Skidmore College

UNIT GENERATORS

Sine Wave Unit Generator

Left is a graphic/schematic representation of a "Unit Generator", a concept invented by Max Mathews (the father of computer music). A Unit Generator can be thought of as a simple waveform generator. It has the ability to output a waveform, often a sine wave or other simple waveform. It has controls on it that allow you to change the frequency and amplitude of the waveform it produces. Normally, these "controls" are changed only by the music software synthesis program you are working with. A Unit Generator is a theoretical concept that helps composers and programmers understand and keep track of "modules" that make sound in their programs. If you have any experience with programming sounds on one of the Yamaha DX or TX series of synthesizers, you can think of a Unit Generator as one of the "operators".

Unit Generators are often connected in parallel or series to produce more complicated sounds. (see Parallel FM and Cascade FM).

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