Computer Music (MUSC 216)
Creating Your Own Electronic Music Composition

The term "music" means many different things and is impossible to define in such a away to satisfy all people, cultures, historical periods, etc. For the purpose of this tutorial, we will make some assumptions based on the motivation of the students taking the class. First of all, some definitions:

Sound: Mechanical energy in the form of pressure variances which propagates through some medium such as air, water, metal, etc. Changes in air pressure over time is synonymous with Sound. There is no "BAD" sound. All sounds are "good" and can serve as resource material for Electronic Music. See What Is Sound?

Soundfile: a digital representation of a sound stored in some computer file format such as AIFF or WAV.

Music: organized sound.

Electronic Music: sound which is created and/or manipulated via electronic means and then organized in such a way as to please its creator.

Electronic Music Composition: a soundfile which meets the criteria for Electronic Music.

Audience: the "end user" of the Composition. For whom is the Composition intended?

Art Music: Music created for the purpose of satisfying an aesthetic ideal. Usually Art Music has a value other than utility and its existence or motivation for creation is not necessarily dependent on any inherent commercial value. Art Music may have commercial value but that is not the primary motivation for its creation and dissemination.

Popular Music: Music created for the purpose of satisfying a commercial demand. Popular Music is "popular" by virtue of the fact that it is IN DEMAND and available for mass consumption. When music written in a Popular Style is no longer in demand, it is no longer Popular.

Amateur: Someone who practices an art or craft for a purpose other than primary livelihood (for example, as a hobby or pastime). Also, someone who lacks in experience or craftsmanship in an art or craft to such an extent that they cannot be considered a professional.

Professional: Someone who practices an art or craft such that it is their primary livelihood. Also, someone who has attained a high level of experience, craftsmanship or skill in an art or craft such that they are recognized by other professionals as a peer.

Composer: Someone who creates Music (either Art Music or Popular Music) that is of a high level of skill and/or craftsmanship. A "composer" is by definition a "Professional." "Amateur Composer" is an oxymoron.

Methodology: A procedure or body of methods for accomplishing a goal. A Compositional Methodology is a method followed by a Composer to organize or create a Musical Composition. Here are some compositional methodologies:

- study methodology with a master composer
- deconstruct existing compositions and try to discover their methodologies
- randomly put soundfiles together until you end up with something you like
- use methodologies from other disciplines, for example computer programming (a musical composition is like a computer program - it starts, it runs, it ends)

Creating your own Electronic-Acoustic Music Composition will involve the following procedures:

1. Knowledge of creating and manipulating Soundfiles in JSYD, Amadeus II (or some other soundfile editor), and SoundTrackPro.

2. Libraries of Soundfiles (aiff or WAV files) or Loops which you have created or collected together from diverse sources.

3. A compositional Procedure or Methodology.

Some advise before you begin:

- Don't try to make an Electronic Music Composition that sounds like something you listen to on the radio, for example, Popular Music. Most Popular Music is created using MIDI Sequencer programs, Drum Loop programs, and sophisticated Recording Studio Techniques.

- There is no such thing as a "BAD" sound. All sounds are good and can be used as materials in an Electro-Acoustic Music Composition.

Before you begin: you must have a basic understanding of AmadeusII (or any sound wave editor) and SoundTrack Pro.

Setting Up your Original Composition folder in the SHARED FOLDER

Before you begin, you will need to create a new folder in the Shared Folder to contain any files for your composition that you feel are necessary. Name the new folder: MyComposition.YourLastName.

Next, create new folders INSIDE your Composition folder as needed. For example:

Miscel. Files

Creating Your Original Composition

Here is the process you will use to complete this simple homework assignment:

This homework assignment should be SHORT -- maybe just 10 seconds! The exact soundfiles you use does not matter, but use a minimum of FIVE different sound files.

1. You should submit your Project on a CDR type disk. DO NOT use a CD-RW. With these computers, a CD-RW is not always reliable and may be unreadable.

2. You need a library of sound files. These are either sound files you have created yourself (such as exporting soundfiles from JSYD), or pre-existing sound files such as those in the SoundTrackPro Audio folder. Please ask your instructor for assistance if you cannot locate this.

3. You should place your soundfiles into SoundTrack Pro according to some "plan" or "procedure" as we have discussed in class. A simple procedure involves randomly placing your sounds until you create something which is interesting to you -- a kind of "sound collage."

For this simple homework assignment the soundfile sources you use  can be ANY sound files you have available, particularly:

- soundfiles you have exported (saved) from your JSYD patches.
- recording your own voice
- any other soundfiles you happen to have
- some of the SoundEffects files located in this directory:

YourHardDrive/Library/Audio/Apple Loops/Apple Loops for SoundTrack Pro/ PowerFX Loops/Sound Effects

4. Add envelopes to your soundfiles such as panning and volume. Also add some EFFECTS such as, reverb, chorus, etc. If you have trouble doing this, please ask your instructor for help.

5. Save your SoundTrack Pro document in your OriginalComposition folder and BE SURE to "collect audio files" -- this makes copies of the soundfiles you placed in SoundTrack Pro and places them in your Composition folder.

6. Export your composition as an aiff file ("export mix")

7. Open your exported file in Amadeus.

8. Delete any silence at the beginning or end of your file; NORMALIZE it to 100%.

9. Further process your soundfile in Amadeus as you desire.

10. Save the normalized file in your Composition folder

Submitting your finished composition as a HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT to be graded

Although you are completing this tutorial as a HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT, you will be submitting it on CD to be GRADED and the grade will be equivalent to the grade on a set of Study Questions. The primary rationale for doing this is to prepare you for the procedures you will use in creating your Project 1.

Follow these guidelines to create your CD and submit this homework to be graded:

1. Put a blank CD in the CD drive. You should submit your Project on a CDR type disk. DO NOT use a CD-RW. With these computers, a CD-RW is not always reliable and may be unreadable.

2. You should see a dialog window appear which allows you to NAME your CD. Name your CD:


3. Once you've named your CD, it should mount on your desktop.

4. Drag a copy of your ENTIRE MyComposition folder to the CD. At the very least, the files which should be in your OriginalComposition folder should be:

- Any Subfolders which contain file you determine are necesary
- Your completed SoundTrackPro file Composition
- The COLLECTED soundfiles
- An AIFF file version of your Composition which has been editied and NORMALIZED in AMADEUSii

5. To BURN the CD, either drag it to the trash (which has been replaced with a BURN icon), or choose BURN DISK under the file menu. You can also eject the CD without burning it by choosing "Eject Untitled CD" under the file menu.

6. Once you've burned your CD, label it with a PERMANENT MARKER. If you don't have a permanent marker you should purchase one in the Bookstore. As you label your CD, include this information:

- Title: My Homework Composition
- Your name
- Your phone#
- Your email address

7. You are required to submit your CD in a CD jewel case or paper CD sleeve.

How this Homework Assignment will be graded:

You should submit your Project on a CDR type disk. DO NOT use a CD-RW. With these computers, a CD-RW is not always reliable and may be unreadable. Submitting the assingment on a CD-RW may result in you getting no credit for this assingment.

1. CD is labeled properly (see above) = 5%
2. CD is submitted in a CD jacket = 5%
3. CD contains the entire My Composition Folder = 10%
4. CD contains the SoundTrackPro file version of your Composition = 15%
5. CD contains the COLLECTED sound files for you Comosition = 15%
5. CD contains the mixed and normalized AIFF file version of your Composition = 20%
6. The SoundTrackPro version of your Composition works and meets the minimum criteria = 10%

- at lease 4 soundfiles on different tracks
- pan and volume envelopes are demonstrated
- effects are demonstrated on at least one track

7. The AIFF file version of your Composition works and and sounds good = 20%

Submit your CD to the instructor as described in the Class Schedule. You can submit your CD late but you will not get full credit. See Late Assignments.

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