Saturday, October 10, 2009

Part 2.5 or "Am I literate?"

So the project below you heard in Pt.2 (if you haven't, take a few minutes to do so) is me. One day i just got a new MIDI keyboard controller that had just a minute 2 octave range. So i decided to plug it in and noodle away. Now, what you didn't hear was the full 16+ minute of me just constructing the piece. So, out of 16+ minutes, you only hear 4. So technology strikes again.

But lets be honest, do you really think that even in those 4 minutes that i meant to hit all those notes? As much as i would like to say that i did, i didn't. So, luckily, i went in and could move notes where i wanted (pitch) and extend or shorten them (duration) depending on my likeness. Strike another one up for technology.

I finally added some compression to even out the sound over the entire piece as well as some reverb to add some depth. Gotta love it.

So? Lets think about 20 years ago (wow, i'm dating myself). But had i done this on conventional tape, what you may hear would be choppy, more wrong notes than right one's, and actually, you wouldn't have heard anything, cause i wouldn't have been able to post on the internet (yay technology!)

Am I literate?
That depends. Literate in what? Religious text...well, 12 years of catholic school...guess that makes me literate. Wow, am i glad that's NOT the way it is. So, what else is there? I can write and read and for the most part I understand what I write and read. Literate? Not really.

I always equated literacy as some sort of synonym for expertise or competency in an area. I still think thats the case. The area (whatever it is--blogging, music, reading, etc.) has some norms associated wit
h it. We develope in a literacy by how you (or I) make sense, create, and critique/reflect in the area.

It seems that literacy has been talked about like it's some sort linear thing that has a start and end point. It's not, it's evolving. And what happens if you are an expert in an area? Is literacy over? You're totally literate with nowhere to go? I don't think so. But now we're getting into creativity/innovation, aren't we? That's a whole other discussion.

In conclusion, my head hurts (bordering on a migrain), my son has a fever (c'mon H1N1), and that Kress article may just be the reason for my headache. But literacy is not linear, nor is it just related to reading and writing. To me, being literate is being aware of the different Discourses (notice the big "D") in which you operate. I know that does
n't really explain it, but maybe my concept map will?

A note on the concept map I made
In case anyone is interested, there is software out there in which you can make a concept map pretty easily. I've been messing with it since yesterday and i'm really starting to like it. It really does bring to light some things that you may overlook. The software is from Smart and you can get it here. You can try it out for 30 days before buying it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Whats "new" in music new media Pt 2.

Listen (and watch if you want). Maybe, if you're lucky, I'll explain the 'new' media aspects.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Whats "new" about new media?

Before i even start, i must say that I am looking at this from a music learning standpoint, not just an overall new media standpoint. My reasons are simple: Thats what i'm interested in.

So what is "new" mean in new media in music learning? Well, I actually thought about this before class last week and was going to blog about it, but, as we know, life happens and i never got around to it. But Dr. Dodge brought up an interesting point in his talk. Do any of you audiophiles out there remember "reel to reel" tapes?

Well, I remember them, quite vividly. I was in a trade school for audio engineering (you know...record bands, film scores, sound design). Anyway, we spent weeks on learning how to cut and splice tape together. And not just little 1/4" tape (e.g. cassette size), but i'm talking the mammoth 2" stuff. Ahhh, those were the days. So I cut many a finger learning how to do this and once the unit was complete, they take us into a room and show us this (see above screen shot)

Yep...a Macintosh computer with a program called Sound Designer. They said, "you'll never have to edit tape again". And they were right.

Was I ticked off? Yeah! Was it beneficial to learn the right way? Yep! You see, since i learned how to do it the 'old-school' way, whenever i used a computer to edit audio, i always use my ears and not just my eyes. I make sure my edits sound clean. I've heard many recordings (bands, commercials, etc.) where I can hear the edits and it bugs me.

So what happened here? An appropriation of sorts i guess. The old merged with the new. The concept is the same, but a new aspect of the concept was It's nothing new, really if you think about it.

Throughout the years, music and the computer have been merging. This has allowed immediate feedback to the listener. Instead of writing music notes on a piece of paper, getting that music broke down into parts, hiring musicians, and finally getting to hear your creation (which could take months, even years), we now can hear it instantly. But here is the issue: What if you have never written music before or took a theory class or played an instrument?

What i'm about to type is NOT a condemnation of music classes or how music educators choose to teach music. I'm sure we can all agree that music is one of the lower subjects on the schools hierarchy of classes. However, the way music is taught in school is not beneficial to the students. In my view, it's archaic in some ways. It's also confusing as well.

Jeanne Bamberger, who's work on intution, states that musically untrained people (kids and adults) already know alot about music and the way we teach them is confusing. We are not allowing them to build and reflect on their intuitive knowledge. We are trying to replace what they already know with language and concepts that don't fit. Makes sense to me...but then again, i'm biased.

So what to do? Again, i think Bamberger says it best in her article "The Development of Intuative Musical Understanding: A Natural Experiment" (2003, p. 34):
If a general pedagogical approach emerges from this study, it rests on the finding that the basic characteristics of tonal structure are already part of musically untrained students’ intuitive knowledge-in-action. Thus, a curriculum for elementary music fundamentals classes should recognize, build on and help students develop these intuitions in at least the following ways: ● first, give students ‘units of work’ that are consistent with their intuitive ‘units of perception’ – aggregated, structurally meaningful entities such as motives, figures and phrases; ● second, provide a working environment such that materials are easily manipulated at mutiple levels of structure – for instance, at the aggregate motive level, and also easily modified at the more detailed level of their pitch and duration ‘contents’; ● third, encourage compositional, action-based projects that necessarily direct students’ attention to context and within contexts to structural functions; ● fourth, give students easy access to a variety of representations that include: multiple sensory modalities, multiple graphics and multiple levels of musical structure; ● fifth, encourage students to invoke strategies that will help make their intuitive knowledge explicit, e.g. listening critically, designing, improvising/ experimenting and reflecting on decision-making criteria, along with trying to account for results.

But what about the music? Shouldn't kids learn how to read music and play an instrument? I say yes, to a certain point. I'm self-taught, so most of my musical knowledge is from playing around...tinkering i suppose. Yes, i've had theory classes, and to be honest, i hated them. It actually made me not want to write music on a computer. And i loved doing that...just putting the little black notes on the sheet in weird combination and hearing the result. But no!! Theory classes took all the fun out of that (i.e. "you can't have parallel fifths, you can't skip that many steps between notes"). But now we're just getting into aesthetics...pure subjectivity. What i find pleasing to my ear, you won't. But my biggest regret is not taking theory early in life. I thought of theory as a set of rules to govern song writing, which i was very rebellious against (thank you Mr. Zappa), but it's not, it's just a theory, a set of practices. And what has to be done is merge those practices with new practices. Music has a language all it's own...and until recently, only a few could speak and write in that language. Now, with the appropriation of technologies, that language is taking on new meanings. Meanings being made up by 'musically untrained' individuals (whatever that means). So, review what Jeanne Bamberger said above and you tell me...make sense?