Capstone Project Reflections

What were your goals and purpose for the project? Did they change by the end?

I didn’t change the overall goals of my project, though I did have to narrow the scope.  It ended up being about composing and how much thought goes into it, and how much that process affects a listener.  I was surprised at how similar it is to writing. Before I began the project, I thought of creating music as mostly artistic expression– that a composer did it for their own benefit and other people’s enjoyment was a byproduct. After my initial research, I suspected that there might be more to it than that, and that became the focus of my project.  I wanted to see if the two composing processes were similar and if their goals regarding their audiences were alike.  As I researched and interviewed Joe, I found out that not only was that true, but that composing music takes a great deal of additional technical knowledge.  I thought this was so interesting that I ended up incorporating it into my project in addition to exploring my original topic.

What choices did you make for the audience in regards to medium, style, and content?

I thought a lot about the audience that I would be trying to reach with this audio project.  Joe makes a specific kind of music, and it isn’t to everyone’s taste (something made pretty clear in one or two of my interviews).  What I was really interested in is learning about the process, and I wanted to appeal to other people interested in the same.  To this end, I tried to focus on what Joe and others had to say about his work rather than focusing directly on his music.  Rather than spend lengths of my podcast playing Joe’s music, I opted to make the sound bed entirely from it.  The audience is constantly exposed to his music, but they only focus solely on it for a few seconds at a time.  I hoped that by doing this, the music would not turn off people who didn’t like it or distract people who were more interested in the content, but everyone listening would be able to experience Joe’s creations.

What process did you use to do the project? What went well? What was difficult?

Beginning this project was a little rocky, but once I figured out a system, it went pretty well.  I recorded all of my interviews using the Soundcloud app on the iPad. I tried recording one or two things on my phone, but that ended up being a disaster.  The quality of the recordings on the iPad turned out well, and the Soundcloud app made it ridiculously easy to access them later.  I simply recorded what I needed (Soundcloud lets you record and upload as much as you want) and then uploaded them to the site. I downloaded them to my laptop from there, and I used Adobe Audition to edit and finalize the podcast.  Joe gave me permission to use his music and he uses Soundcloud as well, so it was easy to download the tracks.  My Audition mix had three tracks, one for the interviews, one for the music and one of voiceover.  Once I chopped up the interviews and laid them over the sound the way I wanted, I went back and recorded the my voiceover and was done.  Piece of cake!

….Kidding. Audition (and the other sound editing programs we tried) had a pretty steep learning curve.  Fortunately, I got to practice with it a bit on the public event CTW and Tim’s workshops were a lifesaver.  Once I played around with the program a little, I was able to learn just enough to finish the project.

What strengths does your project have? What weaknesses?

I can’t really take credit for it, but I think the music in my project is really good.  I’m really pleased with the way everything ended up going together.  I think the music really ties the whole thing together.  I’m glad of that too, because I feel like the dialogue is kind of simple. I didn’t really want to play with sound effects and things like that too much because I wanted to highlight the music, since that is what the podcast was about.  I was worried that the voiceover and interviews would be too dry and boring, but I think the music helps to make it more dynamic.

How did you use that time to discuss your capstone project work? What changes did you make an audience, purpose, context, content, tone, style, “extras” (like visuals or Web text), arrangement, ethos, logos, pathos, rhetorical and technical software techniques? Examples, details, and explanations are good here.

I worked really ridiculously hard on the three minute section I prepared for my presentation. After talking with the class, I got a lot of great ideas and made a couple tweaks. My process involved cutting up the audio and laying it over the sound, but I found when I played it back that a lot of the different interviews could be mixed together, almost to create a new dialogue.  I played a lot with the arrangement to get the most out of the interviews in order to make my point and reach the goals of the project. I feel that paying special attention to how the words were put together and how they interact with the music made the project a lot stronger.

What is resonance? What is dissonance? How would you define each and what examples would you give now that you’ve completed this course?

I had to define these words for almost all of my interviewees.  It seemed to be difficult to pick out one section or element of a song that was either resonant or dissonant for them.  When they asked me, I told them that resonance, put simply, was whatever they really liked about the song.  Whatever stood out because it moved them to react in some positive way, whether that was bringing up a good memory or making them tap their feet.  Dissonance is more or less the opposite.  If there was something that caused them to have a bad reaction- maybe making a face, or experiencing a negative emotion- we called it dissonant.  I think being more specific, resonance and dissonance are more than what you like or don’t like about a particular thing.  I think they are both strongly connected to how you feel and your physical or emotional reactions.  I think some of the best examples of resonance and dissonance I can give we actually experienced in this class.  Sean’s comical negative reactions to almost every guitar sound played is a pretty good example of dissonance.  Cassandra had very positive feelings towards her Capoeira recordings.  Both of these examples were personal and specific to each person.

What else did you learn about sonic meaning? About how we listen? Were these new concepts for you? Do you see yourself using them elsewhere?

I learned to listen closer to the background. I think studying rhetoric and writing, I focus almost exclusively on words.  I really noticed that I had gained a new perspective on listening when I attended that country music concert on my birthday.  I’ve been to a lot of concerts, but I never really thought about them critically until I studying sonic rhetoric for this class.  I find it endlessly fascinating that you can break down a manufactured soundscape and discover what its engineer was trying to accomplish.  That’s why I chose the topic I did for my project.  Moving people with words is one thing, moving them without them is something even cooler. I think I’ll definitely keep these skills in mind and use them going forward.

What do you feel you learned the most from this project? Is there anything you wish to learn more of/about for the project?

I was really surprised at how similar creating music is to writing, given that their goals and products are so disimilar. I was also really amazed at everything I learned in my research. I wish that I had more time (and more skill) to create a really great podcast.  I would love to revisit this topic again for further study.

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