HI its Ashley here – A Digital Artist who has previously worked with the pupils in Year 5 and Year 6 to create amazing works using digital technology, electronics and code.
Well I’m back in school under my other guise – an electronic musician and producer who performs and dj’s in various spots worldwide. I’m in school this Summer term working with Year 5 and Year 6 to show them a different approach to creating and performing electronic music using a series of Apps on the iPads and beyond.
Breaking down tracks into segments (clips/loops) is like deconstructing a building into various blocks. By taking each sonic element of a track – the beats, the bass, the melody, the vocals and the effects and then further refining down into the various different sections – full drum loop, percussion only, just a kick drum we can mix and match each of these loops with others to create and build entire tracks that change and flow differently each time.
Using a grid controller gives you access to multiple clips of audio loops that at a touch of a finger can be played or stopped all in sync with the other playing loops or clips. Using multiple fingers gives you the ability to play multiple loops and clips and switch instantly between them. This creative flexible approach allows anyone to perform and play without needed to read a large manual beforehand. Very fun, intuative, expressive and hands on. The sounds all work together in sync and at the tempo you have chosen – the only thing to do is use your ears and find out what sounds great !!!
Using a grid controller or software laid out this way gives us a much clearer visual understanding of these blocks of our song. We can actually begin to think of intro, verse, chorus, verse, outro as a way of combining our sounds, removing some, adding in extras to create an overall track.
If you don’t have a physical Launchpad Device or access to an iOS device you can still jam with the grid based concept of Launchpad using a html5 version online. This works in any modern web browser but runs very well in Chrome on most mobile devices as well as desktop / netbook / chrome-book. This has a small selection of sounds and gives a real immediate playability of them within the browser. Great fun and a good ‘intro’ indeed.
Launchpad for iOS:
If you really want to get creative with loops then the best way to start on an iPad is to use the Novation Launchpad App. This gives you the ability to have 32 pads with sounds and the ability to have 8 playing looped clips at once alongside some seriously fun FX to twist and shape the performance.
The Launchpad for iOS App is FREE to download with a bunch of optional purchases for sound packs and extra effects. We can get funky right away jamming out with the included sounds with no need to spend any cash upfront at all.
As with our grid control method we can play only 1 loop per column but up to all 8 per row. We have access to a series of effects that totally change the sound output and gives us creative flexibility to chop and change our sounds to keep it all interesting.
Every loop is already set to be the same bar length as the others to ensure that they are in sync with each other. The App automatically begins playing any sound you choose to drop in in sync and at the right time to ensure it fits with the timing. Learning beat counting and bar lengths is something comes with practice however the App conveniently gives a countdown in the middle of each pad so that you can visually see where you are in the loop and help you learn when to drop in and out the loops. As the project goes in we will concentrate more on this structuring to enable us to elevate our performance and music into something much more than just a series of loops.
Once we have played with the scenes already in the App its time to build our own selection of sounds to play with. Start a new blank project and this will open up with completely empty pads. We can now click on ‘edit pads’ and begin to chose exactly what sound goes into each of the pads.
A tutorial from Novation gives an overview of how to edit the loops in each pad to give you full control of which sounds you mix and match together. http://launchpadforios.com/blog?id=12