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Creative Music Computing


Canvas and Module Guide
Facebook group

Timetable Semester 1 2016-17
Class/Workshop Monday 1200-1400 Hel040
Richard Hoadley's office and feedback hours
(teaching weeks only)
Monday 1300-1500
Tuesday 1200-1300

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to top of page  Summary

In this course students undertake study in high-level programming languages, investigating modes of interaction with hardware and software including graphical user interface design and elements of algorithmic control of musical patterning. In particular students will look at the interrelationships between these elements and learn how to implement important features of them in software. In order to help understand the nature of technology and its effect on music, students are asked to undertake a series of tasks culminating in the conception and implementation of projects of their own devising, for instance, a composition - either algorithmic or for live performance, a piece of functional music software or a performance tool based around an external hardware unit. Students will submit their collected exercises in a portfolio, to be accompanied by a brief critical evaluation, which should reference the current literature on creative music computing and should place the student's work in the context of current trends in creative music programming as well as providing a basis for the student's own criteria and judgement.


to top of page  Outcomes

  1. 1. Utilise knowledge of a variety of resources through customised software control.
  2. 2. Create simple audio software for utility, investigative or creative purposes , demonstrating a knowledge of digital sound from a creative, theoretical and practical standpoint.
  3. 3. Appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches to human/machine interaction.
  4. 4. Create a pre-recorded or live composition in which distinctive and original sounds are derived from one or more of these hardware resources.

to top of page  Assessments & Submission


The Logbook

All work on tasks and presentations as well as documentation of your projects should be collected together into a Logbook. You can optionally include a physical copy of the logbook, but an electronic verision must be submitted. You are encouraged to submit the logbook and any additional material on a thumb drive.

The logbook is worth 60% of your total mark.

The logbook should include:

  • A week by week log of your work and activities. It is recommended that you maintain your logbook each week.
  • photographs and videos of each task, including screenshots of any code that you have used
  • a written description of aims, int entions and outcomes
  • a critical evaluation of compositions and patches. You should reference other examples and practitioners in the field to contextualise your work in the light of others' work.
  • You may use up to 500 words (~250 words tasks, ~250 words critical reflection).

The logbook can be compiled using any word processing software, but can only be submitted as a pdf document. Refer to submitted movies from within the logbook, and include the movies separately in the submission. Images can, of course, be included in the logbook.

  • There is an absolute limit of 700MB data per submission. Submissions which include more than this amount of data will lost 5% of marks per 50MB exceeded. So, a 750MB submission would lose 5%, an 850MB submission 15%;
  • Please ensure that any videos you include are compressed (e.g. mp4), rather than dv. We are not interested in super-high-quality video for assessment purposes.
  • All documentation must be submitted in electronic versions.
  • A recorded version of your composition/performance;
  • Guidelines on how to use the item (these should be checked with a colleague to ensure that they are properly usable). Please include photographs/videos of the item in operation, including any software or firmware developed.
  • For information about the presentation, please see below or this document.
  • All assignments should be submitted to the i-centre by 2pm on 2pm Tuesday December 19th 2017
  • You need to submit a minimum of four assessable tasks, plus one project - you choose.
  • All material should be submitted in the form of a logbook (see above).

The final deadline for final submission of all material is 2pm Tuesday December 19th 2017.

It is essential that you read this document for full details of your submission.


to top of page  Task and Project Summary


  Task Set Due Value (%)
Final submission for all material including tasks is 2pm Tuesday December 19th 2017.
1 Introduction - what have you done? - software used - Pure Data, Csound, Chuck and more - Max for Live w1i w3i NOT assessable
2 Demos of your previous work - Computer Vision w1i w13i assessable (15%)
3 Controllers - Fiddle/Bonk/Gate Task w3i w13i assessable (15%), EACH!
4 Breakbeat-Cutting in MaxMSP w4i w13i assessable (15%)
5 Breaking Glass Task w5i w13i assessable (15%)
6 Generative Composition Using SC 1 - Generative Composition Using SC 2 w6i w13i assessable (15%)
7 Guided Study Week w7i w13i not assessable (0%)
8 Generative Composition Using SC 3: using a GUI w8i w13i assessable (15%)
9 Max for Live (revision) w9i w13i assessable (15%)
10 Creative Computing Presentations w10i w13i assessable (15%)
11 & 12 Demos, compositions performances w11i w12i assessable (40%)
MaxMSP or Supercollider Project Choose some aspect of MaxMSP, MaxMSP, Max for Live and Ableton or Supercollider to concentrate on and complete a creative project for performance and/or submission in week 12i. If your submission is a performance, it should last approximately 2-3 minutes. If you'd like to use any other software, please discuss with the course tutor.

You can choose to use different software packages together or separately.

Full submission details are here.
w10i w12i 40%

The final deadline for final submission of all material is 2pm Tuesday December 19th 2017.


to top of page  Assessment Criteria

Your work will be marked according to the criteria set out in the document Artefact Creation (document available via University Login only).

to top of page  Tutorial Groups

Tutorial Groups
SID	Name
N.B. You are all invited to attend each week, but if you do so you must have prepared something for us to look at.
If you feel that you do not need to attend that is fine, but please let me know in order to release the time for those who feel that they need it...

Please come a little earlier if you can. Feel free to sit in on other tutorials as you may learn something! Be prepared to stay a little later if necessary.


to top of page  Performance Programme

Performance Programme
Please read the detailed submission notes
SIDNameemail time
SIDNameemail addresstime


to top of page  Course Outline

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Semester 1

Week Focus Project/Task Set
Weeks 1-4: Max/MSP
- Things to do first
- Assessments
- Revision of material from 
Fundamentals of Computer Music
- Getting Help

- Other basic programming, introductory enviroments:
-- Scratch
-- Processing

- Also check out PD

Task 1
 - Introduction - what have you done? - software used - Pure Data, Csound, Chuck and more - Max for Live
Introduction including other software
Due: w3i
Weighting: NOT assessable
task summary |  Canvas
- See Reading/Listening list
- Check that you are clear about 
Max/MSP external objects

Aims and Outcomes
- understand the idea of external objects
- use certain common methods in Max/MSP

- Contributes to outcome 1
- Projects
- some ideas and previous 
cohorts' examples
- reverse engineering, degrade~, etc.
- Designing Sound by Andy Farnell
-- http://aspress.co.uk/ds/about_book.php
- Investigate some examples of Intermedia Art and 
consider the notion of visualisation and cross-domain expression

- Tasks (Max/MSP)
- look through the course materials and begin
to consider what you might want to undertake
for the Max/MSP Project
Task 2
 - Demos of your previous work - Computer Vision

Due: w13i
Weighting: assessable (15%)
task summary |  Canvas
- Pitch tracking, beat following and gating

Aims and Outcomes
- understand some of the work and ideas behind
speech and voice synthesis

- Contributes to outcomes 2, 4
- Fiddle~ Bonk~ and Gate...

- Tasks (Max/MSP)
Task 3
 - Controllers - Fiddle/Bonk/Gate Task
Using Controllers, Fiddle~, Bonk~ and Gate~ in MaxMSP.
Due: w13i
Weighting: assessable (15%), EACH!
task summary |  Canvas
- Prepare some sort of proposal concerning
what you might attempt for the 
The MaxMSP Project

Aims and Outcomes
- Different types of synthesis using MaxMSP
- Starting out with Algorithms in MaxMSP

- Contributes to outcome 1
Manipulating sample lengths mathematically.

- investigate different types of synthesis
and their implementation in MaxMSP

The Max/MSP Project
- MaxMSP Project
Task 4
 - Breakbeat-Cutting in MaxMSP
Manipulating sample lengths mathematically.
Due: w13i
Weighting: assessable (15%)
task summary |  Canvas
- Using Algorithms in MaxMSP
Task 5
 - Breaking Glass Task
Synthesising Sound in MaxMSP.
Due: w13i
Weighting: assessable (15%)
task summary |  Canvas
Weeks 6-10: SuperCollider
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Generative Music/Algorithms.
- Download SuperCollider
Task 6
 - Generative Composition Using SC 1 - Generative Composition Using SC 2
Generative Music/Algorithms.
Due: w13i
Weighting: assessable (15%)
task summary |  Canvas
Generative Music/Algorithms.
- SC140 Project
- External objects and libraries
- Presentations during week 9
Task 7
 - Guided Study Week
Generative Music/Algorithms.
Due: w13i
Weighting: not assessable (0%)
task summary |  Canvas
- Writing generative music/algorithms with SuperCollider using a GUI

- Tutorials

Task 8
 - Generative Composition Using SC 3: using a GUI
Writing generative music/algorithms with SuperCollider using a GUI
Due: w13i
Weighting: assessable (15%)
task summary |  Canvas
- cmc2a
- Tutorials
Task 9
 - Max for Live (revision)
Using Max and Ableton Live together
Due: w13i
Weighting: assessable (15%)
task summary |  Canvas
Weeks 11-12: Tutorials and Performance
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- Max for Live
- Tutorials
Task 10
 - Creative Computing Presentations
Prepare and deliver a presentation based on an area of interest related to the course.
Due: w13i
Weighting: assessable (15%)
task summary |  Canvas
- Presentations

- Project Tutorials: 
if you are not able to attend 
during class time please make 
an appointment with RH during 
his feedback/office hours.
- Small Group/Individual Tutorials


to top of page  General Resources

Max/MSP and Supercollider are our basic platforms. Max/MSP is available from Cycling74.


to top of page  Reading/Listening

Included on MDF:

Collins, N., Cottle, D. M. and Wilson, S., (eds) (2010). The SuperCollider Book. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
Cope, D. (2005). Computer models of musical creativity. Cambridge, Mass.:MIT Press.
Loy, D. G. (2006). Musimathics : the mathematical foundations of music. Cambridge, Mass. & London: MIT Press.
Miranda, E. R. (2001). Composing music with computers. Oxford: Focal.
Miranda, E. R. and M. M. Wanderley (2006). New digital musical instruments : control and interaction beyond the keyboard. Middleton, Wis.: A-R Editions.

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