(The Slice of Life Challenge in March is hosted by Two Writing Teachers as way to encourage teachers-as-writers. You can join in, if you want. There is also a monthly call for Slices on Tuesdays. You can write then, too)
Sometimes when creative inspiration hits — like how words of a poem might be translated into color, and how those colors might be translated into music — it’s best to dive in and ride the wave all the way to the end.
Peace (deep in the key),
PS — This project essentially takes two lines from a 106-line collaborative poem, turns those words into color with a tech font tool that my friend, Wendy, found and then turns those colors into musical notes, which I then played on keyboard in a software, using an avante garde /new music style of playing, while later adding layers of sounds to expand the composition.
I decided to pull the audio file into a site called The Wub Machine, which is limited but does interesting things with audio files, in different musical genres. Sometimes, the original gets completely lost.
I tried it out, just out of curiosity, and then I worked through a few different genres — Trap, Dubstep, Country, Bass/Drums … hearing pieces of each track that sounded good as parts, but never great as a whole. What the heck — I opened up Audacity and began to remix the remix, weaving a few pieces and beats from different Wub-ed version tracks together, and that’s when it began to come together in an interesting way.
What holds it together is the voice at the start, and then its repeating refrain as well as the very last words one hears in the track. The shifts in beat to pull back at times, and leave some musical space for the chopped up but rhythmic vocals of the narration track to come to the surface became another kind of woven thread. I’m sure not every voice got into the mix, but it found its groove.
Be cool if this dub got transformed into a video remix … just saying: you’re invited.
So I’m going to listen and jot notes and first impressions about the voices I am hearing on the audio file …. While I may know and recognize some voices, I am not going to identify anyone until the very end … I have my headphones on and I am in deep listening space … writing what I hear …
First Voice — first some claves then a short remix edit repeat of the 106 theme … clear and passionate, an introduction to listen … a personal voice … a collaborative reading … guitar bridge
Second Voice — the alliterative patterns in the first stanza of the poem, read so lovely by this voice … the bird the stars the shimmer … the texture of her voice is a nice frequency for the words here
Third Voice — familiar voice familiar words … trying to find some emotional elements underneath the lines … the break through … the moment … false ending …. this is not the ending
Fourth Voice — music interlude … the accent draws me in, familiar and yet not heard by my ears on a daily basis kind of accent, there’s a sharpness to the dark wings .. higher higher higher, and the voice hit an emotional shift to bring us up, only to be reminded of the fate of Icarus
Fifth Voice — warmth here on the first phrase of words .. warming the bones .. looking down … and then, gratitude .. I am leaning into the sound of the warmth now … observing the moment …
Sixth Voice — nearly no gap space before this voice takes the poem from before like a baton pass and holds out for our hand, bringing us forward … sparking something deep inside … of you us we .. reaching out to others …
Seventh Voice — percussive interlude with claves … click click click – the musical thread, perhaps, or the ink of the poem to be read … I am sitting here at the table, sitting with this voice, so close now it seems in sound and so rich with ambience … listening, always listening … the small things … these give us all hope …
Eighth Voice — pace of narration quickens a bit, captured like snapshots to browse through … I imagine us all doing that here, the collective urge to remember something important before we forget … wings rhythm beat ..
Ninth Voice — sounds of wings continue, a voice from a soft tunnel, perhaps, or a protective cave, or some chamber in dusk or dawn where the voice is a friendly token, something you find … tribes gathering …
Tenth Voice — textured range of voice, a small token or trinket reminding us of love and compassion, and I am visualizing the text here as I am hearing the text …
Eleventh Voice — the percussive ink returns, a rhythmic reminder of the threads that connect the voices together … the voice is close and yet also far, wrapped in a blanket of soft noise … the snowflakes drifting in the wind .. a poet’s voice, texture and tenor
Twelfth Voice — questioning? confidence. A voice of dust. A shape emerges from the poem here, the rhymes and voice of a storyteller … reminding the audience of something larger emerging from the small pieces of words
Thirteenth Voice — I imagine being in a listening hall, a poet sitting on the stage, their voice working working to pull me forward, to sit in the chair next to them, to listen and to wonder and to connect … to salvage hope … to listen for joy …
Fourteenth Voice — here, now, I am adrift in the small, nearly invisible intentional currents of a lake of words … the voice is the boat, or a stick, and we are ripples … the trees and soil and the rooting of stories … and we are thinking feeling listening …
Fifteenth Voice — the voice is running, pausing, slowing, not stopping, moving, pushing, guiding, sanding down the edges of something to reveal what’s beneath … roots burrow down
Sixteenth Voice — spectrum of sound in this voice, past the places, the knowing understanding voice, the narrator who sees a way forward and invites us to join … like a blessing … returns
Seventeenth Voice — an echo of an earlier voice, returns … smoke and fire …. something flourishes, even in the quickened pace of the poem …
Eighteenth Voice — claves again, stitching .. clarity of frequency, this voice is next to us, sitting … right … there … and what will we make of this place? Indeed. What WILL we make of this place?
Nineteenth Voice — the voice is neither, neither hammer or chisel, but more a vocalized gift of each, and we are surfacing, are we not?
Twentieth Voice — forced slowdown for intentional alliteration, so effective so effective … my ears linger on the sound … on the tapestry … harmony …
Twenty-First Voice — lifting voice to the question mark of text … then, the slow roll down the incline … I imagine the paint stroke of a young artist, guided by instinct and making art …
Twenty-Second Voice — less question than a gathering … what will it be … these last lines … will we remember to breathe?
Music outro — guitar riff, hopeful sound
Peace (in listening mode),
PS — from Wendy at Soundcloud
Readers in order or appearance (Twitter tag): Lisa (nobleknits2) Charlene (inspirepassion) Kevin (dogtrax) Ron (ronald_2008) Sue (sueinasp) Sarah (NomadWarMachine) Denise (mrsdkrebs) Will (willgourley) Ron S (ronsamul) Betsy (BetsyCallanan) Niall (niall_barr) Wendy (wentale) Catherine (catdartnall) Joe Murphy (joefromkenyon) AK (koutropoulos) Sheri (grammasheri) Irwin (irwindev) Jennifer (JenniferDenslow) Tania (taniatorikova) Irene (IrenequStewart) Susan (SSpellmanCann)
The other day, I wrote about a collaborative poem that folks in #ds106, and #clmooc, and beyond had contributed to. With 106 lines in its construction, the poem has now become a place of possible remix. I had joked at one point at trying to write a Sea Shanty with some of the words (ie, TikTok trend) and yesterday morning, after watching a bunch of YouTube videos of the recent Shanty trend, I was pretty confident that I could remix something. Too confident. I tried to work out a song on my guitar and realized my Sea Shanty was becoming more folk-punk with a hint of Dylan.
Ah well. I abandoned that ship and sailed forward into this:
Here are my process notes for the writing and recording:
I dove into the 106 lines of poem and began to find and make couplets to the rhythm I had started on my guitar. Sometimes, I could use the phrasing outright. Other times, I had to do a little twisting and editing to make the words fit. If a line didn’t seem right, I moved on to the next.
I quickly realized again just how much interesting phrasing was going on in the collaboration, as people jumped into the original poem to add lines. I felt bad that I could not use something from every line but that was not going to happen or else it would be a 30 minute song. In the end, I had eight full stanzas of four lines of mostly rhymed couplets.
I realized a chorus and maybe a little musical bridge was needed to break up the song and to give it a hook. I tried a bunch of possibilities and ended up on a Believe/See theme (after abandoning a Breathe/See theme). The couplet lines in the chorus are mine, as they capture what the poem is all about, about remembering and connecting. The short musical interlude is a way to put space between the verse and the chorus.
For the music, I had first thought just to do a raw recording and be done with it. Guitar and voice. But then I had this bass line in my mind and I realized a simple drum pattern would propel it along, so I jumped into Garageband to lay down some tracks. From there, I moved the files to my computer, and recorded the guitar part.
The vocals, always my weakest point, came last and I nearly passed out, trying to fit all the words into the phrasing. At some points, you can hear me, gasping for breath on the phrasing. (or I hear me, anyway). I gave it a real Dylan reading/singing feel. You may notice that the first section has two verses, and then the next two sections, three verses, before landing on the last section, with one verse. It makes the center of the song feel longer than I’d like but when I had it another way, it all felt too long. Combining verses condensed the song.
I tweaked some of the audio settings here and there, and added an underlying vocal track to the chorus to give it more life and played an organ keyboard down low in the mix, but mostly, the song was recorded straightforward. I think it’s OK.
I am always a huge fan of crowd poetry, where technology tools, even simple ones, allow for collaboration of acquaintances and strangers, so I was all in when my CLMOOC/DS106 friends Wendy and Sarah started up a poem for the DS106 9-year celebration of daily creative prompts (The Daily Create). It’s been encouraging and inspiring to see how many people have jumped in to add a line (the goal is 106 lines of poem).
When I have either facilitated or joined these projects in the past, there have always been elements of surprise, or hidden threads that suddenly connect the shared writing together. That we are just writing, and writing poetry, is a huge win in an age of distractions, I would say. I’ll be curious to see where the poem goes.
Bill, a DS106 friend, shared out that he is reading Ivan Brunetti’s Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice — which Brunetti describes as a sort of cartooning class in a book — and so a few of us — Sarah, Ron, etc. — are also getting the book. Mine arrived via library yesterday.
I joked that Brunetti telling the reader that they should do everything in sequence, to “not skip any of the assignments, jump ahead, or fudge on the instructions” seems counter to all of the ethos of DS106, but I will give it a try. I will not likely try all of the drawing/comic exercises here, but I’ll dip in now and then.
This activity — in which you draw 100 small boxes and then sketch without thinking to fill every box with an image — came out interesting, although I miscounted the boxes (see? already cutting corners!) and did it all in three sittings, not one.
Still, it is interesting to see what my brain came up with. Some of the boxes contain images I have no idea what I was thinking about.
Peace (in the frame),
PS — on a strange tangent — when I started to type “cartooning” in my browser, a reference to a WordPress site that I helped my son make TEN YEARS AGO with paper-cut animations (he had a stable of invented characters on the theme of peas), and some live action, came up. He called the site Crazy Cartoonz. There’s not much there, other than a few movies that he made. (Somewhere, I have three large PDFs with pages of the cartoon/comics that he made as self-produced books). Ten years … wow … time flies. (He’s a media/film major in college right now).
Although I didn’t quite know what it all meant — even though the focus of the E-Lit 3.0 course that I am watching from afar is all about data tools and data analysis, so much of it is beyond me right now — Greg’s visualization looked pretty cool.
After looking at it for some time, I thought, this is a game board. Then I thought, this needs to be a comic.
So I made a comic, for Greg. The game might yet come …
I haven’t often written about my daily creative wanderings for the #DS106 Daily Creates (or at least, not in some time) but this morning’s call to make a meme out of a music video got me thinking, I should at least explain my process.
This had me sipping my coffee, thinking of music videos. The thing is, I don’t watch as many music videos as I used to, you know? I thought about Peter Gabriel (Sledgehammer, anyone?), but then wondered if that would be too obvious for strangeness. Then, I remembered The Cars video for You Might Think, and although the peeping tom element is a bit unsettling, I remembered a clock face.
In my Chrome browser, I have an add-on called Gif It, which is integrated into YouTube, and this makes grabbing gifs from videos a breeze. It’s so simple to do. Just feed in the time of sequence and you get a gif in seconds.
But the prompt was for a meme, not just a gif.
I took that gif from the video and moved it into Giphy (along with a link attribution back to the original video), where I could then play around with its gif meme maker (where you can add text and stickers and drawings). Giphy allows you to download and also to embed in sites (like here).
Then, I shared that music video gif meme out to the DS106 hashtag on Twitter, and wrote the post you are now reading.
Not to be stuck in the DinoRock Era, I also dug into some Courtney Barnett songs from her recent album, and found this neat image of her rocking out while standing on a planet for her song Need a Little Time.
A few years ago, for DS106, I was part of a group that did a collaborative radio project that centered on the art of remixing. My segment centered around an activity I do with my sixth grade students, remixing and hacking the game of chess to create something new altogether. It is part of our Game Design Unit.
Here is the radio segment I did:
Peace (hacked for greater good),
PS — here is the entire Merry Hacksters Radio Show