Using Technology to Unlock Musical Creativity

By Scott Watson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 13
CREATIVITY WITH SOUND
RECORDING APPLICATIONS

OVERVIEW

SOUND RECORDING HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE can be used to allow students to capture, organize, edit, and alter sonic events for creative projects, the sort of activity suggested by composer Edgard Varèse’s provocative definition of music as “organized sound.”1 When Varèse said this, he made a distinction between being a composer of traditional music and a “worker in rhythms, frequencies and intensities.” At the advent of the electronic music era, he and like-minded others were imagining a sonic palette of instrumental tone clusters, unusual percussive sounds, prepared piano, and recorded and synthesized sounds. Today’s technology certainly makes it easy to work with those sorts of sonic materials in the electronic art music tradition, but it also invites students to organize and arrange drum, bass, and guitar loops and excerpts from already recorded music (sometimes called “samples”). Whether developing an electronic art music sound collage work, or a pop music remix or mashup, audio recording software is the perfect tool. Digital audio recording tools are also valuable for documenting classroom and more formal student performances.

In this chapter, we will look at the idea of using basic, single-part recording and editing for all of these purposes. The term sound recording technically includes multitrack recording, too, and all the things mentioned here could be accomplished with any multitrack recording software (GarageBand, Cakewalk Home Studio, etc). Limiting our discussion in this chapter to single-part sound recording applications allows us to focus on some of the characteristics of waveform audio recording and editing. Plus, sometimes multitrack recording offers more power and complexity than is required or even desired. In this chapter we will also examine some common recording schemes such as using a handheld digital audio recorder, a plug-and-play USB microphone with audio recording software, and a conventional microphone running through an audio interface into audio recording software.

1. From a lecture given at Yale University in 1962, reprinted in Edgard Varèse and Chou Wen-chung, “The Liberation of Sound,” Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Autumn-Winter 1966), 17–18.

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