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Mr. Witte's Music Technology Blog-

Music Tech Lab, Rm. 155

This class is for high school students at Winnebago Lutheran Academy who want to learn how to make music on computers. We use Audacity and Garageband as our main tools, and we have fun almost every single day figuring out how to make music using audio and MIDI, but we also learn how to record vocals and instruments and even play guitar and drums if we need to.

We keep personal blogs (look on the right column of this page and click on our names) to help us remember what we've been working on, keep track of the all the decisions that we've made on our projects, and to share with our family and friends the music that we've created.

NEW 2013-2014 We're moving our blogs to Google's Blogger since WLA is using Google Apps for Education. Click here for Mr. Witte's new Music Tech blog. Click on the student names in the right hand column below to find links to their Google blogs for Music Tech and to see and hear what they've been working on in class.



by Dale Witte
Related Links

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Composing My Thoughts
Ricci Adams' musictheory.net
Free manuscript paper
Audacity
The Orchestra: A User's Manual
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Guitar Chords Magic
Hand in Project Files Here
MIDI Hymn Project Evaluation Form
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Garageband '11 101: Core Garageband Video Tutorials
MIDI Demystified Video Tutorials
Core iMovie '11 Video Tutorial

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Article posted September 4, 2013 at 01:06 PM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 11144

Back in September 2008 I wrote an article on this blog entitled "What's the big dif? An explanation of common audio file formats" to try to help explain the difference between uncompressed, lossless and lossy compression.  Recently, I also found the Wikipedia artice "Comparison of audio formats" which had even more information.  Finally, I just read an interesting article about audio compression by Lincoln Specter of PCWorld entitled "Audio Compression May Not Be as Bad as You Think" Use all three of these articles and at least one other of your choosing to answer the following questions:



  1. What are the three most common audio file formats most people will encounter today?


  2. Are the file formats compressed or uncompressed?


  3. What is the same about all three audio file formats?


  4. What is different about all three audio file formats?


  5. Why do each of these three audio file formats exist?


  6. Who developed each format?


  7. When was each format developed?


  8. Compare the strengths and weaknesses of each audio file format. 


  9. Which, in your estimation, is the "best" audio file format?


Write your answers and cite your sources in a 1-2 page paper in Google Docs or in a Google Presentation with at least six slides and share it with me at dawitte@wlavikings.org by class time on Monday, Sep. 9, 2013.

Article posted September 4, 2013 at 01:06 PM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 11144



Article posted May 9, 2013 at 01:37 PM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 146



ABC Song/Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star:

G C G C G D7 G

ABCD EF G HI JK LMNO P



G C G D7

QR S TU V



G C G D7

W X Y and Z



G C G C G D7 G

Now I know my AB C's, next time won't you sing with me?





Happy Birthday:

G D7

D7 G

G C

D7 G



Bingo:

G C G D7 G

G C

D7 G

Em C

D7 G

Article posted May 9, 2013 at 01:37 PM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 146



Article posted April 25, 2013 at 10:54 AM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 161

MIDI Hymn Projects - 1st level Music Tech students:



Tim Hansen - By Grace I'm Saved

Kevin Seibel - Jesus, Jesus, Only Jesus

Ty Trewin - How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

Sammy Liu - O God of Mercy, God of Might

Ben Herre - Come Unto Me, Ye Weary

Nathan Birkholz - On Eagle's Wings

Gordy Detert - Lord, When Your Glory I Shall See

Rachel Ruhland - What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Nicole Hall - Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness

Sol Ah Do - Thy Word



Bastien Fein - Dubstep Project (2nd level Music Tech student):

Article posted April 25, 2013 at 10:54 AM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 161



Article posted April 22, 2013 at 10:20 AM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 170

[LINK]" target="_blank">[LINK]">Kevin Seibel

[LINK]" target="_blank">[LINK]">Sammy Liu

[LINK]" target="_blank">[LINK]">Ty Trewin

[LINK]" target="_blank">[LINK]">Rachel Ruhland

[LINK]" target="_blank">[LINK]">Tim Hansen

[LINK]" target="_blank">[LINK]">Gordy Detert

[LINK]" target="_blank">[LINK]">Ben Herre

[LINK]" target="_blank">[LINK]">Nicole Hall

[LINK]" target="_blank">[LINK]">Sol Ah Do

Article posted April 22, 2013 at 10:20 AM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 170



Article posted March 19, 2013 at 07:54 AM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 336

For this project we will learn using the hymn Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (preferred version is from Christian Worship 234, which includes the descant)



Here's an example of the final product using the hymn "Glory Be To Jesus":







1. Review how to read notes on a treble and bass staff using Ricci Adams' Musictheory.net (Lessons>Basics>The Staff, Clefs & Ledger Lines).



2. Create a Piano project in Garageband, call the project "Praise to the Lord" and set the time signature and key signature according to the hymnal (3/4 time in F Major). If you missed this step at the "Create" window, you can always change it after you've created a project by clicking in the black & blue "Project" window at the bottom center of the Garageband window under the track editor. This step is necessary to have the correct number of beats per measure (the top number of the time signature) and to have the accidentals of the key signature properly applied to their corresponding notes (e.g. all B's are B-flats in F Major).



3. There will be one track for each voice of the hymn (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass). You may create three new piano tracks by duplicating the existing one (Track>Duplicate)



4. You can either drag a green piano loop into the top track, delete all its notes, and start clicking in soprano notes ("Command-click" creates a quarter note with a velocity of 63 or "Option-drag" any existing note to make an exact copy of a note) or you can record each voice part by playing it on a MIDI keyboard which is connected to your Mac.



5. If you are a decent piano player, you can play each voice into its own separate track. Click on the track header of the track you want to record into (it will turn Green if it is a MIDI track). Press the red circular record button next to the play controls and you'll hear the metronome start playing and see a red region being created in the track that you are recording into. Listen to the metronome and you'll hear the downbeat (the first beat of each measure) at a higher click than every other beat. Get the feel of the metronome beat before starting to record. After you are done recording, hit the spacebar to stop recording. Then check out each note to make sure you didn't make any mistakes. If you record anything using a MIDI keyboard, select all the notes in the track editor and align them to the shortest note value for that voice. The latest version of Garageband calls this "Quantize", older versions have an "Align to" drop down list in the bottom left corner of the track editor window.



6. Research instrument families of the orchestra (Strings, Woodwind, and Brass) on Google or Wikipedia. Find common instruments in each family that normally play soprano, alto, tenor, and bass ranges create tracks for each in your hymn project. Use the GarageBand Symphony Orchestra Jam Pack for these voices.



7. Option-drag the SATB regions from the first four piano tracks into each of the new instrument families.



8. Structure your instrument families and verses in tracks like this: The piano will play the introduction, Strings v.1, Woodwinds v. 2, Brass v. 3, and every instrument will play on v. 4. Create three new tracks under the brass section for each of the highest voices of the string, woodwind, and brass families, and program the descant into those three tracks.



Piano S----------------------------Piano S

Piano A----------------------------Piano A

Piano T----------------------------Piano T

Piano B----------------------------Piano B

-----Violin S-----------------------Violin S

-----Viola A-----------------------Viola A

-----Cello T-----------------------Cello T

-----Bass B----------------------- Bass B

------------Flute S-----------------Flute S

------------Oboe A----------------Oboe A

------------Clarinet T--------------Clarinet T

------------Bassoon B--------------Bassoon B

----------------------Trumpet S-----Trumpet S

----------------------French Horn A--French Horn A

----------------------Trombone T----Trombone T

----------------------Tuba B--------Tuba B

----------------------------------Violin DESCANT

----------------------------------Flute DESCANT

----------------------------------Trumpet DESCANT



9. Certain instruments sound better in certain ranges. Flutes don't sound like flutes when played in the vocal soprano melody range. Flutes sound more like themselves when played an octave higher. So click on the flute tracks and increase the track pitch slider to +12 (12 half steps). Solo the flute tracks and listen to them to hear the difference. Tubas and Orchestral Basses sound better an octave lower than the vocal bass line, so click on those tracks and decrease their pitch an octave (-12 half steps) by dragging the pitch slider in the track editor window to the left.



10. To really beef up the section sound, double the bass line an octave above the newly lowered tuba with a new trombone track (two tracks in the brass section playing bass: trombones at pitch and tubas an octave lower). Do the same in the string section with cellos (two cello tracks, T&B, at pitch; orchestral basses an octave lower). The same can be done with the flutes and violins: two tracks of flutes & violins on soprano--one at pitch (0) and one an octave higher (+12)



10. Now for the "Pièce de résistance"! Use the MIDI hymn you just made as the background music for a movie you will build in iMovie which has the lyrics of the hymn and background still images or movies which highlight the lyrics of the hymn.

Article posted March 19, 2013 at 07:54 AM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 336



Article posted March 8, 2013 at 06:47 PM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 408

Got your attention? I've been wanting to do this for years, and it's just starting to happen in Music Tech class this semester. It's a perfect example of a real world project–just the type of project I look for for my students! How cool would it be to make your own music for an Xbox video game?!



If you don't know what Rockband is, check out their website to learn all about it. If you know Guitar Hero, then you understand one aspect of Rockband: playing guitar. But Rockband is more than just playing guitar. It's playing drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, and singing along with a video game. Awesome, huh?







What do you need? This article from CreateDigitalMusic.com entitled "Inside the Rock Band Network, as Harmonix Give Interactive Music its Game-Changer" outlines the process. If you're intrigued and want to get started, head over to creators.rockband.com and register for a new account. You'll need to download a couple of programs and plugins (Reaper, Reaper RPN2 plugins, and Magma).



How do you do it? Truth be told, I'm still learning, but articles like Wired magazine's "How to Create a Song in Rock Band Network" help you understand the process.



UPDATE 3/15/13



I've been reading on the creators.rockband.com forums, looking for help in authoring my first Rockband song and I think I've found the video tutorials I need to get started. They are also cross linked at Rhythm Authors.



Part 1 - Basics of Reaper and Templates

Part 2 - Initial Stem Inspection and BPM Mapping

Part 3 - Creating the Playable Part - Guitar and Vocals

Part 4 - FX Automation, Limiters

Part 5 - Overall Initial Mix, Authoring Template Creation



--Links--

George Yohng's W1 Limiter VST





After watching the previous five videos, it became apparent to me that I needed to learn more about Reaper as a DAW and understand how to work with it before even attempting making a Rockband song.



There's a great Reaper 4 video tutorial at Groove 3 that is available for $25.

Article posted March 8, 2013 at 06:47 PM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 408



Article posted March 5, 2013 at 10:20 AM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 278

There are two ways to link a YouTube video, one is by linking the URL (Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks Walkthrough 08 or by actually grabbing the embed code and pasting it into the Text side (HTML).



Article posted March 5, 2013 at 10:20 AM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 278



Article posted March 4, 2013 at 12:15 PM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 181

Article posted March 4, 2013 at 12:15 PM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 181



Article posted March 4, 2013 at 10:56 AM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 168

Article posted March 4, 2013 at 10:56 AM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 168



Article posted January 22, 2013 at 10:48 AM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 152

It's the start of a new semester and two new sections of Music Tech students. One interesting thing is that each section has one returning student who enjoyed Music Tech so much they want to take it again! For these students, I have a second level of Music Tech assignments paralleling the software and concepts that the first level students are following.



The second level students have been working through Audacity Legacy tutorials and current tutorials from the Audacity wiki and have learned how to make an explosion, a ringtone, and a laser gun sound.

Article posted January 22, 2013 at 10:48 AM GMT-6 • comment • Reads 152



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Dale Witte is the choir director and music technology teacher at Winnebago Lutheran Academy, Fond du Lac, WI. He has been teaching since January 1990 and really enjoys teaching students how God's gift of music works. Dale is also a church organist, piano player, violinist, and church music composer. Locations of visitors to this page

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