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Unit of study_

MUSC3603: Advanced Digital Music Techniques

Semester 2, 2023 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit is an advanced exploration of digital sound and music in creative and multimedia contexts. It is a subject in which students are expected to make sophisticated use of sound creation and manipulation tools in pursuit of their own musical ideas. Students will undertake creative projects as a means to learning. An ability to read music at a basic level and an understanding of fundamental musical terminology is an advantage in this unit of study.

Unit details and rules

Unit code MUSC3603
Academic unit
Credit points 6
MUSC2653 or CMPN1013 or MUED1002
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Damian Barbeler,
Lecturer(s) Damian Barbeler,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Presentation Group Presentation - Adventures in Production Land
Multi Media Group Presentation In Class
10% Multiple weeks 10 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO9 LO7 LO6 LO4 LO3 LO2
Participation Participation/Attendance/Contribution
The student engages actively in tasks, discussions and creative activities.
10% Ongoing na
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO9 LO3 LO2
Assignment Composing task 2 - Choose your own Adventure
Sound-based Creative Art Work
Due date: 10 Nov 2023 at 23:59
5-8 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5 LO7 LO8 LO9
Assignment Composing task 1 - Remix Heaven
Composition and written task
20% Week 05
Due date: 01 Sep 2023 at 23:59
2-3 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO7 LO8 LO9
Assignment Fix the Mix
Mixing Task and Process Diary
30% Week 09
Due date: 06 Oct 2023 at 23:59
various depending on task chosen
Outcomes assessed: LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9

Assessment summary

  • Composing task 1 - Psychedelic Remix: Create an inventive, exploratory, “Psychedelic” Remix or Mashup focused primarily (but not exclusively) around an unusual (possibly non-musical) short audio sample. Include a variety of musical/sound layers. The sample should be short: ideally a few seconds or less (20 seconds absolute max). Create a process diary (1000 words equivalent) explaining your artistic vision, research, workflow and showing screenshots of typical examples of your working in the digital audio workstation of your choice. The blog tone may be diary style. Reference/acknowledge all sound sources that are not created by you.
  • Fix the Mix: Choose one of the given audio file sets and fix the arrangment and mixing. Use your knowledge of mixing, arranging, physics of sound and artistic vision to create a finished, broadcast-standard product. Create reflection diary as per the 1st assignment.
  • Composing task 3 - Choose your own adventure: Create a digital artwork of your devising. Present this in “studio” form and in some form in the live SHOWCASE presentation at the end of semester.  Online blog must be prepared like other assignments.
  • Adventures in Production Land – Group in-class presentation. Present a case study featuring recent groundbreaking and/or high-end sound-related production techniques, creative approach, workflow or technology. The work could be a song, installation or album etc, from any genre. The case study must be from the last 10 years.  Demonstrate technical information, use diagrams and images, and practical examples in a DAW or live performance.
  • Participation/Attendance/Contribution – In-class participation including: group creative tasks in class, class discussion contribution, group presentations and general active creative, thoughtful reflection and contribution. Takes into account presenting regular and timely drafts of creative work in tutorial time. An open minded, active and exploratory attitude in class and in projects. N.B. just attending class is equivalent of a CREDIT and active regular participation and contributions will attract higher marks.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The following assessment criteria are used for Composing and Documenting of work in this unit of study:

Result name

Mark range


High distinction


Demonstrates high level of initiative in researching technical methods. Compelling, elegant artistic vision.  Sophisticated critical analysis of own creative work; high level engagement with quality production, sound sources and considered workflows and drafting. Innovative composing: music expressed with originality and precision. A sophisticated application of creative and technical methods; engaging musicality and underlying understanding of communication with an audience. Final products are highly professional and of a professional broadcast standard. Documentation is informative and gives deep insights into creative and other processes. Supporting documentation of workings are detailed and relevant. A strong personal ‘voice’ apparent in the musical expression.


75 - 84

Demonstrates initiative in research and technical methods. Clear artistic vision. Good critical analysis of own creative work; engagement with quality production, bespoke sound sources and regular drafting. Well crafted composing: music expressed with emotion and conviction. Careful application of methods with musicality and underlying understanding of communication with an audience. Final products are near professional and of a near broadcast standard. Documentation is informative and gives insights into creative and other processes. A sense of an emerging personal ‘voice’ apparent in the musical expression.


65 - 74

Some independent research into technical methods. Artistic vision is present but not full focused. Reflection on own creative work; clear and mostly well made production. Thoughtful composing: music expressed solidly though lacking genuine emotion. Demonstration of methods learned in class, good and possibly inconsistent musicality. Good craft with some sense of communication with an audience. Final products are clean and transparent with certain inconsistencies in production standard. Documentation is informative without being genuinely insightful. Competent reproduction of established styles or genres.


50 - 64

Work meets basic requirements of research, composing, structure and musical presentation. Mixing is well presented but rudimentary with moments of poor clarity or disfunctional sound quality. Heavy relliance on pre-existing loops. Tendency to reproduction of models rather than invention and adaptation. Inconsistency in mixing and sound sources are largely drawn from libraries rather than being bespoke. Documentation is brief and not giving a full impression of the creative process.


0 - 49

Work may fail for any or all of the following reasons: incomplete or missing compositions; large sections of music incomplete or cut and paste from other artist’s work without any creative adaptation on the part of the student. Unbalanced mixing, or lack of mixing so that the music is muddy and difficult to hear. Lack of genuine engagement with the creative process. Lack of application of techniques from class. No artistic vision. Absent of very brief and superficial documentation with no screenshots of working.

For more information see

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:

Late penalties will be applied in accordance with section 7a of the University of Sydney "Assessment Proceedures 2011".

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 Introduction, Course Structure and Approach, Revision of fundamentals of sound and sound production. Intro to 1st assignment. Group Listening Task. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 02 Examples of professional musical workflows. Developing and "defending" high quality, idiosyncratic content. Creativity and Inspiration. Preparation for group presentations. Group Listening Task. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO5 LO6 LO9
Week 03 Mixing: Professional approaches to filtering. Mixing Strategies and Workflows. DAW mixing case study. Practical Group Mixing Exercise. Feedback on student drafts. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 04 Professional case studies of interesting/pioneering production techniques and workflows. Introduction of 2nd assignment. Group Presentations. Group Listening Task. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO9
Week 05 Digital and Analogue Music Rigs, peripherals and protocols. Survey of high end hardware and software. Group Presentations. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6 LO7 LO9
Week 06 Mixing Techniques and examples. Group Presentations. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO8 LO9
Week 07 Mixing Techniques and Examples. Group Presentations. Introduction final assignment. Showcase preparation. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 08 Case studies in multi-art and interactive work. Mixing Techniques. Showcase preparation. Group Presentations. Student feedback on drafts. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO8 LO9
Week 09 Showcase preparation. Mixing techniques. Student feedback for final assignment. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO9
Week 10 Feedback on student drafts of final works, mixing techniques Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 11 Feedback on student drafts of final works, mixing techniques Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 12 Final Production considerations, Basic Mastering and Delivery considerations. SHOWCASE PRESENTATION. Lecture and tutorial (2 hr) LO1 LO5 LO7

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 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 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. Understand the development of a variety of electronic music instruments and effects across the twentieth and twenty first centuries in a wide variety of genres.
  • LO2. Employ digital music terminology and relate such terminology to real-world professional audio scenarios.
  • LO3. Learn creative production workflows including using virtual instruments, step sequencers, digital samplers, drum machines and mixers in an applied workflow.
  • LO4. Analyse case studies of workflows and technical solutions through sound-alike exercises.
  • LO5. Consider content delivery as part of that workflow including mastering for that context.
  • LO6. Learn advanced strategies for mixing, eqing and spectral analysis, to improve clarity of overall tracks, as well as for experimentation and innovation.
  • LO7. Document the creative process and report on your chosen workflow and influences to demonstrate your understanding of prior work.
  • LO8. Make informed choices when selecting sound synthesis, audio effects and other digital methods in the creation of new work.
  • LO9. Learn a range of techniques for creating custom musical materials, as well as the techniques behind sculpting and developing such materials as opposed to relying exclusively on pre-made, commercial resources.

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.

No changes.


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

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