The Skulking Dream of the Wiggling Whisker
Featuring the voices of Caitlin and Brad
(from the "What's In a Name" series, by Bill Pere)
Written while watching a sleeping, dreaming cat.
You're hearing voices, but no words. You're hearing music , but no instruments. How? The voices of two students saying theor names were recorded into a computer. The computer allows each piece of the sound to be separated from the rest. . The different parts of the names, said in the kids' own voices, become new kinds of musical instruments which are then used to create a song. The percussion sounds come from the initial consonant sounds, and other effects heard throughout the song are from other pieces of the names, particularly the long and short vowel sounds. There are absolutely no other musical instruments of any kind used in this song except for the sounds from the names.
Using computers to work with sound in this way is not new. Called "sampling" or digital sound, it is the same method that makes CD's, or that records messages on a telephone answering machine without using tape. The sampling, which creates the sound, is combined with sequencing, which is the instructions for how the sounds are to be arranged and played, to create the music.
Everything about a sound...how loud it is, how high or low, how long it plays,
and what it sounds like (its shape) are all represented by numbers....and
computers are great with moving numbers around very fast.
Another thing that computers can do is to take a melody and create a "mirror image", so that parts which go up now go down, and parts which go down now go up. It would be like having regular music written out in notes, and then putting a mirror through one of the lines or spaces on the staff, and then playing the reflection. The "B" section of this song is a mirror image of the first part. This is an example of how math and computers can be used in art and music.
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