Interactive Sound Environments – course description

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Semester 2- 20 credits
Course organiser – Dr Jules Rawlinson, Dr Owen Green and Dr Martin Parker
Taken in year one if part-time

Lecture Location – Atrium, Alison House, 12 Nicolson Square.
Lecture Time – 2:10-4pm Tuesdays

Tutorial Location – The Sound Lab, Room 1.08, Reid School of Music, Alison House, 12 Nicolson Square, EH8 9DF
Tutorial Time – Wednesday mornings, every third Wednesday morning starting week 1 of semester

Students advance through a series of lectures, demonstrations, practical project work, exercises and critique in a group context. Full attendance and punctual arrival is expected of all students whether auditing the course or taking it for credit.


This course looks in detail at non-linear design scenarios, particularly those that pertain to computer games. However, the course introduces notions of non-linear and open-ended structures by exploring contemporary listening habits, examples of interactive environments and recent changes brought about by listening on headphones, ubiquitous and portable devices and digital distribution. Over this course you will progress from developing assets for use in an interactive environment to collaboratively developing a working game scenario using professional tools.

Learning Outcomes

* Acquire skills in programming and designing interactive sound environments.
* Understand technologies used in complex computer games environments.
* Ability to translate and communicate narrative and articulate space.
* Translate adventurous design ideas into a plausible presentation.
* Critically understand aesthetic and technical issues around interactivity

Lecture Topics – subject to change


Assessed project work

Submission 1 : (40%)
Submission 2 : (60%)

Criteria for Assessment

Work will be assessed on the basis of

* Demonstrated competence with sound design and interactive tools
* Skills in creatively deploying allocated resources, whatever their quality
* Precision and competence in presentation
* Ability to meet the requirements of the project brief and deal creatively with its open-ended aspects
* Design quality of the work in terms of meeting functional requirements, legibility, usability, interactivity, and appropriate use of media, especially sound quality and design
* Account will be taken of the risks taken and degree to which the design deviates from standard solutions

Please note that assessment will take account of tradeoffs between the above criteria, particularly taking account of the diverse backgrounds of students in the class. You are encouraged to seek feedback during the development of your work, but please note that adhering to feedback does not guarantee a high assessment of the completed work. Note also that the assessment of the work is not necessarily commensurate with the amount of time spent on the project work. The issues of design and its evaluation and documentation will be further canvassed in the Digital Media Studio Project ARCH11006.

Teaching Method

Work in this course is project-based. So the project and its tasks provide the focus, with skills being taught in targeted lecture/seminars as needed to progress the work. In general there will be two scheduled seminars per week to discuss the work, but tutors will be available outside these times as well. You will be expected to work in proximity to other students in the class and benefit from each other’s developing expertise.

Principal Software

Sound: FMOD, Unity Game Engine, Audacity, Pro-Tools, Max/MSP, Soundhack, Logic Audio Pro 9, quicktime, iTunes,