October 23rd was the first of ITA's new Choice Sessions, wherein the students were put into classes based on selections they made at the beginning of the school year.
I, Paul, taught a class on Audacity, and it was a lot of fun.
In my morning session, the students did very well in getting Audacity up and running on their machines, downloading being an important part of the class since Audacity is free, open-source software, which anyone can download here.
Once the students had everything installed (including the LAME plugin for .mp3 exporting) we listened to some conceptual sound projects, including a nine-person clap performance, written by minimalist Steve Reich, and a Pierre Schaeffer piece from 1948.
Some of the pieces were a little esoteric - more sound than music pieces, but the students got into them just fine, and had some interesting comments about the usage of sound and the messages conveyed.
After that, they were let loose on Audacity, using it to create their own projects, based on sound FX provided to them or anything they could find on www.freesound.org, an internet database full of free sound effects.
Audacity is a great program for just picking up and using, once you get over the inherent plainness of the UI (user interface), and I was surprised by how little help the students needed once they got into the real meat of the assignment.
Different students put together some fun stuff, and everyone asked some great questions about the tools and interface. The afternoon class had some technical issues, at least more than the morning class, which was unexpected. But, that didn't mean that no one got to work! Clara put together a really interesting piece, and Dylan came up with a great concept of background, sci-fi sort of soundscapes.
Take a listen for yourself to some of the students' creations!
~written on 10/23/2010