Eastman Computer Music Center

Established in 1981 by Allan Schindler as an outgrowth of the former electronic music program at the School, the ECMC provides digital audio and computing facilities for the realization of compositional, performance, multimedia, theoretical and other types of musical projects by Eastman, University of Rochester and visiting faculty, students, musicians and researchers. Currently, the Center supports creative and instructional work by about thirty users annually. Between 40 and 50 % of these users are composers; another 25 % or so are musical performers; our remaining users include music theorists and jazz studies, music education, science and liberal arts majors. The two central functions of the Eastman Computer Music Center are:

  • Our Artistic Mission

    to provide professional and innovative audio and computer resources in support of the creation and public performance or presentation of creative and research projects of the highest musical and technical quality.

  • Our Educational Mission

    to teach and to help disseminate the use of these resources to student, professional and area musicians of varying specialties, interests and prior experience, and to audiences of similar diversity, in a manner that encourages each partici pant to explore and to stretch his or her own musical capabilities and artistic vision.

Given the wealth of solo, chamber and large ensemble performing talent at Eastman, many of our projects involve collaborations, from the brainstorming stage through eventual concert presentations and/or recordings, between composers and performers or performing ensembles. Lists of available compact disc recordings and of publications of works realized at the Center are included within the home web pages of several of our current and alumni users.

An increasingly important resource of the ECMC is our resident Switch~ Ensemble, a group of virtuoso performers, established in 2012, who specialize in the performance of new works for chamber ensemble and electronics and/or realtime processing of instrumental and vocal sounds.

The Center also seeks to foster artistic collaborations between musicians and film makers, choreographers and dancers, literary and theatrical artists, and professionals and students in a variety of other other fields. ECMC users have collaborated on hundreds of projects with choreographers from the Graduate Department of Dance at Graduate Department of Dance at SUNY Brockport, with filmmakers from the School of Film and Animation at the Rochester Institute of Technology and with independent artists and artists in a variety of disciplines from other area schools.

The ECMC sponsors a yearly concert series as well as a series of lectures and presentations by visiting artists. Additionally, the Center provides technical support for about 40 concerts, recitals and other events each year that are sponsored by other Eastman and community organizations.

ECMC's History

Studio 54

This is our main MIDI and live recording studio. The computer software runs on a 2014 Mac Pro, with many of the standard software suites available. The studio also houses many different pieces of hardware, and can output projects in up to 5.1 channel audio.

Studio 52

Studio 52 is a hybrid Linux/Mac studio that speicalizes in real-time synthesis processes, advanced audio software packages, and multichannel/ambisonic techniques. Audio applications in this studio can output to a four-channel, or eight-channel cube for more specialized spcacialization techniques.

Guest Composers

Staff (2015-16)

ECMC Director
System Administrator
Michael Frazier
Graduate Assistant
James Garber
Graduate Assistant
Graduate Assistant, ECMC Webmaster
Graduate Assistant
Graduate Assistant, ECMC Event Manager

Courses at the Eastman Computer Music Center

Our philosophy at Eastman is that computer music is not a distinct discipline unto itself. Rather, we believe that computer applications in music are by nature interdisciplinary, and can extend the capabilities of musicians in many areas and in many (sometimes unforseen) ways. Thus, we do not offer a separate degree major in digital audio technology. Instead, the School seeks to attract students of outstanding potential and achievement in compositional, performance, scholarly and pedagogical areas, and to encourage students within all of these areas to apply and share their talents within the introductory through advanced level instructional, creative and technical resources offered by the Center and by other computer-based facilities within the School and the University. Current course and degree requirement offerings supported by the Center are listed below. In addition to this listing, additional, related course offerings and facilities are provided by the Eastman JCM (Jazz and Contemporary Media) department, the Technology and Media Production (TMP) department, and the Music Technology Lab administered by the Music Theory Department.

CMP 225-226: Electronic Music I

(2 semesters, 3 credit hours) Principles of digital (and analog) recording, editing, signal processing (sound manipulation), sound analysis, multi-tracking, mixing, synchronization and mastering; sound synthesis techniques; hardware and software synthesizer and sampler design; fundamentals of MIDI; MIDI and audio sequencing; interactive MIDI performance and compositional techniques; performance interfaces; music notation software; the repertoire of computer and electronic music. Class lecture/demonstrations are supplemented by weekly labs and culminate in student projects.

CMP 421-422: Electronic Music II

(2 semesters, 3 credit hours) An intensive survey of advanced software-based techniques of digital recording, editing, synthesis, analysis and resynthesis, signal processing, mixing, spatial localization, ambience and movement, and current developments in the field. Class lecture/demonstrations are supplemented by weekly labs and culminate in student compositional projects. Pre-requisite: CMP 225-6 or equivalent.

Additional Areas of Study Supported by the Center

Independent Study

(2-4 credit hours) Experienced users wishing to pursue special topics or projects in computer music applications can register during any semester for directed independent study under the supervision of the director of the Center or of another Eastman or University of Rochester faculty member. Registration is subject to approval by the director of the Center and by the student's departmental chair or faculty.

Compositional Studies

Beyond their work in the introductory (225-6) and/or advanced (421-2) courses listed above, many composition majors continue to employ the resources of the Center within advanced compositional work supervised by members of the Eastman Composition Department faculty.

PhD Second Language Requirement

The Eastman PhD degree requires proficiency in two foreign languages. An option available to composition PhD majors, however, is to substitute a programming or research project in some aspect of computer music resources, under the supervision of the director of the Center or of another faculty member, for the second language requirement.

Masters and Doctoral Thesis Work

Many Masters and Doctoral degree theses undertaken by composition majors and by students from various other departments employ the resources of the Center.

General Documents

Below are links to frequently used applications and documentation for the ECMC studios, organized by category and/or course number. If any of these links do not work or are out of date, please inform our webmaster.

CMP 225-226: Electronic Music I

Soundfile Editors, Processors and Mixers

Software Synthesis and Sampling

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) Software Logic

Signal Processing Plug-ins

Real Time/Interactive Programming Environments: Max/MSP/Jitter

CMP 421-422: Electronic Music II

ECMC Studio Documentation

Studio 52 Users Guide

These files, which comprise the core textbook of the CMP 421-422: Advanced Computer Music Techniques course at ECMC, present introductory informationon hardware and software resources of the ECMC GNU/Linux systems, along with some basic information on the ECMC Macintosh and MIDI studio systems. (The Macintosh and MIDI studio resources are covered more fully in CMP 225-226: Introduction to Computer Music Techniques.) Some of the graphics from the printed version of this USERS' GUIDE are missing or incomplete in this online version.

These files are in .pdf format and can be viewed from a web browser on Linux, Unix, and Macintosh platforms with Adobe's Acrobat Reader application. (On Linux systems, downloaded copies of these files also can be viewed with the gv PostScript/PDF previewer application, usually found in /usr/X11R6/bin/gv).

SSH Documentation


Analysis and Resynthesis

Sound File Editors

Ardour: Sound File Mixer/DAW

Real Time/Interactive Programming Environments

Pure Data

SuperCollider 3

Plugins (Linux)

  • JACK Audio Connection Kit
  • LADSPA (Linux Audio Developer's Simple Plugin API)
  • JACK-Rack effects "rack" for JACK; poorly documented; see also the discussions of JACK-Rack and Rakarrack
  • Freqtweak FFT-based realtime audio spectral manipulation tool
  • JAMin JACK audio mastering interface
  • Rakarrack "guitar" effects processor, somewhat like the GT-3 in the ECMC MIDI studio

Ambisonic Processing

Text Editors

Audio Encoders

Services at the Eastman Computer Music Center

ECMC provides many services for students, faculty, and ensembles at Eastman. Most of the performance services we provide can be put into four categories:

  • Interactive electronics (assistance with MIDI setup, PD/Max patches, etc.)
  • Audio Playback (Cd, DVD audio, sound-files, etc.)
  • Amplification and Modification (such as amplified cello with distortion)
  • ECMC Recording for specific Eastman-funded events not in Kilbourn or ET (*)
(*) notes regarding recording:

Please check the public events calendar and read the guidelines before filling out the online request form.

ECMC Service Request Form
  • All performances in major ESM venues such as Kilbourn Hall are recorded exclusively by T&MP.
  • ECMC unfortunately does not have the funding to record personal concerts or recording sessions. ECMC staff are, however, available for hire for such services. Please contact an ECMC staff member for more information.