Sound Synthesis & Signal Processing (Tobias Hartmann)

Module code
Curricular domain
Practical Classes
Group size
Number of course weeks
Class duration
One 90-minute lesson per week online plus one 4 hour session (possibly on campus with the possibility to join online too)
Total contact hours
Study load

Form / content / level

Admitted to „Composition for Film and Theater“ or „Composition for Film Online“.
See Competencies Matrix.
Become familiar with different common and unconventional sound design and signal processing techniques using various digital software and/or analog gear;
Get practical insights into using unconventional sound design tools and techniques;
Become capable of recognizing sound design techniques used in audio content by ear;
Become capable of realizing individual sonic ideas or third party ideas and needs;
Learn how to finalize designed sounds to be used in live contects, compositions and productions or online/virtual environments;
Create the foundation for further development of an individual sonic palette and sound archive.
Relation to other modules
Composition for Film and Theater / Composition for Film Online modules.
Do you need deep bass that works on tiny speakers? Ambient drones and athmos that do not sound repetitive? Unique and surprising sounding elements? Instrument like live playable sound effects? Approaching third party ideas and wishes when working on compositions and productions?

In this course, we will at first explore different sound design techniques, their special features and how to work with them using various softwar and tools:
- subtractive and additive (also called FM) synthesis;
- wavetable synthesis and granular synthesis (incl. pulse train and karplus strong synthesis);
- sampling and sampling synthesis and concatenative synthesis.

After getting familiar with designing sounds, we dive into further processing of audio signals:
- processing with digital time and frequency domain effects;
- processing with analog techniques;
- processing with experimental, individual and unconventional tools and techniques.

Finally, we focus on how to bring the sound design and signal processing outcomes on stage and how to embedded them into compositions, mixes and productions - to be listened back in real world places and venues as well within digital sonic environments.

Some of the core concepts we will explore all together, but as the course evolves, the topics will be linked to your indiviual artistic needs, workflows and tool sets.

There will be room for taking some detourse according to topics you come up with or match with your indivical sonic needs.
Mode(s) of instruction
Group classes
Material & Tools
Computer (PC/Mac/Linux);
DAW of your choice (ProTools, Live, Cubase, Reaper);
Software/Hardware Synths and Gear as available and of your choice.
Student activity
In this module students will
- create sounds from scratch by synthesis;
- recreate and adapt sounds and sonic processes;
- build a custom sonic palette by creating synth presets, processing chains and unique samples;
- create a (basic or advanced) live synth setup or create a (demo or large scale) production/mix and finalize it for both, real world venues and digital environments.

Examination and assessment

Mode(s) of assessment
Assessment at the end of the module.
Students should have mastered the elements described under Contents.
Pass requirements
The student has completed this module if he is awarded a minimum grad of 5.5 at the end of the module.
Examination procedure
Evaluated regarding the overall involvement of the student and the small assignments throughout the whole course.
Resit options
See the Education and Assessment Plan.

Module summary

This elective is designed for people who want to develope creative and individual sound design and signal processing skills, to be used live on stage or withing audio production contexts. The topic will be covered in the range from practical hands on aspects to deeply nerdy details.