Compose with Field Recordings, Kill Your Babies, Adapt to Text

This is a two-part assignment that begins with field recording and ends with adapting musical material to recorded text. It asks students to engage in active listening, record environmental sound, and shape found material into original compositions using a DAW. Next, (with help from their peers) they find or create text that appropriately responds to the composition, apply acquired microphone techniques to record it, and then merge the recorded text with reconfigured versions of their original compositions. In the end they must successfully adapt (or remix) their original composition (which was initially a self-contained musical assignment) to fit and support the text. This gives students an opportunity to compose something wholly their own out of found sound, then teaches them to avoid being too precious about their initial ideas and shows them the many possibilities that found sound can offer when approached creatively. It also gets them thinking like a theatrical sound designer who is almost always tasked with supporting spoken text, and like all designers, needs to exhibit flexibility, creativity, and a responsiveness to elements outside of their control (a narrative, actors, a director’s vision, the ideas of other designers, etc). The project can be adapted in many ways to fit the needs of different instructors.
This assignment is good for building critical listening skills, thinking creatively about environmental sound as musical material, adapting sound/music to fit spoken text, and learning basic DAW skills. I find Ableton Live to be an ideal DAW for this assignment but any sound editing software (including the free program Audacity) could be used.

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Curb Cafe

Major lab project for Sound Reinforcement students through which they gain hands on experience in all aspects of audio production for a small cabaret performance. This includes advancing the show, working as A1 and as A2. The lab is evaluated by a staff production manager and ultimately by the class professor. Read More