Category Archives: IT

Open Goldberg

Those studying composing/arranging and listening in SQA Music exams pretty soon come upon variation form. If you’re lucky enough to have an iPhone or iPad you can download a free app containing a recording by Kimiko Ishizaka along with a score (with moving cursor) of one of the best sets of variations of all time, Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

You can get the iPhone app here  http://www.opengoldbergvariations.org/soundsnips-free-iphone-app-featuring-open-goldberg-variations

and the iPad version here:

http://www.opengoldbergvariations.org/musescore-releases-free-ipad-app-open-goldberg-variations

Sibelius 7

Staff and students currently scaling the steep learning curve from Sibelius 6 to 7 may find some cheer in the wealth of YouTube tutorials in existence. A simple search revealed the following:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sibelius+7+tutorial&oq=Sibelius+7+tut&gs_l=youtube.1.0.0l6j0i5.4216.6353.0.8126.4.4.0.0.0.0.123.410.2j2.4.0…0.0…1ac.1.n0PwzZ7mIII

 

Here is the first one on that list:

Sound Editing for Oral Historians

The second project in the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) was to put together a short course, explaining the basics of sound editing so that local, oral historians – using the free program, Audacity, could edit and present their work. Of course this is equally applicable to music.

Here it is…

Sound Editing in Audacity for Oral Historians

Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)

In October 2011 I applied to participate in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). Under the mantle of Creative Learning Networks, the idea was to enhance creative learning in the (public sector) workplace – school, community etc. One spin-off would be that silos who have neither time not opportunity to communicate would have reason to come together, in the interest of learning. This very much appealed to my cross-curricular mind-set.

Under the leadership of Ruthanne Baxter – then Arts Education Officer and Manager for Creative Learning Network in East Lothian – I was paired with Caroline Mathers at the John Gray Centre in Haddington, soon to be moving into its new premises in Lodge Street. Various ideas were discussed and two projects were agreed:

  1. a short series of videos where working composers would give tips to pupils to help with the composing/arranging component of the SQA Music courses
  2. an online course in the basics of sound editing – using the free program, Audacity and aimed at oral historians

The latter idea seemed especially fitting for two reasons:

  1. the John Gray Centre is, among other things, a museum devoted to local history and community
  2. this seemed, to me, to fit the cross-sector brief

Five composers were initially scheduled to be involved in the video interviews but, due to various commitments, two were unable to take part. Nevertheless, I feel that the three videos we have will be invaluable to students of composition.

I shall post each of the two outcomes individually.

Musical Terms

There was a time when many used to feel that it was fine to question Wikipedia’s accuracy. I never really felt this and can’t recall spotting an error – perhaps I know less than those critics.

I’m impressed by their glossary of musical terms - particularly the iPhone version, the alphabetical arrangement of which is elegant and user friendly. A nervous pupil, en route to a grade exam, could do worse than to look check up a few of these in the car. At home on PC it is a great resource – particularly when used in conjunction with Windows search function – Ctrl+F then the first few letters of the term in question.

Of course, when it comes to SQA concepts, there is no better site than LTS’ one - where audio illustrations of the concepts are included.

MuseScore

I’m endebted to J. Simon van der Walt for (inadvertently) alerting me to a free, open source, music score-writing programme entitled MuseScore.  It is intuitive to use for anyone accustomed to the basic commands which feature in most programmes e.g. hitting the space-bar to start/stop playing.

The program saves in its own file format but opens a variety of other file types, including Midi files.

While it’s not Sibelius, it’s not £449.95 either and, in these difficult times, it might be the only way for some to get their foot inside the score-writing software door.

In the spirit of open source, the first thing that happens, upon opening the program, is that you are invited to join the community. The news menu of this is reminiscent of Twitter with many (shortened) urls leading to how to videos such as this one on how to transpose a score.  A quick search for similar videos on YouTube revealed about 1,000 results.

You can download the programme (Windows, Linux or Apple) here.

And, finally, congratulations to Simon on his recent PhD in composition! You can hear some of Simon’s work here.

A History of Modern Music: The Timeline

Thanks to Lesley Pearson for pointing me to Open Culture‘s  recent links, which included this great interactive History of Modern Music. Dating from 1899 – 2011, the genres covered are Pop, Rock, RnB/HipHop, Indie, Dance, World/Folk, Jazz. Emanating from The Guardian, each icon links to a short piece from that paper on the topic. The articles range from the serious, such as Pete Seeger’s refusal to testify at McCarthy‘s House Un-American Activities Committee, to the frivolous, such as the then breaking news that the Modern Jazz Quartet were buying tuxedos.

Conference 1

I recently experienced four days which I would have to sum up as amongst the most stimulating but toughest days I can recall. They were spent at a conference (organised by the Mariani Foundation and hosted by Edinburgh University – specifically Katie Overy of the IMHSD) entitled: The Neurosciences and Music: Learning & Memory

 Stimulating for the following reasons: 

  • dedicated, uninterrupted time to devote to an area of fascination which often only pops up intermittently – namely the intersection of music, language, memory, learning, science (of various sorts)
  • the world’s leading thinkers – many of whose names I had already come across – were presenting recent research
  • the questions/comments often added another dimension to the talks – I noted that resonant, thought-provoking questions were equally likely from delegates in identical or contrasting fields to the speaker

 Tough for the following reasons: 

  • although I am now very interested in science, I do not have a scientific background – my last formal contact was failing Higher Chemistry and Physics in 1977
  • speed – all speakers were keen to run to time and presentations were necessarily quick – this meant that slides containing acronyms, data, graphs, brain scans etc. seemed to be racing by*
  • concentration – not my own (although this was no doubt challenged) but more the concentration of 18 hours of listening and a further 6 hours of poster viewing/chat to authors over four days was quite dense 

I would equate the content of those four days with at least a year’s reading, TV/radio documentaries, on-line exploration. For that reason, I was glad to have my Zoom H2 mp3 recorder with me and intend to re-visit many of the talks in order to write things up over time. Until then, though, here is an outline of content to give some broad overview of the content. 

*One of the delegates seated next to me, using an iPad, switched seamlessly between – typing, photographing, videoing. That’s the way to go! Other devices are available :-)

Neurosciences and Music IV: Learning & Memory

 DAY 1  – Thu 9 June

 

  Registration

 “Working with Infants and Children”

 Workshop 1Experimental Methods  – 4 x 30 minute presentations

 Workshop 2 – Social / Real World Methods – 4 x 20 minute presentations

 Day 2 – Fri 10 June

 

 Keynote lecture - Human memory – 45 minutes

Symposium IMechanisms of Rhythm and Meter Learning over the Life Span – 3 x 20 minute presentations

Symposium 2Impact of Musical Experience on Cerebral Language Processing – 4 x 30 minute presentations

Symposium 3Cultural Neuroscience of Music – 6 x 20 minute presentations

Poster session I – 2 hours to view posters/chat to authors/take away A4 version handouts

 

Day 3 – Saturday 11 June


Symposium 4 - Memory and Learning in Music Performance 5 x 20 minute presentations

Symposium 5Mind and Brain in Musical Imagery – 5 x 20 minute presentations

Symposium 6 - Plasticity and Malplasticity in Health and Disease – 5 x 20 minute presentations

Poster session II – 2 hours to view posters/chat to authors/take away A4 version handouts

 

Day 4 – Sunday 12 June

Symposium 7The Role of Music in Stroke Rehabilitation: neural mechanisms and therapeutic techniques – 6 x 20 minute presentations

Symposium 8Music: A Window into the World of Autism – 4 x 25 minute presentations

Symposium 9Learning and Memory in Musical disorders – 4 x 25 minute presentations

Edinburgh International Film Festival previews – neuroscience is a theme this year – 15 min presentation

Conclusions and thanks.

Poster session III – 2 hours to view posters/chat to authors/take away A4 version handouts

 18 hours of talks – 6 hours of poster sessions

45 Speakers

300+ delegates