Digital Music Production and Composition



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In FAIR 380A students will make creative sound pieces using the tools of music production, sound design, and composition. No experience is required, and this course intends to engage students at whatever experience level they enter at.

This course will focus on creating using the software Ableton Live, though the topics and skills can be applied broadly to other digital music making platforms. We will learn the essential operation of that software, with the goal of empowering students to create music and sound pieces in a wide variety of styles, whether those be songs, experimental sound art, beat making, or ambient music.

Topics in music production, sound design and composition will include:
-Instruments of digital music production: synths, samplers, and drum machines.
-Sound synthesis: oscillators, filters, envelopes, modulation.
-Types of synthesis: Subtractive, wavetable, FM.
-Sound design: manipulating, shaping, and processing sound as an expressive medium.
-Sampling: using and manipulating samples to incorporate outside sound sources into creative works.
-Song structure: forming the linear architecture and flow of a piece.
-Song orchestration: an examination of the vertical layering of sounds to create expressive textures.
-Sound and Visuals: incorporating visuals and video into sound pieces.

This course also focuses on the creative process itself. As a group of active creators, we will discuss common creative practices, workflow, creative roadblocks, and other relevant topics that arise during the creative process.

This course is creative project-based, and by the end of the term students will have a portfolio of 4-5 pieces.


FAIR 270h (or concurrent); Or instructor permission


Making Music: Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers. By Dennis DeSantis


S/NX grading; narrative evaluation.

Students will complete 4-5 creative sound projects. Students will be expected to actively pursue musical creation in this class. Evaluation will be based on the student's active involvement with their own work and engagement with the class, not the style or skill level of their creative work.


Fall 2023

Course Instructor

Steven Sehman

Course Subject