Monday, September 11, 2006

Mid Semester Reflection

I am having a lot of trouble keeping this blog up to date (as it would seem a lot of people are). I ask myself, would I get more out of this course actually making progress and concentrating on Supercollider or Audio Arts rather than spending forever regurgitating and expressing (or forcing) my thoughts on things that a lot of the time I dont't naturally want to comment about? I understand it's a good tool for feedback, but ultimately I don’t think it has really does much for my personal learning as a student. The idea of forming this online community of techies for feedback and expression of ideas and whatever else is a great idea in theory, but in practice I barely have the time update my own blog on a weekly basis let alone putting time aside to look at other people's blogs.

Improvisation Class:
There are quite a few people who have expressed discontent with the Improvisation classes so far, but I'm not as quick to disregard it. Although the classes might seem a little awkward at times, I think it's the first step in addressing a problem I have noticed since 2nd year which is the lack of collaboration within the tech department. Sure in a classical or jazz degree you find ensembles that play together, but in Tech degree every student creates their own pieces in isolation. Even in a composition class students write their own pieces in isolation, but they get other composition students to perform them.

Impro is no doubt an experimental subject at this stage, but if it persists throughout later years I could see the concept of collaboration becoming more integral. On the other hand, do we need to collaborate in Tech? Is it really a problem that we haven't collaborated in the past? I mean I can't say that tech hasn't been working without collaboration so far. Well, it'll be interesting to see where impro class goes. I have so far also been impressed at the thought provoking feedback from Stephen so far.

Perspectives can be interesting at times, but on the few occasions it's not the readings can be very tiresome. I think we get twice the amount of readings we can actually handle in Seminar 2. We are aparently suppose to work for 3 hours per 1 contact hour. Well that's all fine by the book, but in reality it doesn’t work that way, and if it did then we'd all be 'manufactured' as the same model number with the same abilities.

I don’t have a lot to say about Seminar 1 apart from the fact that it's been a lot of fun in recent weeks. The assessment also seems to be a lot fairer than last semester in relation to the amount of units the subject is worth. I'm fortunate to be doing this particular subject, as 'narrative' can be applied to both the game sound and film sound Audio Arts classes this semester.

Creative Computing:
Supercollider has been a love/hate ordeal ever since I started it. I think the source of my discontent has stemmed from the fact that because it's a very niche sort of programming language, I can't really find a direct relevance to where I want to go. I understand that you can't please everyone, but this is just a personal thing. From semester 1 I wrote in my blog that I want to get into game sound, and that a more suitable language for me to learn would be C++ if I were to concentrate on designing and building audio engines. It's for this reason I jump at the opportunity to read any mail that comes into the OpenAL mailing list, yet the SC mailing list has 600+ unread messages. Despite the lack of relevance which has been the cause of my unwillingness to spend enough time with the language, I find that when I do spend time with it, it can be very rewarding. I also find that learning the conventions and terminology of this language has made it a lot easier for me to pick up other languages such as OpenAL. Christian has said this from the start. Realising this for myself has given me more enthusiasm to get stuck into SuperCollider.

I still think that perhaps In 3rd year second semester it might be a good idea to be able to specialise in either Audio Arts, or Supercollider. I mean it's sort of similar to playing Jazz and Classical in a Classical degree or vice versa in a Jazz degree; trying to concentrate on both streams.

Audio Arts II Game Sound:
This has probably been one of the best subjects I've done since starting this degree. The whole process of collaborating with other people has been very exciting and inspiring. The material we have gone through in Christian's class has been mostly theoretical, but he has taught me new ways of approaching the creation and implementation of game sound, which I'm grateful for. Although I have been generally satisfied with the classes so far, there have been two classes that I can think of that could have been handled better. Last week we analysed the sound of the game Starcraft. I must admit that it's very good we've finally got around to analysing a game. From a personal perspective we were going over things I was already aware of, but it later made me wonder why Christian chose a RTS game when none of us are actually making a RTS game. It's good to study other genres, but with the limited time we have wouldn't it be better to study a game genre that some of us are actually involved with? I think an RPG would have been better as at least two of us are doing a game of this genre. The other class was maybe week 4 or 5 where all we did for the whole calss was individually explain to Christian where we were at with the game and some details of our game engine. I think this could have all been handled via individual emails as opposed to doing this in valuable class time that could have better been spent on something else.


Blogger John Delany said...


I agree wholeheartedly with your comments on the improvisation "factor" of this course. Students who are unaccustomed to this should be exposed to another side of music creation, rather than the usual composition in isolation approach, that is so prevalent. Music Technology in itself can by its very nature hide the real "person" behind the music at times, whereas live performance pulls the rug out from underneath. Love it.

3:14 pm, September 12, 2006  
Blogger Jodie O'Regan said...

Aren't we having any more forums this year? I found improvising with your piece worked very well - atleast I thought so! I believe in some scaffolding - whatever it is - in your case it was scales and pictures. To create a unified, improvised piece without any parameter is incredibly difficult. It's kind of too much like normal life.

4:59 pm, September 15, 2006  
Blogger Tyrell Blackburn said...

As I understand your metaphore John, with improvisation, the real person is reavealed. At least that's the theory, but not always a fact. In any case, after some consideration, I think that impro class is a good thing. People may be a bit apprehensive about it at first, but I think that's because they aren't used to the whole idea of group collaboration with music tech. Maybe it's just something people need to get used to. There is no reason why a collaborative venture within music tech cant work. In fact it's very interesting to me to try and think how it 'can' work.

As far as I know, unless something else comes up like a guest speaker, I think the remaining 2 hour time slot will be taken up by impro class.

I like the way you put it, "It's kind of too much like normal life". I agree

I think the biggest lesson I learnt by having my own peice performed, was that improvisation works very well with rules. I'm not ruling out the possibility that it wont work otherwise, in fact with people who can find strength in their own (and others) abilities and are comfortable with the people around them, then perhaps a free-for-all impro session might work. I think for a class of such a small time frame though, improvisation via rules might work best.

1:14 pm, September 19, 2006  

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