Music Composition and Images

Many like to have compositions that include or merge image and sound. The movie, television and photographic industries have created powerful idea factories and an endless number of motivating compositions out of that desire. Learners of all ages find it highly motivational to add music and other forms of audio to a wide range of digital compositions. For educators that want to explore this combination in their curriculum planning, lack of musical skills and absence of copyright and royalty free material can slow or stop such activity. However, numerous software titles bypass those problems and provide the tools and the curriculum to work with and teach musical and audio composition thinking. As a simple example, click the audio play button to hear the Band In A Box creation in the top frame while studying the collage on the left made with clipart from Microsoft Publisher. Fortunately there are some exciting music composition software applications for beginners that are free or inexpensive. These music and sound creations can be merged with image displays.

Free Digital Music Composition Software

Free software applications are a great place to begin. The programs below treat musical ideas like a box of crayons from which one picks musically interesting clips and draws them in different ways into layers. Playing the different layers together creates the composition. Layers can also include special effects tracks from CDs and live sounds from computer keyboards and microphones. None require the ability to read or use standard music notation, though one, GarageBand can show what standard musical notation looks like as a piece is played and allow editing within the notation.

GarageBand 2.0. Macintosh computers. The good news is that GarageBand comes with hundreds of music loops and comes free with all new Macintosh computers. The bad news is that older versions of the Macintosh operating system cannot run it and it does not currently run on Windows computers.

A panel of 58 international magazines at Germany's prestigious Musikmesse Conference and International Press Awards named it the Best Innovative Product of 2005.

See additional screen shots. Additional sets of sound files can be purchased.




Sony Acid Music XPress. Windows computers, the adult version of Xpress v2.0 below. The good news is the free download of this application and a demonstration composition or two. The bad news is that it comes with no sound loops to use with the application; this "musical crayon box" is empty though a few sounds are free to download. Additional sets of sound files can be purchased. More advanced features are explained but only work in the non-free and more advanced versions of this software that are titled Acid Music Studio, Acid XMC and Acid Pro 5.









Easy & Inexpensive Commercial Software

Online Composer Application Tutorials (Garage Band tutorial site from IUPUI using screen movies) (Garage Band tutorial site from Apple using screen pictures and text)

Quick Lesson Plan Ideas

Use a "sting composition" to introduce them to music composition software. A "sting" is a short musical accent composition. It might be played to get attention, establish mood, or to indicate the end of a show. It could include a voice-over. Limit your student composers to an 8 to 10 second composition using 3 or 4 layers of sound, plus a voice-over and include instruction on controlling the sound levels enabling fade-in and fade-out. The voice-over should be very short, a quick 4 second "Hi, this is Michelle, welcome to this ______ (essay, web page, slideshow)!" Export the file and use it as a header for a word processing document, or the opening of a web page or a Powerpoint slide. The sting concept can serve as a starting point to talk about the musical ideas of motif and theme.

Curriculum lessons using some of the software titles mentioned above.

Merging Music, Voice and Image

All current word processing applications allow different kinds of media files to be inserted, audio, image and video.

Powerpoint works cross-platform (Mac and Win). It remains one of the easiest programs to learn and use that can combine images, music and voice files in an automated or manual sequence of slides. Simply use the insert command to select appropriate image filles and sound files. Sound tracks can continue across multiple slides or be applied to just one.

Both the Macintosh and Windows computers come with video editor applications: Macs comes with iMovie; Windows XP comes with Movie Maker. Import commands in these programs allow images, audio and voice to be inserted and converted into digital movies.

Web page editors also make it possible to insert music and images on web pages.

Chapter five | Updated October 9, 2005 | Page author: Houghton