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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:37 pm 
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Coursera.org offers free college classes (but you don't get college credit) through video lectures and assignments graded electronically. They just added a class starting in Jan. 2013 that I thought might be of use to some here.

Intro to Digital Sound Design
https://www.coursera.org/course/digitalsounddesign

There's sections on Microphones, Time Stretching and Pitch Shifting (like the Amazing Slow Downer uses), Autotune, and other music production topics.

There will probably be some math (esp. in sections like "Spectral and Fourier Analysis, Analysis-Resynthesis") but I doubt there's any programming. The software required is free and I assume will be something like Audacity.

If you don't care about the technological aspects, it might be worth signing up just to watch the first week's lectures. They're about how humans perceive music, which should be interesting to a more general audience.

If anyone else signs up, let me know!


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 1:29 pm 
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Sounds like it could be interesting even just to hear his perspective. Thanks for the heads up.

Feadoggie

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:46 am 
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Thanks so much for posting this. I agree that the theory at the beginning sounds intriguing. From there I went to browsing the entire catalog and now I want to sign up for about a dozen classes.

Too bad I have a full time + job.

But I will let you know if I decide I can find the time to actually sign up for this one.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:56 am 
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swizzlestick wrote:
From there I went to browsing the entire catalog and now I want to sign up for about a dozen classes.

Too bad I have a full time + job.


Yeah, sorry about that. I hope I haven't deluged you with too much timesuck. :)
I have taken 2 courses over Coursera so far. The first was Machine Learning which I got about 80% through before real work got in the way. The second was Cryptography, and I didn't get through 2 lectures before I realized I would not have enough free time for that noise. The only problem I had with Coursera is that there doesn't seem to be a way to drop a class once you're in it, but that just meant I had to ignore one more email a week until the class was over.

I'm hoping this course will be less demanding; and since it is a "hobby" subject instead of a "work" subject I might be less likely to burn out? Here's hoping, anyway.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:44 pm 
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Well, I am registered. I figure the ride will be fun even if I don't get to the destination. Thanks again for pointing this out.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:45 pm 
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Hi Fearfaoin,
I dropped by C & F today, and found this! Nice serendipity!

I've never studied anything with Coursera before. There are assignments you can turn in?
What happens if you "abandon ship" -- does the instructor know?

I sat in on a course on this very topic at the local community college (Fall Semester). It started off great... but... the prof was very eccentric. Gradually what happened was, we would show up to class, he would turn us loose to work on individual projects, and would answer any questions we had one on one. But no more lectures. Instead the prof would tell wild and crazy stories. Ex. one time a friend of his was rebuilding an old Novachord and was nearly killed by the toxic fumes it released once it got warmed up. :o I found the story online and the prof had exaggerated it a bit :really: but it was still a great story. He had a special fondness for Bob Moog (had taken some of Moog's classes) -- said he was the most saintly man he had ever met! He also was obsessed with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and was trying to reproduce all their sounds in his home studio. I got some major brownie points in the class by knowing who Delia Derbyshire was. :D (Diddle de dum, diddle de dum, diddle de dum, oooo weee ooo... :wink: )

Anyway, it was a great experience, but definitely not as described in the course catalog.
OK, I'm off to sign up at Coursera (assuming it's not too late)!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:45 pm 
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Caroluna wrote:
I've never studied anything with Coursera before. There are assignments you can turn in?

I've only taken programming or math related courses so far. In those, there are assignments you turn in by uploading to a server which checks your answers. Of course, in those courses there's very cut-and-dried answers so it's easy for a computer to check your work. I'm not sure if that's possible in a course with more subjective assignments. Though maybe they figured out a way.
Even if you don't turn in assignments for a grade, there will certainly be projects assigned to get you to try things out on the various software packages, since part of the syllabus is to learn to use those tools.

Caroluna wrote:
What happens if you "abandon ship" -- does the instructor know?

There didn't used to be a way to abandon ship. Now I'm looking at the "Your Courses" page on my account and it has an "Un-Enroll" link. I'm guessing no one will notice if you leave, sometimes there are tens of thousands of people signed up for these things. Often, since the lectures are prerecorded, the lecturer isn't even part of the current course, they just have a TA manning the questions forum.
It doesn't matter too much either way, if you sign up all they give you is a certificate of completion with your grade on it. It doesn't go on any permanent record or anything. They have yet to figure out how to do these as "real", for-credit courses. (Though the instruction has been on par with everything I experienced in my engineering undergraduate work.)

Caroluna wrote:
Gradually what happened was, we would show up to class, he would turn us loose to work on individual projects, and would answer any questions we had one on one. But no more lectures. Instead the prof would tell wild and crazy stories.

That sounds like Master Namer Elodin from "Name of the Wind". (obscure reference of the day)

Caroluna wrote:
Anyway, it was a great experience, but definitely not as described in the course catalog.

Digital Sound Design 102:
Professor Whimwaddle will regale you with tales from his misbegotten youth as an audiophile. Any learning will be on your free time.

P.S. Glad to see you back, Caroluna. I hope all the birds are well and that your son is a master Bassist by now. :)

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:15 pm 
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Quote:
Quote:
Instead the prof would tell wild and crazy stories.

That sounds like Master Namer Elodin from "Name of the Wind". (obscure reference of the day)


:-? I'll have to track that one down! Always looking for new sci fi / fantasy books.

Quote:
Quote:
Anyway, it was a great experience, but definitely not as described in the course catalog.

Digital Sound Design 102:
Professor Whimwaddle will regale you with tales from his misbegotten youth as an audiophile. Any learning will be on your free time.


Exactly!! :lol: Picture the guy as looking like Peter Jackson -- but shorter, rounder, and blind in one eye. He was Scottish (thick accent) and always looked sort of bedraggled and windblown, with a tangled thatch of white hair sticking up every which way.

He filled up a lot of class time with movies. Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey was an oddly beautiful and endearing story. I highly recommend it. Another was Telstar: The Joe Meek Story which was fascinating if you're an audiophile. Everything done "analogue" back then. Space age sounds produced by dropping marbles down the loo. The story was heartrending, though. Spoiler Joe Meek goes crazy and blows his brains out :o


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:33 pm 
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Caroluna wrote:
Quote:
... "Name of the Wind". (obscure reference of the day)

:-? I'll have to track that one down! Always looking for new sci fi / fantasy books.

I would heartily advise it.
http://www.amazon.com/Name-Wind-Kingkil ... 0756404746
It is a most unusual style of fantasy, one of those story-within-a-story type of deals. He's 2/3 of the way through the trilogy at present. Each book encompasses one day of the storytelling (though the story being told spans many years).

Rothfuss sets up a magic system by taking the character through school and describing the principals as if the character were a physics major. I've seen it described as an adult version of Harry Potter but that isn't fair to either series.

The main character is also a folk singer and instrumentalist and there are a lot of scenes between musicians that I think you'd probably have to be a musician to understand.

Also, halfway through the book, I looked up the author and he appears on his website wearing a "Joss Weadon is my master now" shirt. So I thought, this guy is definitely one of my people.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:36 pm 
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must resist urge to go off on Firefly tangent :lol:

But back to the sound design thing. One of my projects now is recording the songs from the birds in my aviary. These vids aren't mine but you get the idea...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rozh349EZWA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bjRn5bMYH4

The songs sound very buzzy and random, but if you slow them way down (I use Audacity) you get all this structure. The musical parts of the songs sound like notes on an oboe, and the percussive / noisy parts actually sound like a human voice going "wink wenk wirk wonk wonk wenk wirk..." (where's the :rofl: when you need it)
Vowelly things -- formants??

I'm getting some real pretty visual output using Audacity but my recordings aren't good enough to make spectrograms. I'm hoping to learn more about that. Spectrograms Are Cool. (*)

Music tie-in: Could steal some of their riffs to use in tunes. No copyright issues :D

(*) certainly cooler than bowties, or fezzes for that matter.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:51 pm 
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Thanks for posting the info on this course! I've been itching to start taking courses again, but just don't have the time to do so in person. This might be just what I've been looking for.

Pete


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:29 pm 
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Whee! and here we go. This just appeared in my inbox:

Quote:
Hello Digital Sound Designers,

Welcome to the course! The materials for week one are now available for your viewing. After filling out the brief Introductory Survey, please watch the ten video examples on "The Nature of Sound." This material will hopefully give you a fundamental understanding of how sound is perceived and ways in which it is an important part of our daily interactions and environments. There will also be a tutorial introduction to the Sonic Visualiser application for analyzing audio files .

Understanding the fundamental properties of sound should prepare you for exploring the basics of music technology discussed during the second week of the course.

Please read and post in the Discussion Forums for a broader understanding of the material and for additional explanations on any topic presented this week.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:16 pm 
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So far, I've been through the video lectures for the week and downloaded Sonic Visualiser.

The first half of the lectures were a good refresher for me, but could easily be seen as either too fluffy or too quick depending entirely on the student's background. The second half I will have to rewatch when I can give them more attention.
The music examples used were ... interesting. I expected the contrast between Eastern and Western musical philosophies. But even the Western composed electronic music examples the professor used were pretty inaccessible for me. It is becoming clear that the professor's background is not just the electronic recording of acoustic sound but the extreme manipulation and the purely digital production of sounds. This is out of my wheelhouse and should hopefully be a broadening experience.

Something I did learn that I didn't know is that the vascular membrane in the Cochlea will respond to different frequencies in different locations (not just vibrating along its entire length for all frequencies as I had assumed). I mentioned this to my office neighbor and he pointed me to a writeup on a project he did once involving cochlear implants. Apparently, the implanted electrode works by trying to stimulate the nerves of the cochlea in the same location for each frequency that the vascular membrane and cilia would have if they were functional. Neato.
http://www.yanthia.com/online/projlets/ ... index.html
Image


The professor touched very lightly on the overtone series, which deserves more research if it is not familiar to you.
The Wikipedia page is pretty good:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmonic_s ... 28music%29
The important take-away as I understand it is that the tone (timbre) of an instrument depends on how much of each component in the overtone series in present for any note. The fundamental (the note being played) should always be the loudest component (or else you wouldn't be able to tell what note is being played). The louder your other overtone components are, the more complex the sound. If the fundamental and maybe the next 2 or three overtones are loud and all the higher overtones are quiet, that note will sound very pure. On the other hand, If a whole lot the components are pretty loud compared to the fundamental then the note will be very complex (maybe even chiffy!).

This will be useful to understand if the course goes into Fourier Analysis (though that seems to have disappeared from the syllabus...)


Last edited by fearfaoin on Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:46 pm 
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If you haven't yet played with Sonic Visualiser (it's spelt wrong because it's British), for Pete's sake start now.
Like a lot of free software, it does not come with an installer. (Assuming you're on Windows) you just download the zip file, open it, copy the directory inside that zip file to anywhere on your computer. Then go to that directory and click on the file "Sonic Visualiser.exe" (Or if your extensions are hidden, just "Sonic Visualiser") to start the program.
If you want to make a shortcut on your desktop, go to that directory again, right click on "Sonic Visualiser.exe" and select from the pop-up menu "Create shortcut". This will create a file in the same directory called something like "Sonic Visualiser.exe - Shortcut". Drag that file to your desktop. Now you have an icon on the desktop you can click anytime to start Sonic Visualiser. Much easier than finding that directory every time you want to run it.
I haven't tried to install on my Mac yet, but if anyone needs help I can try it and let you know.

Here's the download link for Sonic Visualizer:
http://www.sonicvisualiser.org/download.html

There's also some plugins that provide extra functionality (e.g., find drum beats, determine the tempo, or try to figure out what chords are being played). Those are here:
http://www.vamp-plugins.org/download.html

Unfortunately, they are more annoying to install. First you have to create this directory:
If you have this directory on your Windows machine: "C:\Program Files (x86)" then you have 64-bit windows and you want to create this directory:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Vamp Plugins
Otherwise create this one:
C:\Program Files\Vamp Plugins
On a Mac create this directory:
/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Vamp

You have to download the zip file for the plugin you want (if you're using Windows, make sure you click the download links that are in the Windows column!!!) Open the zip file you downloaded and copy the files to the directory you created above (for example C:\Program Files (x86)\Vamp Plugins).

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:35 pm 
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fearfaoin wrote:
This will be useful to understand if the course goes into Fourier Analysis (though that seems to have disappeared from the syllabus...)

Apparently the syllabus has undergone a Fast Fourier Transform. :wink:

Wow Farf, you got a lot further than me. I watched 4 lectures, then investigated the discussion forums, and wound up lurking in the Portuguese Study Group thread. :lol: I was surprised at how much Portuguese I remembered, but I'm too rusty (enferrujado) to put sentences together.

BTW and FWIW, Coursera is also offering Listening to World Music. I signed up, but they haven't given a start date yet.

Thanks for your observations about what's coming up in the course. Next time I'll keep my brain on one frequency instead of a complex mixture of many frequencies with the energy distributed more-or-less randomly. :lol:


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