module specification

MD5056 - Live Electronics (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Live Electronics
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
30 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
84 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Group Presentation 20%   Proposal presentation
Group Coursework 80%   Live Electronics Device and User guide and Walkthrough demonstration
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester City Friday Morning

Module summary

In Live Electronics, you will explore the uses of music technologies for live applications, including triggers, controller, live performance, and interaction. Using Cycling ‘74 Max and Ableton Live, you will engage in study of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) in relation to music, electronic instrument design and performance.

You will have the opportunity develop advanced interactive patches, interfaces, and touch control surfaces for the purpose of music creation and live performance, expanding upon the audio programming learned at Level 4.

By examining interactivity and interface design, you will also explore cognition and accessibility. Examining a range of uses of interaction in the design of music and live performance devices, considering inclusive approaches for users with a diverse range of users and needs.

The module will help foster your critical “out the box” thinking and problem solving in relation to sound and music applications. Accordingly, you will develop your skills and understanding in signal flow, logic functions, product design and development and user intuition.

This module aims to:
• Develop inventive problem-solving approaches
• Embed inclusive design approaches for users with a range of needs
• Expand upon your understanding of signal flow and audio programming
• Introduce an experimentation and improvised approach to music creation and performance
• Develop further practice in Ableton Live and Cycling ’74 Max


• Cycling ‘74 Max (LO1)
• Digital signal processing (LO1, 3)
• Interfacing and interactive design (LO1, 2, 3)
• Open Sound Control (LO1)
• Live Music Performance (LO1, 3)
• Audio Engineering and live sound applications (LO1, 2, 3)
• Signal flow (LO1, 2, 3)
• Inclusivity and product design (LO2, 3)
• User guides and walkthroughs (LO3)
• Collaborative design (LO4)

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Students teaching and learning will consist of weekly classes comprising a combination of seminars, and studio practice workshops totalling 36 hours of contact time. Students will be given the opportunity to engage in practical workshops in the Music IT lab, including guided demonstrations and group tasks in designing and prototyping in Max.

The learning and teaching in classes will be supported by the University’s VLE and a blended learning approach, sharing class materials, example devices and recommended reading. Tutorials will also be offered to support students in the preparation of their assessments.

In addition, students will undertake independent study, including researching, assessment planning and practice supported by the music technical demonstrator.

Students will engage in reflective practice, reviewing their own, and each other’s recordings.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module, you should be able to:

LO1. Design an operational live music device in Cycling ’74 Max
LO2. Demonstrate the use of critical thinking through accessible design approaches
LO3. Explain with clear understanding the function of the developed device and evaluate the functionality or your project critically
LO4. Demonstrate the ability to work in pairs to achieve common goals

Assessment strategy

Proposal presentation – 20% weighting
In pairs students are required to present a proposal of their Live Electronics device, outlining its solutions, function and use of accessible design.

Live Electronics Device and User guide and Walkthrough demonstration – 80% weighting

In pairs students are required to submit a packaged Cycling ’74 Max device, with related interfaces or controls (e.g. TouchOSC interface).

In addition to the practical outcome, in pairs students are required to submit a User Guide outlining the set up and operation of their device, along with a video Walkthrough demonstration of the device and its capabilities.


Core Reading:
• Collins, N. and Lonergan, S. (2020) Handmade electronic music: the art of hardware hacking. Third edition. New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
• Cipriani, A. and Giri, M. (2019) Electronic music and sound design. Volume 1. Fourth edition. Translated by D. Stutz. Rome: ConTempoNet.
• Edstrom, B. (2016) Arduino for musicians: a complete guide to Arduino and teensy microcontrollers. New York: Oxford University Press.
• Hepworth-Sawyer, R., Paterson, J. and Toulson, R. (eds) (2021) Innovation in music: future opportunities. New York: Routledge (Perspectives on music production).
• Huber, D.M. (2021) The MIDI manual 4e: a practical guide to MIDI within modern music production. Fourth edition. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group (Audio Engineering Society presents).
• Manzo, V. J. (2016) Max/MSP/Jitter for music: a practical guide to developing interactive music systems for education and more. Oxford University Press.
• Taylor, G. (2018) Step by step: adventures in sequencing with Max/MSP. First edition. Walnut, California: Cycling ’74.