CITA/CSCI 180 – Computers, Music and Art – Spring 2020


MWF 12:30 pm – 1:20 pm / Harbor Walk East 301


A course introducing the creative side of computing in the context of music, sounds, images, and other digital artifacts. Emphasis will be given to computer programming for music making, live performance, and interaction. Students will develop several digital artifacts and elementary musical compositions. Course is open to all majors. No previous programming experience required.

Prerequisites by Topic

  1. Basic computer experience, including file organization and software installation.
  2. Interest in developing intelligent-listening and sound-structuring skills.

Additional Course Requirements

  1. Bring your laptop to class.
  2. Bring headphones to class.


Homework #1, Homework #2, Homework #3, Homework #4Homework #5, Homework #6, and Final Project.

Test Dates

  • Test 1: Friday, March 13, 2020
  • Test 2: Wednesday, April 29, 2020
  • Final:  4-7pm, Wednesday, April 29, 2020


  1. Video of CSCI 180 final project (Dec. 2010) – a laptop orchestra!
  2. The Antikythera Mechanism – the first known(!) computer.
  3. Seikilos Epitaph – the oldest surviving complete musical composition notation, from anywhere in the world.
  4. TED Talk: How to read music – sheet music may look complicated, but once you’ve gotten the hang of a few simple elements like notes, bars and clefs, you’re ready to rock. Tim Hansen hits the basics you need to read music.
  5. Evan Grant demonstrates the science and art of cymatics, a process for making soundwaves visible. Useful for analyzing complex sounds, it also makes complex and beautiful designs, and demonstrates how the universe is full of “music” – actually, particles that vibrate in different frequencies, where sound is only a small subset of a much larger (universal) phenomenon.
  6. Introduction to Pair Programming. This 9-minute video describes what pair programming is, the do’s and don’ts of effective pairing, and the pros and cons of pair programming.


  • JythonMusic provides software for music-making and creative computing. It is a collection of Jython libraries for music, images, graphical user interfaces (GUIs), and connecting to external MIDI devices, smartphones, and tablets, among others.
  • Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems.

Course syllabus

Course syllabus (PDF).  Also, see the following syllabus references:

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