Creating & Composing Sound

Tuesdays 12:30 – 3:20 in the sound studios

Peter Bussigel  [ ]
Office hours in C1364 on Thursday afternoons



This is an advanced course in music production that will cover electronic music techniques and compositional structures. Students will be expected to produce music each week and present their work multiple times over the course of the semester. Readings on musical form, music theory, and audio cultures frame weekly exercises, culminating in the production of an EP (typically about 20-25 minutes of music). Students entering this course should have a practice in music and be comfortable working with a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Completion of Sound Essentials and significant experience with audio production is assumed — basic audio techniques will not be covered.



Learning Objectives

In completing this course, you will…

  • compose and structure sound through short exercises and a long form “EP”.
  • work with common electronic music production techniques including EQ, spatialization, mixing, compression, and mastering.
  • explore various principles of time-based sound and music composition
  • examine contemporary composition techniques through a range of electronic music examples.




The structure for the semester is simple. We meet every Tuesday from 12:30 until 3:20 in the sound recording studios. We’ll begin each class with a listening session followed by a brief discussion and a workshop on some aspect of music composition and production. After the break, 4 students will present their work-in-progress for critique and discussion.

Presentation Groups
Group 1: Itamar, Phoenix, Graham, Katrina
Group 2: Mana, Declan, Hanson, June
Group 3: Peter, Coco, Jae, Ethan
Group 4: Alexis, Evan, Vincent, Suling, Anna



Required Materials

  • Closed back or open back, wired, over-the-ear headphones. These are a requirement! Mixing with in-ear headphones and/or (most) bluetooth headphones is inaccurate and unacceptable for this course. You can find headphone models at different price ranges on the resources page of this website.
  • a storage solution for your audio projects (large flash drive or external hard drive)
  • A notebook
  • Audio Culture (optional but recommended)



Projects & Assessment


Most weeks there will be a short one-minute exercise exploring a specific audio concept or technique. The exercises are designed to focus on one aspect of audio production or composition, but you are encouraged to find expressive ways of completing the exercises. If you are stuck for ideas for your EP, these exercises might help springboard tracks.

There will be a total of 7 exercises, each worth 5 points for a total of 35 points.


This is the cumulative project for the semester. An EP or Extended Play album is a very complicated thing to pin down (that’s why I like it!), but in the broadest sense, it refers to 15 – 25 minutes of music, usually between 3 and 6 tracks, and a bit more risk than your typical album. The EP is a historical term, a technical limit, a creative constraint, a test.

Your EP is worth 20 points


Participation includes online engagement and in-class work. If you spend time on the weekly materials, add thoughtful comments and/or questions, and are an active participant in class discussions and workshops, you will receive full participation points each week. If you really don’t like talking in class, let me know and work to contribute more to the website discussion. Texting, talking over people, being disrespectful, and a clear lack of engagement will negatively affect your participation grade.

Each week you show up prepared and participate you will receive 4 points, for a total of 48 points.




You can receive a total of 103 points in this class. I will be following the grading scale set by ECU, based on 100 total points.

Note that all official Emily Carr policies still apply, including the attendance policy which states that “more than three unexcused absences in a class will result in failure of the course.”




I would like to acknowledge that the land on which we gather is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, Stó:lo and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. It is with gratitude that I am here as a visitor on these traditional territories, where we live and on which our work is based.

Sound, and especially music, an interesting and powerful method of communication. It has, at times, been used to control and to liberate, to oppress and to support — let’s think carefully and critically about the ways in which we make sounds and about the vibrations we add to the world.



Accessibility & Learning Environment

I am committed to making course materials and assignments as accessible as possible. If you have particular concerns or needs regarding course materials or assignments, do not hesitate to reach out to me at any point during the semester.

Additionally, in order to facilitate the learning of all students, we will not tolerate discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, class, age, or ability. I recognize that we are all learning and will make mistakes. If you make a mistake, please do not get defensive if you are corrected. If I make a mistake, please tell me so that I can address it. We are all learning and discomfort at the gaps in our knowledge and our lack of insight into others’ experiences will at times be part of that. What should not be part of learning is producing, advancing, or tolerating harmful biases, stereotypes, or assumptions about each other.



University Policies (pdf)



This schedule is listed on the left. This is a new course, expect that the schedule will shift a bit as we move through the semester.