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aPong

Three days workshop (beginning of May2012) was organized for 10 students from Musikk- og kulturskolen in Vestfossen from 10 to 15 years, both, music and fine arts classes by Petr Svarovsky and Kjell Tore Innervik.


1. Goal
We decided to teach students something about concept and generative music, the method of creating music with an algorithm. Partial secondary goals were to let them know something about creation of a video game (concept, programming and graphics), something about sound theory (scales), acoustics (frequencies, loudness, sound reflections), and electro acoustics.
 
2. Method
The Pong, a legendary video game was chosen as a starting point. We analyzed it together with students and we adapted it to be used for a music performance. "Learning by Doing" was our primary teaching method, while students as a team worked towards public performance at the end of workshop.

3. Time Schedule
Wednesday Afternoon: Introduction, talk about rules in music and games. Live Pong simulation. Introduction to game, programming and graphics.
Thursday Afternoon: Group 1: Development of game code, implementation of graphics and ideas by students. Group 2: Preparation for performance
Group 1 + Group 2: Performance tests and rehearsal for performance
Saturday Afternoon: Public performance

4. Realization
After short talk about rules in music and games we did a simulation of a Pong, video game. We learned about it's rules and how they are implemented through programming. We discovered together a role of graphics in video games. We programmed the game and introduced some ideas and visuals by students with a respect to Saturday public performance. We had a discussion about generative music concepts and we decided to make a performance as a aPong competition between students, where a goal would be to collect a maximum amount of points in the game, not to make a music composition. Music was supposed to be a secondary effect and a result of a process rather then a goal. Students were supposed to focus on scales and a precision of performance. After conducting a series of tests with different instruments and acoustics, we decided to use a wide spectrum of instruments, mostly those which students were already familiar. Students of fine arts used a metalophone, because of it's easy operation. This solution was pragmatic, because these acoustic instruments worked technically best in a given acoustic space. On Saturday students presented a result of the workshop as a competition. Audience could walk freely between musicians and cheer them. A winner was announced and given a prize, all students were awarded by a small present for their great effort. The aPong App were made available in iTunes App Store for free in mid June.

5. Conclusion
Despite short time, most of the ambitious goals were successfully achieved, mostly because great effort and discipline of students. There is a clear potential of App as a learning tool for music students, especially when it comes to various scales. There is also a promising potential in these experimental techniques in a field of composition, especially generative music and computer assisted composition, which can bring interesting results. Collaboration with “Musikk- og kulturskolen” in Vestfossen was very fruitful and we believe that it was beneficial for both, students and artists.

Kjell Tore Innervik  Peter Svarovsy

kjell tore innervik 2012