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Unit of study_

CMPN1013: Creative Music Technology

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

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 Alexis Weaver,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Creative assessment / demonstration Formative Skills Assessment
Practical DAW Skills and Reflection
20% Week 07
Due date: 24 Sep 2021 at 23:59
1min sound work, 2 min video description
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Creative assessment / demonstration Creative audio assignment
Practical assessment with Reflection/Description and Presentation
70% Week 13
Due date: 12 Nov 2021 at 23:59
3-6 min piece
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Online listening/reading/viewing activities
Online Discussion Posts
10% Week 13
Due date: 12 Nov 2021 at 23:59
1 short paragraph
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5

Assessment summary

Online listening/viewing/reading activities: Participation in online discussions pertaining to fortnightly listening, reading or video 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, to stimulate discussion and to extend student learning in certain technical areas.

The works you are required to listen to will be listed in Canvas under Discussions. These works will be available via Spotify and/or YouTube. Students will need a free Spotify account to access Spotify. 

If given a listening task, students are expected to listen to a sample of the works listed for the week in question. Before the following week’s class, students are to choose at least 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 short paragraph, 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.

Students will occasionally be given a reading or viewing task in lieu of a listening task, in which case students are expected to read or view the material and then comment/discuss in the same manner. 

Discussion posts are due the week after being set throughout Semester. Late discussion posts will a penalty of 50%. Discussion posts delivered after the end of semester due date will incur a penalty of 100%. 

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 sampling, audio effects, etc.

To accompany the work, record a short video description of your production process (2 mins max.) and upload or link this to Canvas using a video sharing platform of your choice. The video does not need to be of high production value, but should include a brief discussion of your artistic goals, technical process, and some reflections on any challenges you encountered while creating the work. It will be beneficial 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 practising 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, in-class presentation of work and 1-page written description OR 2-minute audio description.

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 between 30-45 seconds in length, with the works tied together by a central theme.


Compose a 3 to 6 minute piece for instrument/voice and “tape”. “Instrument and Tape” is the historical term for a work for instrument and pre-recorded electronic accompaniment. 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 by itself. 



  • You are expected to deliver a 3-minute excerpt of your work for the in-class listening party in Week 13. This may be a work in progress, but it should be substantial. Accompanying this, you will provide a 100-200 word program note to be displayed on screen while the work is played. This must be delivered to your tutor via submission or email one day in advance of your final lesson. 

  • Include a written description of approximately one page OR a recorded audio description of approximately 2 minutes explaining the technical and musical choices you made. Address the following: What was your artistic goal with the piece? What source materials did you use? How did you process this material? What challenges did you face in the production and what have you learned in the process?

  • Include your complete DAW project file with all necessary external files included (see below for more information). 

The piece should be an original (not a cover/remix) and is to be created using original source material wherever possible, including but not limited to: instrumental/vocal sounds, abstract sound making devices, sound synthesis techniques, and environmental sound. You may use royalty free samples as part of this work, but please acknowledge which samples are not your own. 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 recordings made yourself, you are encouraged to make use of the Zoom H5 portable recorders available from the Library. If you cannot get access to these recorders, you may use smartphone and/or computer microphone for this task. However do so with care! You may also record straight to computer using the microphones and recording equipment available in one of the Conservatorium sound studios if available for use. If you have your own equipment, you are welcome to use this, however, please discuss this with the lecturer. Where possible, you are strongly encouraged to make use of the facilities available to you at the Conservatorium.


All materials 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 stereo files or either, 44.1/48kHz, 24bit .wav or .aiff files – NOT mp3s/m4as.

  • All 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/viewing activities

  • 100% - Genuine participation in homework activity on dates scheduled. Total of 2 marks 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
  • 36%: Musical treatment of the material
  • 7%: Written description including support documentation and performance notes
  • 7% Delivery of work and program note for class listening 

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 DELIVERED ONLINE. Unit of study overview. Setting up DAW accounts and introduction to the computer labs and studios. Theory: Musique Concrète and the origins of recorded sound. Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 02 DELIVERED ONLINE. Theory: Introducing amplitude, frequency, harmonics and timbre. Practical: Introduction to Ableton Live and audio editing basics. Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 03 DELIVERED ONLINE. Theory: Microphone and portable recording basics (optional practical: Short recording excursion using Zoom recorders). Practical: Importing and exporting files, further audio editing in ‘Arrangement’ view. Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 04 DELIVERED ONLINE. Theory: Manipulating sound through ‘time-domain’ audio editing techniques. Practical: Survey of audio effects. Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 05 Practical: Introduction to sampling through use of Sampler. Loading samples, looping, re-pitching, envelopes. Weekly listening/discussion posts check-in. Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 06 Theory: Sequencing and MIDI protocol. Practical: Composing and manipulating MIDI through recording, transposition, quantisation, inversion, retrograde, note lengths, velocity, and MIDI effects. Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 07 Practical: Collaborative work on Formative Skills Assessment with guidance from tutor. Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 08 Theory: sound synthesis basics. Practical: Create your own synth using Ableton’s Analog. Review: Mixing techniques. Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 09 Theory: History and use of reverb and space in electronic works. Practical: Survey of different reverb types (mechanical, algorithmic and convolution), DIY Impulse Response recording, creative uses of reverb in a mix. Mix technique: Bussing and auxiliary tracks. Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 10 SPECIAL PROJECTS WEEK 1: No tutorial. Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 11 SPECIAL PROJECTS WEEK 2. Non-synchronous material delivered online, discussing various examples of contemporary, electronic & electro-acoustic music. Theory: Review of mixing practices - how to get the most out of your music. Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 12 Practical: Revise rendering/bouncing down, file types and formats. Practical: Collaborative work on Creative Audio Assignment with guidance from tutor. Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 13 Assessment presentation: in-class listening party. Presentation (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%.
  • Due to COVID-19, this information is subject to change and in class attendance may be substituted for online activities. Please always refer to your timetable and information on Canvas.

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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