The making of Super

The original plan:

To arrange and record a familiar nursery rhyme which showcases different genres. It would be used in the classroom to highlight what aspects of music change when the genre changes. We tossed up between making it a primary resource (where changes in genre would be smaller and might include baroque, classical, romantic and modern) or an infant’s (more obvious genre changes which might include tango, Celtic, classical and country). We ended up deciding to make an infant’s resource as using a nursery rhyme as a basis is better suited to younger children.

We decided to mix the song in GarageBand as we had limited resources and musicians so the loops pre-provided in the program would be very helpful. Neither Anna or I had much experience in using GarageBand so the skills learned in doing this project will help us when we are responsible for teaching composition to primary or secondary school.

We ended up using the song Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as I had the sheet music to it and it is a very recognisable tune.

Our first action in making this project was to play on GarageBand and find some loops that would work for out chosen genres (country, classical and tango). There were many options for tango and the best instrument that illustrates this genre is the bandoneon.

We started out by dragging and dropping bandoneon loops that were on different chords into the workspace. We chopped and changed them to fit the chords in the song (in the parallel minor) by splitting the loop and dragging them around into the right order. We knew there must be a quicker way to change the chords and so started looing around the program for ways we might do this. The best we found was in the keyboard analysis of the midi instrument where you could see and change each note that the bandoneon played in semi-tones. This interface was very easy to use and when you hovered over a note it would tell you what it is. If students were to change the chords of a loop like this, without knowing what notes the chord should be, all they would need to do is read the sheet music, and just by knowing the names of the staff, they could easily change the chord.

After finishing our backing track of bandoneon, we needed to get the track into a form that we could take it with us to improvise over. The best way to do that was in a CD player (something we both had access to.) Just by simply searching within the program’s options in the drop-down tabs, I found “Burn song to CD”. It is as simple as inserting a blank CD into the drive and clicking “burn”. In this same list was an option to share the song with iTunes. This would come in handy later in our publishing phase.

We borrowed a  Zoom recorder from the Con to record ourselves playing our own parts on the violin to the backing track. I already knew how to use this technology after doing the subject Music Technology at university last year.

To record our parts over the top of our backing track we needed to be able to hear the track without it playing out loud. Putting earphones into the CD player easily solved this problem. We recorded each violin part separately so we could have separate stems when moving it into GarageBand later on.

Here is one of the stems we recorded:

https://copy.com/93L0EH8gPkzp

 

Moving on to the country genre, we wanted to find a way that we could make a backing track without using the fiddly GarageBand loops. The best we could do was by recording a keyboard’s loops where the chords could be altered instantly by playing them on the keys. Though this was a much quicker way to make a track, it was also not at the same quality as the tango loops.

Our final genre, classical, didn’t need any loops as we had enough instruments just by ourselves to make it sound authentic (i.e. 2 voices and 2 violins). There are 2 stems in this song, the violins and the voices. We found that the more stems we created the harder it was to sync up when putting them into GarageBand, even when using a  metronome.

When mixing the songs together we had to sync up all the stems, recorded and GarageBand loops alike.

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