A compilation of music

A mixtape is a compilation of music, often from different sources, that are compiled into a single place—much like Spotify’s playlists. This mixtape project is designed to help you understand the ways we can take other people’s works and assemble them into texts that mean something new. It’s also designed to help you think about the ways that sounds, and sound compilations can function as writing.

For this project, you’ll identify a purpose for your tape, compile and curate songs, create your mixtape, and then explain your goals and choices. Then you’ll write a reflection that makes connections between this assignment and what we’ve discussed in class.

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The purpose of this project is to get you to engage in the steps of the research paper without having to actually write a boring research paper. When we write a research paper, we often start with some kind of idea, or argument, and/or purpose and then we do research to find sources that can help us flesh out our idea, make our argument, and/or accomplish that purpose. Once we’ve selected our sources, we then have to figure out how to organize them in ways that make the most sense, and we have to figure out how to synthesize those sources into one coherent text. Making a good mixtape is a lot like writing a research paper: you have to have a purpose (or argument) for your tape, and then you have to find songs that will help you accomplish that purpose.

As you find songs, you have to look into to who wrote them and what their message is, and then you have to decide if they fit with both your purpose and the other songs you’ve selected. Once you’ve selected your songs, you have to make choices about order and organization, about tone and style, and so on. At the end of this project, you’ll have gone through all of the steps for making a research paper, but you’ll have a mixtape to share instead of a paper.

Knowledge & Skills:
As part of this assignment, you’ll practice the following skills and gain knowledge that are/is important for engaging in research and writing effective research papers.

•Establishing an argument/purpose

•Selecting and addressing a specific audience

•Researching and gathering sources to support your argument/purpose

•Analyzing sources (what are they saying? How are they saying it?)

•Evaluating sources (do they fit with my argument? Do they fit with my other sources?)

•Synthesizing sources into a coherent text (arranging your sources into a new text that accomplishes your purpose for you audience)


Step 1) The purpose of this project is to make an argument for a specific audience by deliberately selecting and arranging songs. So you should start by identifying an audience and purpose. Are you making a mixtape for your crush to tell them how you feel? Are you making a mixtape for an old friend to remind them a memory? Are you making a mixtape for a new friend to introduce them to your favorite genre of music? Is it a mixtape of songs that you’d bring if you only had one mix to listen to while stranded on a desert island? All of these audiences and purposes will necessitate different songs, arrangements, and strategies.

Step 2) After you select your audience and purpose, you will need to start identifying songs that fit. Unlike a playlist, a mixtape is designed to have a limited number of songs. For this project, you should shoot for 10-12 songs. Because of this limit, you need to start evaluating songs that do and do not fit with both your purpose and the other songs you’ve selected.

Step 3) After you select your songs, you need to arrange them in ways that make sense and support the overarching argument. You have to think about tempo, pacing, subject matter, tone, style, story, and so on. All of these will affect the ways that your tape is interpreted by your listeners.

Step 4) Finally, you need to come up with a “tape” that houses your songs, has a cover that fits with your theme, and provides some “liner notes” that provides some context. (optional) Your cover art should resemble a CD’s cover. The liner notes should be around 100 words and provide some background for what your tape is about.


Here is the list of things that you’ll actually create as part of this project:

1) A Proposal that lays out your audience, purpose, and ideas for the mixtape. (One full page, walk us through the WHY) This Statement of Goals and Choices walks the reader through your process. Your SGC should explain what your goals were for this mixtape and then what choices you made in order to accomplish those goals. You should discuss who your audience is, what your purpose is, and how/why you selected your songs.

This will be the paper that accompanies your text, and it should have a thesis statement (what your goals and choices are) and use evidence (from the mixtape) to support your thesis.

2) An annotated bibliography (list of songs) that compiles songs you’re thinking of using. This bibliography should address things like who wrote and performed the song, but it should also discuss what you think the song means, how you think it fits with your purpose, how you think it fits with the other songs you’ve selected, and what you think it adds to your tape as a whole.

A mixtape that synthesizes your songs into a single purpose/argument for a specific audience. The mixtape should have 12-12 songs, a title, cover art and liner notes (a brief ~100-word explanation of each song and its purpose). Basically, list the songs in order and explain why you chose each one.

4) A 1-2 page reflection that makes connections between what you did for this project, how you feel about what you did, and what you think you learned from this project. Did you leave songs off the list? Why? Does the whole album tell a story? What it is?

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