Granular Accomplishments

Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Jack Kilgore, who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and graduated with honors this month, was selected for the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research in recognition of his work with Curtis Roads, a professor in the Media Arts and Technology Graduate Program and associate director of the Center for Research in Electronic Art Technology (CREATE). Roads is an internationally recognized composer and an expert in electronic music composition.  
“I took an electronic music class that Professor Roads was teaching, and it really aligned with my personal interests, so I decided to ask him if he would like to work together on a project,” said Kilgore. “He agreed, and we ended up building on top of a concept for a software instrument from one of his old students that eventually became EmissionControl 2, a granular synthesizer built for music composition.”
Granulation is the process in which an audio sample is broken down into “grains,” or tiny segments of audio. A granular synthesizer makes it possible to adjust the speed, pitch, and other characteristics of audio samples independently of one another.
The new open-source software app for sound granulation was released last fall, capping a twenty-month effort by Roads, Kilgore, and Rodney DuPlessis, a music PhD student. Features of EmissionControl2 include the ability to granulate multiple parameters, as well as the real-time display of peak amplitude, grain counter, and waveform. 
“I love to work on something long enough to where this internal criteria for perfection starts to emerge. I think this is what we call an end goal, and I enjoy the pursuit of that end goal,” said Kilgore. “I also love to communicate ideas well so that people can use those ideas to further their own. Making tools is just that. Lastly, I like sound, so a tool that can help make pretty sound will always be welcome.”
Kilgore will begin to pursue a master’s degree in materials arts and technology in the fall.  

Jack Kilgore was part of a team that created EmissionControl 2, a granular synthesizer built for music competition.