GarageBand – to teach or not to teach? Part 1.

Ok, I’ve been teaching music in schools since 1996, but I don’t still have my master exam in music education – I have a MA-exam with major in musicology, but I hardly can confess that – I try to be practical musician and teacher – not a paper-tasty sahara-dry ”Beatles-researcher”. Classical piano is still missing from full exam – and a Master Thesis!

I decided to make my thesis in the field of music technology pedagogy. The subject is the usage of digital audio workstation (DAW) – I chose GarageBand.

So I started a music technology project in my job in school in a big city in Finland. I’m teaching grades 7-9 – including so called music classes. Music classes have three music lessons in a week. They are talented, exuberant and demanding young people – I can tell that there’s lots of work with them! I made the project with four groups.

In my school there is only two PC workstations in the music class. And they are slow and hasn’t any DAWs installed in them.  So I brought my old MacBook Pro to school.

In the first two to three hours I taught some very basic features in GarageBand: loops, making midi- and audiotracks, making new tracks, simple project settings and so on. Then we made some technical exercices with these basic features.

I made a little workstation in the very little room near the class: MBP, ordinary computer speakers and and old Yamaha-keyboard. Something like that – sorry about bad quality of picture…

GarageBand project

After the teaching session students made their projects in groups of two or three. They had three hours to complete their project. I didn’t give any instructions about what the project ”should” be. Just: ”Make your own tune.”

And they did.

After all had made their project, I made a little survey. Here is some observations:

– very few had experience making music with DAW.

– nobody wanted teacher being watching their project (I made ordinary music lessons during their projects).

– almost every group made things things that I didn’t taught. There were automations, custom synths, effects and so on

– almost every group felt that three hours were running and their project was just beginning

– almost everyone had positive toughts about project

I also checked the web-browser after their project. There weren’t any game sites, Facebook and so on in the history. There were almost nothing in the web histories – maybe some YouTube music videos or GarageBand instructions.

I think the groups experienced some kind of Flow during their GarageBand-project. But the flow, letting space for experimentation and controlling too much are subjects in the future…

Reserch plan for Jyväskylä Universitity Music education department in comments – in finnish, sorry…

Opetan myös musiikintekemistä. I teach also creating music.

Nordic Soundtrack

Hello! I spend some time listening what’s going on in a music world – also little bit off of mainstream. There is  lots of interesting music – but even more all kind of music. Now I try to introduce quite regularly some highlights I have heard on the net – very often in SoundCloud, but also in Indabamusic, YouTube…You name it…

I try choose some theme every time. Let’s begin with some professional scandinavian composers who has high profile in soundtrack and tv-music.

Danish political drama Borgen (2010-) has now rolled for two seasons (seen twice in finnish channel Fem) – third season comes out in this spring (here in Finland, can be out in Denmark…). Composer of this epic music is called Halfdan E.

Swedish Adam Norden made great job in Henrikson/Sällström/Rapace-Wallanders. Here is music from swedish movie Odjuret (2011).

…Baby One More Time – Some analysis of rhythmic-motivic work in melody

Britney Spears mega-hit …Baby One More Time from 1999 is written by Max Martin and produced by Martin, Rami Yacoub and Denniz PoP. It’s a great example of the production and writing style of Cheiron Studios in 90’s Stockholm. As a composition Baby One More Time is example of using very restricted amount of musical material.

Lets listen…

Opening piano riff is just genial! And the piano riff is core in motivic development of this song. Actually rhythmically this motive is similar to opening motive Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony…

Just adding two extra eight-notes we get ”ooh baby baby”-motive. The first eight bars are rhytmically different placements of this motive – just adding two quarter notes at the end of phrases. Next four bars uses that motive backwards (”show me…”).

Chorus is combination of these things with very strong ending phrase.

There is lot of short 3:4 polyrhythms here – along with the strong rhythmical motives common in Max Martin tunes.

About sounds – I think there is lots of Korg Trinity…

I don’t know how much Martin knows about classical techniques in musical composition, but there is very similar – if not exactly same – techniques in for example in Schubert Lieder and classical period composers tunes.