There are many possibilities for children to make creative choices when using music technology. Some of the most simple applications available online and for tablets allow for ‘drag and drop’ of loops into what effectively looks like a grid into which sounds are placed. Garage Band (pre-installed on many Apple devices), Soundation(for PC) and Super Duper Music Looper (for PC and aimed at younger children) all include this type of looping application. Even if you only have one laptop or desktop computer in the classroom, your pupils may be able to use this kind of technology. Over time, you need to think about ways to encourage children to make critical and personal judgements about the loops they choose and the order of these to avoid a complete ‘paint by numbers’ approach to composing.
There are other musical applications online that work on a similar basis of creating simple loops. For example, the ToneMatrix is a pentatonic sequencer that, instead of having loops pre-recorded, is effectively a blank grid into which notes are added to create your own loops using notes from the pentatonic scale. Kelly-Jo Peters’ list includes many applications, which encourage this kind of work. In both of the above examples, the loop created could form the melodic / harmonic basis for a more extended piece of work, for example creating a song and using this as a backing track.1
Some examples of work using Hammerhead Rhythm Station.
Other examples of ways to create music using technology include the input of electronic or acoustic instruments or sounds. Audacity (free to download in many languages for Windows and Mac) has excellent functionality for this – it allows multiple tracks (layers) to be recorded and edited – pupils could make and then adapt sounds using the functions in Audacity. Files can also be imported into Audacity and then used or adapted. It can do things such as change the key of the music, so can even be useful if you want to transpose backing tracks! Simple ideas for using Audacity, Wave Pad and Music Mike Create.
1Erin’s song idea and Alain Garage Band Sequence from Westbrook Old Park Primary School, Feb 2016, demonstrate this.