Physical Modelling Synthesis - ELE00102M

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  • Department: Electronic Engineering
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Damian Murphy
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20
    • See module specification for other years: 2018-19

Module summary

This module explores how physical acoustic systems can be be analysed and modelled mathematically, and then implemented efficiently in code to develop new ways to synthesize and process sound. Key examples from industry and research will be explored and how these are influencing current and future work in the area. Physical modelling sound synthesis and spectral modelling synthesis are two key areas that will be covered, but interactive procedural audio, as often used in computer games, and virtual analogue systems will also be introduced, as well as other topics that reflect recent areas of research or industry interest. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2019-20

Module aims

Subject content aims:

  • To allow students to gain knowledge and practical experience in the use of advanced methods of synthesising sound using physical and spectral modelling techniques
  • To introduce the theory of physical and spectral modelling and its uses in synthesis, processing and acoustic modelling
  • To give students practical experience of developing physical and spectral modelling algorithms
  • To give students a wider knowledge of recent research in these areas

Graduate skills aims:

  • To develop skills in critically evaluating and synthesising new information based on researched information and writing concise technical reports appropriate for the target audience

Module learning outcomes

Subject content learning outcomes

After successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Understand the mathematical underpinning and uses of physical and spectral modelling synthesis techniques
  • Demonstrate practical experience of how physical and spectral modelling techniques can be applied to create sound
  • Interpret and communicate theoretical and practical examples of these methods to a general audience through online publication

Graduate skills learning outcomes

After successful completion of this module, students will:

  • Be able to construct concise technical reports that critically evaluate and synthesise new information based on research, appropriate for the target audience


Task Length % of module mark
Sound Synthesis & Project Rep.
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Sound Synthesis & Project Rep.
N/A 100

Module feedback

'Feedback’ at a university level can be understood as any part of the learning process which is designed to guide your progress through your degree programme. We aim to help you reflect on your own learning and help you feel more clear about your progress through clarifying what is expected of you in both formative and summative assessments. A comprehensive guide to feedback and to forms of feedback is available in the Guide to Assessment Standards, Marking and Feedback. This can be found at The Department of Electronic Engineering aims to provide some form of feedback on all formative and summative assessments that are carried out during the degree programme. In general, feedback on any written work/assignments undertaken will be sufficient so as to indicate the nature of the changes needed in order to improve the work. Students are provided with their examination results within 20 working days of the end of any given examination period. The Department will also endeavour to return all coursework feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. The Department would normally expect to adhere to the times given, however, it is possible that exceptional circumstances may delay feedback. The Department will endeavour to keep such delays to a minimum. Please note that any marks released are subject to ratification by the Board of Examiners and Senate. Meetings at the start/end of each term provide you with an opportunity to discuss and reflect with your supervisor on your overall performance to date.

Indicative reading

V. Välimäki, J. Pakarinen, C. Erkut, and M. Karjalainen, “Discrete-time Modelling of Musical Instruments”, Reports on Progress in Physics, vol. 69, no. 1, pp. 1-78, January 2006

Signal Processing for Sound Synthesis: Computer-Generated Sounds and Music for All, IEEE Signal Processing Magazine, vol. 4, no. 2, Mar. 2007

Curtis Roads, “The Computer Music Tutorial”, MIT Press, 1995, ISBN 0-262-68082-3

Perry Cook, “Real Sound Synthesis for Interactive Applications”, AK Peters, Ltd., 2002, ISBN: 1-56881-168-3

Julius Smith’s Homepage:

Physical Modelling at York:

Gareth Loy, “Musimathics: The Mathematical Foundations of Music: 2”, MIT Press, 2011, ISBN-13: 978-0262516563

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.