Archive for the ‘music’ Category


Bootlegs Volume 1: the Soundlab Sessions

Friday, July 27th, 2012
Admittedly, this is the Casa (not Soundlab), but that is the 12 string Grant was playing in the Soundlab recordings).

Originally dropped in Alan Levine’s Storybox, which I think was supposed to remain a one-stop shop for media content, Grant Potter and I recorded a bunch of songs sitting around the Soundlab kitchen table back in September of 2011 that I’ve played on #ds106radio a time or two, but thought I would share here. I’ve spent the last week assembling different pieces of music, writing and presentations to be collected and shared on a separate page of this site with the hopes that assembling these works in such a way will lead me to the ‘next’ place in each of these extra-curricular directions.

As a kick off, and look back, at some of the music I feel fortunate to have made in the last year, here are a few choice cuts from the Soundlab Sessions, with Grant Potter.

Weighty Ghost (Wintersleep cover)

Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)

Hungry Heart (Bruce Springsteen cover)

I like Trains (Fred Eaglesmith cover)

Me and My Bike (Sweet Cascadia cover)

Fashionable People (Joel Plaskett Emergency cover)

Multitask This!

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Kid these days…

They can text rings around us adults, figure out the most complex of technical devices, and multitask so fast that keyboards are in danger of spontaneous combustion from all the furious clicking of keys, right?

Wrong! I have yet to see any students exhibit on a mass scale the skills and innate abilities that those labeled “digital natives” are supposed to have (note, I never used the term digital native, I thought it was bogus from the start). The truth of the matter is, some students are more apt to be able to figure out complicated software, dart in and out of multiple windows, but no more so than the number of students who excel at football, complex differentials, or playing the guitar. I’m not saying that students can’t adapt, but rather the myths of multi-tasking (aka acquired inattention) need to be laid to rest, and replaced with actual shortcomings of attempting to multi-task.

Which leads me to the following audio snippet I captured earlier this evening at my piano (warning, I’m not that great at piano). To me, the ability to multi-task doesn’t impress unless someone is attempting to accomplish two rather difficult cognitive tasks (completely dependent on the individual’s talents that is). For example, I have a terribly difficult time trying to play the piano and talk at the same time. Thus, I present to you, my attempt to “Multitask This!”

Imagine how much fun it would be to showcase your shortcomings the first day of school by sharing a small piece of audio like this? Let your students know up front that there are some things even teachers have a hard time accomplishing (and maybe get a few laughs out of it). A bit more seriously though, the idea of multi-tasking is that it’s either HARD to accomplish a few tasks well, or it’s EASY to do a pretty crappy job at a lot of tasks. Would you rather have your students struggling to accomplish something monumental, like creating effective and moving persuasive video essays of their written work? Or would you rather keep them busy with an endless litany of mindless “edu-games” that mostly just serve as distractions?

If you’re interested in creating your own “Multitask This!” audio snippet, I’d love to hear the results. Just capture some audio (unedited of course) of you trying to accomplish two tasks that seem rather basic, perhaps even elementary when completed in isolation, yet present quite a challenge for you when combined.

Early Demos from My New Fake Band

Monday, June 25th, 2012

In a few different broadcasts over the past year, I’ve messed around with some of the various filters and effects available with the free version of Nicecast and found its dials and visual interface both a lot of fun and helpful in the makeshift studios I’ve set up in my classrooms and house.

With a new one-man-band on the horizon, an extension of a #ds106 Visual Assignment, I turned to Nicecast and recorded a live session that yielded the following tracks. Ladies and gentlemen of Camp Magic Macguffin, I give you Dactyloceras lucina!

Not generally in my “wheelhouse of sound,” I was going after a certain, heavy, atmospheric texture that seemed appropriate for my randomly generated band name and album cover. “Goth soul,” Alan Levine calls it, which GNA Garcia clarifies as “rhythmic Emo-noise,” which is what I think I managed to create.

Dactyloceras lucina – Untitled Jam 1 by Bryanjack
The stupidity that keeps us from knowing any better by Bryanjack

A DJ is Born

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Flickr + Freesound = FlickrSounds

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

by Nickym007
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

What you’re seeing (and possibly hearing) above is the result of some rather clever code & mashup work done by John Johnston, an amazingly creative ICT Development Officer (which is U.K. speak for “educational technology nerd who likes to create nifty tools for others”). I’ve been finding it difficult to get back into the groove of things after last week’s rather anticlimactic end to the school year (we had lots of layoffs and the mood was grim). I thought I’d try a few simple tools found over on the ds106 assignment repository to just play around and see what I could find that I haven’t tackled before, and wham! Here I find this amazingly little tool that John cooked up called FlickrSounds!
The concept of FlickrSounds is rather simple; enter in a search term, let’s say “cat” from the example above. John’s little magical tool scours two popular sites for an image and a sound that match that term. Once it’s found media tagged with your search term, it delivers a Creative Commons lisenced image from Flickr, and an equally Creative Commons lisenced sound from the Free Sound project (a fantastic site that I highly encourage you to go visit and use for all of your audio needs….just as soon as you’re done reading this post!).
While I was a bit skeptical of how I might actually create something of interest beyond the early elementary set of learners (look, a cat, and you can hear it meow!), what my search returned greatly astonished, entertained, and excited me! While I expected the Flickr search to return an image of a cat, I got a picture of a Catterpillar brand excavator instead!
I was estatic! What a fantastic way to not only violate the expectations of learners, but also help them explore the world of language, meaning, homophones, and more! The connotation of the word “cat”, while most universally accepted to mean a small furry pet, has other definitions in certain circles (construction and excavation work obviously). What a fun way to help students grasp the idea that our cultural and personal experiences with language help shape our view of the world through the mental images we bring up when we hear words. This is more easily identified when working with homophones (deer/dear, meet/meat, etc.), but the juxtaposition of the imagery and sound with the FlickrSound tool is astonishingly more eye opening!
As proof, I give you 4 more searches I submitted using the same term, “cat“. You’ll find what you expected, some cats and soft cat-like noises, but you’ll also find the electronic sound that “Nyan Cat” makes as it flies through the air leaving a rainbow trail (don’t ask, just go watch, it’s a Japanese thing). You’ll also find some “cat” beats from snares, and while I didn’t include it, there are plenty more images of construction equipment. I’m half surprised I didn’t find some “hepcat” jazz musician via the random Flickr search.

by Castaway in Scotland
Attribution-NonCommercial License


by WebSphinx
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License

cat (Betty McDaniels 3).wav

by WebSphinx
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License


by MiNe (sfmine79)
Attribution-NoDerivs License

If you work with English language learners, either as their primary or secondary language, the FlickrSounds tool developed by John would be a must in my bag of teaching resources to provide a really nice visual and audio twist on helping students explore the quite fluid nature of the English language. It’s free, it’s fun, and best of all, it has a real nice embedding tool that will let you add multiple searches to a preview window, so you can embed multiple creations all at once (as I did above).
Think it’s just for younger learners? Ha! Check out the searches I did for the word “rough“! Talk about a great way to build up vocabulary through visual and audio interpretations of a word! There’s so much imagery stored deep within our brains that a single word can conjure up, this tool might also be useful in illustrating just how easy miscommunication can happen, especially when conversing with just text across the web.

by Robert Hruzek
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License


by Capt’ Gorgeous
Attribution License


by Doun Dounell
Attribution License


by henna lion
Attribution-NonCommercial License


An Album Cover

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Screen shot 2012-06-05 at 9.57.36 PM

First, go here: The title of the article is now the name of your band. Next, go here: Go to the bottom of the page. The last four to five words of the last quote are the title of your first album Lastly, go here: Select the 3rd image. It is the picture for your album cover. Manipulate the picture, resize it, add some other color, whatever. Do the same with the band name and album title, put them over top. However you wanna do it. Make it look cool.

Not usually one for the visual assignments, I saw Jeff McClucken’s effort to capture the essence of his new band, Swiss Emigration to Russia, and succinct breakdown of how to create the album cover and went through the brief process of creating a band and finding an image.

After being introduced to the Dactyloceras lucina – a species of moth of the Brahmaeidae family found in central and west Africa – I went a little further with the image search, consulting Flickr’s the Commons under the search tag for Interesting and found my base layer, which I then uploaded into, an online photo editor that let me add text and diffuse the picture to give it the grainy/painting effect.

Other than not creating a square image – as I believe is one of the requirements – I also think I could have done a better job capturing the essence of my randomly generated quotation, which I’ll share in full here as a fond greeting to my camp and bunkmates, but also an acknowledgment of Camp Macguffin’s initial honeymoon period (I mean, not in Bunk X, but for the other campers):

The only thing that lasts longer than a friend’s love is the stupidity that keeps us from knowing any better.

Randy K. Milholland

Hanging Out Macguffin Style

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

I met the some counselors and campers around the campfire today. Some of them were a little shifty, and I was wondering if they were trying to trick me into giving them the combination to my footlocker, which I will never divulge. All in all, a nice bunch, albeit, a little quirky.

A few folks have submitted vocal tracks for the Under Pressure Glam Rock project, and I’m PSYCHED! @timmmmyboy (whoever he is) has such a set of pipes on him! That guy can wail! Also got some tracks from @rowan_peter and @cherylcolan that are TO DIE FOR!!

I’m planning on laying down some instrumental tracks this weekend. Thinking of uploading the arrangements to SoundCloud AND the midi data to DropBox if others want to impose alternate instrumentation on the tracks. But, I’m using Garage Band, and it doesn’t support midi. UGH! Can I export to Audacity, and export to midi from there? Any audio geeks out there, Andy Rush? I don’t want to buy Logic.

Thanks all! Going to fetch some chow and dust my footlocker for prints.