Hasso-Plattner-InstitutSDG am HPI
Hasso-Plattner-InstitutDSG am HPI

Sonic Thinking - Computer Music Basics (Sommersemester 2022)

Dozent: Dr. Julia von Thienen , Dr. Henrik von Coler (Internet-Technologien und -Systeme)

Allgemeine Information

  • Semesterwochenstunden: 2
  • ECTS: 3
  • Benotet: Ja
  • Einschreibefrist: 01.04.2022 - 30.04.2022
  • Prüfungszeitpunkt §9 (4) BAMA-O: 27.06.2022
  • Lehrform: Vorlesung
  • Belegungsart: Wahlpflichtmodul
  • Lehrsprache: Englisch

Studiengänge, Modulgruppen & Module

IT-Systems Engineering MA
  • Professional Skills
    • HPI-PSK-KO Kommunikation
  • Professional Skills
    • HPI-PSK-DTA Design Thinking Advanced
Data Engineering MA
Digital Health MA
Cybersecurity MA


This class takes place on Mondays, 11 am - 12:30 pm (first session on April 25).

The class is held in person, with a possibility of joining remotely.

Room: H-51./52. (HPI main building, ground floor)

Online access:


Meeting ID: 622 5829 2426

Passcode: 43972970


Sonic Thinking

While the human sense of vision is harnessed a lot in human-computer interactions, opportunities arising from other human senses are much less explored. Sonic Thinking is dedicated to the auditory sense and resulting design opportunities in the field of digital engineering.

This class provides a deepened introduction to Computer Music Basics. It is taught primarily by Dr. Henrik von Coler, with the teaching assistant being Benedikt Wieder. Throughout the sessions, Dr. Julia von Thienen invites reflections on implications of Computer Music, especially regarding creativity and innovation opportunities emerging in digital engineering. The creative projects conducted by students in class are facilitated  jointly by Henrik and Julia.

In the afternoon (Mondays, 3:15-4:45 pm), the Sonic Thinking team offers a complementary class taught primarily by Dr. Marisol Jimenez, with a focus on Artistic Research into Sound. You can choose to take one or both of these classes.

You can read more about the Sonic Thinking group and find some project examples here.


Computer Music Basics

This class gives a structured introduction to the tools, practices and theory of electroacoustic music and computer music. During the hands-on class, students will discover different environments for sound design and composition, combined with synthesis approaches and their roots in musical culture and sound design. The topics Spatial Sound, Network Music Systems and Interaction are presented as areas of active research and will be explored in dedicated workshop sessions. Students will implement their own projects in an environment of their choice, focusing on the technological and the aesthetic aspects.


There are no prerequisites for attending this class.


Your major work in this class will be a creative project, which you develop in the broad area of sound and digital engineering. You can conduct the creative project alone or in teams. You can conduct one bigger project across the two Sonic Thinking classes on Monday if you like. It is also possible to continue a previous project pursued in a Neurodesign or Sonic Thinking class.   

The final grade will be determined as follows:

Your Creative Project

  • 20% first project presentation (27.6.22)
  • 20% final project presentation (25.7.22)
  • 20% final project submission including documented source code (deadline 30.9.22)

In-Class Topics

  • 40% four exercises (homework) on in-class topics, à 10%


25.04. Introduction

  • a brief history of electroacoustic music
  • sound synthesis paradigms
  • computer music environments

02.05. Subtractive & Pure Data I

  • signal flow and routing
  • audio vs control
  • Deken
  • subtractive synthesis

09.05. Additive & SuperCollider I

  • live coding introduction
  • nodes
  • buses
  • additive synthesis

16.05. Physical Modeling, Distortion & Faust I

  • functional programming introduction
  • physical modeling
  • distortion synthesis

23.05. Spatial Sound

  • theory and overview
  • live diffusion
  • binaural in SC/PD and Faust
  • binaural in the DAW

30.05. Distortion Synthesis

06.06. - Pfingsten: no class

13.06. Network Music Systems I

with Benedikt Wieder

  • JackTrip
  • Python + OSC
  • SSH
  • transatlantic connection test

20.06. Network Music Systems II

with Benedikt Wieder

  • signal routing
  • live coding
  • feedback systems

27.06. First project pitches

  • students present topics and first steps in their Sonic Thinking projects
  • discussion

04.07. Pure Data II

  • GUI
  • OSC
  • running headless

11.07. SuperCollider II

  • GUI
  • OSC
  • running headless
  • writing classes

18.07. Interaction

  • sensors and development boards
  • wireless communication
  • NIME
  • mapping

25.07. Final Project Presentations

  • students present their project outcomes

30.09. Final Project Submissions

  • up to this date students can submit their project documentation including code