What is the process of making music

Make music from the first tap

Prof. Dr. Godau, in addition to your research and teaching activities, you also give app music workshops for children and young people. How do you experience the participants?

When working with music apps, there is often less fear of contact than with traditional instruments. The operation of the devices is mostly known, such as how to open an app and what to do to generate sounds. However, that doesn't mean that making music or writing songs together is easier, simpler and faster. But the workshop participants do not have to overcome motor hurdles first, i.e. first learn how to finger chords on a guitar or how to create pleasant tones with a violin bow. A great advantage of working with apps is therefore: The participants often get into making music much faster, which enables other projects and leads to strong aha experiences such as: “Oh, I can do it!” Or “Cool, I can make sounds from produce a wide variety of instruments. I've always wanted that. ”The children experience themselves playing music from the very first minute - and that is often a completely new experience for many.

What other learning experiences do such projects enable?

Projects with music apps strongly encourage a critical-aesthetic examination of music and one's own creativity. In the courses, people often work as a band or as an ensemble right from the start. This means that the participants must immediately negotiate with each other what they want to make music and how, what sounds good, how the work process can be organized, who takes on which role. Since many physical hurdles do not even arise, the participants more often have lively discussions right at the beginning and reflect on their musical-aesthetic processes and products: “Which sounds do we need to make the song that we want to make? Does a selected sound match what the other instruments are doing? Who has an idea or can help someone? ”When the music of the participating children and young people becomes the subject of the projects, they also get to know their own favorite music better:“ Why does the hip-hop that I like sound the way it sounds? ? “From the experience that their musical culture is valued, they tend to open up to other musical practices or accept that other styles of music are important to other people. I see that as a central opportunity of app music projects: The promotion of diverse music in a diverse world, which creates spaces for individuality and people approach one another.

How did you get into digital music yourself?

I've been working in the field of pop didactics for a long time, and sooner or later you come into contact with digital technologies. I've been working with app music since 2010. My colleague Matthias Krebs had a major influence on this. Together with the DigiEnsemble in Berlin, we made music with apps live on stages, in 2014 we ran the App Music Research Center and in 2016 the app2music e. V., which offers working groups at Berlin schools and has been running app music projects nationwide together with alliance partners since 2018 as an initiative for "Kultur macht stark". In a joint project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, we also developed, tested and evaluated the certificate course "tAPP - Music with Apps in Cultural Education" together with the Federal Academy for Cultural Education in Wolfenbüttel. This is a further training course for musicians who are to be professionalized for the use of apps in extracurricular educational projects. I am currently researching as a cooperation partner and external sub-project manager in all projects of the joint project "Musical Education with Mobile Digital Technologies (Mubitec)" of the Federal Ministry of Research.

Critical voices argue that young people in app music courses spend even more of their free time on their smartphones. How do you see it

In my opinion, you can't compare, because they do something fundamentally different: They use smart technologies such as tablets, but instead of chatting via WhatsApp, for example, they make music with the SoundPrism app. Making music is something completely different from, for example, watching videos on YouTube. It is a creative learning process that is quite challenging for the children and young people, in which they have to act in a group and make decisions. And of course you need motor sensitivity to make music on the glass surface of a tablet. There are also apps, for example, in which you can change sounds or volumes with movements of the body.

Others fear that digital technologies in music could displace conventional instruments or take away the desire to learn a “real instrument”.

Nobody serious about music apps would claim that we are all moving to apps now. That would be exactly the opposite of what I said earlier about promoting diversity. Also, the more than 50,000 music apps that can be used musically today cannot be compared with traditional instruments. In most cases they look completely different, have to be played differently, and have different sounds. So don't get confused: you can't play the piano with a tablet any more than you can make electronic music on the piano. Many apps are instruments, not half instruments or pre-instruments. Making music on tablets and other devices is not intended to replace traditional musical instruments, rather it expands the spectrum of possible musical manners and brings about completely new musical practices. In terms of music education, this can be a great opportunity, especially with regard to inclusion: Apps open up other forms of participation for people with physical disabilities. In addition, digital technologies have long supported the learning of conventional instruments: There are apps that help you learn to play the piano by reporting your learning successes and presenting new formats.

What are important factors for an app music project to succeed?

A basic prerequisite is that the music education professionals perceive apps as suitable in the first place and replace fear of contact with technologies with the certainty that apps, like all technologies, are stubborn. Sometimes they cannot be opened, do not work as expected or require an update at an inopportune moment - e.g. in the middle of a concert. You shouldn't be put off by that any more than by a broken guitar string. The ability to find the right app for a project is also crucial. As mentioned, there are countless apps and new ones are added every day. No two apps are the same, each with its own specific design. It is therefore important to develop a skill to understand the “music didactics” of the app. Not every app can implement its own ideas. Tutorials and blogs, for example from app2music or musik-mit-apps.de, offer good suggestions and can help you find the right app, for example to process sounds you have recorded yourself in a song or to make music together. Complete technical equipment is also very important. A set of tablets is not enough; you also need headphones, mixing consoles and adapters.

What kind of app music projects are there currently in practice?

In fact, in my research, I have found that the projects are primarily about inventing music and less about listening or acting out. The participants develop their own songs, sound collages, beats or compositions in a creative process. I would find it interesting if there was also room for other experiences in projects, such as shooting videos with music or simply enjoying the music and the play of colors in an app on a tablet. Not everyone has to become a musician right away. The conscious experience of music is also part of cultural education. Children and young people should be given the chance to simply have a good time together in projects.