Music Helping the Blind

I can’t believe it but this is my last post for my English class! For my last academic post I found this great article about a program that teaches visually impaired individuals how to use MIDI in order to help provide a better opportunity for them having a successful music career. I thought this was very unique because I didn’t even think about how the visually impaired would gain much from using MIDI since they wouldn’t be able to see what it is that they are doing. They just have to go about learning how to use the equipment in a way that differs in a few ways from people who can see.

Mainstream Employment in Music Production for Individuals Who Are Visually Impaired: Development of a Model Training Program starts out about a newly blind woman who recently after becoming blind managed to regain the ability to play music at a highly skilled level with the help of special program. The program is called Miami Lighthouse and they specialize in teaching the visually impaired to create music with the help of MIDI on the same level of people who have their vision in order to help them compete in the business world. This article touched my heart because I’ve had friends who go blind and many things that they once enjoyed doing are taken away from them. If there was ever a time that this happened to me and I couldn’t play my flute again it would make me feel just miserable. MIDI does more than allow musical expression to have more ease but it also breaks down barriers in the music business. The playing field is leveled out for even more possible musicians and we’re all about breaking down barriers in any and everything that goes on in our competitive, cut throat society.

After reading this article I decided that I might be able to use it in changing the framework of my last essay since a variety of incentives are mentioned. Levitt and Dubner talked a lot about incentives and how incentives can push people to do something good and fostering innovation in MIDI offer incentives which are beneficial to everyone. This article would also help provide support on how MIDI is a great tool for anyone regardless of musical skill or ability.

 

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Students Composing with MIDI

I feel like I have finally found an article that will help me make sense of what it is that I would like to convey about MIDI. I know that I want to advocate that innovation in MIDI needs to be fostered and that MIDI need to be more accessible to all people no matter their musical skill or abilities. Most of the information that I have already gathered supports the beneficial aspects of using MIDI and now I just need to be able to further expand on this and show people that because of MIDI’s good uses they need to be more prevalent so people can use them at will. I feel that my potential argument is still a little broad but I’m working on narrowing down in the mean time.

So back to my new academic article, which just so happens to be the best piece of information I have found so far. Samuel Airy, who works at a Music and Audio Institute, and Judy M. Parr, who works at the University of Auckland, are both from New Zealand and have collaborated on promoting the use of MIDI in schools so they published MIDI, Music and Me: Students’ Perspectives on Composing with MIDI. It details the study of a group of students using MIDI sequencing to create a musical performance for a course offered through their school and their input on composing music with the help of MIDI. The participants were drawn equally from the year 1 certificate level and year 2 diploma level courses in Audio Engineering and Music Production at the University of Auckland and interviewed about the MIDI course to see how it was or was not beneficial and in what aspects of the music production. A majority of the students in the study had not participated in formal music education prior to this course but in the end of the course all of them reported that they really enjoyed creating music with the MIDI. Features such as being able to cut and paste musical segments, being able to pick from a variety of instruments, and presenting the notes used in the composition in way the people can understand even though they can’t read music allowed students to see music making in a fun way that they could take part in.

This study had students use keyboard MIDI. Here’s an example of a keyboard MIDI.

I found this article such an eye opener for myself personally because in a way it says exactly what I would like to say in my final paper just applied in a different context. Airy and Parr want to promote the use of MIDI in schools and I wanted to promote the accessibility of MIDI everywhere. Now that I think about it, all of my other academic articles talk about having courses that bring more students in contact with MIDI and I kind of feel that this should be my new topic. All of my articles can be synthesized together to support this claim and I still get to have my own personal input on the use of MIDI. I feel that this might be easier for me to do and hopefully I can pull it all together. Wish me luck!!

Electronic Music Innovation

In the past couple of years or so electronic music has grown quite a bit in popularity. More than half the songs played on the radio have some type of electronic aspect to them whether it be the use of electronic instruments, synthesized sounds weaved into the background beat or the use of a voice synthesizer. Taking this bit of prior knowledge, I researched innovations in electronic instruments and found a man by the name of Joseph A. Paradiso who knows an extensive amount on my subject and got a lot of answers that I desperately needed.

Being a young musician (well I did play the flute and piano from grade school to high school) and participating in marching band for going on six years, I know that I have a pretty extensive musical background. My knowledge lies in the traditional aspect of music playing though so a lot of electronic music instruments. How they are created and used was unknown to me. After reading American Innovations in Electronic Musical Instruments I learned a lot about the types of electronic instruments and thought that I could use this to help my readers better understand what they are and how they work.

There are string interfaces, non-contact interfaces, and there are drum interfaces. String interfaces involve instruments such as electric guitars and even violins and cellos have been modernized. The non-contact interfaces confused me but Paradiso explains them as interfaces that trace the body through the air, sensors that measure other activity in “smart rooms” or other responsive environments, and interfaces that are worn in active clothing. I thought this was really interesting because in a sense you could be able to create music by simply dancing. Being able to unify both of these arts together would be mind-blowing! Drum interfaces are what I’m more familiar with. They have the same set up and feel of your average drum set, but instead of hitting on drum heads you tap on disk-shaped pad to produce a sound. From the drum interface you can change the sound produced, so even though you are playing on a drum like set the notes you create are that of a piano or guitar. Being able to pound on a few sound pads sounds a lot easier than pushing 88 piano keys and strumming a guitar. If you have never seen what a drum interface looks like, here’s a pretty standard one.

Paradiso goes into some detail about the short legacy that electronic music holds and then states that new inventions lead to even further innovation of electronic instruments. I feel that this is true and that is why I’m such an advocate for innovation in musical instruments. We’re always trying to make things bigger and better so applying this concept to musical instruments is understandable. The use of new electronic instruments will enhance the musical performance of the musician thus giving the audience the best overall musical experience which is the artist’s ultimate goal besides being able to be expressive in their own musical way.