School of Rock Second to Last Day Melody

Summary

This was essentially our final in School of Rock class. We were supposed to download a zip file that contained three midi’s and a ton of awesome soundbites that included EDM traps, Dubstep Rides, House Snares, and a ton more. The midi’s as well as all the soundbites were put together by a student in our class. We had to use the provided soundbites and at least one of the midi’s to create a new sort of song. I created two different tracks, which is what you can listen to below.

My Musical Piece

‘Spacey Water Sounds’ Production Project

Summary

This project was our final in my School of Rock class. We were to create a composition showcasing all of the skills we’ve come to understand over the school year: bass, melody, rhythm, and harmony. We had to make the composition be at least 8 measures long. My composition is 34 measures long, contains an intro, verse, chorus, bridge, and an outro.

21st Century Skills Demonstrated

When creating my composition, I wanted to start as loosely as possible. We watched a couple of motivational and helpful videos in class a couple days ago that gave tips on how to overcome writers block and how to unleash activity to be successful. One of the tips was to just create something as quickly as possible, and then make another one. So, that’s exactly what I did. I began creating random compositions and melodies, just to see if I can pump out anything that I really like enough to work on more and to up my skills.

The Composition

Reactions to the Final Version

“It’s funky!” – Tory

“That’s some tasty jams!” – Elijah

“I liked it, I imagined waking up in outer space and seeing a cat puke a dog – in a good way.” – Ja’Ron

Evaluation of the Final Version

For my composition, I used a lot of drum kits and synthesizers. I used the Deep Sub Bass to create a funky bass line that continued throughout the song. I wanted the bass to be an unexpected element of the composition. The Hard Rock track represents an electronic drum kit that went very well with my drum track. There was a cowbell or a symbol sound in the Hard Rock drum kit that blended well with the drum track. You’ll know what I mean when you listen to my composition. It goes in an ABAB pattern, where two notes will play and then there will be a symbol/cowbell noise. However, it’s almost impossible to hear that there are in fact two drum tracks. These two tracks were pretty simple, and rather concrete. The 80’s Sync Leads are part of the chorus, I thought they added a funky but cool way to meld with the rest of the melody. The Hypnotic Synth Bass along with the Pulsing Patterns were my harmonic tracks that were meant to be a part of verses. I tried to structure this composition as an ordinary song, and although I’m not incredibly happy with it, I like it better than the other compositions I tried creating before this one.

What I Learned and Problems I Solved

This project taught me a lot about creative thinking and more about 21st century skills. I learned that by creating multiple different melodies and not sticking to one was a better process for me. I created 5 compositions in total, and I chose 1 to edit and showcase in this blog post. In the past, I had the problem of trying to perfect something, rather then ‘fail faster.’ By eliminating the objective of ‘perfecting’ my project, I ended up creating more and producing a better composition. I also have come to understand that failing isn’t a bad thing, and by failing on basically all of my created compositions for this project, I gave myself more opportunity to create more and something better.

Creative Thinkers and Writer Block

Notes

  • Turn life into a game of failure
  • Any plan is better than no plan
  • Don’t waste time trying to come up with the perfect idea
  • 1. You can’t come up with an idea.
    writing exercises work.
  • 2. You have a ton of idea’s, but can’t commit.Put it away, more stuff is coming
  • 3. You have an outline, but that one part….
    Try a detour/tangent
  • 4. The Inner Critic
    You need it later in revision not while creating, get rid of it.In contrast, geniuses think productively, not re-productively. When confronted with a problem, they ask “How many different ways can I look at it?”, “How can I rethink the way I see it?”, and “How many different ways can I solve it?” instead of “What have I been taught by someone else on how to solve this?”
  • GENIUSES LOOK AT PROBLEMS IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS
  • GENIUSES MAKE THEIR THOUGHTS VISIBLE.
  • GENIUSES PRODUCE.
    Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents, still the record. He guaranteed productivity by giving himself and his assistants idea quotas. His own personal quota was one minor invention every 10 days and a major invention every six months. Bach wrote a cantata every week, even when he was sick or exhausted. Mozart produced more than six hundred pieces of music.
  • GENIUSES MAKE NOVEL COMBINATIONS.
  • GENIUSES FORCE RELATIONSHIPS.
    make juxtapositions between dissimilar subjects
  • GENIUSES THINK IN OPPOSITES
    Harmonic minors, lyrics
  • GENIUSES THINK METAPHORICALLY.
    grab audio
  • GENIUSES PREPARE THEMSELVES FOR CHANCE.

Bass Recording Project

Summary

The goal for this project was to understand the bassline and all it’s capabilities. We were given a lesson bassline by our teacher, Mr. Le Duc and we had to identify the characteristics, as in the structure and the tonic note. Then we had to list one song that contained one of our favorite basslines in it, then we also had to identify the structure and characteristics. Lastly, we had to create our own baseline using the knowledge we gained from the project.

Lesson Bass Line

This bassline contained a tonic note of C2, in the key of C major. It, along with the harmony and melody is a constant build up of notes, going up in pitch.

One of My Favorite Bass Lines

This is a Kpop song called Doom Dada by T.O.P. I love this song, and especially the bass line. Whenever I play this song loud enough in my car, you can hear and even feel the bass booming. I absolutely love that. When I think of bass, I want to feel it.

The music video is a little funky, but I really enjoy this song and have a special appreciation for this artist.

I couldn’t find a Midi file for this song, but I was still determined to use it for this project. So, I tried to recreate the bassline in GarageBand instead. It’s literally the bare minimum, and could have probably been done better, but I think it sounds similar enough to the original bassline. I used the key of C major, and I used the drum machine Steely Beats, because I wanted to get as close as possible to the electronic sound of the song. The structure of this bassline consists of a continuous note, being repeated in a specific ABAB CD ABAB CD, type pattern. I say ABAB CD, in relation to pausing and patterns. If you listen to the original song in the video above, you’ll understand what I mean.

My Bass Line

This little piece of music that involves my base line is the same melody as the one I used for the harmony project. The only difference is I made the base line repeat itself throughout the entire song, and I made it a lot more prominent. I also lowered the volume of some of the other tracks. The base is a constant alternating change of the notes A#2 and B2. The first SoundCloud file is just my bassline, so you can hear it clearly without any interference with the rest of the music. The second SoundCloud file is the bassline as well as the melody and harmony.

Bass Terms

  • Bass is most often playing on octave down from the rest of the song
  • Bass is music’s youngest element, only being around for 4 centuries
  • Today it’s an essential element that’s in almost every piece of music you hear
  • Tonality – chords and notes, structures, and keys, etc.
    • tonic – the bass of the chord; the bottom, the octave lower
  • root – the independent bass line
  • Before amplifiers, bass instruments needed to be huge and powerful enough to create those bass line notes.
    • really, the first bass instrument was a gigantic piano organ
  • The deeper or longer the pipes on the organ, the lower the notes
  • in an effort to make deeper notes, people began experimenting with string instruments, by lengthening and widening the strings
  • When jazz was starting to become popular, the tuba was the main bass instrument
  • contrary motion – when melody can be shifting notes in one direction while the base goes in the opposite direction. Matching the notes
    • often the music is trying to move from one chord to another, and the best way to get there is to come to it from opposite directions
  • walking bass line is literally just going down the latter of notes one after the other
  • chromatic – if you play all the regular notes, and the sharps and flats in a row
  • ground bass – descending notes on the scale, a lot of rock and roll bands/songs use this
  • inversion – using another note other then the tonic note
  • the bass line emerged with independence in the 19th century, for the waltz. It was a way that dancers could figure out when to reset their feet

What I Learned and Problems I Solved

From this project, I learned that bass is a lot more important than I originally thought. I understand that it has so much more potential then the little ‘boom’ in the background that occurs every couple of seconds. I also have a better understanding of the bass vocabulary, like ground bass, chromatic, and contrary motion. I also know how to better go about analyzing a bassline and how to describe it.

Harmony Project

Summary

For this project, we had to work with the musical element of harmony. We had to take notes on harmonic terms, work with a harmony provided by our teacher, and then create our very own harmony. We also had to provide a harmony that we did not create that we enjoyed, I chose Bye Bye Love by the Everly Brothers, which you can check out more below.

Lesson Harmony

This was the melody that was given to me and my classmates. It’s in the key of C and in a basic harmony chord structure. I used it as a base to create my own harmony melody.

One of My Favorite Harmonies

The song I chose is called Bye Bye Love (1957) by the Everly Brothers. Like I’ve stated before in previous blog posts or projects, I love all kinds of music, from 1950’s to modern day, jazz to kpop, you name it. I love this song a lot, and as soon as my teacher Mr. Le Duc said to find a song with harmony, this song immediately came into my head.

I liked this piece of harmony between the two guitars and the drum line. It flowed really well and I think executed what this project is about. It’s in the key of C major.

My Harmony

These two screenshots are the two tracks that I made the primary melody come from. The top photo shows the main melody, and then the bottom shows the simple line of notes that I found went well and sounded good with the top track. I use a lot of repetition, and the tonic note for the top track is A#2, and for the bottom it’s a combination of G#2 and E2.

Harmony Terms

  • humans love harmony
  • harmony is two pleasant sounds coming together to create one pleasing sound
  • drone – a continuous solid note, one that doesn’t change
    • because it’s continuous, every note that a singer or other instrument makes will coincide with it
    • the evolution of the drone produced a movable drone, where it’s more flexible. Its still very structured, where it’s tethered the melody, except it’s usually playing lower notes to shadow the regular melody
  • chord progression – the life blood of all Western harmony
    • a flexible drone
    • ex: the melody goes up while the mirroring drone goes down in key
    • what we know as modern music
  • 3 note chords are the foundation of Western harmony
  • in roman numerals, when the letters are upper case it’s minor key, when it’s lower case it’s major
  • harmonics – hidden notes, like those hidden notes in a harp string
    • the human ear can hear only about the first three or four harmonics of an instrument or chords
    • each string hides within it the other notes it can play nicely with
  • major triad – primary chords that have 3 notes
    • Every note on the Western scale is capable of creating a triad
    • generally happy sounding, therefore most songs expressing a happy message are major
  • minor triads – chords with a middle note that is a half step lower than the first
    • it’s fragile
    • it’s why sad songs are generally minor
  • polyphony – “many voices,” when multiple people sing together (Mamamoo’s Woo Hoo)

What I Learned and Problems I Solved

I learned a lot from this project. I enjoyed building my own harmony, and understanding more of the complexities of this musical element. I also understand that harmony can be extremely simple too, as in, someone can be singing a song and playing a guitar, and that’s a method of harmony. I have better knowledge when it comes to harmonic terms as well. Like, before I didn’t know that there was multiple meanings to words like triads (major, minor) and other key words like chord progression.

The Story of the Guitar

Creative Commons Image from Flickr by doryfour

Notes

  • Only a few people really understand the guitar
  • In the 1950’s the guitar was the center of the universe for a lot of kids
  • One of the reasons guitars were so preferred because of how portable it was
  • The guitar rules over a lot of other instruments in music today
  • Guitars can be traced back to the Greek God Apollo
  • Classical players of the guitar studied for an average of 12 years to get really good at it
  • The Lute, was an ancestor of the guitar, but it was very expensive to maintain. It was also a sort of opposite of the guitar
  • The guitar has always been most at home in Spain
  • Classical guitar players will grow their nails out on the hand they play with, to be able to pluck the strings in a different way
  • The guitar was not considered to be a high class instrument in China during the cultural revolution
  • Elvis Presley wanted a gun for his birthday, but his mother got him a cheap guitar instead
  • Overtime, people wanted bigger guitars for bigger sounds
  • The guitar has major roots in the Southern parts of America, like Mississippi
  • The invention of the radio helped boost the popularity of the guitar
  • Hollywood invented the singing cowboy
    • The guitar became something everyone wanted because their hero (Gene Autry, the first singing cowboy star) had one
  • Over the years, the guitar became an icon of culture, a fashion accessory, etc.
  • A guitar called ‘the frying pan’ was shaped like a frying pan/spoon, was the first ever electric guitar, and it was originally made to play Hawaiian music
  • Before the amp came to assist the guitar in volume, people began making guitars out of metal
  • Les Paul and his wife invented multi-track recording, he also created the familiar shape of guitars that you see all over the place
    • he built an electric guitar in his own living room, it was very simple to him
    • He’s from Wisconsin
    • “the louder I get the more tips I get”
    • He became incredibly popular in the U.S.
  •  B.B King is one of the kings of the guitar
    • he still plays his music and is still on tour, 50 years and counting
    • he is a legendary guitarist, but he doesn’t know how to play chords

Film Sound Design – ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement)

Summary

For this assignment we were given a clip that my teacher recorded to try and replace the audio. This process was suppose to replicate ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement). I was given a video clip and an audio file containing five different versions of Le Duc saying “I never said you stole the money.” I imported all of these files into GarageBand and replaced the original “I never said you stole the money track,” with a different one, along with adding a track of ambient noise.

Film Before Visual ADR

Here is the clip that we were given to work with, it’s our teacher saying “I never said you stole the money.”

Film After Visual ADR

Here is the clip with my ADR work done on it, along with a track of ambiance. All I did for my ambient track was use my Apple iPhone Voice Memo microphone and recorded for about 6 seconds while the classroom was working. I picked up some background noises that included conversations that aren’t exactly audible, and the ventilation rumble.

Here is the clip that I made, using ADR to replace Le Duc saying “I never said you stole the money” with my own voice. I also left the ambient track in this clip as well.

ADR Process

Here is a picture of me recording myself saying “I never said you stole the money” to replace the the former audio. Also, there is my screen, indicating my work in GarageBand.

Audio ADR Preparation

ADR Terms

  • Prepare the audio/visual clip to make it easier to record over – so you can watch it while you re-record
  • Used for replacing audio/visual clips that have Fix Technical Problems, to re-record actor’s lines to fix vocal issues, etc.
  • Post-Synchronization was the act of recording/making/fixing audio during post production
  • Because computers are used to go through this process it’s called Automated Dialog Replacement
  • Partial ADR requires matching the microphones and other components
  • Visual ADR is the actor visually matching lip sync
  • Audio ADR is actor matches the sound of original audio
  • Small inconsistencies can ruin the illusion, although getting a perfect dub is possible – but time consuming

Audio Post-production Terms

What I Learned and Problems I Solved

The Arrival of Multiplexes and Asian Mainstream

1970s and Onwards: Innovation in Popular Culture – Around the World Notes

  • “The best of the mainstream films did new things.”
  • For 40 years Hong Kong became a sort of bootcamp for filmmakers
  • Cinema in the 50’s in China was feminine and colorful, and as time went on it became more aggressive and fast, yet still it was graceful and expertly engineered cinema
  • A Touch of Zen begins as an action movie, but turns into a sort of ghost story, making it unlike any other martial arts (Kung Fu) film
    • It was action cinema at its most daring.
    • Directed by King Hu
    • Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was a film playing homage to King Hu and his film
  • Bruce Lee’s fighting had more attack and rage
    • There was real anger in his face, he dealt with racism and played his roles well
    • His fighting style changed the way cinema and films portrayed martial arts
  • The shift from feminine love stories and films such as that turned into something more masculine, and focused on male bonding during the 70’s
  • A lot of American films were heavily influences from Asian films (like those featuring Bruce Lee), including The Matrix 
  • Mainstream cinema in India grew into Bollywood
    • Sharmila Tagore is the queen of Bollywood
    • Indian cinema was great at showing past and present, happiness and sadness all at the same time

Movies to Change the World

1969-1979: Radical Directors in the 70s – Make State of the Nation Movies Notes

  • Concern for visual beauty
  • The theme that identity is fragmented
  • The Performance was the best movie about identity in the 70’s
  • Jenny Agutter played the lead role in the film Walkabout, which was another film about identity and who people were compared to others
  • “The truth is buried under layers of lies,” some directors understand this and portray it in their films
  • “Making films is crucial to people’s identities.”
  • A new type of African cinema was radical and portraying more reality
  • The way directors felt could be showcased in their films, whether they mean to or not. Like Mambéty in his film Hyènes, where his hatred for communism is shown
  • The filmmaker for Yol broke out of prison just to finish post-production, because he doesn’t trust the editors that were supposed to edit the film in the first place
    • He sent out notes while he was in prison for most of the shooting to those who were filming for him, a lot of the notes explaining specific shots that he wanted
  • The Battle of Chile was about identity, and was a film that made you feel as though you were in the center of the action

American Cinema of the 70’s

Creative Commons Image from Flickr by Diego David Garcia

1967-1979: New American Cinema Notes

  •  Satirical films mocked society and their times. Dissident films challenged the conventional style of film, and Essolusionat
  • “In order to be funny, you need to think sad first.”
  • Catch 22 was an a1 movie satire
    • People didn’t like this film because they perceived it as un-American
  • Making the actor’s mouths invisible, gives editors and directors wide freedom to work with audio and dialog
  • Upside-downism became a very popular and new inventive way of story telling
  • There were many anti-Western films during the late 60’s and 70’s
  • “Visual uncertainty to match the 70’s uncertainty.”
  • Some films met tragic situations with lighthearted attitudes.
  • American Gigolo (1980) and Light Sleeper (1992) were heavily influenced by Pick Pocket (1959)
  • Annie Hall (1977) is the offspring of Charlie Chaplin’s film City Lights (1931)
    • Both are brilliant films in which the writer played the lead role
  • American assimilationists weren’t interesting of fixing film form, but recreating it
  • In some situations, filming a character in half light gives the impression that he’s been there the entire time.
  • Nature coming alive is a wondrous trick that many directors loved to use
  • Clarabet (1972) challenged the familiar rules of musicals, using different camera angles such as close ups.
  • The Godfather (1972) was another assimilationist film that was even more radical, but turned out to be a huge hit