Digital sound synthesis, acoustics and perception: a rich intersection

Chowning J.
DAFx-2000 - Verona
The early years of digital sound synthesis were filled with promise following Max Mathews’ publication in 1963 of his pioneering work at Bell Telephone Laboratories [1]. The digital control of loudspeakers allowed for the production of any conceivable sound given the correct sequence of numbers (samples). Producing the correct sequence of numbers, however, turned out to be a formidable task. Acoustics and psychoacoustics, the first a well-developed field of knowledge and the second less so, did not provide information at the level of detail required to simulate even the simplest sound of an acoustic instrument. The enormous potential of digital synthesis counterpoised with an enormous knowledge deficit were the initial conditions for interdisciplinary research that continues to this day. Discoveries have been made and insights gained that are of consequence in the general field of digital audio.