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Music Technology and Access To Composition


In the days before score-writing software, composition was very much a minority activity. Identifying sounds heard in the imagination and committing them to paper was a task demanding much skill and perseverance. Unless student composers wrote material that they or their classmates could play, there was little chance of ever hearing them performed. Nowadays, synthesized or sampled sounds and multi-track recording make it possible to hear music played on almost any combination of instruments and to create new ones.

In '
Music Technology and Curriculum Access', it was suggested that there are two main areas in which technology should support composers: a) notation and recording and b) opportunities for exploration and experiment. The software on offer is heavily geared towards the first of these. There are examples of people, of all ages and stages of development, using software to express and record their musical ideas.

Music hardware makes available a wealth of opportunities for exploration and experimentation. Although, in software terms, there is comparatively little to support the exploratory side of composition, there are a couple of excellent resources, suitable for use from pre-school to adult;

Midigrid, from York University, was developed specifically to address this need. (This software is thoroughly examined in the study. It is almost impossible to describe it in a few words! It is now available from The Full Pitcher Music Resources. See link below).

Soundbeam, 'the invisible, expanding keyboard in space' offers many opportunities for exploration and has been used, with great success in a wide range of situations. This is a hardware resource with supporting software.

A recent package, suitable for Key Stage 3 and upwards,
Compass (from Sibelius Software) suggests approaches to composition and includes facilities to manipulate sounds in ways that promote exploration and editing

Analyses and reviews of hardware and software to support composition will be added, in due course. For classroom resources, see the class section for the appropriate age group.

See these Web sites:

"exhilarating opportunities for music composition and live group music- making, with the invisible, expanding keyboard in space"

Expressive Software Projects
ESP specialises in Music Software and Hardware for PC, Mac and Acorn. Their aim is to make music more accessible using technology as a tool.

The Full Pitcher Music Resources
a publisher specialising in resources for creative and inclusive music-making, including the GridPlay software packages, developed in response to principles discussed on this website.

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