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One opportunity to prepare and support our students for the future is teaching them a framework for using technology and digital information in sophisticated ways. What would that be? I’m so glad you’re curious. I’m working on just such a framework that has to do with the ability to detect and analyze layers of technology. One example of layering is found in a simple Google slides presentation:
- base layer = slides
- + layer = image inserted
- + layer = text inserted
- + layer = video embedded
Understanding what a base layer is and how the other layers sit and interact leads to a more sophisticated and effective presentation.
Music is a great place to support and explore thinking around layers of technology and digital information. Our students hold music in their hands everyday, sophisticated and tiny digital deployments of layered audio. Helping students understand a simple multitrack recording unlocks a new language and level of literacy of the world around them. A typical music audio file (.mp3 or .wav) has a kick drum track, hi-hats, snare and all of these can be independently adjusted in volume, then add bass guitar, synthesizer or piano, guitar, and vocals, – and these can all be adjusted independently, too – and you are moving into a complex linear arrangement that is fascinating to behold because adapting or adjusting these with respect to each other, creates different aural impressions and results. What a great way to teach composition and writing?!!? I can see it.
To get specific about our Music Makerspace: we are revamping last year’s secret district office makerspace with a focus on making music. Real music. Live music. Recorded music. Digital music. Analog music. We will create what has not existed before. And in doing so, we will unveil, unpack, and understand the layers of audio information in today’s musical experiences.
Tools the studio will use:
- Ableton Live ($450)
- Ableton Push (free demo unit; normally $700)
- ProTools ($9/month Education description)
- Ilok software license device ($49)
- Akai MPK MINI MKII Compact Keyboard and Pad Controller ($99)
- JBL LSR 308 studio speakers (on sale, $199 each)
- Odesi composing/sequencing software ($49)
- microphones (TBD)
- Ikea-hacked audio workstation ($100)
- Speaker cables
Not including the computer, the studio weighs in at $1100-1200. The iMac was probably around $2,000 and was in place from last year. I’m anticipating that we will have a lot of assistance from our Villa Music Makers, a student group who will be using the space this year, collaborating on the creation of musical tracks for the hybrid courses with us.