Category Archives: Technology in the Arts

The Virtual Coffee Shop Podcast – session 6

This session of the Virtual Coffee Shop podcast features an in depth discussion with music educator Josh Hill.  I think you will enjoy learning about his fascinating insights into the fabric of education.

I have my coffee ready.  Do you?

Settle in to a comfortable chair and enjoy the discussion!

Connect with Josh:

Watch his  TEDxKitchenerEd talk.

Follow  @gaelsmusic  on Twitter

~Mark

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Icons and Artwork

Meet my new icon!
— Appreciating the custom artwork!!!

markicon2

~Mark

iPad music software

As the calendar roles into August, my thoughts turn to CATC Camp, our Board’s annual summer 3 day, self directed,  computer PD session for staff. This year I will be taking some time to explore music applications with the iPad. Some of the things on my explore list are:

iRig Mic

iRig Guitar Adaptor

iPad music stand mount

Nano Pad

MIDI Interface for iPad/iPhone/iPod

GarageBand

Band in a Box

Music Studio

Pianist Pro

Virtuoso Piano

What am I looking for? — apps and ideas suitable for classroom use, applications that are easily used in the student performance context and applications that can interact with OSAPAC  licensed software (for Ontario publicly funded schools)

As always, I am looking forward to this learning opportunity.

~Mark

Related Links
Kellysmusic
SoundTree Music

A New Twist on the Mobius Strip ~ Music

A few years ago, I formed a music duo with a friend. We called ourselves Rosin and Reeds after our instrumentation – violin and clarinet,  and had a lot of fun playing together. Much of the music we played, we arranged since there is not a wealth of original music for this combination of instruments. We had the good fortune of performing live at some interesting venues.

Tonight I had a real flashback to the ‘duo days’. One of the pieces we enjoyed performing, composed by Mozart, was written in a particular way. There was actually only one page of music for a single melody line. We had two copies of the original part. The duet part was created by taking the page of music and turning it upsidedown (top to bottom). In essence, one player played the original melody while the second player was playing the original melody retrograde (backwards)  and inverted (upsidedown).

I came across a YouTube video tonight that demonstrated these same composing techniques (original solo, duet, retrograde, inversion) in a very effective visual format – pitch and rhythm punctuated with moving trackers, followed by all the variations and an interesting twist. A literal twist – a musical mobius strip.

JSB Mobius Strip

I will be sharing this video resource with the music teachers I know. Have a look and listen –  Crab Canon on a Möbius Strip by J. S. Bach on YouTube. Enjoy the music, enjoy the visuals.

~ Mark

What if Mozart had MIDI?

After a professional development session this week, I was talking to one of our music teachers who does an excellent job of integrating technology into the regular band and vocal music course offerings. Classroom uses embrace composition, arranging, recording, sequencing, accompanying and theory instruction. Software packages used included packages for both Mac and Windows – Finale, Band in a Box, Garage Band and Sequel. This spun off into a conversation reminiscing about the ‘old days’ – meaning before MIDI, sound samples, loops, powerful notation software etc.

I told him about the WX5 MIDI wind instrument I had been playing over the summer (reaction = wow), he told me about new professional level sound samples he is using for some scoring work he is doing – cool.

As a technology user, it is easy to look at something as the next logical step of development. So yes, maybe a ‘cool’ factor to a new device or sound. Lets pause for a moment and step back. The changes in this technology area in the last dozen years is absolutely phenomenal = WOW.  Look at what you can do with  home/school level equipment and software. Truly amazing.

IMG_0100

Pictured above, are the WX5 MIDI wind instrument, an electric violin and an electric guitar equipped with a pitch to MIDI device.

Think of the impact Bach or Mozart had on the world of music. I wonder what would have happened to music development if this equipment was available in their time or they were alive now. One thing for sure, they would have as much fun with technology as we are!!!

Just wondering ….

~ Mark

Studio Time: Real Time Music Backed with Technology

Saturday night and home with no major agenda. Looks like a good night to get some music time in – and in my favourite way: live music and technology together.

Three Step Plan

1. I bought a book of folk music (jigs, reels etc.) at the Mill Race Festival last weekend. The music is written as melody lines with chord progressions. I will practise a few on the WX5 midi wind controller. My daughter will be learning some too on her electric violin.

2. I will create an accompaniment using Band in a Box. Band in a Box is a great piece of software that allows you to literally create a ‘band’. You create an accompaniment by choosing the following elements:

time signature (4/4, 3/4 6/8 etc.)
tempo (speed of the music)
style (which determines a default instrumentation and ‘feel’ to the music)

Next you enter in the chord progression and create a ‘roadmap’ – the combination of introduction, verses, choruses, repeats and endings. Now you are set to play along with your ‘band’. This leaves you options to practise, perform live, record, make a CD or mp3, or perhaps include your results in an electronic portfolio of some sort.

3. This is all leading to preparing for CATC by the Water, our summer computer camp for staff where the focus is technology integration. Our 4 day event begins mid next week, and there are always ‘campers’ eager to learn and use music applications in the curriculum.

Links:

Learn more about Band in a Box: PG Music

Licensing for Ontario Schools: OSAPAC

Off to the studio!

~ Mark

The WX5 as a MIDI input device

To date, my time with the WX5 MIDI wind controller has focused on the performance aspect. Last night I had a opportunity to explore some new territory. 

I have always enjoyed producing arrangements of music for use by students or my woodwind quintet.  One of the time consuming tasks that a music arranger or composer needs to deal with is data entry into notation software. There are a variety of methods to accomplish the data input: mouse, step time recording (one note at a time via a MIDI instrument), real time MIDI input, scanning (& following copyright requirements!), pitch recognition or use a public domain MIDI file. 

The mouse and step time entry methods are the most time consuming, but also the most accurate. This is of course cumbersome when working on a large score. The real time MIDI input method is much faster if you can achieve a level of accuracy that keeps the data clean up minimized. I have done lots of music entry with a MIDI keyboard, but certainly as an experienced clarinetist, being able to enter data through the WX5 would be even more efficient. 

I set out to do a little experimentation with the WX5 and Finale, a music notation package licensed for use in Ontario publicly funded school boards. The setup is fairly standard based on past experience with MIDI keyboard devices. (Note: references to this in the WX5 manual are sketchy).

Basic Setup

MIDI connection: Plug the WX5 into the MIDI in port on the MIDI device connected to your computer. In my case, I used a Roland USB module.

Software Setup: Use the MIDI set up function in the notation software (Finale in this case) to identify the ‘MIDI in’ device

Score setup: Prepare the music layout to receive the data. For this example, I used a single treble clef but you could just as easily work with a full music score. 

Set the recording parameters: 1. Set the tempo (beats per minute) 2. Set the number of ‘count in’ bars. 3. Set the quantizing. Quantizing is the music version of rounding off. Generally you set this to match the smallest note value in your piece. In my example, I set quantizing to an eighth note.

That’s it – you are ready to play data directly into the music software in real time. As an aside, I was pleasantly surprised to find the the WX5 sends dual data streams, so you can hear the sound form the VL70m module while sending the MIDI data to the software. Notational input depends on accuracy, so choosing a suitable tempo to maximize your results is important and easily done with a little experimenting. 

By way of example, I used the WX5 in  input the melody below into the Finale notation software. 

midi input sample

Now I am off and running with new scoring tools for arranging and composing!

~ Mark