Project 2

Due: Thursday, July 13 by 9pm
Objectives: Design Thinking
Grade: 20% of final

This assignment requires you to use public domain materials to make an audio remix. Public domain materials are those cultural products not protected by copyright, either because of their age or because creators waived all interest in them. A remix will take an existing cultural product and change it significantly to create a substantially new work. For this assignment, you will change multiple audio recordings by mixing them together somehow and adding a track of your own. You will need at least two public domain sources, one Creative Commons source, and one track of your own creation. The final remix should be between one and five minutes long. Beyond that, the only restrictions are that you avoid copyright infringement and that you render the final work as an MP3 file.

Start by searching out source materials of interest. You can use music, field recordings, spoken-word tracks, government recordings, or any other type of sound recording that your find, so long as it is in the public domain or licensed for remix. This is not easy, given the restrictive and confusing nature of copyright law. However, we have some help from folks like the Public Domain Sherpa, Harvard librarian Meg Kribble, and the Public Domain Review (see online prompt for additional resources). You will find more options licensed for remixing—although not in the public domain—thanks to Creative Commons and their new search tool. Also, check out the Free Music Archive for tons of options. Just keep in mind that not all CC licenses allow for remix. If the license says ND (meaning No Derivatives), you cannot remix that work. Finding interesting audio that you can work together into a remix takes time. I encourage you to start searching right away. And keep track of possible source materials. You’ll need to cite them.

We’ll use the free audio editing software Audacity for this project. (If you have a preferred tool, feel free to use it so long as you can export your final remix as an MP3.) I recommend downloading it to your own computer, but the computers at the CDSC also have Audacity installed. This experience will probably be new to most of you. That means both the process and the product fit within an experimental tradition of audio remixes. I understand that not all experiments go as planned, and some even fail. That’s okay because you’ll still learn a lot. However, success and productive failure both require creativity and persistence. Plan for persistence; creativity will follow.

If you’re unhappy with the results, you can explain why in an artist statement that will accompany the final draft. The artist statement should be 200-500 words. Concision is a virtue, but you do need to explain your process, discuss your source materials (be sure to provide links), and incorporate a quote from Lessig to frame the project in terms of “free culture.” See the online prompt for additional resources.


Online Resources

Source Materials

Software Help

Further Reading


Remix Rubric

Inadequate Adequate Outstanding


Source materials


Materials not in public domain or are taken from single source.


Materials meet basic requirements: Two are in public domain, one is from Creative Commons, and one is an original recording.



Materials meet basic and also demonstrate thoughtfulness in establishing an aesthetic or conceptual theme.





Used Audacity or appropriate audio tool, but did not take advantage of its basic features or did not create substantially new work.


Used Audacity or appropriate audio tool to create a substantially new work using its basic features.


Used Audacity or appropriate audio tool to create a substantially new work; took advantage of advanced features or made clever use of basic features.






Materials get cursory treatment and appear unrevised from draft versions. Or, final product is less than one minute or exceeds five minutes.



Materials get full treatment and fit the time requirement. But established theme goes unexplored or remains unclear.


Materials get full treatment without becoming tedious. Full remix fits within time requirement. Established theme gets explored in variations on original materials.





 Artist Statement


Doesn’t meet word requirement; fails to articulate creative choices and process; does not provide necessary information for experiencing remix, such as original source materials.



250 words; clearly articulates creative choices and process; provides necessary information and context for appreciating remix, including links to source materials.


250 words; clearly articulates creative choices and explains process in well organized paragraphs; provides context and information for appreciating remix, including source materials and honest assessment of the project’s outcome.