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BeatMaking Choosing Sounds Project

  1. Have students use a DAW of your or their choice – we suggest having everyone use the same DAW to make facilitation easier.
    1. If you don’t want to dive right into the project with the DAW, you could have students try one of the activities again but within the DAW environment.
  2. You might want to set up a template that has several MIDI tracks already added to reduce friction (or you can show students how to add MIDI tracks). You can do this by saving a file and then sharing that file with all of the laptops, cloud sharing, or an LMS.
  3. Have students audition different sounds they can add to a track
    1. You might want to keep this exploratory
    2. You might want to scaffold a bit and make suggestions such as starting with a drum sound, synth sound etc.
    3. You might want to be more direct and require students to follow a particular sequence of steps 
    4. You might want to have students watch this process first via your demonstration or examples on youtube such asthis example with someone using FL StudioLinks to an external site.
    5. You might want to have students start working on the project first and provide them with a list of video resources they can use if they want examples or assistance – we are curating such a list.
  4. Once students choose a sound they like, have them loop 2 bars and either play or program a pattern
    1. You might want them to label their tracks in a manner that indicates which tracks are more melodic in nature
    1. Alternatively  – you could create a pattern or set of patterns as a template that all students use. You can have this set up on all of the computers ahead of time and then have them work primarily on changing the sounds while keeping the pattern the same. Then you could have students share the results with each other and have a class discussion about the impact that the sound/timbre makes on the sound/feel/mood/genre of the music.
    2. Encourage or require students to include some melodic content and some drum-based content
  5. Once students have some musical content, invite them to try the following techniques:
    1. Swap the instrument/sound in the track with other instruments/sounds to observe the impact a specific sound/timbre makes
    2. Copy and paste the MIDI clips into a different track and use a different instrument for that track – they might also want to modify the MIDI info slightly. They can also experiment with alternating between soloing each track to compare and contrast the sounds/timbres with the music they created
    3. Layer additional tracks with different sounds to experience how the combination of sounds impacts the music
  6. For additional scaffolding, you might suggest that students work to attain a particular feel, mood, or genre as they engage in the project
  7. Have students share their music with each other and discuss the sounds
  8. Return to the generative questions guiding this unit and have related discussion
  9. Have students raise their own questions and have related discussion

Additional Prompts/Questions

  • Encourage students to think of their sound choices in terms of qualities or moods i.e. bright/dark, happy/sad, calm/aggressive.
  • How are synthesizers used in Hip Hop and in EDM?
  • How are samples/breaks used in Hip Hop and EDM?
  • How do sound choices impact the emotion or feel of your music?
  • How might sound choices impact who listens to your music?
  • What types of sounds/timbres do the people you like to listen to use in the music they produce/perform?
  • How might “sound design” relate to choosing sounds for music you or others create?

Optional Assessments

  • Have students share their work for any of the activities or project and explain their process
  • Have students create a short screencast that explains their decisions and thinking in relation to choosing sounds for any of the activities or project
  • Observe students’ contributions to discussions related to the unit
  • Have students work individually or collaboratively to create a tutorial of how to choose sounds that work well in music that someone is creating
  • Have students create a “podcast” in the form of an interview about each other’s music and process with a focus on the role of sounds and decisions they made in relation to choosing and working with different types of sounds
  • Have students “answer” the generative questions in a medium with which you and they are comfortable (text in a google doc or form, via discussion, via recording, other creative formats – the key here is their ability to discuss what they learned in relation to the generative question)

BeatMaking Unit: Choosing Sounds 5.1a Project Extension

Example of an Extension in a New Direction

Some programs might want to focus on or extend the unit in relation to specific musical concepts in the context of beatmaking.

The following example of an extension requires some prep work on your end. 

Read the Sound-Color Melody chapter in Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers and try out some of the techniques/approaches mentioned in the chapter.

  1. Have students develop or expand on some of the melodic material they create in the project
  2. Have students apply the ideas discussed in the Sound-Color Melody chapter of Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers to the melodic material they created – 
    1. As an even further extension you could explore music that uses these techniques across musical eras and genres
    1. We suggest you use the approach of duplicating the parts and deleting the content that is not being used for that portion of the melody (rather than using zones)
    2. We DO NOT suggest reading this chapter to the students or having students read the chapter
    3. If you want, you could discuss the concepts (though not necessarily the terms) of with Klangfarbenmelodie and hocket (of course if you want to introduce the terms – go ahead but make clear the different musical and cultural contexts)