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BRAINBOX - YOUNG MUSICIANS:

Links to Curriculum:

These resources are designed to supplement the teaching of sound though music, as part of the core Australian curriculum.

Research\evidence:

Studies 1) have shown that participation in music significantly improves student social and emotional well-being, levels of student engagement (as measured by improved attendance), and improved levels of student achievement across all key learning areas. 2) 3)

Students learn:

Curriculum STEAM Learning Activities
SCIENCE Identify & experiment with scientific principles - Understand sound & music
TECHNOLOGY Understand how to create and code using Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)
ART Investigate, participate & compare art & technology in musical composition & performance
ENGINEERING Investigating the structure, design & properties of musical instruments(s)
MATHEMATICS Working with and understanding the mathematics underlying musical notation

The aim of the Digital Technologies syllabi is to ensure that all students can:

  • Create, manage and evaluate sustainable and innovative digital solutions
  • Use computational thinking and the key concepts of abstraction to create digital solutions
  • Use digital systems to automate and communicate the transformation of data
  • Apply protocols and legal practises that support safe, ethical and respectful communications
  • Apply systems thinking around information systems and predict the impact of these systems on individuals, societies, economies and environments.

The items below are designed to get students thinking about sound, music, performance and emotion:

  • The difference between digital composition versus live performance.
  • The wide range of options available for engaging with music
  • Providing non-expert beginners with instant gratification by delivering an impressive musical experience through the creation a simple musical composition using digital tools

To get a better idea about how this links directly to the study of sound as per Australian Curriculum, please also view the extensive SOUND learning materials and quiz located on this wiki


A Tale Of Two Philosophies:

  1. Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think - Steve Jobs 4)
  2. Everybody in this country should learn how to think, because it also teaches you how to program a computer - Anon

Speaking of coding, Brian Heese (2014) writes: ‘when you learn computer programming you learn how to check your work for details, how to apply logic and how to persist at a task. You also learn how to ask a good question, often in written form. Finally you learn how to collaborate because much programming today is accomplished in teams. These timeless skills and learning behaviours will endure far longer than any programming language.’

Writing computer programs is is not the only way to learn how to code…. To put the A for art into their STEM project, students learn how to code using the languages of music and dance in an immersive STEAM learning environment.

By participating in an authentic STEAM project, we would argue that students gained the same benefits as gained from computer coding… and a lot more.


This project has two parallel but separate strands:

  1. A high-end, Internet based virtual orchestra with music video production.
  2. A wide selection of authentic, curriculum/school based STEAM learning activities.

Students engage in the new digital curriculum through classroom activities and a STEAM project in the context of a STEAMpunks Orchestra (Schools STEAM Orchestra).

The inspiration (and model for success) for our proposed 'ACO/STEAMpunks Orchestra', is Eric Whitaker's Virtual Choir project (see intro. and videos below).

Please be patient … The following is an organic and yet unstructured collection of ideas/resources potentially for use as Flipped Classroom learning opportunities for kids and teachers who are exploring music in a STEAM context… just a collection of thought crimes and definitely a work in progress…

This project links to the learn:sound:home

School/ACO Partnership Opportunities:

A Virtual Orchestra

Just some 'top of mind' ideas as discussion starters - ACO to provide/manage:

  • A score for multi-instrument music composition
  • A simple audio backing track (e.g. piano) and video of a conductor.
  • Sheet music for each instrumnent/track.
  • Students choose an instrument submit their own performance
  • Each submission should be accompanied by an original webcam recording/video of the performance

Suitable performances that are blended/rendered to create a virtual orchestra.

Optional additional categories offered for individual performances and collected performances groups of five or less?

Curriculum Based, Digital Curriculum, STEAM Activities

Solo and collaborative performances can be created using 'real' or digital instruments usingsoftware such as Soundtrap

Compositions can be built using simple, free software such as Audacity or more sophisticated free tools such as Sontina Symphonic Orchestra (SSO) and Ardour or visit one of the many on-line sites such as SYNTHTOPIA

Your mission (should you choose to accept it), is to design a project that engages children with the Australian Chamber Orchestra through a STE(A)M based learning framework that links to the new, mandatory Australian Digital Technology Curriculum.

The challenge of this project is to provide a rigorous, curriculum based learning environment, where students combine digital technologies in an appropriate manner in order to participate in a deep, authentic musical experience.

A Short History Of Invention, Music & Technology (14mins)

The future? See ABC News (Australia), 20 Nov 2016 Music industry faces digitisation challenges, but all is not lost

By delivering this project within a STEAM framework, students will be encouraged to explore and understand how Science, Technology, Engineering and Art can work together in innovative and astonishing ways.

Digital Audio - Introduction & Glossary

In the the 1970s and 80s, digital music systems increasingly relied on external sound generators such as Synthesizers and Samplers controlled via MIDI.

During the mid to late 1990s the IBM PC Compatible and Apple Macintosh systems dominated the market however most setups would still require additional physical hardware. From the mid 2000s an entireDigital Audio workstation (D.A.W.) could be virtualized completely in software.

Today, powerful systems can be built relatively inexpensively, using open-source software such as Ardour and readily available consumer audio equipment. Simple smartphone-based DAWs, called Mobile Audio Workstation (MAWs), are used (for example) by journalists for recording and editing on location. Many are sold on app stores such as the iOS App Store or Google Play.

Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) is a technical standard (1983) that allows a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers and other related devices to connect and communicate with one another. MIDI carries event messages that specify notation, pitch and velocity, control signals for parameters such as volume, vibrato, audio panning, cues, and clock signals that set and synchronize tempo between multiple devices

Digital Audio workstation (D.A.W.) An electronic device or computer software application for recording, editing and producing audio files such as songs, musical pieces, human speech or sound effects. DAWs may come a single software program on a laptop, an integrated stand-alone unit, or a highly complex configuration of numerous components controlled by a central computer.Modern DAWs have a central interface that allows the user to alter and mix multiple recordings and tracks into a final produced piece. DAWs are used for the production and recording of music, radio, television, podcasts, multimedia and situations where complex recorded audio is needed.

Virtual Studio Technology (VST) is a software interface that integrates software audio synthesizer and effect plugins with audio editors and recording systems. VST and similar technologies use digital signal processing to simulate traditional recording studio hardware in software. Thousands of plugins exist, both commercial and freeware, and a large number of audio applications support VST under license from its creator, Steinberg.

Digital Multiplex (DMX or DMX512) is a standard for digital communication networks that are commonly used to control stage lighting and effects. DMX is a primary method for linking controllers (such as a lighting console) to dimmers and special effects devices such as fog machines and intelligent lights.

Open Sound Control (OSC) is a protocol for networking sound synthesizers, computers, and other multimedia devices for purposes such as musical performance or show control. OSC provides a solution for expert users connection OSC sound devices to a Raspberry Pi

Cycling '74's Max is a visual programming environment that enables musicians, visual artists, and researchers to create software without writing lines of code.

About this project - More background information required:

What are ACOe currently doing and how you they doing it? And more importantly, what is it that ACO want to be able to do (better)?

As this would give some idea of whether our ideas are way off track or could help the ACO achieve higher profile, more leverage in schools.

Some 'Top Of Mind' Thought Crimes & Project ideas:

  1. An example/template midi track is supplied for download
  2. Additional resources supplied including links to relevant apps/software (including MIDI, sequencer, sythesiser and digital audio workstation (DAW) software.
  3. Students upload a personal midi format track of for a solo performance, which is then aggregated to create a multi-track midi performance
  4. Students may optionally create and submit a video and/or mp3 recorded solo, group/orchestra performance
  5. Students may adapt the template and submit novel works in a limited number of categories to suit a range of genres (limits need to be specified as to what constitues an 'allowed' modification)

The above ideas are indicative - They are 'discussion starters' only.


HOLD ON TIGHT - YOUR STEAM ORCHESTRA JOURNEY STARTS HERE...

Inspiration: A Virtual Choir - The Short Story (2mins)

BACKGROUND INSPIRATION - INTRODUCING THE VIRTUAL CHOIR, Eric Whitacre talks about explains how it came about, and how it went on to be a YouTube phenomenon.

The longer story (14mins)

The BBC (UK) Virtual Orchestra

BBC Music today launched Get Playing, a project that aims to inspire and bring together amateur musicians across the UK, while helping people discover or rediscover the joys of music making. The initiative is a partnership between BBC Music, Making Music, ABRSM (The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) and Music for All.

BBC UK Virtual Orchestra

Here is a link to BBC video of the BBC Virtual Orchestra performance (2016)

The music is available to download for a whole range of instruments at varying levels of difficulty.

Performers upload a video of themselves playing, and may end up performing before millions of viewers around the world.

The BBC edited all the videos into a spectacular performance which were shown at Proms in the Park events in London, Glasgow, Colwyn Bay and Belfast.

Here are tips supplied by BBC for making the Virtual Orchestra performance:

How to prepare

  • Watch the conducting lesson with Marin Alsop.
  • Collect together everything you'll need: instrument, sheet music, recording device, headphones.
  • Make sure you tune up to our conductor's 'A' before you start.
  • Practice playing along to the 'Toreador Song' at least once.
  • Don't wear or include any prominent branded materials or clothing. If you do, we may not be able to include your performance in the final film.

Finding the right location

  • Choose somewhere quiet.
  • Opt for a simple background to help you stand out.
  • Make sure your face is well lit.

Your recording set up

  • Film your video using a digital video camera or the in-built camera on your phone, tablet or computer.
  • Shoot your video in landscape mode.
  • Make sure your recording device is set up in a stable position to avoid a wobbly picture.
  • You can use the in-built microphone, but plugging in an external microphone might help you produce a better sound.
  • It's important we only hear your performance (and not the backing orchestra!)
  • Using the backing track? Please listen to this through headphones as you play (earbuds on on-ear headphones are both fine).
  • No backing track? No headphones needed, but please follow the conductor's beat to keep time.
  • Don't zoom in too much. Make sure everything you want us to see is in shot - we want to see who's playing!
  • Why not film a rehearsal to check you're happy with how the shot looks and sounds?

And, most importantly of all: play proudly, loudly and have fun!

how to take part In the BBC virtual orchestra


A Blended Virtual Orchestra

The UK Philharmonia's latest project brings the experience of the concert hall directly to you in dynamic 3D video. Step into the heart of the symphony orchestra and get the best seat in the house for an exclusive performance of Sibelius' Fifth Symphony. This virtual reality experience will be premiered at the Philharmonia's digital takeover at the Southbank Centre, from the 23rd September - 2nd October 2016-

The Virtual Philharmonia Event


Miscellaneous MIDI Technology Links/Resources:

Due to the development of high capacity samplers, the recording of large instrumental sample libraries, and the capabilities of modern sequencers, the art of simulating traditional orchestra performances has become quite sophisticated. Although the process of developing a particular score requires great skill and sensitivity, and can take a long time, the method is artistically more flexible and economical than using a full complement of acoustic musicians.[citation needed] For this reason, much of the music heard on television, and in cinema, uses some form of Virtual Orchestra technology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_Orchestra

An assessment of the versatility of Sinfonia virtual orchestra technology for use in a technological rehearsal environment in music education. https://web.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Available/E-project-052708-114409/unrestricted/IQP_Ratcliffe.pdf


Sound Comparison - MIDI Samples Versus Live Orchestral Recordings

Play the next video and listen to the recorded examples of 'real' and 'digital' sounds.

Listen carefully and see if you can tell the difference between sounds made by a 'real' versus a 'digital' orchestra:

What do you think aresome difference between sounds made by a 'real' versus a 'digital' orchestra?


Recorded music quiz - Digital instruments vs real/live instruments?

When you listen to recorded music, how easy is it to tell which instruments are 'real' and which instruments are 'electronic'?

Listen to the two examples below and see if you can identify an electronic instrument being played in one of the orchestras*

You do NOT need to listen to the whole performance. The electronic instrument(s) can be clearly heard within the first three minutes of the video:

Example 1. P.I.Tchaikovsky - Symphony No.5 - 2nd Mov.

Example 2. - P.I.Tchaikovsky - Symphony No.5 - 2nd Mov.

ANSWER TO QUIZ QUESTION (Video Example 1 & Example 2 above)

When you listen to recorded music, how easy is it to tell which instruments are 'real' and which instruments are 'electronic'?

Listen to the two examples below and see if you can identify an electronic instrument in one of the orchestras

You do NOT need to listen to the whole performance.

The electronic instrument(s) can be clearly heard within the first three minutes of the video:

  1. Example 1: The above demo does not use any audio samples - uses only MIDI and VST. Made with, Steinberg Cubase (for MIDI edting and mixing), AudioBro LA Scoring Strings (for Strings), Quantum Leap Gold (for Reed,Brass,Timpani), EQ,and Lexicon + Altiverb (Reverb). View the original recording, VIEW FULL VIDEO 1 HERE
  2. Example 2: Live recording, performed by Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor. Yuri Simonov. View the original recording, VIEW FULL VIDEO 2 HERE

Click on the links titled 'VIEW FULL VIDEO * HERE' to discover which instrument(s) are electronic!


Tutorial: Beginners Guide To Keyboard-based MIDI Orchestration

If you can press a key on a piano or a letter on a computer keyboard, you can easily create your own beautiful music. You can play one instrument or play every instrument in the orchestra.

This tutorial shows you one way to get started with creating your own MIDI orchestra. Give it a try!


Do 'real' instruments always sound better than digital instruments?

  1. What things make a difference to how sounds, instruments and orchestras sound to us?
  2. Why do people say that some music sounds 'pleasant' or 'unpleasant'?
  3. What is the difference between noise, sound and music?
  4. What is the difference between a 'real' instrument and a 'virtual' instrument?
  5. If you wanted to play in an orchestra, would you choose an electronic instrument or a 'real' instrument?
  6. What type of instrument (if any), is a 'composer'?
  7. Why do some groups of musicians play music that is written by someone else?
  8. What type of instrument (if any), is a 'conductor'?
  9. Why do some groups of musicians have a 'conductor' when they play music together.
  10. What did you used to think about orchestras, and what do you think now?

Being a musician - It's about more than the music!

  1. How do musicians know how to play music that was created in the days before recording studios?
  2. Is playing music in a group/orchestra different to playing music on your own?
  3. Is playing your own music different to playing something that someone else wrote?
  4. Do you think that good musicians still really need to practice?
  5. Does it make sense to say that playing an instrument is like breathing and dancing?
  6. Do you think that music sounds different depending on the people you play with?
  7. What do you think it means 'To create art'?

Is the human voice an instrument?


  1. Do you think that the human voice is a musical instrument?
  2. Can all things that make sounds be called 'musical instruments'?
  3. What is the difference (if any) between 'noise', 'sound' and 'music'

But, what if I don't like choirs, orchestras & classical music?

The following videos provide examples of how digital music compositions can be created relatively simply. Although some of the videos show the use of MIDI keyboards, drum pads and various sophisticated peripherals, exactly the same quality results cab be obtained using nothing more than a standard computer keyboard and cheap audio microphone(s).

Discover your own voice, and share it:


Design your own instrument, and play it:


Join a band with friends, and make music together:


So what about us STEAMpunk gamers who've played them all & still looking for something new?


The rest is up to you - THE WORLD IS WAITING ...


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brainbox/young-musicians/home.txt · Last modified: 25/06/2019/ 20:25 (external edit)