Sound Synthesis Class

Taught by Christopher Mckinlay

Tuesday 6/14, 7-10pm
Saturday 6/18, 2-5pm
Tuesday 6/21, 7-10pm
Saturday 6/25, 2-5pm

Register here:

Non-members – $250
Members – $225

Become a Machine Project Member and get a discount on all classes for a year!


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The electronic synthesis of audio signals is a wonderful combination of mathematics (harmonic analysis and linear differential equations) and electrical engineering (analog and digital signal processing). This class will present the theoretical fundamentals of sound synthesis with a view towards applications in music and sound design. We will use the open source software platform SuperCollider as a toolkit for the class.

class 1: software and synthesis

An introduction to digital audio signal processing and the
SuperCollider programming environment. Audio and control rates.
Analog transitions and AD/DA converters.

class 2: time and frequency

Mathematical fundamentals of acoustic waves and how we perceive them.
A rough guide to the Fourier transform. Spectrum analyzers. The
classical waveforms and their spectra. Additive synthesis.

class 3: frequency-based effects

Subtractive synthesis and its fundamental role in audio production.
Filters and their properties. Resonance (‘Q’) and filters as

class 4: time-based effects

The frequency properties of delays and feedback networks. A taxonomy
of related audio effects such as reverberation, flanging, ring
modulation, and chorusing.

class 5: non-linear synthesis and effects

Introduction to frequency modulation synthesis, compression, and
saturation. Bit reduction and noise. Analog and digital distortion.


A laptop with a working installation of SuperCollider, headphones, and a love of sound. No prior mathematical or programming experience is required.

About the Instructor:

Christopher Mckinlay is a 5th year PhD candidate in Mathematics at
UCLA studying digital audio signal processing.

Refund policy:

Please note, all class fees include a non-refundable enrollment deposit of $25 that will be deducted from your refund if you sign up for, then drop, a class. So, for example, if you sign up for Machine Sewing 101 and pay the $155 class fee, but then remember that you have trapeze school final exams that conflict with the Sewing class and shouldn’t have signed up after all, we will refund you $130 of your tuition payment.

Gift certificate purchase:

If you have a Machine Project gift certificate you’d like to redeem for a class, please email us at and let us know.