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Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Attempt to Encourage Creativity - The Quadratic Formula Song (All Over 2a)

I'm working with a group of middle school students and I told them the final project for the class will be an educational music video.  They were not so sure they liked the idea of singing or being in a video.  In an effort to encourage them, I took the plunge and finished an idea I had been working on.  So here goes.

(The chord sheet for the Quadratic Formula song is here if you're interested.  If you perform this in class, I'd love to hear about it!)



It's not easy for me to play something like this for the students, but I wanted to take the step and encourage them to do something better.

I'm not sure if it looks like it, but the video itself took a long time to create.  We won't have time for something that complex in class, but I think they can do better at making a complete song as opposed to a short chorus like I wrote.

For anyone interested in the process, here's a rough outline of what I did and the software I used.

I knew I wanted to make a song about the quadratic formula.  I obviously didn't write any lyrics.  The formula was the chorus.

I used VoiceBand on my iPad to improvise a melody over a click track.  If it's not apparent, I don't sing that well and the pitch correction in VoiceBand helps me end up with something workable.

From there, I put it in UJam.  I was going to create the whole song in UJam and I might still do that.  When I saw some of the simple chords that came out of one version, though, I realized I could play that on guitar.  I changed what UJam gave me for chords.  I also played around with the melody and rhythm quite a bit after that initial idea.

I programmed the bass, drums and a simple guitar part in the GarageBand app on my iPad.  I recorded my actual guitar using the iRig guitar adapter.  I recorded the vocals (including the spoken part) with the iRig Mic Cast.

To polish the vocals a little more I used GSnap in Audacity for pitch correction.

The song was not done at this point, but I had an idea of how I wanted it to flow.  I started gathering video. Almost all of the video was created or captured with my iPad.  For the stop motion segment in the middle I used Stop Animator.  For the other animated sequences I used DoodleCast Pro.  There's also a short segment of a screen capture where I grabbed the Daum Equation Editor using Screencast-o-matic.com.

I couldn't get a good mix of the audio on the iPad, so I exported each track and converted them to .wav format using Zamzar.com.  I brought them into my very old version of Music Creator.  I'm sure an updated version would do a lot more, but I just use my old version because it lets me split, copy and paste right on the beats of the song.  I could do this on the iPad or the MacBook with GarageBand, but I'm used to years of playing around with Music Creator.

I'm not a sound engineer by any stretch, but after getting a mix I could live with, it was time to tackle the video editing.

I used iMovie on my daughters MacBook to add a few effects to the clips of me playing the guitar.  Other than those, all the video was done in Corel VideoStudio.  As I wrote previously, I was unhappy with Corel's customer service awhile back, but I do still love that video editing software.  I am always amazed at the level of control and effects that I can achieve for relatively little cost and effort.

When it's all said and done, it took way longer than I hoped (easily over 20 hours, but I lost count) and it's far from perfect.  I am happy with it as a first effort and I look forward to seeing how it encourages my students.


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