(NAME of COMPOSITION) Sound Production

Creative Commons image Sound Design for Visual Media and Film Production students at dbc sound: Cinematography by Vancouver Film School


  • Create an audio composition
  • The recording should be well planned, show what you have learned (effective use of sound language), and be very polished

21st Century Skills

  1. Pick one 21st Century Leadership Skill from each of the four sections linked below
  2. Demonstrate these four skills during this project
  3. Gather evidence of these skills
  4. Include your evidence in your (NAME of COMPOSITION) Sound Production blog post

Student Samples


  • A blog post with embedded composition from Soundcloud
  • Journal Entries for the pre-production, production, and post-production stages of one of the production team roles listed below
    • Composer
    • Musician / Performer
    • Producer
    • Sound Engineer
    • Mix / Master
    • Sound Crew

Musical Elements Projects

Composition Arrangment Elements

The following material is adapted from chpater 5 of The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Owsinski

The Foundation
The foundation is usually comprised of the bass and drums, but can also include a rhythm guitar and/or keyboard if they’re playing the same rhythmic figure as the rhythm section. Occasionally, as in the case of power trios, the foundation element will only consist of drums, since the bass usually needs to play a different rhythm figure to fill out the band’s sound, so it therefore becomes its own element.

The Pad
A pad is a long sustaining note or chord that adds a sort of “glue” to the arrangement and therefore the mix. In the days before synthesizers, a Hammond organ provided the best pad, and was later joined by the Fender Rhodes. Synthesizers now provide the majority of pads, but real strings or a guitar power chord can also serve in that role as well.

The Rhythm
The rhythm element can come from any instrument that plays against the foundation element. That can mean a double-time shaker or tambourine, a rhythm guitar strumming on the backbeat, or congas playing a Latin feel. The rhythm element is used to add motion and excitement to the track. Take it away, and the track loses a bit of life and energy.

The Lead
A lead vocal, lead instrument, or solo.

The Fills
Fills generally occur in the spaces between lead lines or can be a signature line. You can think of a fill element as an answer to the lead.

Technical Elements Projects

Music and Sound Research


  • Week  1
    • Hour 1 – Create Blog Post, Add Headings, Establish 21st Century Goals, and Research Song Structure
    • Hours 2-5 – Begin Pre-production
      • Planning and preparation
        • Identify compositional elements, motif or riff which can be the main melody line, harmony, rhythm, etc.
        • Identify the song arrangement sections that you may want to include and what do you want to compose for each:
          • Intro
          • Verse – Example: Section A
          • Chorus – Example: Section B
          • Bridge – Example: Section C
          • Solo – a showcase for a solo melodic line
          • Outro
        • Organize talent and instruments
        • Prepare equipment
          • Who will be recording and with what?
        • Work on composition in this order
          • Decide on the feeling for the song
            • Happy or sad?
            • A major or minor key?
          • Develop the verse
            • Develop a few note melodic motif or riff to base the song upon
              • Work in the key of C, if you are not sure where to start
              • Remember to start and end on the tonic note and build tension in the 4th or 5th measure
              • Have the notes speed up to show optimism or slow down to show sadness or introspection
              • Have the notes ascend the scale to show optimism or descend to show sadness or introspection
            • Develop the rhythm and tempo
              • How fast or slow do you want the song to go?
              • What timing do you want 4/4?
              • What pattern of beats?
            • Develop the harmony
              • Play some chords in the key that reinforce the rhythm
            • Develop a bassline
              • Either follow the root (tonic) note of each chord or the melodic line of notes
              • Emphasize the beats with notes that sound good with the melody or harmony (chords)
              • Remember the bass creates the “glue between the melody and the rhythm
        • Practice set up and recording
          • Practice many takes and pick the best ones
        • Explore the compositional elements
          • Move arrangement sections around
          • Try adding and removing compositional elements from each arrangement section, see how this sounds
  • Week 2
    • Hours 6-10 – Begin Production
      • Fine-tune the composition and start recording
      • Use the equipment to record tracks
      • Gather supporting material
        • Foley sound effects, other recording takes maybe off-site, etc.
      • Adapt composition, as needed
      • Organize audio files
  • Week 3
    • Hours 11-15 – Begin Post-production
      • Edit tracks
      • Edit/add sound
      • Re-record, as necessary
      • Master the tracks
      • Publish to Soundcloud
  • Week 3 – Continued
    • Hour 16 – Second to Last Day
      • Publish composition
        • Embed audio from Soundcloud into blog post under The Song heading
        • Embed a screenshot from Flickr of the tracks from Garageband
      • Finish the Summary and What I Learned sections of the blog post
    • Hours 17-20 – Share the composition, receive feedback, and finish to blog post



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