What is sound synthesis?

What image comes to your mind when someone says “a synthesiser”?

Would you imagine a keyboard sort of device, played on a stage by a guy in a wig, in a kind of 80ies style disco show?

Well, you would be right and wrong at the same time. A sound synthesiser is indeed a keyboard device, capable of imitating various sounds – from strings and piano to orchestra and choir. But it is not just that.

A synthesiser is also a product of several building blocks (oscillators, filters, LFOs) wired together in a certain way and order. But most importantly, a synthesiser is a program, where a wave is defined as a mathematical function that undergoes transformations to make it sound dynamic and interesting.

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Sound synthesis is a way of generating sound, using hardware and software.

So, what exactly will the children study in the sound synthesis class?

We'll learn how to design the essential building blocks and connect them to obtain rich and interesting sounds. We'll use the free WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") synth programming language Pure Data. It was designed by Miller Puckette, a professor at the University of California, San Diego. Some of the techniques, such as wave shaping and filtering, will be an exercise in linear function math and trigonometry, but they will be well worth the effort and have a very quick reward. Other techniques such as sequencing will, on the contrary, build up more of a programming mindset.

To get enrolled my child needs to be an accomplished mathematician and coder?

Quite the opposite! Our course intends to build up interest in math and programming for children who lost it because it's boring or too abstract. What could be more exciting than hearing the immediate effect of your mathematical or programming efforts in a cool sound?

Sound synthesis is perfect for “reluctant” mathematicians and coders, as it does not focus on technical/abstract skills, but more on the creative end result, whilst building maths and coding competencies quietly in the background.

Would musical education be necessary to join the class?

Not at all. Although knowing notes and scales would be a benefit, the class won’t require anything beyond basic primary school music curriculum. After all, the XXI century welcomes both tonal and atonal music – let a hundred flowers bloom!

How is your class different from other sound synthesis classes run in London?

There are music production classes in London that will teach you to use certain software (Fruity Loops, Ableton Live etc), but they will not explain you the underlying principles of sound creation. On the contrary, after our class, the students will understand any of the music production software with ease – just because they understand the mechanics of how sounds are built.

What ages is this class for?

We generally target this class to the 13+ audience, but if your child is younger and very keen to join, let us know and we will be happy to run a quick assessment.

How large is the group and how long is the course?

The group will be maximum ten students and will run for a term. At the end of it, each child will be capable of building their own synthesiser and programming it for a rich variety of sounds.

People behind the Sound Synthesis Class

This class is a product of wealth of experience, academic achievements and musical interests of a very talented individual. It will be taught by a teacher, who has been with the LondonSMP for three years teaching senior programming. His academic accomplishments include a PhD in signal processing, a First Class Masters in Mathematics and Computer Science and a Diploma in piano, while his secret hobbies are, obviously, electronic music and DJ-ing!