(musTh625) project 1: simple musique concrète

Due Tuesday (note the different meeting day), 5/21, at our class meeting.


Compose a short work (45 – 60 seconds) utilizing musique concrète techniques. Use Audacity and its basic editing features to edit, process, and assemble your project. Audio source material can come from any prerecorded source. In general, it is helpful to have audio sources that are active (the sound varies over shorter periods of time) and contain some richness of frequency content. You must have at least three different sound sources to start with.

You will edit and process your sounds using the basic techniques of musique concrète outlined in the previous post, namely

  • cut/copy/paste
  • gain/amplitude change (overall, or as an envelope)
  • changing playback speed (with or without changing pitch)
  • reversing audio (change direction)

Form does not have to be much of a concern. The ethos of concrete music is experimentation with sound. Anything that sounds interesting from moment to moment will work as a composition in this short format. It can be best to think in terms of gestural or continual variation, whereby anything material that is presented can be subject to immediate variation.

Your project cannot consist entirely of looped material. It can be assembled with regards to tempo and metric hierarchy, but be warned that doing so is difficult in Audacity. Also, your focus should be on musical gestures, not simply repeated patterns.


  • Duration: 45 – 60 seconds
  • Audio editing and processing techniques limited to those outlined above.
  • The project must rely on gesture as a primary component of the work.

Additional factors you will be graded on:

  • Creativity: are your edited sounds interesting, and used in interesting ways in the project? 
  • Quality of edits and finished audio: you should not have audible clicks at beginnings or ends of edited audio, and your audio should not distort (it should not go over the maximum amplitude).
  • Organization of files and following turn-in procedure: is there a finished, mixed audio file? can I open your project file and play back all the tracks and parts contained?
  • Use of the required minimum number of sound sources

Work Procedure/Organization

  • Create a project folder. Name it with your first name and “-project1.” For example, my project folder would be keith-project1.
  • Within the project folder, create a folder that contains your original source sound files (name it original sounds). These files will contain the specific segments of audio you used to start your editing. If you are using snippets from larger works or sound files, your original sounds folder will contain the edited snippets – not the entire file.
  • Once you start working in Audacity, save your Audacity project inside your project1 folder.
  • Effects and edits are applied to your audio in tracks, but do not change the original audio files. You might want to consider adding work tracks to use for creating edits and processes, from which you copy audio into playback tracks. You can solo and mute the work tracks as needed.
  • Save your project before you mix and render. Use File | Export… to save an aiff version of your final project in your project1 folder. DO NOT SAVE YOUR MIXED PROJECT WITH THE SAME NAME (OVERWRITING) AS YOUR MULTIPLE TRACK PROJECT.
  • Compress your entire project1 folder and turn in that compressed folder to me on Tuesday in class (via some type of removable media or cloud storage).


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