Project 2

Project 2: An Extended Composition

Your final project for the course is a composition that takes advantage of what we have learned about making music in Max. You have two choices:

  1. Make another data-driven performance piece using Max. (Do something new, not a direct evolution of what you worked on for Project 1.)
  2. Make a piece for solo instrument or voice and Max. The electronic part can be triggered fixed media, optionally with live effects processing, or entirely live processing/synthesis, etc.

Requirements and Suggestions

  • Your piece should last 4-6 minutes.
  • If you choose to make a data-driven instrument piece, consider what hardware you have that might be useable for this, and discuss with Prof. Wang what you might be able to do with it. Some possibilities include your phone, using software that sends data to your computer over WiFi; your webcam, using software in Max that detects movement in front of the camera, including flashlight movement; any kind of non-keyboard MIDI controller, as long as you create an interesting interface in Max that harnesses the capabilities of the controller.
  • If you choose to write a piece for instrument or voice and electronics, you will need to figure out a way to work on the piece in Max. There are essentially four ways:
    1. performing the part while running your patch (requires microphone);
    2. recording the part to a sound file and then playing it back in Max, along with other sounds files, processing, etc. (requires microphone);
    3. simulating an instrumental part using a virtual instrument in a DAW, bouncing that to a sound file and playing it in Max (as above); or
    4. playing your DAW mockup while routing the audio into Max (requires an appropriate audio interface or software that allows you to route audio from one program to another).

    Number 3 may be the most practical for many of 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. This applies also if you incorporate a recording of one of your acoustic pieces.

  • We strongly discourage you from making use of copyrighted sources for which you have no permission. If you want to release your music on a CD some day, this will cause you no end of trouble.
  • Ordinarily we would present our pieces in a class concert. Since that’s not possible now, please make some kind of realization of your project for submission. Some possibilities:
    • a video recording of your own performance (in the case of a data-driven instrument piece);
    • a recording of the sound your Max patch makes in response to a recording of your instrumental or vocal part (or MIDI mockup of same); or
    • a recording of your own instrumental or vocal performance running live through your Max patch.

    It partly depends on what equipment you have available. Please speak with us in advance about the solution that will work best for you.


  • Be sure you satisfied the criteria listed above.
  • You should have received an invitation to a Box folder. Please accept this, and make a folder for yourself in it.
  • Upload your final audio or video recording to your folder.
  • Upload a program note. This should include 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

This project will receive a letter grade, which will be based on overall conception and execution, your sonic imagination, the relationship between performance gestures or instrumental/vocal performance and the electronic sound, the design of your Max patch, sensitivity to spatial and timbral qualities, following the instructions (including submission requirements), and completion of the tech rider and program note.

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!