.: Index :.
Research Labs
Music Therapy

.: Must See :.
Mit Media Lab

.: Mission Statement :.

Software Synthesis in Research

Through the development of the "research with csound" online resource, cSounds.com is seeking to provide an informational portal to direct sound designers and software synthesists to an opportunity that exists in the research world. Particular fields of interest include psychoacoustics, music therapy, computer music and the adaptation of various midi controller technologies to suit researcher's technology needs. The Csound specific goal of expanding the cSounds.com site in this manner is to further the integration of Csound into the sciences through the dissemination of information pertaining to its role in research. This page will hopefully point out areas where the talents of a csounder could be creatively integrated.

.: Psychoacoustics :.


As new generations of sound synthesists come of age it is important to develop tools to communicate the formative studies of sound and science. The sound designer or software developer may take advantage of this opportunity by creating interfaces to translate classic examples of psychoacoustics for the burgeoning synthesist and others to learn from.

An interest in the application of psychoacoustics tools will come from the community involved in some way with the science of sound. From acousticians to computer musicians and music therapists, psychoacoustics represents a middle ground by which a commonality is drawn between different disciplines. These various groups come together on the science of sound platform that is fundamental to all of their work. By working on psychoacoustics tools, the sound synthesist is able to begin to bridge disciplines.

Classic Acoustic and Psychoacoustics Examples Using Max Interfaces

Note: To use these psychoacoustics interfaces you must either have a copy of MAX or download
Max Runtime

Thumbnail images link to full size image of the interface. The text links to the interface's webpage.

Masking Virtual Pitch
An interface designed by Daniel Birczynski exemplifies an interactive environment by which one is able to explore this classic psychoacoustic illusion studied by Diana Deutsch.
Click HERE to download the Max patch of the interface.

Scale Illusion
Another of Daniel Birczynski's interfaces, the scale illusion interface explores a different psychoacoustic measure while utilizing a similar design layout.
Click HERE to download the Max patch of this interface.

Scale Illusion 2
Another interface design applied the same "Masking Virtrual Pitch" example.

Frequency Response
An interface designed by Jenn Westervelt that provides an elegant way to explore, in a hands-on way, a very interesting psychoacoustic illusion relating to a listener's sensitivity to various types of frequencies at different levels.
Click HERE to download the Max patch of this interface.

Octave Illusion
Another interface designed by Jenn Westervelt that explores the "Octave Illusion".
Click HERE to download the Max patch of this interface.

Octave Illusion 2
A different interface design applied the same "Octave Illusion" example.


[+] Rossing, Thomas D., F. Richard Moore, Paul A. Wheeler. The Science of Sound, 3rd ed. Boston, Addison Wesley, 2002.
This is a comprehensive textbook bridging the complete fundamentals of acoustics. The Science of Sound also contains a large section on electronic music technology. If you are going to have one reference on acoustics, this should be it.

[+] Deutsch, Diana (ed.). The Psychology of Music, 2nd ed. San Diego, Academic Press, 1999.
This classic psychoacoustics text explores topics such as grouping mechanisms, acoustic illusions, timbre perception, musical ability, and much more. This text provides information concerning form and function where the acoustics text primarily has to do with form as physics of sound. Link to Deutsch's page here.


[+] Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA)

[+] Acoustics Research Letters Online


[+] Audio Engineering Society (AES)

[+] Acoustical Society of America

[+] Canadian Acoustical Association (CAA)


[+] Audio Engineering Society National Conference

[+] The 5th Triennial ESCOM Conference (ESCOM5)

Back to Top

.: Perception and Cognition :.


Similar to psychoacoustics study, the field of perception and cognition is a logical venue for the development of csound. The science of perception frequently delves into the musical realm. But, as is the case with any science that integrates music, the issue turns to the capturing and quantifying of music data. In essence, how does a researcher capture quantifiable measures of sound and music? Csound answers that question. To coordinate and quantify musical data, a program such as csound is invaluable.

Select Topics in Perception and Cognition

[+] Auditory Analysis in Spoken Language Perception

[+] Auditory Scene Analysis

Link Collections

[+] Auditory Lab Index at NTT
The general research company NTT has compiled an extensive list of links to auditory perception and cognition laboratories.

[+] Auditory / Speech Research Site Archive at Shikano-lab
This site hosts an enormous archive of universities and laboratories doing work in acoustics and speech.

[+] Music Cognition Resource Center at Ohio State University
An extremely comprehensive collection of links that includes institutions, software, conferences, individuals, and societies.

[+] Auditory Perception and Cognition Resources at IRCAM
A great list of software and modeling tools links as well as journals, and web links.

[+] Dr. Spondike's Perception and Cognition Links
These links are primarily organized by topic. From rhythm and auditory structure to auditory scene analysis, linguistic structure, and more, this set of links is very useful. I was having problems linking to some of the research papers dissertations from his site.


[+] Butler, David. The Musician's Guide to Perception and Cognition. New York, Schirmer Books, 1992.
If the Deutsch and Rossing seem to be too technically intimidating, Butler's work provides a very readable middle ground. Written for the musician, the book is clear while concisely covering the material. Of particular interest is a great introduction on experimentation, for those who are considering adding research to their sound design and synthesis arsenal.

[+] Music Cognition Resource Center at Ohio State University
This reading list organizes material by presumed level of expertise (beginner, intermediate and advanced). Overall, it is a well thought out collection of literature that can benefit the enthusiast and professional alike. Much of the literature bridges into the realm of perception and cognition, as is the case with much of psychoacoustics.


[+] Music Perception

[+] Psychomusicology


[+] Society for Music Perception and Cognition (SMPC)

[+] European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM)


[+] The Neurosciences and Music

[+] 8th International Conference of Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC8)

[+] Society for Music Perception and Cognition Conference (SMPC 2003)

Back to Top

.: Music Therapy :.


Music therapists need software synthesists. By the forging of a relationship between these two disciplines, acoustic environments and interfaces can be created to meet the needs of various client and patient populations.

Technology is creeping into the field of music therapy. However, at this point it is largely on the fringe. Collaboration is the key to exploring technology in the clinical-musical environment. Get your adaptive systems chops up. Design beautiful sounds that can express emotional states and convey feeling. Then, contact the therapists. Chances are that they will want to work with you.

Music Research Interfaces

Thumbnail image links to full size image of the interface. The text links to the interface's webpage.

Survey Automation and Data Collection Interface
Designed by Joo Won Park, this Max/MSP interface seeks to automate a good deal of the survey format replete within the music therapy and music psychology research. The interface provides a nice bonus in data capturing and manipulation.

Music Therapy Literature

[+] Hanser, Suzanne B. The New Music Therapist's Handbook, 2nd Ed. Boston, Berklee Press Publications, 2000.
Dr. Hanser's book is an opportunity for those outside of the field of music therapy to get an inside look at the process by which a therapist works to structure clinical intervention. For therapists, and music therapy students (such as myslef), the book serves as a crucial reference by which we learn to become professional clinicians.

[+] Wheeler, Barbara L. (ed.). Music Therapy Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives. Gilsum, NH, Barcelona Publishers, 1995.
This extensive and comprehensive text is the research companion to Dr. Hanser's work in clinical process. For a music therapist considering clinical research, it serves as the ultimate reference. This text outlines the models of research that are used in music therapy, along with examples and surveys of the literature.


[+] Nordic Journal of Music Therapy

[+] British Journal of Music Therapy

[+] Journal of Music Therapy adn Music Therapy Perspectives


[+] American Music Therapy Association

[+] British Society of Music Therapy

[+] World Federation of Music Therapy


[-] COMING SOON: American Music Therapy Association National Conference

Back to Top

.: Computer Music :.


In the world of computer music there have always been those working to push into creative and integrative applications of their science and art. This selection of references from computer music texts and conference proceedings relate to the topic at hand by pointing to directions in aesthetics, cognition, psychology, and adaptive controllers taken up by computer music researchers.


[+] Roads, Curtis. The Computer Music Tutorial. Boston, MIT Press, 1996.
The Computer Music Tutorial is an extremely important work in the computer music field. It primarily explores the theory of digital sound synthesis, in addition to various musical performance systems, midi technologies, synthesizer architecture and much more.

[+] Boulanger, Richard C. (ed.) The Csound Book. Boston, MIT Press, 2000.
Csound, being the most powerful and versatile software synthesizer in the world, is a natural must for those who want the control, precision, and functionality to effectively conduct research in sound and science. This book is the definitive reference and resource to develop or strengthen an synthesists abilities with this essential program.

[+] Mathews, Max V. and John R. Pierce. Current Directions in Computer Music Research. Boston, MIT Press, 1991.
Mathews and Pierce compile a cross-section of research in the field of computer music that draws from the expertise of engineers, composers, psychoacousticians, and many others. The selections do well to summarize some of the thinking of computer musicians exploring new horizons in experimentation and application. To move into interdisciplinary research it is important to understand one's own foundations. This book will serve to provide that sort of understanding.

[+] Dodge, Charles, and Thomas A. Jerse. Computer Music: Synthesis, Composition, and Performance (2nd ed.) New York, Wadsworth Publishing, 1997.

[+] Link to more References HERE


[+] Computer Music Journal

[+] Organized Sound

[+] Leonardo Electronic Almanac


[+] International Computer Music Association (ICMA)

[+] Electronic Music Foundation (EMF)

[+] Society for Electro-acoustic Music in the United States (SEAMUS)


[+] International Computer Music Conference (ICMC)

[+] SEAMUS 2003

Back to Top

.: Research Laboratories :.


Some of the most technologically advanced and experiment savvy work in sound synthesis and research is coming from laboratories tied to graduate programs. Here is a sampling of sites that maintain indexes of the research projects being done.


[+] Mit Media Lab


[+] Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) @ NYU

[+] Columbia University Computer Music Center

[+] Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA at UCSD)


[+] Laboratorio di Informatica Musicale (InfoMus at Univ. of Genoa)

[+] Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (CREATE at UC Santa Barbara)

[+] Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT at UC Berkeley)

[+] Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA at Stanford)

Back to Top

.: Opportunities With Midi Controllers :.


This extensive section covers midi controllers that employ alternative sensory mechanisms. As a csounder you may have an understanding of the creative freedom at your fingertips, possible of taking you in seemingly limitless directions of sound design. In working with alternative controllers, a sound designer is able to develop his or her expertise into adaptive environments.

Adaptive environments are the key to meeting the needs of patients in a clinical setting or researchers in an academic setting. For instance, developing midi-driving sensors that allow a severeley handicapped individual to conduct a symphony are highly in demand by therapists and clinicians looking to expand the musical potential of individuals with disabilities. Researchers need to capture that data in some way, but are also looking towards the same types of clinical innovations. Hopefully, these devices will spark your interest in this rapidly expanding sphere of software synthesis.


[+] BioMuse
A hardware bioelectric signal controller that processes EKG (heart), EOG (eye movement), EEG (brainwave), and EMG (muscle) potentials. The data can be output as midi controller information.

[+] I-Cube
Of all of the commercially available controllers that I have reviewed, the I-Cube offers the most comprehensive set of sensors and actuators to control midi data - including heat sensors, a glove controller, and electromagnetic sensors.

[+] Interactive Brainwave Visual Analyzer [IBVA]
A simplified brainwave interface that allows the real-time use of brainwaves as controller data. A MAX interface expansion is also available.

[+] Eagle Eyes
The camera mouse developed within the Eagle Eyes program is the combination of an EOG (eye movement) potential bioelectric signal controller and software interface. Eye movement is used to control an on-screen cursor. Boston College has set up a program developing this technology, with an emphasis on individuals with motor function disability.

[+] EMS Soundbeam
A distance-to-voltage-to-Midi device which converts physical movements into sound by using information derived from interruptions of a stream of ultrasonic pulses.

[+] Eyris
Sends proportional Midi data as objects move through a user specified sensor area. Sensor specifications are adjustable in a similar manner to a guitar pedal.

[+] EZIO
Another controller module with environmental sensor inputs. This product offers downloadable videos that demonstrate some basics of hardware setup, making this and similar boxes seem less technically daunting.

[+] MacBrick
Various sensor inputs (temperature, pressure, humidity, etc.), as well as knobs and sliders sense and control the user-defined environment. Furthermore, the MacBrick has an infrared red receiver. The box is specifically marketed to automate appliances, but is highly adaptable.

[+] Max: Cyclops Patch
An elegant and affordable video tracking MAX patch developed by Eric Singer.

[+] MidiCreator+
Sends either proportional or on/off messages as MIDI data. The MidiSensor's system data may be quickly switched using swapable program cards. MidiGesture and MidiSensor devices are required to add functionality to the MidiCreator box. This company's hardware is specifically marketed for use in the special needs classroom.

[+] Teleo System
An expandable hardware set to integrate environmental sensors as well as hardware toggles, motors, and LEDs into a MAX interface. Highly expandable. Done in partnership between the Cycling '74 and Making Things companies.

[+] Twitch Systems
A company that manufactures custom sensory devices primarily for artists and musicians.

[+] Very Nervous System
Designed by installation artist David Rokeby. Generates sound and music from real-time video. A software version is available as 30 day trial MAX patch.


[+] Winkler, Todd. Composing Interactive Media. Boston, MIT Press, 2001.
To maximize the functionality of the afforementioned controllers one might consider acquiring a mastery of a program such as Max/MSP. This book would seed that mastery.

[+] Trends in Gestural Control of Music
This resource, more than any other on this websight, provides a comprehensive insight into a particular topic of research while simultaneously hosting a wealth of possibilities. This collection does an incredible job to outline the considerations in developing alternate controller technologies and should be studied by anyone considering this type of work.


These groups are primarily performance oriented, with a committment to multimedia and interactive are that frequently meets alternate controller technology. Although they may not directly have something to do research or clinical applications of controller technology, they are a good place to find people that work with alternate controller devices.

[+] Harvestworks Digital Media Art Center

[+] The Kitchen

[+] Engine 27

[+] Affective Computing at the MIT Media Lab
Whether pushing Csound as an application relevant to psychoacoustics, cognition sciences, clinical treatment, or adaptive technology, we are pressing into the area of human-machine interface where one is ideally able to develop the expression of affect and gesture into the digital realm. When applying music synthesis to scientific applications, one is most likely dealing with quanitifying information pertaining to affect and gesture. Although in this vague usage the terms seem abstract and difficult, the ultimate power of Csound is in its development as an instrument to press upon the affective and gestural boundaries. The following links portal to a comprehensive exposition of this bigger issue.


[+] International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME)

Back to Top

.: Software Synthesis Programs :.


The focus of this page is the integration of Csound into a world of research, adaptive technology, and potentially clinical work. This section links to software that can be used to make this possible. Basically, these programs are doing a great deal to expand environmental input into art and research. Manipulation of environmental input, especially to drive midi and music, is one way of bringing software synthesis and sound design into the research and clinical arenas.


[+] Max / Msp
The classic program for developing real-time interactive music and media integration.

[+] Jitter
Video and graphic objects for Max that include tools to analyze and manipulate video. This suite of extensions to the Max environment add a huge component of flexibility to interface design.

[+] Pd
A real-time graphical interface for audio and graphic processing. Developed by Miller Puckette at CRCA.

[+] Csound

[+] Cecilia
[+] CsoundMax2(App)
[+] CsoundMax2
[+] CsoundPsychoAcousticModels
[+] Csound~Classic
[+] csound~1
[+] Csound~OSX
[+] MacCsound(OSXbeta1)
[+] MacCsoundOs9
[+] SeanCsoundFXApp
[+] SeanCsoundFXPatch

[+] SuperCollider

[+] CPS

[+] EyesWeb
EyesWeb is similar to Max/Msp NATO in its use of video and sound processing in a patch oriented user environment. It is an entire software platform that has come from the InfoMus lab. The website links to research, tutorials, newsletters, publications, etc.

Back to Top

.: Feedback :.

The most surprising, and frustrating, thing in combing the science's literature for applications of software synthesis is the realization that it is happening, but is rarely published. If as a software designer, therapist, clinician, acoustician, or scientist, you know of work being done involving soft-synth technology that ties into the fields of interest outlined here (or related fields), please contact us so that we may support the work.

Email to

.: Go Back :.