In my Trends in Modern Sound Design class, we've started doing an annual project, inspired by alumnus Stephen Swift, called 'Track and Field.' Track and Field is an exercise in both creativity and efficiency, and it's played over the course of the entire quarter with a series of due dates.
On the first due date, each player creates 30 seconds of sound, completely self-driven. They can spend no more than 60 minutes creating the piece, and once they're done creating, they create both a rendered mix and a series of stems. As a class, we listen to the mix. After the class, a different player takes the stems and uses them to create something entirely new, also spending no more than 60 minutes on the project. At each due date, we listen to the most recent batch of mixes, and then a new student takes the stems to create a new version.
In addition to being a highly creative project, the requirement that the player not spend more than 60 minutes on their version motivates each player to work as efficiently as possible. Different students choose different technical goals for themselves, with some choosing to sample a lot of different DAW platforms, and others choosing to delve deep into the intricacies of one particular piece of software. An open-ended project like this allows them to shape their goals and pursue them with focus.
There were six students in the class this quarter, so there are six threads in this year's iteration. I set up a transfer matrix so that each student got to touch each version. At the end of the quarter, instead of listening just to this week's versions, we listened to each thread, all the way through. It's interesting to hear which elements come and go over the course of the project, and which elements work as throughlines throughout the entire project.
Here are each thread, with each version in sequence. I hope you enjoy the oddity that is this year's Track & Field!