Detailed Assessment Information

1: Make Your Own Project

You will be divided into a number of small orchestras. Each member of each orchestra is required to create a musical instrument. The group will then compose and perform music for these instruments. Marks will be awarded for imagination and technical ability, including performance skills as well as the visual appearance of the instruments. Documentation should include a short written description of your part in the performance and a video of you demonstrating your own instrument in a short musical performance.


2: Bioacoustics Project

In consulation with the Module Tutor, design, propose and implement a project based on one or more of the ideas behind bioacoustics. The nature of the project can be ecological as well as aesthetic, and should in any case include an ecological element – that is, a study of a certain acoustic soundscape and the interplay of sounds and sound-making objects within that enviroment.

It’s important that you understand the range of opportunity here. On one level, there are forms of’pure’ bioacoustics. These are based on ideas by Murray Schafer and Bernie Krause. Pure bioacoustics (my own term) is the archival and analysis of very specific ecological environments. In many instances there is a sense of urgency, as some of these environments are disappearing fast. Many have commented on the disappearance of the rain forests of South America, for example, but few have taken into account that the acoustic environments of these areas are disappearing too.

Bernie Krause, in particular, has noted how in natural undisturbed environments different groups of creatures come to inhabit particular sonic bands. If unnatural sonic disturbances occur, these bands are disrupted and if the disturbance continues for a time, the ecology suffers and changes as a direct result. There are examples where species have left a region due to chain-saw, or aeroplane sound, etc.

In general, the balance should be towards undisturbed recording and analysis of soundscapes, although a degree of creativity with regard to this presentation/analysis is fine. Examples might include a contrast between different soundscapes, an experiment in the moving of one soundscape into another (the sound of a wide open space into a busy area)…

Possible Projects

  • Pure bioacoustic recording, survey and analysis
  • Listening: environment details: trees, plants, elements, [Antarctic data jam]
  • Try listening to natural things in ‘stressful’ situations: ice under pressure, walking through hay or straw or on stones, etc.
  • The Computational Beauty of Nature
  • Try recording the sound of ‘natural’ things under stress, for instance glass, crystals, pottery, stone, etc., with a hammer and then investigate slowing down the sounds and investigating their properties and, incidentally, their expressive potential.

A written analysis should be included with your recording analysing and commenting on the following issues:

  • The precise details of your project/recording. So, for instance, location, time of day and any particular features;
  • If you are submitting two recordings for contrast then details of each should be included;
  • If your recording includes particular technical acheivements (for instance, recording trees, or bacteria), please include details of equipment used, designed, etc.
  • For more information concerning this sort of analysis please refer to Krause and Shafer (see below);


Bibliography for Bioacoustics Project

  • Krause, B. L. (1998). Into a wild sanctuary : a life in music & natural sound. Berkeley, Calif., Heyday Books.
  • Foley, R. Humans before humanity : an evolutionary perspective, Oxford :
  • Blackwell, 1995 ([1997 printing]).
  • Rothenberg, D. and M. Ulvaeus (2001). The book of music and nature : an anthology of sounds, words, thoughts. Middletown, Conn., Wesleyan University Press.
  • Schafer, R. M. (1980). The tuning of the world : toward a theory of soundscape design. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Dunn, D. (1999). Why do whales and children sing? : a guide to listening in nature. Santa Fe, Earth Ear.
  • Marler, P. and H. Slabbekoorn (2004). Nature’s music : the science of birdsong. London, Academic.
  • Schafer, R Murray The Music of the environment
  • Schafer, R. M. (1967). Ear Cleaning notes for an experimental music course. [S.l.], Universal edition.
  • Clarke, E. F. (2005). Ways of listening : an ecological approach to the perception of musical meaning. New York ; Oxford, Oxford University Press.


3: Individual Project: Performance/Presentation/Exhibition

In consultation with the Module Tutor, design a project based on an idea linked to Sonic Art, for instance a piece of installation art, a piece of music based on graphic notation or the pixel information, etc., included in a film, etc. Students will arrange an exhibition/concert during the semester in which they present their ideas publicly.  There are many ideas for projects on the Facebook Group and elsewhere.


Written Components

The Make Your Own and Individual projects should be accompanied by brief reports of approximately 100-200 words. The Bioacoustics project should be accompanied by a report of approximately 300-600 words.

Important information to bear in mind for all submissions

  • If you require any particular facilities, such as multiple microphones, you need to let me know.
  • There is a full list of performances/presentations here.
  • The performance or exhibition is an assessment occasion, although the quality of performance is not assessed.
  • You need to let me or the technician know as soon as possible if you require any special resources.
  • You should be available for performance or exhibition at least 30 minutes before your projected slot.
  • You should be available for performance or exhibition until at least 30 minutes after your projected slot.
  • At the concert/exhibition you will have five minutes to get yourself ready and perform. Please be punctual. Punctuality and fluidity will be factors in your assessment.

Physical Submission

You are required to submit the following by 2pm on Tuesday 10th May 2016, according to the usual submission rules:

A recording/demo of your composition/performance/exibition

  • This is not a replacement for the performance/exhibition, although if for whatever reason you have not been able to perform or exhibit you must supply video and photographic documentation of a live performance or exhibition in situ.


  • All written, electronic documentation should be submitted in doctextrtf or pdf formats (one only!).
  • Include a summary of what you meant to achieve and how you achieved it (or not). Include reasons for failures or successes and details of any information you would have found helpful on the course.
  • If you use computer programmes you should ensure that your submission has sufficient information available and is set-up so that it can be used effectively quickly and without problem. Include a screencast of the programme working. If necessary include notes that you have made regarding your own control of the patch during performance.
  • Include, ideally within the programme itself (for instance, as comments or within a subpatch), a set of instructions concerning your program. Ideally you should detail each program function including menu items, command buttons, set-up requirements, etc. Imagine yourself to be someone who has never come across your program before and so will want to know, quickly and efficiently, what can and can’t be done. It is in this regard that beta-testing is of considerable value.
  • Include a copy of any external object(s) used (that is, any object that is not a part of the most recent standard Max/MSP or SuperCollider Distribution). Include a reference to it and where it can be obtained originally.


  • For reasons of economy and ease of use, please submit on a thumb drive if at all possible. Your submission should contain the smallest amount of data that you can reasonably manage: you should not need to submit more than 700MB of data under most circumstances.
  • Your drive/disc should be very clearly labelled with your name, student number and the course name.
  • Nothing should be stuck to the disc of a CD or DVD!
  • You should include amongst your documentation a clear list of everything that is on the drive/disc.
  • Make sure that the information included on your drive/disc is clear.
  • I do not wish to receive material on any other media.