The second Digital Music Production workshop at Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute was held this past Saturday, 1/24. This class had two main aims: educate the youth about the historical relationship between the DJ and the MC, and build on the digital production skills that the youth participants were introduced to during the first workshop. Resources from this session can be found here.
As students arrived, they were greeted by the sounds of Brian Eno's "Ambient 1: Music for Airports." The workshop then kicked off with a warm-up in which students were asked to circle-up and set a communal beat by snapping. This beat served as the tempo while each participant and Teaching Artist introduced themselves by saying their name rhythmically. The group then performed an 'Organic Orchestra' as a warm-up activity - this time led by SpazeCraft One (Aaron Lazansky), P.U.D.G.E. (Reginald Sinkler), and teaching artist Charles Burchell.
The students were then given an overview of the roles of the DJ and MC, including a historical context, applications for this type of live interplay between musicians in genres beyond hip-hop, and explored the idea of how turntablism and digital music production both utilize 'breaks' and some level of improvisation. The lesson included video clips including performances by Rob Swift, The X-ecutioners, J-Live, and DJ Logic playing with Marcus Miller.
For the second part of the workshop, the participants were split into groups and collaborated to build tracks. Vocalists recorded melodic vocals or laid down rap lyrics. Youth participants cut-up, looped, and added effects on top of electric bass lines performed by teaching artist Saskia Lane. The tracks were further built out using MIDI controllers and samples edited and arranged in Ableton Live. And peer mentor "1120" (Brandon Bennett) guided a group through producing a track using FL Studio.
During the small group time, the Building Beats crew was able to sit down with some of the youth participants and discuss their musical backgrounds, their passion for music, their experiences with technology, and even their favorite foods. We look forward to getting to know more about our youth artists in future weeks!
To round out the session, the small groups came back together and shared their tracks with the rest of the participants. Students listened and gave props to their peers when a beat or a set of vocals stood out. By the time the session came to an end, the room was buzzing with positivity. The collaborative vibe is beginning to take hold in these workshops, and should only grow stronger over the coming weeks as the participants become more familiar with each other's work and forge personal connections.
The next workshop session will be held on Saturday, February 7th.