How the Cloud is Changing the Way We Make Music
When you think of music making, you imagine cavernous audio studios with cool-looking creatives moving slide levers on complex dashboards, while the artists behind a sound-tempered partition belt out a hopeful Next-Big-Hit? Now, scratch that image. Instead, grab your smartphone or tablet, connect to the Internet and think about making music on the go or from the comfort of your armchair. Today technology is leveling the playing field.
Now, because of online connectivity and the advent of online collaboration, song creation and production can take place in our homes. A classroom in a small, mid-western US city can collaborate on a musical composition or create a podcast with students living a hemisphere apart. Aspiring young artists can connect with each other through blogs, social media sites and any number of apps designed to unite people with a shared musical purpose.
This is exactly what happened to Kari DeNeal, an American singer, songwriter and musician living in Singapore who collaborates with another artist, musician, songwriter Krister Moberg of Sweden. Moberg found DeNeal and her music on YouTube. The pair now collaborates on Soundtrap, a cloud-based music and podcast recording studio that works across iPads, tablets, smartphones, Chromebooks, laptops – in fact, anything with an Internet connection.
Both DeNeal and Moberg have the same musical style—mixing a blend of Electronic Dance Music, house, and rock—and both want to be positive influences by inspiring others and instilling hope. DeNeal tells me: “There’s so much ugly in this world and I think most people find beauty in music whether they’re musically gifted or not. I was drawn to Electroswede’s music because of its warmth and passion, and I can only hope that my lyrics and melodies carry those same uplifting emotions. It’s bizarre that I can connect with someone hundreds of miles away just on my computer.”
Online Music Making: Social Media 2.0
Composing music is not in DeNeal’s wheelhouse. Now, with Mosberg writing the music, she can focus on her passion, which is lyrics and melody. The two collaborate to create, record and post their sounds on Soundtrap. Until Moberg introduced DeNeal to Soundtrap, her fame was limited to a few cover-song recordings on YouTube. Now, her unique style is showcased on Soundtrap, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp. As a kid, DeNeal dreamed of stardom. Now, she just wants to be heard. Moberg, who is also a producer, plans to master a CD of their online recordings that can be shared with others. There’s no studio, no expensive equipment just two people and the Internet.
Digital Magic Across Continents
And, it’s not just individuals who can connect online. Angela Lau, an elementary music teacher at Branksome Hall Asia, in South Korea, created a global online music classroom for her students to collaborate and connect beyond traditional classroom boundaries. Today, she leads “Sounds of the Globe,” a project supported by New York University’s Music Experience Design Lab in New York City. This exciting global initiative, which Lau developed along with a music teacher in New York City, gives students in grades 4-12 a chance to explore, create and share musical ideas with a diverse range of audiences around the world.
Using technology as a tool for artistic expression, “Sounds of the Globe” challenges students around the world to record short sound clips of their environment on their smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks or laptops.
The learning begins locally where students use their mobile devices to record 15- to 20-second intervals of rain, traffic or other sounds that are distinct to their surroundings – they then share them with each other via Soundtrap and Soundcloud.
Angela’s students are now working to create found-sound compositions with these “sonic environments” recordings that are being captured by students from around the globe. Angela’s counterpart, a music teacher from a New York City school said about their learning experience, “through this work we not only gained an understanding of other cultures but also explored timbre, form, audio effects, orchestration and more”.
No Instruments Needed in this Music Class
Digital tools in the music classroom are great ways to expand everybody’s horizons and level the playing field on a number of fronts:
• They offer different approaches to explaining concepts that traditional learning does not offer.
• They are inclusive. Students do not need instruments or music training to make music.
• Students can work at their own pace.
• They learn the value of collaboration, communication, and community.
• Best of all, the quality of music made on today’s apps is amazing!
With 1.86B active Facebook users and 313M active monthly Twitter users worldwide, there’s no denying our basic human need to connect with others in meaningful ways is important. Music producing, in all its forms, has earned a proper seat at this ever-evolving social-media collaboration table.