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 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. You can perform this, or you can find a friend to perform it. They should be available for our final presentation day in exam week.
  2. Make another data-driven performance piece using Max. (Do something new, not a direct evolution of what you worked on for Project 1.) If gestural performance is not your thing, you could do a live electronic piece that you control in a way that is less visible to the audience.

Requirements and Suggestions

  • Your piece should last 3-5 minutes. Please, no more than 5 minutes. Practice the art of editing your material. If your piece includes improvisation, please think carefully about how much time that might take.
  • If you choose to make a data-driven instrument piece, consider what hardware you have that might be useable for this, and discuss with us what you might be able to do with it. We have some hardware that you can use.
  • 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 or portable recorder);
    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, such as Blackhole, that allows you to route audio from one program to another).

    Number 3 may be the most practical for many of you, unless you regularly perform on your instrument and have a way to record it, possibly while listening to live electronics.

  • 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 commercial recording some day, or stream it under the auspices of an organization that assumes some liability for content, this will cause you a lot of trouble.


  • Be sure you satisfied the criteria listed above.
  • You should have received an invitation to a OneDrive folder, which includes folders for everyone in the class.
  • Upload these files to your folder:
    1. a program note, including the title of your piece and describing its basic musical ideas and any techniques you especially want us to notice; and
    2. a zip file containing materials necessary to perform your piece, such as patches, sound files, etc. Please do not upload these as separate files. Make sure that sound files load into your patch without error even after you move them to a different place on your disk. (This simulates moving it to a different performance computer.)
    3. a tech rider. This is a document explaining what technical resources are necessary to perform your piece. This is something you should get used to providing anyone charged with helping to present your music. Here is an example.

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!