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Unit of study_

CMPN1013: Creative Music Technology

Semester 1, 2022 [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
Assignment Online discussion tasks
Fortnightly discussion task
20% Multiple weeks 100-200 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Creative assessment / demonstration Creative Audio Assignment
Demonstrate creative application of skills and artistic reflection
Due date: 03 Jun 2022 at 23:59
3-6 min sound work, written reflection
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO5 LO3
Creative assessment / demonstration Formative Skills Assessment
Practice DAW skills and artistic reflection
20% Week 07
Due date: 08 Apr 2022 at 23:59
1 min sound work, 2 min video or podcast
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
Assignment Collaborative Composition Task
Create a collaborative sound work
10% Week 11
Due date: 13 May 2022 at 23:59
1-2 min sound work, 500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO4 LO3
Assignment In-Class Listening Submission
Deliver a 2-minute work-in-progress and 100-200 word program note
10% Week 13
Due date: 23 May 2022 at 23:59
2-minute work-in-progress
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3

Assessment summary

Online Discussion Tasks: 

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 one or more of the works listed for the week in question. Students write a brief forum post or comment reflecting on the discussion question for that week. The responses should be 100-200 words. 

Late discussion posts will incur a penalty of 50%. Discussion posts delivered after the end of semester due date will incur a penalty of 100%. 

Formative Skills Assessment: Compose a 1-minute sound work using only the audio samples provided and the skills covered during previous classes. This should be accompanied by a 2-minute video or podcast reflecting on the skills demonstrated and your creative application. 

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 (maximum 2 minute duration). The video should include a brief discussion of the skills implemented, how you applied these to your original work, the artistic goal, and include any challenges you encountered while composing. Show some vision of your project file as evidence of your work, either by including this in your video or accompanying screenshots if choosing the podcast option. You can use screencast software, screenshots or simply film/photograph your device’s screen.

Collaborative Composition Task:  Work with an assigned group of 3-5 students to generate a creative sound work of 1-2 minutes. This work may be in any style and incorporate recorded audio, MIDI, and synthesised sound. Assignment groups will submit one audio file as well as one group document outlining the assigned roles of each group member, creative process and reflection on the artistic result. In addition, each group member will submit an individual reflection on the process and their creative contribution. Class time in Week 11 will be allocated for work on this task.

Creative Audio Assignment: Compose an original creative audio work of 3-6 minutes. This should be accompanied by a 1-page written description OR 2-minute audio description, as well as a zipped folder containing your DAW file. 

Assessment Detail:

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

OPTION 1: Compose an electroacoustic sound work of between 3 - 6 minutes in length.

OPTION 2: Compose up to 6 miniature electroacoustic pieces between 45-60 seconds in length, with the works tied together by a central theme. The collective duration should amount to at least 3 minutes.

OPTION 3: Compose a 3 – 6 minute work 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 relevant “tape” cues)

  • a recording of the piece being performed with the instrument/voice and tape.

  • the “tape” sound file by itself. 


  • 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. 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.

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.

In-Class Listening Party Submission:  Deliver a 2-minute excerpt of your Creative Audio Assignment work-in-progress for the in-class listening party in Week 13. Please note that this is not expected to be complete; it is expected that the submitted file shows a work in progress, but it should be substantial. Accompanying this, you will provide a 100-200 word program note to be displayed while your work is played. The program note should include a working title, description of the artistic goals for the work and any notes on how it will be improved before final submission.

Assessment criteria

Assessment Criteria:

Assessment: Online listening/reading/viewing activities

  • 50%: Genuine participation in homework activity on dates scheduled.
  • 50%: Meaningful and personal response to the stimulus. 

Assessment: Formative Skills Assessment

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

Assessment: Collaborative Composition Task

  • 33%: Group and individual contributions to reflection document
  • 33%: Recording/Sound file processing/technical competence
  • 33%: Convincing artistic vision and musical treatment

Assessment: Creative Audio Assignment

  • 37.5%: Recording/Sound file processing/technical competence
  • 37.5%: Musical treatment of the material
  • 25%: Written description including support documentation and performance notes

Assessment: In-Class Listening Excerpt

  • 50%: Submission of 2-minute sound file 
  • 50% Written program note including title, artistic vision and reflection

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 Class includes an overview of the Unit of Study outline, setting up DAW accounts, optional introduction to the computer labs and studios. Theory: The dawn of electronic music, recorded sound and Musique Concrète. Tutorial (1 hr) LO2
Week 02 Class includes: Theory - Introducing amplitude, frequency, harmonics and timbre. Introduction to Ableton Live, Logic and audio editing basics in Ableton. Tutorial (1 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 03 Class includes: Theory - Microphone and portable recording basics. If applicable: Short recording excursion using Zoom recorders. Importing and exporting recorded audio, further audio editing tips in Ableton’s ‘Arrangement’ view. Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 04 Class includes: Theory - Manipulating sound through ‘time-domain’ audio editing techniques. An introduction to basic audio effects. Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO5
Week 05 Class includes: Introduction to sampling through use of Ableton’s Sampler, as well as equivalent in Logic. Delivery of feedback on weekly discussion posts. Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 06 Class includes: Theory - MIDI Sequencing and protocol. Composing with the Sampler and manipulating MIDI through recording, transposition, quantisation, inversion, retrograde, note lengths, velocity, and MIDI effects. Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 07 Class includes: Collaborative work on Formative Skills Assessment with guidance from tutor. Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 08 Class includes: Theory - Introduction to sound synthesis. Creation of new synth patches using Ableton or Logic. Introduction to mixing techniques. Tutorial (1 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 09 Class includes: Theory - History and use of reverb and space in electronic works. Survey of different reverb types (mechanical, algorithmic and convolution), using an Impulse Response, creative uses of reverb in a mix. Mixing technique: Bussing and Return tracks. Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 10 Special Projects Week asynchronous class includes: Discussion of various examples of contemporary, electronic & electro-acoustic music. Introduction to the Compressor and further mixing techniques. Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 11 Class includes: Collaborative work on Collaborative Composition. Planning, role assignment, individual composing/curating, etc. Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 12 Class includes: Revision of rendering/exporting files, file types and formats. Collaborative work on Creative Audio Assignment with guidance from tutor. Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO5
Week 13 Class includes: Assessment presentation: in-class listening party. Presentation (1 hr) LO5

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. evaluate the impact of past electronic works and genres, and discuss their relevance to current ways of creating
  • LO2. reflect critically on creative practices and identify possible avenues for improvement in workflow and output
  • LO3. demonstrate confidence in using software for recording, editing, and mixing and apply knowledge gained to other software platforms previously unfamiliar
  • LO4. collaborate with others to create original and innovative musical works
  • LO5. utilise a range of creative editing techniques to compose original and innovative musical works

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.

Of particular note were requests for practical examples across multiple DAWs, a review of the final assignment weighting, and enhancing the social nature of the class - whether online or in person. Changes to the syllabus of Semester 1, 2022 reflects this feedback.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.