to instructor) will be required by the 5th week of the semester. A short project report, written in HTML, detailing the objectives, methodology, and results will be due at the presentation session.

Course Outline

Week 1 (5 September): Discrete-Time Signals & Filtering, Delay Lines [pdf]
Week 2 (12 September): Time-Varying Delay Effects, STK Introduction [pdf]
Week 3 (19 September): Room Acoustics, Artificial Reverberation [pdf]
Week 4 (26 September): Wave Phenomena, Impedance, Digital Waveguide Theory [pdf]
Week 5 (3 October): Plucked String Modeling [pdf]
Week 6 (10 October): Lumped Models, Discretization Methods [pdf]
Week 7 (17 October): Piano Modeling, Wave Digital Filters [pdf]
Week 8 (24 October): Wind Instruments: Cylindrical Air Columns [pdf]
Week 9 (31 October): Wind Instruments: Tonehole and Reed Modeling [pdf]
No Class (7 November): Study Break
Week 10 (14 November): Wind Instruments: Conical Air Columns [pdf]
Week 11 (21 November): Bowed String Modeling, Coupled-Mode Synthesis [pdf]
Week 12 (28 November): Multi-Dimensional Modeling, Physically-Informed Sonic Modeling [pdf]
Week 13 (5 December): Final Project Presentations


In accord with McGill University's Charter of Students' Rights, students in this course have the right to submit in English or in French any written work that is to be graded.

McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see for more information).

L'université McGill attache une haute importance à l'honnêteté académique. Il incombe par conséquent à tous les étudiants de comprendre ce que l'on entend par tricherie, plagiat et autres infractions académiques, ainsi que les conséquences que peuvent avoir de telles actions, selon le Code de conduite de l'étudiant et des procédures disciplinaires (pour de plus amples renseignements, veuillez consulter le site

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