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What we did this summer: Part Two – Digital Music Production

Our summer recollections continue to a different tune now. Or, more accurately, different tunes – composed and mixed by young producers on our brand new Digital Music Production camp.

What do you get when you mix Bare Conductive Paints, a Makey Makey, Ableton software and a group of creative Fire Tech Campers? Drawings that function as musical instruments, people that function as musical instruments and musical instruments that make you run and jump to get them to work!

Will and Damon did an amazing job getting our students to create music with technology. But we took it way beyond the loops, samples, riffs, melodies and beats that you usually compose and use in Ableton. We used conductive paints – which as the name implies, are paints (in pens) that conduct electricity – to build electronic instruments. One of our students built an electronic flute that, when you touched the keys of a tin whistle covered with this paint, played notes – so cool and amazingly creative.

We also used our hardware smarts to build other kinds of performance instruments. We love Ableton because you can create static music in a timeline (listen to some of the campers’ creations on SoundCloud), but you can also release your inner David Guetta by triggering your different clips. We wired the computer up to a Makey Makey. The Makey Makey is a microprocessing board that lets you map anything conductive to your computer keys. Then we wired the Makey Makey up to instruments made with the conductive paints, or with copper tape and paper plates. We were able to create human drum kits because humans are, after all, conductive!

We painted pianos that functioned like real pianos and played notes with cups of water.

We made an instrument that covered a circle of about 2 metres diameter that allowed you to jump and run from station to station to trigger different clips and create a very physical performance!

Overall, we had a brilliant time putting together electronics, hardware, software and creativity and creating something altogether original! The feedback from the campers was fantastic and we are looking forward to creating more digital music in the future…