Computing & Black Music
If your organization or group is interested in being introduced to computing through Black Music Making, contact me here to chat about the workshops or set of topics that will best serve your organization or group.
Each workshop provides an opportunity to develop skills that are taught in introductory Python Programming courses at the college level, and can be customized to reach attendees who are as young as 9 years old.
Programmable drum machines like the MPC have been used as a Black music making tool since their invention in the 1970’s. Students will learn about the tool’s importance in Black music making, and we will program a few basic functions of the Akai MPC drum machine with code in Python. Attendees of the first workshop can use samples of their remix in this workshop. Once students have programmed the drum machine they will use it to remix a current song, or make a new song with samples. Each student’s performance will be recorded and made available to them.
If you attend an event where a DJ has been hired to play music, you may see them using a piece of equipment called a DJ Controller to play those sounds. The DJ controller gets plugged into a laptop and is used to play digital music files stored on the hard drive. Attendees of this workshop will use python to build some simple functions of a DJ controller like playing/looping songs and mixing them together. After the workshop attendees will receive a few recommendations on DJ controllers they could use to continue coding at home.
In today's world of music creation, most musicians use software on computers as their recording studio. In this workshop students will be able to record audio from microphones or musical instruments, and use Python to transform the sounds using professional grade audio effects. These tasks of recording and transforming audio are at the root of most software musicians and engineers use in recording studios. Students who have attended the mobile phone and drum machine workshops will be able to use those devices to control the transformation of their sounds.
Attendees will learn about the foundations of Hip Hop and discuss how techniques in Black music making are used to solve problems in Computer Science. All participants will remix an Afro Beats or Hip Hop song using the Python programming language. After the completion of the workshop attendees will get a digital copy of the remix they’ve created, and instructions on how they can continue to make remixes with code at home.
Smartphones are a powerful tool that we can wield as a device to control and manipulate music. Phones give us information about whether they are moving around, where a user is touching the screen and how hard you may be pressing it. Students will use this data to trigger samples, control how loudly they are played and adjust the speed of a sample’s playback, in the service of creating new sounds. Attendees will get a list of apps to continue using their phones to manipulate their sounds after the end of the workshop.
Vinyl Records and Turntables were the original materials and tools of production for Hip-Hop during its inception, and later provided the foundation for sampling as a tool in Black music making. Students will be taught to identify samples in a record and will be shown how to digitize them, so that they can trigger and manipulate the sounds using their code. By the end of the workshop students will use Python code to remix the samples into their own new creation. Students will also see a demo of how modern DJ systems like Serato are created with code, and scratch their remixes in class. Serato uses digital vinyl used to control the speed of digital music files on a DJ’s laptop. DJ’s use this technology so they don’t have to carry heavy crates of vinyl records to their performances. At the end of the workshop I will share some resources to find starter turntables and records, for those interested in continuing to create with code and vinyl records.
Attendees will be provided with images of street art and music from local artists, and will be guided in the process of making a live art installation with these elements. Each team of participants will choose which songs will be paired with images, and will decide how their movement through the space will transform the sounds and sights. After the session we will talk about the decision making processes of each team, along the leadership styles employed in each group. The attendees will also receive a link with a video of the experience they’ve created.