(sonicArts) musique concrete project

Although I’ve posted the details of the musique concrète project to Blackboard, I’ll also post it here for ease of linking.

Project Description

Create a concrete music composition using three to five recorded sound sources, lasting at least 1 minute. Your tools will be Audacity or Audition, and classic concrete music editing procedures such as cut/copy/paste, gain change, pitch change, speed change, change of direction, and equalization. All of your editing will be within a stereo audio editor, without the use of vertical layering of sounds. Your focus will be on the processing of audio, and the horizontal arrangement of such audio in sonically interesting ways.

Your sound sources should have some variety of sound and gesture. Some should be short (less than 2 seconds in duration); some should be long (2 to 30 seconds in duration). You may (and should try to) use some sounds from your soundwalk. Other sounds can come from sound effects from CD, downloadable audio from freesound.org, and/or other sounds you record.

Your final stereo file should be in either .wav or .aif format, with a 44.1 kHz sampling rate and 16-bit resolution.


All of your editing will take place within a stereo audio editor (Audacity or Audition). You will not use a multi-track DAW or other multi-track recording/editing software. Your are restricted to the following processes:

  • cut/copy/paste
  • gain change (as an envelope, or overall)
  • playback speed change (with or without maintaining pitch)
  • pitch change (with or without maintaining speed)
  • change of direction (reverse)
  • equalization

Most of the above processes are equivalent to specific analog tape processes used in early concrete music.

You will be graded on (70 points total):

  • The creativity of your final project. Are the sounds processed and used in interesting ways? Does it seem like you explored the sonic potential of your sound sources? (35 pts)
  • The technical proficiency of your final project. There should be no clicks and no distorted amplitudes. (12 pts)
  • Meeting the requirement of the number of sound sources. (5 pts)
  • Meeting the duration requirement. (8 pts)
  • Following turn-in procedure (10 pts)


The objective of the project is to explore the creative possibilities of sounds, to learn proficiency in basic audio editing, and to learn the basic techniques of concrete music.

Turn-in Procedure

Create a folder and name it with your last name and “-project1”. For me, my folder would be kothman-project1. Inside this folder should be the stereo audio file of your final project, and two folders: original sounds and edited sounds. Title your final stereo audio file with the title of your piece. Your project has to have a name, even if it is “Untitled,” or “Etude,” etc. Keep your original audio sound source files, unedited, in the original sounds folder. Any edited sound files will be saved in the edited sounds folder.

Turn in your project folder to me in one of two ways:

  1. Compress your project folder into a single .zip file, upload to cloud-based storage, and email your instructor a link before class begins on the project due date.
  2. Bring a copy of your project folder in to class on the due date via a USB flash drive.

Having an organized system of working is essential in any digital project, be it a computer music project, a video project, or a recording project. It will make backing up your files easier, as well as transferring files between machines for work.