Digital Music Composition Resource

Suitable for Years 3-8

Join the deadly artists from the Digital Lab, on Ngarluma Ngurra in Western Australia’s remote Pilbara region, to learn the process of making music for a television series. The factual series Red Dirt Riders features original digital beats composed by 16 First Nations artists working with music mentor, Mark Leahy. Gain access to exclusive behind-the-scenes footage starring the young artists who made the beats, then be guided in creating an original digital music masterpiece to combine with a scene from the series.

Teachers’ notes

Suitable for Years 3-8, this co-created learning resource introduces students to digital music production as a contemporary mode of composition. The music making process for Red Dirt Riders is explored with reference to the elements of music, planning tools to meet a creative brief, and the importance of listening to our creative instincts to make the best beats.

The student-facing resource can be either set as an independent task or delivered as a sequence of class activities. The videos are designed for students to gain knowledge in music theory and process, with video tutorials, a guided digital drawing workshop and access to downloadable audio and video files, students are empowered to create their own digital music productions. 

This resource covers all four of the interrelated strands as outlined in the Music structure in the Australian Curriculum:

  • Exploring and responding 
  • Developing practices and skills 
  • Creating and making 
  • Presenting and performing

This resource was co-created with NEO-Learning and the Big hART Digital Lab.

Australian Curriculum links:  

Cross-Curriculum Priority: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures

Engaging with the music composed for Red Dirt Riders is an opportunity for students to gain knowledge, understanding and celebrate creative excellence in First Nations artistic outcomes. This resource offers a way to cite examples of music created by First Nations Australians that communicate connection to and responsibility for Country/Place, as well as showcasing contemporary technologies in art creation. It also highlights the importance of collaborative art making as cultural practice.

Organising Ideas:

First Nations Australians’ ways of life reflect unique ways of being, knowing, thinking, and doing. (A_TSIC2)

The significant and ongoing contributions of First Nations Australians and their histories and cultures are acknowledged locally, nationally, and globally. (A_TSIP3) 

Meet the Music Makers

Making digital beats for a television series is a big project that requires collaboration and determination. All the music developed for Red Dirt Riders was made on Ngarluma Ngurra (Roebourne, WA) at a dedicated art hub for new technologies: the Digital Lab.

Watch the video to meet the Digital Lab music makers and their artist mentor Mark Leahy.

What is music composition?

Music composition can mean different things to different music makers. Let’s find out what you know already before we learn more from the artists at the Digital Lab.


Map all the ideas that come to mind when you hear the words ‘music’ and ‘composition’. When brainstorming these ideas, share the types of music you can think of and how this music can be made. 

Create a Venn diagram, mind map or table to aid the visualisation of this information.

Watch the video to learn about music composition in the film and television industry, and learn how music is made at the Digital Lab.


When we watched the process of music making, Mark spoke about the importance of audiences: ourselves, our local community, Australian audiences, and audiences internationally. Write an acrostic poem using the word 'audience' or discuss in groups how audiences respond to music composed for the screen.

Tune into Red Dirt Riders

Making digital beats for Red Dirt Riders was created in a series of steps. Artists talked about the moments that require music in Red Dirt Riders, experimented with sounds and discussed the outcome to think about what could be added to make the sound successful. 

Watch the behind the scenes video to learn how Jakeile makes music in the Digital Lab with artist mentor Mark Leahy.


Think back to the behind the scenes footage with Jakeile and Mark, what did you notice about how they worked as a team?

Mark gave Jakeile feedback and asked questions to support the process, think of a question you could ask a music maker to help them improve their music.  

Digital Music in the mix

Join Treinaya to see how the music makers created digital beats to match the mood, pace and space in Red Dirt Riders, with flavour added to make a rich sound.

The music makers think about:

  1. Mood
    What is the feeling of the scene? Is the tone exciting and intense? Is the feeling relaxed and calm?
  2. Pace + Space
    What is the pace of the scene? Think about whether things move fast or if the action is slow. Is the scene building to something big, or are there quiet moments that need gentle music?

    How much space is in the scene? Should music be soft to layer under dialogue (speaking), or is there lots of room in the scene for the music to be a focus? What other sounds are there in the mix? For example, does the music needs to stop or be soft when the scene includes a rumble of a motorbike?
  1. Flavour
    What can we add to the music so that the sound is rich and textured?


Think back to the Red Dirt Riders scene without music. Document your goals for the music before jump into the music making workshop.

Remember to use mood, pace, space and flavour as headings to come up with a plan.

Check out the Scene

Watch a scene from Red Dirt Riders with Treinaya to deconstruct what made the music created by Layne Smith great composing for the screen.

Make Music with Treinaya from the Digital Lab

Work with Treinaya - a youth mentor from the Digital Lab – to learn how to produce digital beats on the computer.

You will need:

  1. Your ideas, goals and any planning for the music you will make for the scene of Red Dirt Riders.
  2. A computer or device and an internet connection to log onto Song Maker.
  3. Copy of the steps to make digital music: Guide for Digital Music Composition PDF
  4. The Red Dirt Riders clip

Once you have finished your music composition and have exported the sound file, it’s time to add this to the Red Dirt Riders clip.

Play the Red Dirt Riders clip below at the same time as your music, or download the file package to combine the song and clip in video editing software.


Have a viewing session with an informal audience to receive feedback. Ask the audience to reflect on what was successful and suggest things that could be improved. You might like to re-open your digital music file in Song Maker to make some adjustments to the composition to match the Red Dirt Riders scene.  

Share your work with us

We welcome feedback from teachers who have delivered and adapted our resources. Please reach out to with questions, comments, and suggestions. 

This resource is co-developed by the ACTF and NEO-Learning.   

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