Opus one: critics of computers in education often argue the investment in technology detracts from the arts. This does not need to be the case. Increasingly powerful and easy-to-use music hardware and software can rejuvenate any school music program.
Did you ever wonder how Stevie Wonder can play just one keyboard and yet produce an orchestra of sounds? The easy answer is because of the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (music, hardware, protocol, file format) Musical Instrument Digital Interface - (MIDI /mi'-dee/, /mee'-dee/) A hardware specification and protocol used to communicate note and effect information between synthesisers, computers, music keyboards, controllers, and other electronic . The MIDI is essentially a networking protocol that allows musical instruments, synthesizers, recorders and computers to communicate. In the case of Stevie Wonder, the one keyboard he plays triggers a variety of synthesizers and generates a remarkable collection of sounds.
Now, why should K-12 schools care about any of this? Because the same tools that allow Stevie Wonder to impress his audience also can make music composition, expression and performance a part of the educational process. These tools provide the scaffolding required to allow even young children to realize the most sophisticated of musical ideas. For less than $500 any classroom can be equipped with a composition/performance/recording studio consisting of a musical keyboard This article is about keyboards on musical instruments. For instruments referred to as "keyboards", see Keyboard instrument.
A musical keyboard is the set of adjacent depressible levers on a musical instrument which cause the instrument to produce sounds. and powerful music software. This technology offers an opportunity to reinvigorate arts education and help schools come alive with the sound of music.
Unlike many high-tech standards, MIDI has withstood the test of time. Since 1983 synthesizers, controllers and computers have spoken the language of MIDI.
MIDI is a bi-directional pipeline allowing connected devices to share data. That data is a series of numbers describing a musical note--its pitch, volume, length (sustain) and instrument. Anytime you turn an event or data into a code remembered by a computing device you are digitizing that information. Striking the key on a MIDI keyboard A MIDI keyboard is a piano-style digital keyboard device used for sending MIDI signals or commands to other devices connected to the same interface as the keyboard. MIDI is an acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface (protocol). turns that middle-C into a set of bits capable of being manipulated. It is the potential for the manipulation of musical gestures Movement associated with music, either physical (e.g. body movement) or mental (e.g. musical imagery) are musical gestures. The concept of musical gestures has received much attention in various disciplines studying music (e.g. musicology, music psychology, NIME) in recent years. that makes this technology so powerful in an educational setting.
Most people are familiar with the popular electronic keyboards that allow the player to change instrument sounds or play-along with accompaniment. Some of these keyboards are MIDI controllers as well. That means that it can be played like a piano and be used to control infinite sounds, multiple instruments or even record a performance digitally. These devices are connected to each other via MIDI cables and to computers via a MIDI interface.
The cost of a MIDI interface starts at about $50 and goes up depending on how many devices you wish to control. Older MIDI interfaces required a serial port, but most new ones use USB USB
in full Universal Serial Bus
Type of serial bus that allows peripheral devices (disks, modems, printers, digitizers, data gloves, etc.) to be easily connected to a computer. . MIDI hardware and software is available for Macs and Windows. Like many visual artists, Macs are popular among musicians.
If you are looking to purchase an electronic keyboard, be sure it has a GM logo on it indicating that the device is General MIDI A standard set of 128 sounds for MIDI sound cards and devices (synthesizers, sound modules, etc.). By assigning instruments to specific MIDI patch locations, General MIDI provides a standard way of communicating MIDI sound. compliant. General MIDI is a refinement of the MIDI standard ensuring that your piccolo piccolo, small transverse flute pitched an octave higher than the standard flute. Its tone is bright and shrill, and it can produce the highest notes in the orchestral range. The piccolo is used in orchestras and especially in military bands. See fife. always sounds like a piccolo and not a tuba tuba (t`bə) [Lat.,=trumpet], valved brass wind musical instrument of wide conical bore. , regardless of the device generating the final sound. You should also remember to invest in headphones Head-mounted speakers. Headphones have a strap that rests on top of the head, positioning a pair of speakers over both ears. For listening to music or monitoring live performances and audio tracks, both left and right channels are required. for each musician.
Other MIDI devices include drum machines, electronic wind-instruments (imagine playing a trumpet and hearing a violin), synthesizer synthesizer
Machine that electronically generates and modifies sounds, frequently with the use of a digital computer, for use in the composition of electronic music and in live performance. modules and digital recording decks. Not every synthesizer, the computer producing digital sounds, needs to have a keyboard, drum pad or wind controller attached. Many synthesizers are housed in small boxes often mounted in racks off-stage and out of view.
Most computer operating systems Operating systems can be categorized by technology, ownership, licensing, working state, usage, and by many other characteristics. In practice, many of these groupings may overlap. possess the ability to play MIDI files. QuickTime uses General MIDI as its standard and will play most MIDI files. The great thing about MIDI files is that they are so compact you can easily add complex music to a multimedia project or Web page without using too much disk space or bandwidth. For example, a commercially produced MIDI arrangement of Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour" requires only 48K of disk space.
Royalty-free and commercial MIDI files are easily found on the Web. Depending on the license granted by the copyright owner, you may use these files in your own projects.
The microcomputer is MIDI's best friend. It may be used to compose and playback music; edit and master recorded music recorded music n → música grabada and store musical ideas for future manipulation. The processing power and storage capabilities of the personal computer are essential for the production of digital music. The music synthesizing abilities of most personal computers are primitive when compared with dedicated musical synthesizers. It is for that reason that you should connect a hardware synthesizer to the computer and play the music through the device when performance is the goal.
CHEAP, CHEAPER, CHEAPEST
Most music software comes in three forms--free, moderately priced and super-sized. Several publishers of music software offer all three options. Free software may have limitations on saving, printing or in complexity of music. For most school settings the moderately priced software will do the trick. Serious composers and performers may wish to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars for software with incredible power.
Many music software publishers offer generous academic pricing on their products. Be sure to ask for it or visit a site like www.schoolmusic.com that specializes in music software for schools. Site licenses and lab-packs may also be available.
Just be sure that any software you use produces files compatible with other hardware and software. Standard MIDI files are the way to go if you are exporting digital music to be manipulated or played by a variety of devices or computer programs.
A WEALTH OF INFORMATION ABOUT MIDI MAY BE FOUND AT THE FOLLOWING SITES:
Exploring MIDI--nuinfo.nwu.edu/musicschool/links/ projects/midi/expmidiindex.html
CakeWalk Desktop Music Handbook--www.cakewalk.com/Tips/Desktop.htm
Kids love music, but until now you needed the prodigious talent of Mozart to compose music. A variety of software packages now provide children tools with which they can express their original musical ideas. There are several distinct categories of music software, but many packages contain features from other categories. For example, sequencing software may include features found in digital recording software allowing you to add reverb re·verb Informal
1. A reverberative effect produced in recorded music by electronic means.
2. A device used for producing this effect.
intr. & tr.v. or other effects to your music.
Sequencers are hardware devices that store and playback music. Sequencing software allows the player of a MIDI controller (typically a keyboard) to not only remember the notes played, but also to edit those notes. Most sequencing software even lets you enter notes one at a time, regardless of tempo, and overcome a lack of piano technique by fixing your flubs later. Unlike playing the piano, you do not need to play more than one note at a time. You can layer parts like tracks in a video. Most sequencing software uses some sort of non-musical graphical representation of the music for the purposes of editing. (All of the software mentioned is available for Mac or PC except where noted)
Mark of the Unicorn's (www.motu.com) Performer and GVOX's (www.gvox.com) Master Tracks Pro are excellent examples of "super-sized" sequencing software.
Notation software provides the musician with a way to create written scores and sheet music. The notes, rests and accidentals are entered with a mouse or keyboard. The software offers many advantages over writing by hand, including the ability to instantly turn scores into transposed trans·pose
v. trans·posed, trans·pos·ing, trans·pos·es
1. To reverse or transfer the order or place of; interchange.
2. parts, excellent print output and the ability to cut and paste To move an object from one location to another. When the operation is complete, there is nothing left in the original location. It may refer to relocating files from one folder to another or to relocating selected text or images from one document to another. .
Finale Notepad The text editor that comes with Windows. It is a very elementary utility, but gets the job done most of the time. See text editor and WordPad.
(text, tool) Notepad - The very basic text editor supplied with Microsoft Windows. , (www.finalenotepad.com), by Coda Music, is an easy-to-use notation package that allows you to choose different instruments, create up to eight staves, enter lyrics, and publish music created on your computer on the Web. Did I mention that it is also free for both the Mac and PC?
Fifth grade students at the Village School in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. use Finale Notepad to compose their own musical pieces by developing a melody and harmony for three or more instruments (See illustration). By limiting themselves to the pentatonic scale pentatonic scale
Music a scale consisting of five notes
Noun 1. pentatonic scale - a gapped scale with five notes; usually the fourth and seventh notes of the diatonic scale are omitted
pentatone , pesky dissonances are easily avoided. The music is composed on the computer where it may be heard, modified and printed. After just two months kids are adding second and third themes to their compositions. Each completed opus will be about two minutes long. The school's technology director, Tara Higgins, will then open the Notepad files in one of Coda's more powerful packages, like PrintMusic! or Finale Allegro (operating system) Allegro - The code name for the major Mac OS release due in mid-1998.
http://devworld.apple.com/mkt/informed/appledirections/mar97/roadmap.html. and export MIDI files. Those MIDI files can easily be converted to .WAV files via QuickTime Player The media player software that comes with QuickTime for the Mac and Windows. See QuickTime. Pro (quicktime.apple.com) and burned to a "Greatest Hits of Fifth Grade CD." This explosion of musical expression impresses kids and parents alike.
HYBRID SEQUENCING/NOTATION SOFTWARE
The best bet for schools may be software packages combining the features of sequencing and notation software. Budding composers may play their composition, edit, print and perform their compositions in one package. Many of these packages allow note entry via computer keyboard, mouse or musical controller.
PrintMusic! (www.codamusic.com)is an entry-level sequencing/notation package costing only $69. It allows for 24 staves of music and includes MIDI-Scan technology allowing you to turn sheet music into editable music via a scanner.
Mark of the Unicorn's Freestyle (www.motu.com), Music Time Deluxe (www.gvox.com), Finale Allegro (www.codamusic.com) and CakeWalk HomeStudio (PC only) (www. cakewalk.com) are powerful, moderately priced sequencing/notation packages for serious music students and their teachers.
Coda Music's Finale 2002 (www.codamusic.com) enjoys a 50 percent academic price, and it is the most popular notation/sequencing suite on the market. More advanced arrangers, composers and school band leaders will find the $300 a wise investment. Encore (www.gvox.com) is Finale's worthy competitor.
Mosaic (Mac only) (www.motu.com) considers itself state-of-the-art desktop publishing desktop publishing, system for producing printed materials that consists of a personal computer or computer workstation, a high-resolution printer (usually a laser printer), and a computer program that allows the user to select from a variety of type fonts and sizes, for music. While it includes sequencing features, its strength is in paper output.
Cubasis VST VST VLT (Very Large Telescope) Survey Telescope
VST Vietnam Standard Time (Gmt+0700)
VST Virtual Studio Technology (Midiware music production technology) (www.steinberg.net) combines sequencing, notation and digital recording studio functionality in one package for Mac or PC.
Most sequencing and notation programs have a proprietary file format. They usually include the ability to export or import a standard MIDI file. This is the way you will move your music between applications.
COMPOSING WITHOUT NOTES
Hip-hop music is often built upon digital samples of other music woven together to create a new aural fabric. Mixman (www.mixman.com) and Acid (www.sonicfoundry.com/ products/) are programs that allow you to combine samples of pre-recorded songs, known as loops, with MIDI files to compose new royalty-free music. Tracks are visually layered to create compositional sophistication so·phis·ti·cate
v. so·phis·ti·cat·ed, so·phis·ti·cat·ing, so·phis·ti·cates
1. To cause to become less natural, especially to make less naive and more worldly.
2. to a funky beat. Both products have large libraries of loops/samples available for use in new compositions. The user/DJ community trades free loops online.
[Reduplication of super.] Music Looper looper, name for caterpillars that move with a looping motion, including the inchworm and the cabbage looper.
or cankerworm or inchworm (www.sonicfoundry.com/products) lets kids, ages 6-10, compose music with just a mouse, onscreen on·screen or on-screen
adj. & adv.
1. As shown on a movie, television, or display screen.
2. Within public view; in public. paintbrush (graphics, tool) Paintbrush - A Microsoft Windows tool for creating bitmap graphics. , an erase tool and their imaginations. A huge library of professionally recorded loops lets kids experiment with instrument sounds and compose their own music.
Band-in-a-Box is a perennial favorite among performers of popular music. Its publisher (www.pgmusic.com) calls Band-in-a-Box "intelligent music accompaniment." Type a chord progression A chord progression (also chord sequence and harmonic progression or sequence), as its name implies, is a series of chords played in order. Chord progressions are central to most modern European-influenced music and the principle study of harmony. into the software, choose a style of music from a huge selection and Band-in-a-Box will produce a professional-quality accompaniment of piano, bass, guitar, drums and string section. It will even generate improvised solos and import/export MIDI files. This software could come in quite handy for school musicals. PGMusic sells libraries of songs and sounds for Band-in-a-Box. Despite its novel (funky) interface, Band-in-a-Box is loved by its users.
There are a few pieces of music software that take your breath away. SmartMusic Studio SmartMusic Studio is a software used to help with practicing instruments. (www.codamusic.com) and SmartScore (www.musitek.com) are clear examples of software alchemy. I have not personally reviewed Autoscore Pro, (www.wildcat.com) but it holds a great deal of promise.
Autoscore Pro (PC only) from Wildcat Canyon Wildcat Canyon is a narrow linear valley just east of the Berkeley Hills in the San Francisco Bay Area, situated in Contra Costa County. The canyon is bounded on its east side by the San Pablo Ridge, and is drained by Wildcat Creek which runs northwest to its outlet in San Pablo Software
(www.wildcat.com) promises musicians the ability to sing or play a non-MIDI instrument and have the software automatically convert that music to editable written music. It will even cope with your occasional intonation problems by restricting input to a particular key.
SmartMusic Studio for Vocalists, SmartMusic Studio for Woodwinds and Brass and SmartMusic Studio for Vocalists, Woodwinds and Brass are designed to make music practice more efficient and pleasant. The player uses a microphone to input her performance into the computer and then the computer accompanies the musician. It not only accompanies, it follows you with spontaneous tempo changes! SmartMusic Studio brings emotion to the too often-isolated mechanics of practicing an instrument.
Music teachers will be impressed by the 20,000 exercises and 5,000 musical pieces in its library available for an annual subscription of between $20 and $90 per year. The online library even features audition pieces organized by state. (www.smartmusic.com)
Musicians interested in rearranging a piece of sheet music with the drudgery of hand-copying will love SmartScore. The moderately priced software scans sheet music and turns it into fully editable notes on the screen. It may then be performed by the computer or attached MIDI synthesizer, rearranged, exported as a new MIDI file or printed. Three versions exist for full scores, lyrics with piano and either piano or solo instrument.
Gary Stager, firstname.lastname@example.org, is editor-at-large and an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University Pepperdine University is a private institution of higher learning affiliated with the Church of Christ in unincorporated Los Angeles County, California, United States. The university's location overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is adjacent to the city limits of Malibu. .