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Homework #3: Interactive AudioVisual Music Sequencer


NOTE: this image is here mostly for its colors, PLEASE DON'T (NECESSARILY) MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THIS!


  • HW3 milestone 1 (research + tutorial + on-paper design), create webpage with 3 design sketches and be prepared to present
  • HW3 milestone 2 (demo/something working), be prepared to present in-class
  • HW3 done (demo/polished playable prototype)), be prepared to present in-class

Almost inevitably at some point in one's music software design journey, you'll be asked/tempted to make a step sequencer. In this assignment, we are going to get that off our chest/out of our system, and make a real-time, audio-visual software, driven by some kind of music sequencer!

(Part 1 of 3): Research + Preliminary Design

  • deliverables: create webpage + comment on your sequencer research, tutorial + 3 different designs / be prepared to briefly present in class
  • do research on music sequencers!
  • compile a list of useful references on various types of step sequencers / designs (articles, papers, images, etc.)
  • do the CHICKEN SEQUENCER tutorial video (note: this is only one type of sequencer and is rather incomplete)
    • files from the tutorial chickencer.unitypackage
      • (NOTE: this is mainly to show how to integrate timing; copy/paste as it is helpful but this is NOT meant to be "starter code" -- every sequencer may be quite different)
  • sketch your own preliminary designs of a real-time audio-visual step sequencer! make 3 different designs, maximally different from each other.
  • what features to include?
    • what does it look like? linear? circular? spherical? mobius?!? a game? a galaxy?? a ???
    • sequencing of pitch? dynamics (loundness)? envelopes (attack/decay/sustain/release)?
    • how many parallel tracks / layers / or different types of sound? (e.g., track 1 synth, track 2 drum etc)
    • how input the sequence (in real-time)?
    • how does it sound? will it use synthesis? load audio samples?
    • can you save/load sequences? what file format?
    • how to control/depict tempo?
  • sketch as much as detail as possible, even if you don't end implementing most of them!
  • hand in scans of your paper designs and be ready to present on Monday! (scans of these design sketches can go onto your website for this project)

(Part 2 of 3) Something Working

  • IMPORTANT! timing must be audio-driven to ensure precision (i.e., driven from audio/chuck, not from graphics/unit)
  • deliverable: update webpage, including a 1 minute video demo
  • have something working in software, towards your core idea/aesthetics!
    • driving the timing of a repeating sound event from chuck
    • having the time between sound events be variable and controlled from unity
    • driving the animation corresponding to it from a value in chuck, NOT a value in unity
    • (this is essential because chuck's timing is much tighter than unity's)
  • decide on a design + set of features for a real-time audio-visual step sequencer; the design decisions should account for the questions raised in part 1 above!
  • implement a working prototype of your step sequencer
  • should use:
  • potential things to sequence:
    • pitch
    • dynamics
    • different timbres / instruments
    • envelopes
  • requirements / high-level functional aesthetic goals
    • must be graphical
    • must be interactive
    • must be musical
    • should be flexible in usability
    • should support some narrative complexity
    • should feel satisfying to use
  • "hints"
    • think of user/interaction design **and** software/system design
    • create an audio engine, as well as a graphics engine; how do they interact?
    • having a "grid" can be very useful (but not strictly necessary)!

(Part 3 of 3) "Playable Prototype"


  • aim for a (semi-)polished playable prototype
  • Musical Statement + In-Class Presentation
    • using your sequencer, create a short musical statement
    • create a short but polished video of a "mini-performance" of your sequencer
    • be prepared to present it in class
  • as with HW2, update your webpage for your audiovisual sequencer, which must contain:
    • name of your sequencer
    • one or more screenshots
    • your polished sequencer "mini-performance" video
    • your initial design sketches + research, motivate and articulate how you made your design decisions
    • system design: how is your software architected? we recommend a class diagram.
    • (optional) code for download


  • As always, have fun with it, make the user feel something, make it satisfying.
  • you are welcome to work together, but you must do your own work
  • comment your code!

Final Deliverables

a polished HW3 website containing:

  • 1) a name and description of your sequencer
  • 2) a few screenshots that capture your sequencer in action
  • 3) a polished resolution video demo (2-3 minutes, with audio) of your sequencer, including a "mini-performance" of your musical statement
    • upload to YouTube or Vimeo (or CCRMA) and embed the video from your webpage
  • 4) instructions on using you sequencer
  • 5) the production build of your sequencer (please specify the platform e.g., MacOS, Windows, or Linux)
  • 6) your Unity project (stripped of unnecessary and intermediate files; just the essentials needed to build and run the project)
  • 7) a final short text section that conveys:
    • your ideas/inspirations in designing your sequencer
    • any comments you want to share (difficulties and what you enjoyed) on this project
    • acknowledgements for collaboration/help received(and any assets/libraries you've used)
  • 8) upload the website URL to Canvas