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Unit of study_

CMPN1013: Creative Music Technology

Semester 1, 2020 [Normal day] - Sydney

In this unit of study students will be introduced to a range of music technologies and gain a basic proficiency in sound recording, editing and mixing. Students will learn to work with audio in a digital audio workstation, how to make good quality recordings with portable recording devices, and make use of these skills in service of a creative outcome. The unit will include an overview of software for notation/sequencing, as well as basic sound synthesis concepts. In the final assessment students will explore the creative possibilities of music technology by realising a sound work using either instrumental and/or environmental sound recorded and edited by them.

Unit details and rules

Unit code CMPN1013
Academic unit Composition and Music Technology
Credit points 3
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Benjamin Carey,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Creative assessment / demonstration Formative skills assessment
Practical DAW Skills and Reflection
20% Week 08
Due date: 17 Apr 2020 at 23:59
1min sound work, 2min video description
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Creative assessment / demonstration Creative audio assignment
Practical assessment with presentation
70% Week 14 (STUVAC)
Due date: 05 Jun 2020 at 23:59
3-6 minute sound work
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Online listening/reading activities
Online Discussion Post on Listening/Reading
10% Week 14 (STUVAC)
Due date: 05 Jun 2020 at 23:00
2-3 short sentences
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

Assessment summary

Online listening/reading activities: Participation in online discussions pertaining to weekly listening or reading tasks

Assessment Detail:

This component of the class is designed to give students a broad overview of the historical context of creative approaches to the use of new technologies in composition, and to stimulate discussion.

The works you are required to listen to each week are listed in Canvas under Dicussions. These works can be listened to via the following Spotify link: Students will need a free Spotify account in order to access this content.

Students are expected to listen to all works listed for the week in question. Before the following week’s class, students are to choose one work from the list and write a brief forum post or comment reflecting on any aspect of the piece. These discussion posts need only be a few short sentences, and may be based on your experience of the work itself in its historical context. You could either comment on something interesting in the work, ask a question about it or reply to a comment by one of your peers.


Formative skills assessment: One-minute sound piece using samples provided, and accompanied by a video description of your process.

Assessment Detail:

Using the samples provided (samples will be available by the end of Week 4), create a short sound work of 1-minute duration displaying skills learned so far this semester. Your work may be in any style, but should show knowledge of basic audio editing, arrangement and mixing, MIDI sequencing, audio effects, etc.

To accompany the work, record a short video description of your production process (2mins max.) and upload/link to Canvas using either ‘Arc’ or a video sharing platform of your choice. The video does not need to be of high production value, but should include brief discussion of your technical process, and some reflections on any challenges you found in creating the work. It may be useful to show some vision of your project file in the video to illustrate your work, using either screencast software, screenshots or by simply filming your screen.

The overall aim of this task is to get you practicing your skills by working on a small creative project, as well as reflecting upon your process and challenges you have encountered in its production.


Creative audio assignment: Original creative audio work of 3-6 minutes, written description, and in-class presentation.

Assessment Detail:

Students choose from one of the following three options for this assessment task:


Compose an electroacoustic sound work of between 3 and 6 minutes in length.


Compose six miniature electroacoustic pieces of exactly 30 seconds in length, each one based on a single descriptive word.



Compose a 3 to 6 minute piece for instrument/voice and “tape”. Submission of this option should include:

  • the full score (with notation of both instrument/voice part and the “tape” part cues)
  • a recording of the piece being performed
  • the “tape” part.



  • Present your work to the class in Week 13
  • Include a written description (about one page) explaining the technical and musical choices you made. e.g. what source material did you use? How did you process this material?

The piece should be created solely using original source material including but not limited to: instrumental/vocal sounds, abstract sound making devices, sound synthesis techniques, and environmental sound. These must be sounds that you have recorded yourself. You are allowed to use MIDI to trigger/sequence your audio samples. Process your sound using the various techniques examined throughout the semester. You may use any software for editing and mixing your audio, including Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Cubase, Reaper, Pro Tools and others.

For your recordings, make use of the Zoom portable recorders available from the Library. Please DO NOT record material using your smartphone and/or computer microphone. You may also record straight to computer using the microphones and recording equipment available in one of the Conservatorium sound studios. If you have your own equipment, you are welcome to use this, however, please discuss this with the lecturer. You are strongly encouraged to make use of the facilities available to you at the Conservatorium.

Presentation: In the final class, each work will be played to the class and students should talk briefly about their piece, and should be prepared to field questions on the work. We will proceed in alphabetical order by surname. This is a compulsory part of the assignment.


All materials audio are to be submitted to the assignment page of the CMPN1013 Canvas site. Students are also welcome to provide links to external file sharing services (Dropbox/Google shareable link), for these media files instead of uploading to Canvas. If so this must be linked to in your written documentation. Please DO NOT provide links to timed download services such as WeTransfer, etc. – files must be accessible for marking at any stage after submission.

  • Your audio works should be submitted as rendered, 44.1kHz, 24bit .wav or .aiff files – NOT mp3s/m4as.
  • Scores and written work should be uploaded in .pdf format through the assignment Dropbox.
  • A zipped copy of your DAW project file needs to be included in the submission. This must include dependencies (such as necessary audio files) – so include the project file and all related folders


  • If you are submitting multiple documents (Assignment Option 2, for example), please zip these files into a compressed .zip archive before uploading.
  • If you are using your own third party plugin resources, please be aware that these may not be accessible by the lecturer for marking. If you are unsure, discuss with the lecturer prior to submission.

Assessment criteria

Assessment Criteria:

Assessment: Online listening/reading activities

  • 100% - Genuine participation in homework activity on dates scheduled. Total of 1 mark per discussion post

Assessment: Formative Skills Assessment

  • 40%: Recording/Sound file processing/technical competence
  • 30%: Musical treatment of the material
  • 30%: Video description

Assessment: Creative Audio Assignment

  • 50%: Recording/Sound file processing/technical competence
  • 30%: Musical treatment of the material
  • 10%: Written description including support documentation and performance notes
  • 10% Presentation to the class


The following assessment criteria are used for written work in this unit of study:

  • Fail: (Below 50%) Work not of acceptable standard. 
  • Pass: (50%-64%) Work of acceptable standard. 
  • Credit: (65%-74%) Highly competent work demonstrating potential for higher study. 
  • Distinction: (75%-84%) Work of superior standard. 
  • High Distinction: (85%-100%) Work of exceptional standard. 

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Admin: Unit of study overview. Working in the computer lab/studios. Theory: Musique Concrète – creating music with recorded sound. In class listening examples. Workshop (1 hr)  
Week 02 Theory: Physics of sound: amplitude and frequency, harmonics and timbre. Practical: Introduction to audio editing in Ableton Live (DAW basics: signal flow, Mixer/Session view and Arrangement view, importing, editing and looping audio, automation basics). Workshop (1 hr)  
Week 03 Theory: Microphone and portable recording basics. Practical: Short recording excursion around the building using portable Zoom recorder. Importing files and experiment with audio editing, looping and mixing with recorded samples in Ableton’s ‘session’ view (launch modes, clip properties, automation). Workshop (1 hr)  
Week 04 Theory: Manipulating sound – ‘time-domain’ audio manipulation techniques. Practical: Destructive vs. non-destructive editing in the DAW, FX processing (EQ, delays, pitch shifting, distortion etc.) Workshop (1 hr)  
Week 05 Theory: Sampling. Practical: Using a Sampler (Ableton’s Simpler and Sampler devices): loading samples, looping, re-pitching, envelopes. Mix technique: Bussing and auxiliary tracks Online class (1 hr)  
Week 06 Theory: Sequencing and the MIDI protocol. Practical: Composing with and manipulating MIDI in the DAW – MIDI recording, transposition, quantisation, inversion, retrograde, note lengths, velocity, MIDI effects (arpeggiation, randomisation etc). Online class (1 hr)  
Week 07 Practical: work on formative skills assessment with guidance from tutor Online class (1 hr)  
Week 08 Theory: Sound Synthesis Basics - Waveforms, Oscillators, Envelopes and Filters. Practical: Synthesising sound using Ableton’s Analog Review: Mixing techniques Online class (1 hr)  
Week 09 Theory: Reverb and Space. History and use. Practical: Different reverb types (mechanical, algorithmic and convolution), DIY Impulse Response Recording, creative uses of reverb in a mix. Review: Bussing and auxiliary tracks. Online class (1 hr)  
Week 11 Theory: In class listening – various examples of contemporary, electronic/electro-acoustic music. Practical: Rendering/Bouncing down, file types and formats. Online class (1 hr)  
Week 12 Work on final projects with guidance from lecturer Online class (1 hr)  
Week 13 Class presentation of projects Online class (1 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: Students are expected to attend a minimum of 90% of timetabled activities for a unit of study, unless granted exemption by the Dean, Head of School or professor most concerned. The Dean, Head of School or professor most concerned may determine that a student fails a unit of study because of inadequate attendance. Alternatively, at their discretion, they may set additional assessment items where attendance is lower than 90%.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 3 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 60-75 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. demonstrate confidence in using software for recording, editing, and mixing, and the ability to transfer the knowledge gained to other software platforms previously unfamiliar
  • LO2. demonstrate skills in evaluating music software
  • LO3. demonstrate basic competency in studio techniques, and the ability to problem-solve effectively
  • LO4. demonstrate awareness of digital copyright
  • LO5. use technology effectively in performing, composing, and teaching.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.



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