Blues and Technology

Year 9 have been looking at the Blues; its origins, development and structure.  They got to grips with the chords and learned how to play the 12 bar progression. The aim was to build a Blues piece, starting with the chords and then adding in a melody using the blues scale and an optional walking bass line. Clearly this task required reasonable fluency on a musical instrument to pull off a live version so this is where music technology wins hands down. It enables students to explore and experiment with sounds and combinations of sounds without them having to restrict their creativity to what they can actually manage to play. Whilst the midi keyboards allow you to play in ideas, these can be manipulated and edited in the GarageBand programme. In addition there are countless numbers of loops for every instrument, style and genre which can be used to build up a piece. Do I think using loops is ‘cheating’? Certainly not! To make them work properly you need to edit and transpose them, you need to decide which will work in combination and what length loops will be the most effective, especially if you are then going to change their pitch. This is exactly what two of the students did – if they had tried for a live Blues piece they would probably have ended up playing a few lame drum rhythms when directed to but this is what they produced using technology:

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