Final Project

Final Project

Make a fixed-media composition using both virtual instruments and audio tracks in the DAW of your choice.


  • 4-6 minutes
  • Some virtual instrument tracks, some audio tracks.
  • Record your own audio.
  • [optional] Mix for 5-channel surround sound.

Guidelines and Suggestions

  • We’d rather hear something of modest length that you’ve wrestled with and thought deeply about than something very long that seems thrown together casually.
  • The balance between virtual instrument and audio tracks (that is, the number of each) is up to you.
  • Your piece must be an original composition, not an arrangement of other music, or even an arrangement of an earlier piece of yours.
  • Avoid using sound made by others, if you have not received permission to use it. (Keep in mind that a recording of old music that is in the public domain — any Baroque piece, for example — still carries the copyright of the people who made the recording. You would have to get their permission to use the recording in a derivative work.)

    Even if you have received permission, be careful that you’re not using their sound as a shortcut. For example, taking someone else’s piece and running it through some effects is not going to be as exciting to us as hearing something that is entirely your own work. Even if you were to use one of your acoustic pieces in this way, we would still much rather hear all-new music.

  • Your piece — both the MIDI and audio portions — must be thoroughly and thoughtfully mixed.
  • If you want to use the studio, you are welcome to make a quad or 4-channel mix of your piece. But please provide us with a stereo mix for our playback event. Speak to your tutorial instructor about ways to make a stereo mix from a multichannel mix.

    The assignment of channels to speakers should conform to “5.1 ITU 775,” but without putting anything in the subwoofer channel — the .1 channel.

  • Your piece should sound like you worked it over and tweaked things until it seemed just right to you. That doesn’t mean that your piece has to sound smooth — it can sound noisy and rough, as long as these qualities aren’t the result of negligence.
  • If possible, use a subwoofer to evaluate the low frequency content of your mix. If you listen all the time on headphones or without a subwoofer, you may have lots of low frequency energy in your piece that you’re never hearing. When you play it on a system with better bass response, you’ll be surprised.
  • Leave time for the final bounce, which can be more complicated when you have MIDI tracks. Don’t leave it for the last minute!


  • Please complete one digital audio workstation (DAW) project that satisfies the criteria above.

    Upload this to a cloud service and provide us with a public link.

  • Bounce your project to a sound file in either AIFF or WAV format, 24 bits, 48000 sampling rate. Submit this file in a OneDrive folder, for which you will receive an invitation.
  • Submit a program note that includes the title of your piece. The note should describe the basic musical ideas of the piece and any techniques you’d especially like us to notice.

Grading Criteria

Grades will be based on overall conception and execution, the quality of the source recordings, your sonic imagination, attention to detail, sensitivity to spatial (panning, reverberation) and spectral (EQ) qualities, following the instructions (including submission requirements), and completion of the program note.

This assignment will receive a letter grade. The highest grade is A.

A portion of the grade for the project will depend on you making regular progress, as demonstrated during tutorials. So don’t leave this all to the last minute — it won’t work!

Late projects will not be accepted. Loss of materials is not an acceptable excuse, so back up your data to at least two different places (e.g., flash drive and cloud storage)!