Catastrophe Theory and Sound Synthesis

I have a series of work I’m developing currently, relating the models and equations of catastrophe theory┬áto modeling acoustical systems, mapping control parameters to sound synthesis, and more.

The first significant piece of work I’ve done in this area was my paper, Acoustics-like dynamics in signal-based synthesis through parameter mapping, coauthored with Tamara Smyth here at UCSD. The paper’s abstract is below:

The ideal expansion of a sound synthesis parameter mapping strategy is to introduce complexity and capability to a mapping without sacrificing its ease of use and acquisition. Following work done with dynamical systems and catastrophe theory by Ren\’e Thom, Sir E.C. Zeeman and others, we are able to create a general purpose model for introducing extended behaviors in low complexity interfaces without adding control parameters or losing the possibility of reverting to a simple, near-linear mapping.

The system presented herein is accompanied by a brief exploration of its behavior, previous applications and techniques for implementation, hypotheses concerning its value in parameter mapping and early experimental results from its first implementation in the Pure Data synthesis language. Further hypotheses are offered based on the conclusions draw from these experiments and further research topics in dynamical systems in sound synthesis are discussed.

Read the paper if this interests you! I’ve also uploaded my work in Pd with this so far, modeling the cusp catastrophe for use in the Pd programming environment. This, too, is work a look, if you’re interested in implementing these models with your own work. I’ve included the source and makefile should you want to play with how I’ve written my external, or better understand its inner workings.

More to come with this subject, as I further explore its function in computer music.