Playing with Sound “Final”

Creative Commons Image by PatDryburgh


Playing with a Bass Guitar

I don’t play many actually instruments, Bass included, but I love to play around on them and figure out certain notes. With this bass guitar I just plucked random notes to get used to the string order. After, I got a little familiar, I tried to play some lines from “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Grieg. I remember the notes from playing them in Orchestra in 7th and 8th grade. It was pretty fun.

After playing on other things for a bit, I cam back to the bass and just started plucking. After plucking for a bit, I came up with a little riff that I am quite proud of.

Playing with Virtual DJ

Though I had a small library of songs to play with on Virtual DJ it has given me even more ideas for songs that I have at home on my own computer. Experimenting with different songs at different speeds was interesting to hear. I love that the app will sync songs for you and then you can adjust how much of either track you want to play and such.

‘Six of Harps’ Sound Production

Creative Commons Image by redakuma


This project was to showcase our skills and knowledge from our last four projects on the properties of music: Melody, Harmony, Rhythm, and Bass. We were to make an eight measure (or longer) composition showcasing all of these, as well as demonstrate certain 21st Century Skills.

21st Century Skills Demonstrated

Creativity and Innovation, Media Literacy, Flexibility & Adaptability

The skills I highlighted most most in this project were the three above. Since, I am creating something, creativity was definitely a skill I needed to demonstrate along with my innovation skills for I wanted to make a composition that was different from others. I had to be very flexible with this composition because sometimes I would make a little motif and it would end up not fitting with the rest, meaning I had to trash it or modify it. I believe my ability to do this while keeping on track with my time showed this skill. Lastly, all of the materials that were available to me and I used, like the four of Howard Goodall’s videos on Melody, Harmony, Bass, and Rhythm, show use of my media literacy skill.

The Composition

I chose the Key of F Major for my composition, ‘Six of Harps’, because I wanted a song with a happier feel as opposed to my more usual, sad sounding music in a minor key.

Here is a screen shot of the tracks in GarageBand.

This is the shorter version with an Intro and a Chorus.

And, this is the longer version with an Intro, Chorus, Verse, and the Chorus again.

Reactions to the Final Version

Eli: “Definitely not what I was expecting (not that that’s a bad thing…). Pretty groovy though. I like the drum beat and the slightly jazz feel. Ending could have some work however.”

Emily: “Wow, I was aware that Mayah had musical talent, but I was not aware how much was within her! The ending for sure was my favorite, the way it almost sounded like a ‘fading’ feeling. Props to Mayah for creating an AMAZING composition.”

Evaluation of the Final Version

As you saw, I have a short and a long version of my composition. The short version is just my intro and chorus and it is what I am most proud of. The long version has my verse that I added in as I continued to work on my composition. I put both on here because the verse section I made isn’t really how I wanted it to be, but I did want to share it, so you all can see where I was trying to go with this composition.

I named this composition ‘Six of Harps’ because, first, I imagine this song in groups of six (listen to the harp or drum track), and then I thought of the playing card, six of hearts, because this is a really happy, lighthearted song. The name of my composition is just a really bad pun, excuse me.

What I Learned and Problems I Solved

While making this composition I learned how to “fail faster” in order to end up with a piece that is actually worth something. A part I had trouble with while making my composition was the transition from Chorus to Verse. I figured out a few ways to fix this problem by changing note lengths and adjusting my drum track. It still isn’t really how I wanted it, but this was definitely a learning experience.

Creative Thinkers and Writer’s Block

Creative Commons Image by _Fidelio_


  • “Fail Faster”
  • Nothing can ever be made perfect on the first time
  • Choose any idea to start and then as you fail you can build on your idea
  • Start with your idea and ask other people for their opinions and don’t be afraid of criticism


  • Kindergartners have a genius level of abstract thinking, but by 5th grade the capacity for abstract thinking goes down to about 16%, and then by high school you’re below 1%
  • There are ways to nurture a person’s capacity for abstract thinking back to genius levels
  • Genius make their thoughts visible (Draw, written, recorded)
  • Sometimes it just takes a long time to finish something
  • Geniuses make different kinds of combinations (Different instruments, different people, different microphones, etc.)
  • Geniuses force relationships. Ideas that wouldn’t normally go together.
  • Geniuses prepare themselves for chance. Prepare for the fact thatyour idea may grow into something great. Or, that something might hit you over the head (metaphorically or literally) that shows you something you can add, modify, take out, etc.


  • If you can’t come up with any ideas:
    • Tear it apart, just write words
  • You have a lot of ideas and can’t commit
    • Keep producing, and don’t get hung up on something
  • You have an outline, or most of the project done
    • Take a detour
    • Go Crazy. Find Something else
  • The Inner Critic
    • You don’t need them in the creative process. Only in revision stage
    • Wait until you wrote, recorded, made a rough draft of some kind

The Story of Guitar

Creative Commons Image by JohnnyLCY

  • Guitars used to be just a background instrument but in the late 40’s early 50’s it became an instrument that would lead bands, and be the main star
  • “When you play a guitar it’s like you’re going to battle with your battle axe”  -Jack Black
  • Bert Weedon and his book helped many people learn how to play guitar, including John Lennon and Paul McCartney
  • Guitars have only been around for a few hundred years, but guitar-like instruments have been around for thousands of years
  • The Greek would use just about anything to make a resonating chamber for a lyre. Even turtle and tortoise shells. This gave guitar like instruments a bad reputation for a while
  • A Giterne (or Siterne) was one ancestor to the Guitar. (“Loose” women were called giternes, also giving the guitar a bad reputation)
  • The lute was a big instrument in medieval royalty
  • The Oud is the cousin to the lute
  • Charles II did the most advancement to the guitar
  • The guitar fell in and out of “fashion” for many years
  • In order to stop losing money, a Harpsichord maker introduced English guitars to the lower classes to stop the upper classes from buying them and going back to the Harpsichord
  • The guitar has always found its soul in Spain. Mainly with Flamenco
  • Flamenco is different from traditional guitar because it involves more, almost aggressive strumming, like you are hitting the strings rather than plainly strumming
  • During the cultural revolution in China, the guitar was looked down upon. If you liked to play the guitar, you had to keep it a secret or else you could be arrested.
  • The guitar is the staple of American music
  • The radio really propelled the use of Guitars in American music and culture
  • Django Reinhardt after having his hand severely burned, re-taught himself to play the Guitar with only two fingers
  • The very first electric guitars were called “Frying Pans”
  • The first electric guitar was used in Hawaiian music
  • Hawaiian music was very popular in the 1920’s
  • No body really knows if Blues Bottleneck Guitar or Hawaiian Slide Guitar came first
  • The guitar was sometimes called the ‘starvation box’ because many guitar players were poor
  • By making the guitar made out of metal, it made the guitar louder
  • To make the Guitar even louder, electricity was added to be able to amplify it
  • Les Paul is one of the most famous electric guitar players
  • Les Paul wanted to amplify his acoustic guitar, and to do it he tinkered around with his telephone and ended up with a very simple solution using the coils in the telephone
  • Charlie Christian’s band was the first to use riffs as the base of a song
  • Charlie Christian is said to be the Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix of his day
  • B.B. King has a very recognizable playing style, like his vibrato
  • B.B. King named his guitar Lucille after saving it from a burning building that two men fighting over a woman named Lucille caused
  • Elvis Presley was inspired by hearing B.B. King on the radio
  • The guitar styles on the East and Southern coasts was different from the styles in the West
  • The Fender Telecaster is one of the most popular electric guitars in the world. It is still being produced today
  • People thought Les Paul was crazy when he wanted to produce ‘The Log’ which was a solid body guitar
  • Back in the days of ‘The Crickets’, a red guitar was seen as a symbol of rebellion. Everyone wanted a red guitar
  • Jimi Hendrix was able to make all kinds of different sounds on a guitar that no one knew a guitar could make

Film Sound Design – ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement)

Creative Commons Image by M. Keefe


This project had my class practicing the fundamentals of ADR. Our teacher recorded a clip of himself saying the phrase, “I never said you stole the money”, and then recorded his own post-production audio. We were to replace the original audio with that and then in another video we were to put in our own audio.

Continue reading

Film Sound Design – Ambient Noise, Library Sounds, Foley

Creative Commons Image by vancouverfilmschool


This project was a series of smaller activities all helping introduce us to the world of sound design and Foley. Before the projects actually started our teacher had us walk around our school listening for sounds and possibly what they could be used for. Footsteps, ambiance, etc. This first activity we did was to collect tens sounds from school, home, or where ever, and create a sound library. The second activity we did was to add Foley effects to a movie clip that our teacher had previously taken the sound out of.

Continue reading

Introduction to Foley and Sound Effects

Creative Commons Image by anthonystoro

  • Types of Sound Effects
    • Ambience – Background noise, can be recorded at site, but not always
    • Library Effects – Prerecorded sounds that can be purchased
    • Foley
      • Footsteps (doesn’t have to be human), cloth, props
  • Vaudeville (A form of theatrical variety show) entertainment usually had the drummer highlight dance kicks, or gags with a cymbal or snare hit
  • Vaudeville split into Radio Brodcasting and Talking Pictures
  • Radio Brodcasting still used sound effects and as it became more popular and scripted they used needed more sound effects
  • With silents movies, orchestras accompanied and did sound effects
  • Universal Pictures had trouble syncing sound effects in the movie adaptation of “Showboat”, and a man named Jack Foely came up with the idea that they sound record the sound separately from the movie. They would be recorded while watching the movie.
  • Originally called “Direct-to-Picture” changed to “Foley” in 1962
  • Spotting sessions have the Director working with the Dialogue Mixer, Music Mixer, and Sound Effects Mixer to make sure everything lines up with each other, like musical cues and sound effects
  • Foley used to be recorded in one take because of the technology in Jack Foley’s time.

Melody/Rhythm Project

Creative Commons Image by FunGi_(Trading)



This project had us team up in pairs in order to create a composition using a melody and a rhythm. In my team, I created the melody track with an electric piano sound and my partner created the rhythm track with a arpeggiated synthesizer sound, and lastly this project also required us to have a real world recorded sound, so we chose to record my partner shaking a water bottle.


Here is our composition. Our teacher wanted us to do this in the Key of C but if we understood scale degrees then we could choose a different key, which is what we did. We chose the key of B. While making the melody I wanted to end the first phrase with some tension so I chose the dominant F-sharp. Then, instead of inverting the notes for the second phrase like my last project, I tried to have some variation by changing the first few notes and then kind of coming back to something similar to what was in the first phrase.

What I learned

I got a better understanding of how melodies can be made and how scale degrees work the same in any key. My partner and I almost forgot to record a real life sound so we ended up going through her lunch to find something and that resulted in the water bottle sound.