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Unit of study_

CMPN1013: Creative Music Technology

Semester 1, 2024 [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
Type Description Weight Due Length
Small continuous assessment Participation and Engagement
Participating in fortnightly discussion tasks and watching lectures.
20% Multiple weeks Discussion tasks of 100-200 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Presentation Creative Audio Assignment
Demonstrate creative skills & artistic reflection. 2min Q&A in Wk12.
40% STUVAC
Due date: 30 May 2024 at 23:59
3-6 min sound work, 2min Q&A in Wk12
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO5 LO3
Online task Early Feedback Task - Canvas quiz
Mandatory Canvas quiz based on unit content #earlyfeedbacktask
0% Week 03
Due date: 07 Mar 2024 at 23:59
10mins
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Assignment Collaborative Feedback Task
Share your assignment progress and create a reflection from peer feedback
10% Week 06
Due date: 28 Mar 2024 at 23:59
400-500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4
Presentation Formative Skills Assessment
Practice DAW skills and artistic reflection. 2min Q&A in class in week 7
20% Week 08
Due date: 18 Apr 2024 at 23:59
1 min sound work, 2min Q&A in week 7
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3
Assignment Creative Audio Assignment: Work-In-Progress Submission
Deliver a 2-minute work-in-progress and 100-200 word program note
10% Week 13
Due date: 21 May 2024 at 23:59
2-minute work-in-progress file
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3

Early feedback task

This unit includes an early feedback task, designed to give you feedback prior to the census date for this unit. Details are provided in the Canvas site and your result will be recorded in your Marks page. It is important that you actively engage with this task so that the University can support you to be successful in this unit.

Assessment summary

Participation and Engagement Tasks:

This component of the class is designed to give a broad overview of the historical use of new technologies in composition, to stimulate discussion and to extend student learning in technical areas.

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 reflecting on the discussion question for that week. The responses should be 200-400 words long. 

Students are also required to briefly respond to at least ONE other student post (at least 100 words long). 

Collaborative Feedback Task:  

Work with an assigned group of 3-5 students to present on your Formative Skills Assessment project-in-progress, and provide constructive feedback to fellow group members. You will submit an individual reflection on the feedback session, describing how you will implement the feedback received.

Formative Skills Assessment: 

Compose a 1-minute sound work using only the audio samples provided and the skills covered in class. You will also be required to reflect on the work during a brief informal discussion with your tutor, in class before submission.

Assessment Detail:

This assessment will allow you to demonstrate your proficiency with recorded sound. Using the samples provided (samples will be made available at the start of Semester), create a short audio-based composition of 1-minute duration displaying skills learned so far. Your work may be in any style, but should show knowledge of basic audio editing, arrangement and mixing, sampling, audio effects, etc. and draw influence from at least one existing electroacoustic work.

Students are required to engage in a brief discussion with their tutor on their work-in-progress, ahead of the submission date. This will take place during tutorials in the preceding weeks. Typically, your tutor will listen to your work and ask you about your creative or technical choices to date. This is also the opportunity to receive feedback on the work.

Creative Audio Assignment: Work-In-Progress Submission:  

Deliver a 2-minute excerpt of your work-in-progress for the class listening party in Week 13. It is not expected that your track will be complete by this point, but the presented excerpt should be a strong draft. Accompanying this, you will provide a 100-200 word program note to be displayed to the class while your track is played. The program note should include a working title, a description of the artistic goals for the work, and a brief description of how it will be improved before your final submission.

Creative Audio Assignment: 

Compose an original creative audio work of 3-6 minutes. You will also be required to hold a brief informal discussion on your work in class with your tutor.

Assessment Detail:

Students choose from two possible formats for this composition 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.

Students are required to engage in a brief discussion with their tutor on their work-in-progress, ahead of the submission date. This will take place during tutorials in the preceding weeks. Typically, your tutor will listen to your work and ask you about your creative or technical choices to date. This is also the opportunity to receive feedback on the work.

Students are also required to submit their complete DAW project file with all external sound files included (see Canvas page for more information).

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: Collaborative Feedback Task

  • 33%: Genuine and live participation in the group task
  • 33%: Description of project and feedback contributions
  • 33%: Reflection on feedback and future implementation

Assessment: Formative Skills Assessment

  • 40%: Recording/Sound file processing/technical competence
  • 30%: Musical treatment of the material
  • 30%: Participation in reflective discussion

Assessment: Creative Audio Assignment In-Class Listening Excerpt

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

Assessment: Creative Audio Assignment

  • 37.5%: Recording/Sound file processing/technical competence
  • 37.5%: Musical treatment of the material
  • 25%: Participation in reflective discussion

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:

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.

Support for students

The Support for Students Policy 2023 reflects the University’s commitment to supporting students in their academic journey and making the University safe for students. It is important that you read and understand this policy so that you are familiar with the range of support services available to you and understand how to engage with them.

The University uses email as its primary source of communication with students who need support under the Support for Students Policy 2023. Make sure you check your University email regularly and respond to any communications received from the University.

Learning resources and detailed information about weekly assessment and learning activities can be accessed via Canvas. It is essential that you visit your unit of study Canvas site to ensure you are up to date with all of your tasks.

If you are having difficulties completing your studies, or are feeling unsure about your progress, we are here to help. You can access the support services offered by the University at any time:

Support and Services (including health and wellbeing services, financial support and learning support)
Course planning and administration
Meet with an Academic Adviser

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 Ableton accounts (if using), going over assignments, 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, including fades and clipping. Tutorial includes: practical implementation of techniques and saving first project. Complete Early Feedback Task in class. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 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 Zooms or mobile recorders in groups of 3-5. 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. Finalise Collaborative Feedback Task groups and plan feedback sessions. 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. Tutorial includes: Practical implementation of techniques. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO5
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: Work on Formative Skills Assessment with roving feedback from the tutor. Assessment due at end of Week 8. 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. Formative Skills Assessment due 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, use of Return Tracks. Introduction to Creative Audio Assignment. No tutorial due to ANZAC Day public holiday. Lecture (1 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 10 SPECIAL PROJECTS WEEK. No lecture or tutorial this week. Drop-in sessions available to discuss Week 9 tutorial tasks (missed due to Anzac Day). Tutorial (1 hr) LO5
Week 11 Lecture includes: Introduction to the Compressor, Limiter, 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 selected techniques, + rendering/exporting files, file types and formats. Work on Creative Audio Assignment with roving feedback from tutor. Discussion of future avenues to continue experimental practices. Creative Audio Assignment WIP due next week. 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, Program Leader, or relevant Unit of Study Coordinator. The Dean, Head of School, Program Leader or relevant Unit of Study Coordinator 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%.

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 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

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.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time such as an assignment, 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 or during the semester , 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, the USYD AI in Education Canvas Module 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.

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.