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The band broke up, but I get by with a little help from my friends

This project is designed to be a summative experience for our music technology unit, and hopefully a chance for you to bring some of the skills you developed in earlier parts of the course. The overall plan asks you to use technological skills such as interacting with MIDI, recording, using loops, and editing and organizing a song. I have attempted to keep the parameters open-ended enough to enable you to bring some creative input and have some choice in what you create. Finally, I am asking you to collaborate in a new way. This is a new part of this project for me and I appreciate any feedback you have on it as you go through it. Good luck!

Overall mission

Make a cover of a piece of popular music as a one-person band (with one exception!)

Project Criteria

Your cover should:

  • Represent some sort of creative change from the original tune. A change of genre, instrumentation, interpretation, etc…
    • Describe in a Soundtrap comment in your project your overall creative goal (e.g. Make a reggae version of It Had to Be You) and some of the creative choices you’re making (talk about dimensions here).
  • Include an example of every part of the song (at least one verse, chorus, bridge, etc…)
    • Include a link to a recording of the song in a Soundtrap comment. List the sections you included.
  • Include at least 5 tracks in total and you must personally create at least the following:
    • Recording of an acoustic performance (voice, ukulele, other instrument)
    • Something MIDI, either programmed or played in
    • Include percussion of some variety, perhaps programmed in or a loop
  • Collaborate with a classmate on at least one track:
    • Classmate can add any track (recorded, MIDI, or Loop)
    • Include an inventory of what each track is and who made it in the comments section. Might look like:
      • Track 1: Vocal recorded by Emmett and performed by me. Used Zoom microphone plugged into laptop. This is only vocal on piece.
      • Track 2: William recorded some acoustic guitar accompaniments on his personal computer. Was asked to provide a ethereal vibe to piece.
  • Your track must be mixed to sound final.
    • Balance, automate, and pan your parts so parts can be heard clearly.
    • Add reverb and delay to add sense of depth and space to appropriate tracks.
    • Add compression to tracks to add overall stability, clarity, and crispness
    • Add Equalilzation to make each track sound good and provide sonic separation when appropriate
    • Discuss in a Soundtrap comment the mixing choices you made (briefly, but in detail).
  • Publish your track to SoundCloud and annotate with comments discussing the following questions:
    • What were the  biggest challenges you faced (technological and musical)
    • What are you most proud of or happiest with (technological and musical)
    • Review your colleagues’ work and offer appropriate comments and feedback on SoundCloud.

Steps I would take:

  1. Pick a song that you can learn, record, and mix in the amount of time available.
  2. Brainstorm creative changes you could make. Think through meta dimensions and dimensions for help here.
  3. Make a list of how you plan to make the song. What instruments and tracks do you need? How will you create them? Who will you collaborate with and what can they add?
  4. Start recording and practicing soon. Allow times for revisions and changes. When appropriate make a comment in Soundtrap of what changes you made.
  5. Mix your song and get ready to share. Describe in a Soundtrap comment the different mixing choices you made. How do you know it’s ready.
  6. Upload to SoundCloud and make final comments.
  7. Enjoy your colleagues’ tracks.
  8. Fin.


This is under construction…

More MIDI!

Today’s lesson has two components: A discussion of technology integration, and a Soundtrap assignment where you can interact with MIDI in more detail.

SAMR: A Model for Tech Integration

Please watch the video below which discusses the SAMR Model, a heuristic for examining tech integration:

Then, watch the brief video I made that discusses SAMR in music education contexts:

We will discuss some of these ideas when I return, but overall, keep in mind the following broad principles:

  • Technology usage is not an educational objective on its own; we use technology to do things
  • Technology brings affordances and constraints; each influence the experience had in the learning setting
  • Lessons in which technology redefines or modifies the possibilities for learning are most compelling
  • The SAMR Model offers a way to evaluate, discuss, and plan for technology usage in your classroom.

More About MIDI

In the last lesson you learned about how MIDI is notated/graphically notated (duration, pitch, and velocity) as well as some of the affordances that MIDI provides. In this lesson I would like you to experiment with some ways of entering and editing MIDI information in Soundtrap. First, watch the video where I demonstrate your assignment:

The sheet music you will use for the assignment, Birdie, Birdie, Where is Your Nest? is below:

Birdie, Birdie, Where Is Your Nest_

Assignment Objectives:

Soundtrap Link to Assignment

  1. Enter in the music to Birdie, Birdie, Where is Your Nest
  2. Use the recording function to play in some of the part using either your computer keyboard or an external musical keyboard (like the one’s in the MIDI Lab).
  3. Enter in MIDI notation using the draw tool on the piano roll editor

When you are finished, you should have the two parts to Birdie Birdie successfully entered into your Soundtrap project.

For additional help, check out the Soundtrap Tutorials page. The crash course video has information about working with external keyboards around the 3:30 mark. The piano roll course gives you lots of helpful info.

One Last Thing

There are some interesting similarities between notation software and MIDI. Most notation editors allow you to export a file as MIDI which would allow you to enter it directly into Soundtrap without doing anything (see video below for an example).

Happy MIDI-ing and let me know if you have any questions or problems.

Good Luck!

Introduction to MIDI

This lesson’s goal is to introduce you to the many features and facets of MIDI in a digital audio workstation. As you proceed through the videos and assignment, please notice the affordances and constraints of MIDI. Affordances are what the particular technology allows or facilitates. Constraints are ways of interacting that are not possible. For example, with MIDI, affordances include:

  • Easily manipulate duration, pitch, and velocity
  • View music in a mostly iconic form
  • Can access or use any set of sounds with the same notation

All of these affordances make MIDI a powerful tool and are a big part of why it remains a ubiquitous music technology despite it being decades old. Despite all of the affordances, significant constraints are present.

  • Quality of sound is dependent on the samples or sound banks used
  • Can have a “fake” and sometimes unmusical sound
  • Can be difficult to record a nuanced performance

With these ideas in mind, start working on the assignment below. We’ll be using the song I Love the Mountains as musical material. If you’re unfamiliar, here is a memorable performance:

Now, enjoy a brief introduction to MIDI:

Assignment: Relief Sculpture Composition

View the video below as an introduction to the assignment:

Instructional Supports

Reflection Questions

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 10.12.44 AM

Collaboration section of Soundtrap where you will answer questions

After completing the assignment, respond briefly to the following questions in the comments section of Soundtrap (see image at right).

  1. What musical dimensions did you interact with for this assignment?
  2. How was the balance of musical and technological learning? Did you feel like you were being musical more or learning about a feature of a program?
  3. Given the three composing experiences you’ve had, what affordances does MIDI offer that you didn’t have when working only with loops?
  4. Do you have any other questions or suggestions about MIDI or this assignment?

Getting Started

Click here to access the assignment in Soundtrap. If all works well, you should see your own individual copy of the assignment in Soundtrap that is already automagically shared back with me.

Happy MIDI-ing!

Resources for Music Criticism and Listening

Below are some resources to support your work in the podcast presentation assignment.

Switched on Pop Guide to Music Listening

Switched on Pop is a podcast examining popular music from a musicological perspective. You can listen to an episode of the show in which they discuss how they listen to music and consult the embedded graphic for how you might use this process in your own listening.,48,2

Essential Questions and Answers

Your task is to attempt to answer a broad “essential” question related to music using specific musical examples to support your arguments. I encourage you to focus your analysis on one or two musical works. Remember an essential question can be answered in a lot of ways and with a number of different sources of evidence.

Below is an example podcast I made comparing two versions of Till There Was You.

Musical Inventing with Makey Makey and Scratch – SUNY CIT 2016

Below are resources from the June 1st presentation at the SUNY Conference on Instruction and Technology.

Slides from Presentation

Makey Makey Resources

Musical Scratch Projects

Video Game Remix Project Link

Below is the Scratch game, based upon Super Mario Brothers, which we edited and customized with new sounds.

Summer Tech Class Resources

Below you will find lists of resources that we utilized or discussed during the Topics in Music Technology course.

Personal Learning Network Tools

  • Feedly – Web service for RSS subscriptions. Allows users to subscribe to websites they visit frequently and organize content
  • Pocket – A read it later service. Allows users to send web articles or videos that they may wish to review at a later time
  • Diigo – Repository for storing and organizing internet-based resources for later use

Online Technology Training Resources

  • Lynda – subscription-based resource for learning software and technology skills. Includes detailed videos for popular music applications such as GarageBand, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and Pro Tools. Additionally, resources are available about songwriting with tech, recording and production techniques, and software programming
  • Play With Your Music – music MOOC developed by NYU
  • edX – Repository of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs)
  • Coursera – Repository of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs)
  • udemy – Repository of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs)
  • Scratch – programming language developed to allow children a way to engage in computer programming

Applications we used during the week

  • WordPress – online service for creating websites
  • Soundcloud – web service for sharing, storing, and embedding audio files
  • Scribd – web service for sharing, embedding, and storing documents (.docx, .pdf, .xlsx, etc…)
  • YouTube – you know this one…
  • Vimeo – a competing service to YouTube
  • Dropbox – cloud-based document storing system, allows easy sharing and transmission of large files
  • BandHub – internet-based service for musical collaboration
  • Splice – internet-based service for sharing and collaborating in digital audio workstations (GarageBand, Logic Pro, Ableton Live)
  • SoundTrap – internet-based digital audio workstation

Your Games – the Games you scored this week!

Hardware we Used in Class