Document Type

Capstone Project (Campus-Only Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Music & Performing Arts

First Advisor

Lanier Sammons


This paper considers methods of synthesizing musical and non-musical sounds electronically. It examines several methods: subtractive synthesis, the method used in Moog’s pioneering synthesizers; FM synthesis, developed at Stanford by John Chowning; wavetable synthesis, developed in Germany by Wolfgang Palm; granular synthesis, conceived by Iannis Xenakis and implemented digitally by Barry Truax; and physical-modeling synthesis, first implemented by Lejaren Hiller and Pierre Ruiz. The history, strengths, and weaknesses of each method will be examined. The author also considers the Max programming language and describes using it to create a pulse-width modulation synthesis patch. Among the sources to be used will be papers by the creators of the techniques and articles from audio-engineering publications.

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