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Unit of study_

CMPN1013: Creative Music Technology

Semester 2, 2023 [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
Prohibitions
? 
None
Prerequisites
? 
None
Corequisites
? 
None
Assumed knowledge
? 

None

Available to study abroad and exchange students

Yes

Teaching staff

Coordinator Alexis Weaver, alexis.weaver@sydney.edu.au
Lecturer(s) Alexis Weaver, alexis.weaver@sydney.edu.au
Tutor(s) Adam Karl Melzer, adam.melzer@sydney.edu.au
Liam Mulligan, liam.mulligan@sydney.edu.au
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation Participation and Engagement
Participating in fortnightly discussion tasks and watching lectures.
20% Multiple weeks Discussion tasks of 100-200 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Creative assessment / demonstration Creative Audio Assignment
Demonstrate creative application of skills and artistic reflection
40% STUVAC
Due date: 10 Nov 2023 at 23:59
3-6 min sound work, written reflection
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO5
Assignment group assignment Collaborative Composition Task
Create a collaborative sound work
10% Week 06
Due date: 08 Sep 2023 at 23:59
1-2 min sound work, 500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5
Creative assessment / demonstration Formative Skills Assessment
Practice DAW skills and artistic reflection
20% Week 08
Due date: 22 Sep 2023 at 23:59
1 min sound work, 2 min video or podcast
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
Presentation Creative Audio Assignment: Work-In-Progress Submission
Deliver a 2-minute work-in-progress and 100-200 word program for tutorial
10% Week 13
Due date: 01 Nov 2023 at 23:59
2-minute work-in-progress
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

Participation and Engagement Tasks:

Participation in online discussions pertaining to fortnightly listening, reading or video tasks.

Engagement with online lecture videos (i.e. watching full lecture, participating in occasional commented discussions and quizzes). 

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 at least 200 words long. 

Collaborative Composition Task:  

Work with an assigned group of 3-5 students to generate a creative sound work of 1-2 minutes. You will also submit a group and individual reflection. 

Assessment Detail:

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 4 will be allocated for work on this task.

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:

This assessment will allow you demonstrated your proficiency with recorded sounds. Using the samples provided (samples will be available by the end of Week 4), create a short audio-based composition 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, 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.

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 options for the composition portion of this task:

Option 1: Compose an electroacoustic sound work of between 3 - 6 minutes in length. This may include a live instrumental or vocal component, but if so should be accompanied by a score. 

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.

APPLIES TO ALL OPTIONS:

  • 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. Vocal samples and pre-made drum loops are heavily discouraged. 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.

Submission:

All materials are to be submitted to the relevant assignment portal within 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, 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.

Creative Audio Assignment: Work-In-Progress 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

- brief description of how it will be improved before your 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.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

All late submissions will incur a penalty of 5% mark deduction per day, in line with the University of Sydney late submission policy. 

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 Lecture includes an overview of the Unit of Study outline, the advent of electronic music, recorded sound and Musique Concrète. Tutorial: setting up DAW accounts, determining assignment groups, and introduction to the computer labs and studios. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 02 Lecture includes: Introducing amplitude, frequency, harmonics and timbre. Introduction to Ableton Live, Logic and audio editing basics in Ableton. Tutorial includes: practical implementation of techniques. Introduce Collaborative Composition Task. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 03 Lecture includes: Microphone and portable recording basics. Importing and exporting recorded audio, further audio editing tips in Ableton’s ‘Arrangement’ view. Tutorial includes: practical implementation of techniques. If applicable: Short recording excursion using Zoom or mobile recorders in Collaborative Composition Task groups. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 04 Lecture includes: Manipulating sound through ‘time-domain’ audio editing techniques. An introduction to basic audio effects. Tutorial includes: Practical implementation of techniques. Collaborative work on Collaborative Composition Task. Planning, role assignment, individual composing/curating, etc. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 05 Lecture includes: Introduction to sampling through use of Ableton’s Sampler. Delivery of feedback on weekly discussion posts. Introduction of Formative Skills Assessment. Tutorial includes: Practical implementation of techniques. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 06 Lecture includes: MIDI Sequencing and protocol. Composing with the Sampler and manipulating MIDI through recording, transposition, quantisation, inversion, retrograde, note lengths, velocity, and MIDI effects. Tutorial includes: Practical implementation of techniques. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 07 No lecture this week. Class includes: Collaborative work on Formative Skills Assessment with guidance from tutor. Assessment due at end of Week 7. Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5
Week 08 Lecture includes: Introduction to sound synthesis. Creation of new synth patches using Ableton or Logic. Introduction to mixing techniques. Tutorial: Practical implementation of techniques. Mid-Semester break occurs after this week. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3
Week 09 Lecture includes: 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. Introduction to Creative Audio Assignment. Tutorial: Practical implementation of techniques. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 10 Special Projects Week: no lecture nor tutorial this week. Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 11 Lecture includes: Introduction to the Compressor and further mixing techniques. Discussion of various examples of contemporary, electronic & electro-acoustic music. Tutorial: Practical implementation of techniques. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 12 No lecture this week. Tutorial includes: Revision of rendering/exporting files, file types and formats. Collaborative work on Creative Audio Assignment with guidance from tutor. Discussion of future avenues to continue experimental practices. Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO5
Week 13 No lecture this week. Tutorial includes: Assessment presentation at in-class listening party. Creative Audio Assignment due in STUVAC. 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
GQ1 GQ2 GQ3 GQ4 GQ5 GQ6 GQ7 GQ8 GQ9

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

A heartfelt thank you to all students who completed the Unit of Study Survey for CMPN1013! Generally speaking, results show that the structure of the class and tutor support are strong elements of this course. Suggestions included a longer in-person tutorial time, more time for group tasks, and more focus on inter-DAW skills. These suggestions will be incorporated wherever possible for Semester 2, 2023.

Disclaimer

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.