Monday, 20 August 2012

Classroom Composition Competition! With Tonematrix

Here's our suggestion for how you can use Tonematrix with your class to help facilitate creativity, dialogue and learning.

Visit our 'Free Online Beat Samplers' post for other similar music making resources.

First, provide a set time (2-10 minutes) for your group to 'play' without any limitation (make sure everyone has headphones!). At the end, everyone turns their volume down and each participant takes a turn to play their piece back to the group.

Immediately after each piece is heard by the group, ask for a description of the piece from the creator and the listeners. Note the descriptive words and musical ideas/terms that the group use on your board/flipchart as they arise. Introduce some alternative/common musical terms if appropriate.

*You may want to keep descriptions ('he only used five of the columns', 'a lot of boxes were lit up') and opinions/interpretations ('it was annoying, listening to it made me angry', 'I felt bouncy, and happy') in separate columns. Use these to reinforce the difference between facts and opinions. Encourage use of the word 'I' so that participants take ownership of their feelings without turning them into judgements ('It was boring' invites challenge and conflict, - 'no it wasn't'. / 'I thought it was boring because I didn't hear much going on' invites conversation and collaboration - 'I found the space relaxing, it reminded me of.....').

After each piece has been heard. Explain that you are now going to set a ToneMatrix competition, and the group has to decide on the rules.

You can either support the group to decide on their own rules (based on the words they have generated/learned, or from new ideas that come up). It may be more convenient to ask them to choose from a list that you pre-prepare (this could take away from the sense of ownership about the activity that the group has begun to develop).

*At some point, you may like to show a few inspiring examples from youtube. Maybe use these to generate more discussion.

Some competition suggestions (try combining a few!):

Use every other row.
Use groups of three columns.
Create an alternating pattern between two low notes and an accompanying melody on the higher notes.
Layer three patterns that repeat every four columns, with each pattern containing a limited number of notes/rows.
Make a piece that you interact with that lasts 30 seconds.
Make a piece that has a beginning, a middle and an end.
Create a piece inspired by a word (emotions, seasons, countries, sports......)

After the final performance, ask for votes and let the class choose a winner. A simple reward can be that the winner chooses the rules of the next task, and so on...

*Encourage dialogue, and provide opportunities for your class to use their new vocabulary. You could even ask for a short piece of writing about their favourite composition that uses the new words they have learned during the exercise.

Free Online Beat Samplers - Accessible Rhythm Making Resources

Want to make and listen to your own rhythms and musical arrangements? With little or no musical experience, you use these free online resources right now. Perfect for a variety of age groups from primary school upwards - including teachers! Make sure you have your sound turned on and your headphones or speakers plugged in!

Sheep Beats is easy to start having fun with. Anyone can create and listen to their own music immediately.

It loads quickly, and I use it to help work out rhythms when I am in a rush.

Check the boxes to make your own beats, basslines and piano accompaniment. Play the funky sample rhythms in the presets list!

BeatLab is a more complex example of the same thing. The different features you will notice first are the speed, genre and volume options.

You can upload your own sounds to BeatLab, create, save and share longer songs, at various speeds, and change the volumes (velocities) of each sound. They even host remix competitions! My favourite sounds are in the Middle Eastern Genre

Tonematrix provides a simple and absorbing play-space for creating complex melody patterns. Try it out yourself before watching the variety of creative approaches on youtube:

Want to use this tool with your class to facilitate creativity, dialogue and learning?

Check out our Classroom Composition Competition post!

Other cool links....

Give this craziness a go!

Program, watch and record a drum kit

Awesome Japanese inspired animation

Search for 'flash', 'sampler', 'drum', 'online', 'beat' to find similar resources.