Monday, 27 February 2012

Composing with GarageBand for iPad

We started the second part to this iPad project this week - using GarageBand for composition work.

With the BTEC Extended Diploma 1st years, we are doing a unit called Songwriting and requires lots of different approaches to writing material. As many of our students don't necessarily have musicianship skills, a lot of music that is created - especially hip hop - has excellent production values but not always in songwriting terms, such as chord progressions, harmony and melody etc. The way that I see GarageBand for the iPad helping is by using tools like the smart guitar and keyboard where once a key of the song is chosen, the chords within that key appear on the guitar and the learner can try out and record different chord progressions. Similarly, the keyboard can be restricted to scale and makes it a lot easier to create a melody over those chords. 
Cue a debate about the ease of making music these days....!

In short, what I had planned to do over 3 weeks, the learners discovered in the first 3 hours! By the end, many had finished arrangements with 2 or 3 different sections, 3 learners realised that they could record their vocals directly in to the in-built mic and were using it as an audio notepad. I heard, "I've got to get an iPad", 5 or 6 times which I'm taking as a success!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

5-Way iPad Jam

We have managed to get 5 iPads working together now, one with a guitar connected to an iRig adaptor with the Amplitube app. 
The guys have been working on creating a piece of music for Jupiter and here's the rough draft!

The performance is in a couple of weeks so they need to rehearse a bit more, but as it's mostly improvised they are talented enough to work it out!!

Monday, 6 February 2012

4-Way iPad Jam

 As our theme for the performance will be 'The Planets', this week we had a mind mapping session looking at the three planets we will be composing for: Jupiter, Neptune and Saturn; and tried to conclude what tempo, key and genre each would be:
Saturn - Bringer of Old age; Jazz; maybe 6/8; 90BPM; A Major or minor
Neptune - The Mystic; Atmospheric/Trance/Psychedelic; 140BPM; A minor/ C Major
Jupiter - Bringer of Jollity; Uplifting; 120BPM; Bb Major

Now that the students are a bit more confident with the apps they've been using, they started to break out in to groups to try out some compositional ideas together. This resulted in some really good ideas and innovative uses of the apps as you can see in this video. 

The iKaossilator was used as the rhythm generator and set the tempo with various loops; the Animoog was used to add a dubstep style synth bass played using the keyboard on the app on which you can add modulation by sliding your finger vertically on the key; lead synth using the Garageband keyboard in glide mode and the iMS20 provided some repeating melodies played with one kaoss pad set to the scale of the piece and another set to the filter to create sweep effects!
The aim is still to get all 10 iPads playing at the same time but a Quartet is an excellent start!