Girl Music Tech Camp

Tejaswinee Kelkar

Musician and Researcher interested in melody and embodiment


Girl Music Tech Camp

This fall, I got the opportunity to teach a week long music technology camp during week 40, which is usually the week of Høstferie or fall break. Schools do not teach this week, and students were therefore, able to attend this camp.

Structure of the camp

We decided to include the following tools in the camp:

In addition to this, we had the following activities in the camp:

The plan for each day looked like this:

I also compiled a list of equipment for beginners on this link.

Reflections from the camp:

Backgrounds: The girls in this week's camp came from different backgrounds. Some of them had studied music in high school, while others had not. Some had handled projects related to art music, while one had even given out music in the form of a record. Some could read and write music, while others could not. And it was the same with their experiences with programming. The thing that brings us all together, ultimately, is always the love for music, and that is enough :).

Little Bits:

Once again, playing with the little bits proved to be excellent and very giving. It is tactile, engages students immediately, and it seems no matter how much time I plan for people to be able to spend on each activity, it is never enough. This is great, because it reinforces how fun synthesizers are, for me.

Gibber:

For students who had never used any programming language whatsoever, teaching gibber was a bit of a challenge. We had to start right from what variables and functions were, and how case matters, and how do different languages read and interpret scripts. Making complicated graphics was more difficult to understand, and anything involving functions was impossible to cover in a day. However, students enjoyed the Freesound sampling bit the most, and used loads of samples in order to create really fun music in class.

Recording in the Wild:

This session was great, and really allowed students to explore noises in nature, and how to warp them to their advantage. For example some students used screams from a quite acoustically dead park. We also spoke about the differences between sight and sound, and how zooming into an audio stream is a mental activity, as opposed to for example, using a zoom lens.

Audacity:

In general, everyone likes production. The students walked through a number of effects and ways to make their sounds interesting. I chose audacity despite its lack of production quality use becuase it strips productions down to the basics, and sure enough, one of the participants found it very easy to switch to Garage Band to finish her project. It is a real joy to use open software that you know the students will be able to use and continue using even after the educational component is over.

Sonic Visualizer:

I would say this was the least popular of all tool days. It was hard to explain the motivations for analysis of sound waves. The parts the students found most interesting were related to harmonics and timbre in different instruments, and how we can visualize that in FFT plots.

Anechoic Chamber:

The part with visiting the anechoic chamber was a definite hit with everyone. We were kindly helped by the Førstamanuensis Arnt Inge Vistnes, to explain about the close to forty year old room in the physics department. Even though it is not very maintained through all these years, the initial shock of being in that soundproof a room certainly got to everyone, and we took turns to spend some time just listening (or not listening) in the chamber.


Lessons I learned

Shoutout and thanks to Ane Bjerkan for help with organization, and discussions; and thank you very much to my advisor Alexander R Jensenius for coming up with this idea in the first place, and for allowing me to teach this huge week.