EarSketch, a new NSF-funded project in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, will try to encourage African American high schoolers to learn computer science by teaching them to write computer code for remixing hip hop music.
“We believe that, by leveraging the collaborative nature of remix composition and musically-oriented computer programming, EarSketch may provide a successful alternative to the cultural issues that computer games have in the engagement of minorities,” said Brian Magerko, Assistant Professor of digital media in the IAC School of Literature, Communication, and Culture and Principle Investigator on the project. Working with Magerko is co-investigator Jason Freeman, Assistant Professor of music in the College of Architecture School of Music.
The project involves development of a software package and curricula. Students will be taught how to use a digital audio workstation to control musical loops and beats by writing small bits of programming code.
“We’ll also provide online resources through which students can share their works, encouraging them to learn to remix with other students’ codes and sounds,” said Magerko. “The end result will be music that they can be proud of and that helped students learn introductory concepts in computer science.”
Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21) Program, EarSketch will be piloted in 2014 in Atlanta's Lanier High School. Industry support for the project came from Cockos, who has supplied discounted licenses and technical assistance for their Reaper digital audio workstation software which is the development environment for EarSketch.
Photo: Shannon Yao and Tom Jenkins, graduate students in the LCC Digital Media program, working on development of EarSketch software