Daily Create: Fifty Shades of Cows
TDC 1618: Paperback Paradise.Search the web for an old paperback cover and use that as starting point for a new cover.
This week’s theme is all about taking things in and remixing them into your own interpretation, so I thought it was only appropriate to share my very literal interpretation of the best-selling novel, Fifty Shades of Grey.
TDC 1619: We’re Tired of Making Challenges. They said I could do whatever the heck I wanted, which led me to TDC 1520: Make a Cow GIF. So I made one for the road trip game My Cows. Yes, it’s a real thing. Moooooooooooooooo.
DS106 Audio: Brazilian Strobepathy
“Take two or more similar songs and mash them together into a conversation.”
Track Name: Brazilian Strobepathy
Artist: The Goo Goo Deadmau5
Mixed By: Emily Joan Wu
The Process. As soon as I saw the assignment, I was like, yes! This is my chance to be a DJ or something! The Goo Goo Dolls and Deadmau5 are two of my favorite artists from these genres, so it seemed appropriate for me to try and mash them up. Let me start by saying that it was HARD. Like, I worked literally all day long on it. Productive use of my time? Questionable. Fun? Absolutely. Is it perfect? Not even close, but it’s the thought that counts!
I used Audacity to overlay “Sympathy” by The Goo Goo Dolls over “Brazil (2nd Edit)” by Deadmau5. Originally, the plan was to use just these two tracks because I noticed that they were both in the same key, Ab major. “Strobe” was kind of an afterthought, but I think it worked out well! The most time consuming part of the process was figuring out when to use “Brazil” as the background track, and when to use “Strobe,” and then actually putting the tracks there.
After hours of changing things around, copying and pasting, zooming in, zooming out, and silently cursing Audacity for its counterintuitive controls, I finally figured out how I was going to order the tracks. The rest was trial and error. “Sympathy” is a little bit slower than “Brazil” and “Strobe, and it’s also acoustic, which means a human, namely John Rzeznik, played a guitar instead of looping a beat, resulting in slight variations in tempo. The next part of the challenge was manipulating this to fit 128 beats per minute. Basically, I upped the tempo of the entire song until it fit the beat loosely, and then made adjustments by trimming out tiny, barely noticeable snippets of John Rzeznik’s voice, starting from the beginning and going all the way to the end. Part of me thinks that if I had better software, I could have made it a lot smoother, but nevertheless, I’m still proud of my creation.
Because a song looks so much better with an album cover, I decided to do a little photoplay. I uploaded a picture of The Goo Goo Dolls to PicMonkey, put an overlay of three Deadmau5 heads onto the original musicians’ heads, and then replaced “Dolls” with “Deadmau5.” Once that was done, the final step was sharing my creation with the world. Using iMovie, I created a little video using the picture I had edited, and uploaded it to my channel. Remix complete. Media shared. Bam, new literacies, done and done.
The Story. This week’s theme is all about remixing, so naturally, I decided to keep it going by creating a mashup. Acoustic and Progressive House are two entirely different genres, but somehow, they fit together well. I think it’s because each one has what the other doesn’t, and I used that to try and make the best of both worlds.
The primary reason I made this mashup was just to complete the assignment in the spirit of the week’s theme for the course, which is remixing some media and sharing it with the world. But as I was mixing my tracks, I realized that it reminded me of something. My mashup was starting to sound like a lot of songs I’d heard at concerts, long ago. Almost like something I’d hear at Red Rocks, back in my glory days, when I went to a lot of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) shows. At these shows, it’s common practice for an artist to overlay a popular rock or pop song to a classic beat, and I always liked this because you could jam out to a familiar song while dancing to fresh bass. In the EDM world, the term for this is called a “bootleg,” where an artist recreates a song using the original song, in its finished condition, and a little bit of original instrumentation. This is different from a true “remix,” where artist has access to individual tracks, and has the ability to isolate and manipulate them as needed, as well as add their own samples. This is where it gets ugly. Basically, a mashup preserves the songs the most, while a remix changes them entirely, and a bootleg is somewhere in the middle. Want to know more about the nitty-gritty details of mashups, bootlegs, and remixes? Check out this article!
Reading Response: The World, Reimagined
This week, we explored digital remixing as a foundation for contemporary literary culture. Remixing comes not only in the form of music, but also software, which surprised me. The big idea behind remixing in general is taking things in and recreating them using your own interpretation, and this can really apply to anything! Music, writing, pictures, movies—basically any kind of expressive media. In fact, expressive media is really just a mix of thoughts, ideas, and feelings, so a remix is just a mix on that mix. Mixception! (Sorry, I keep doing this). At the end of the day, remixing is just another way in which new literacies propagate. Receive, interpret, and recreate…collaboratively. It turns out that this social practice is a foundational touchstone for the shaping of cultures (Lankshear & Knobel, 2011).
The social practice of remixing has also made its way into education, or according to University of Colorado Boulder music professor Kriss Shaffer, training for life. In an open letter to his students, Shaffer makes it known that music isn’t something you can simply read or lecture about. You have to be there and do things, and in this case, doing things is listening to, interpreting, and creating music collaboratively (Shaffer, 2014). Shaffer is a proponent of new literacies, drawing upon his students’ common interests and passions. He encourages collaboration and sharing of thoughts, ideas, and feelings, and now he takes it one step further to interpreting and composing music in new and different ways. Remixing in education has inspired me to relate this to my own professional career. As a math teacher, people might think that I have no room for creativity in my classroom, but I’m always fighting for the idea that this is untrue. Math problems may have a right and wrong answer, but it doesn’t mean that students can’t be creative with the problem solving process, including designing their own projects, which I plan to have them do as much as possible. How do they interpret certain things in their life? How can they create a problem-solving scenario using this interpretation? It turns out that remixing has applications in math too!
All of this remixing has got me thinking about graphic design. What is graphic design? It’s using some sort of tool to design a visual product that represents something greater than itself, and it’s supposed to reflect your interpretation of it. Sounds a lot like remixing to me. It’s also supposed to be displayed for the world to see, and the more people see it, the better. Sounds a lot like new literacy to me! For this reason, I chose to explore Shutterstock’s blog article, 8 City Logos with Bold and Beautiful Design. Author Alexander Huls goes into the eight most stunning city logos in the world, and tells the stories behind the logos. The challenge for graphic designers is to represent an entire city through a picture that must be minimalist, yet still make a statement (Huls, 2016). And graphic design is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to remixing. With all the possibilities that remixing can produce, I have yet again expanded my perspectives on digital storytelling in a way that transcends social media and publicity. It seems that remixing has much more significance to the world than we originally thought, and I’m looking forward to see what that brings us as human creativity reaches new horizons.
Digital Story Critique: The Power of Dance Music
While exploring the wild world of remixing this week, I thought of one of my favorite EDM (Electronic Dance Music) artists, Justin Blau, better known as his stage name, 3LAU. Originally from Las Vegas, 3LAU started making music in college, producing a wide variety of bootlegs, mashups, and remixes of popular songs in a series called “Dance Floor Filth,” and distributing them for free on his website. Basically, that was how he got his musical start, and I have to say I was hooked right off the bat. The guy just has a knack for knowing which songs fit together based on what they sound like, and that takes a certain kind of ear!
3LAU has since started mixing tracks that are completely original, but he doesn’t just create music. It turns out that 3LAU is also an active participant in Pencils of Promise, a nonprofit that builds schools and provides educational opportunities for children in developing countries. Through his music, 3LAU has raised almost $100,000 towards a school in Guatemala, which I find truly amazing. Like WHAT??? This guy makes awesome bootlegs and music, AND he builds schools in developing countries?! Literally such a cool person! Anyway, before I give the entire thing away, I decided to do my critique this week on an article about 3LAU, which I found on Billboard. It’s not what I first had in mind when I thought “digital story,” but it is a way in which the media preserves the achievements of Justin Blau, so I figured it counts. I’ll talk about the story, then go into organization, and then finish off with comments on the media application.
Story. Sitting in at just a few paragraphs, the article is incredibly short. It’s short enough to get the point across and in the few minutes I spent reading it, I got the message that through the power of dance music, 3LAU had raised $100,000 towards a school in Guatemala, and that he was planning to raise $100,000 more in the upcoming year. I learned why 3LAU’s passion for education is so profound, and I learned that he was launching a dance music charity label called BLUME. I feel like I could have gotten more out of the article, though. While author Matt Medved includes many links throughout the article, I couldn’t find anything on BLUME, even though the title suggests that it’s one of the main ideas behind the article. I would like to know more about the BLUME label, and while I could just as easily research it outside of the article, having it integrated within would make for a smoother user experience.
Organization. Although it was short and there wasn’t much I had to keep track of, I didn’t get an organizational vibe from the article. It might just be my computer, but I also noticed some formatting issues throughout the article, such as a large gap in the middle of the article and issues with the embedding of videos. I enjoyed the fact that the article touches on the main points and the big picture, drawing on my own passions in dance music and education in a seamless connection, but as far as the reading is concerned, the organization of the article has quite a bit of room for improvement. If it were up to me, I’d include dedicated sections on Pencils of Promise and BLUME, interwoven with 3LAU’s backstory and future plans to bring everything together.
Media Application. In the article, Medved includes a picture of 3LAU, as well as two embedded videos. One is a sample of 3LAU’s newest single, “Is It Love?” and the other is a video on the school in Justo Rafino, Guatemala, which 3LAU raised money for through Pencils of Promise. I think the choice of media is spot on and complements the article well. The only thing I noticed were some embedding issues, which can be fixed with simple technical formatting.
Overall, I got the big idea behind the article, and at the end of the day, that’s what an article should be—quick, but informative, and I definitely got that vibe. And with that, I’m going to make a donation to PoP now. Because education is awesome, and so is Justin Blau.
Week Two Reflection: The Great and Terrible Cram Session
Two weeks down, six to go! Trying to fit seven days’ worth of work into three days resulted in the greatest and most terrible cram session of my academic career. Gotta love road trips and the military! This week’s challenge was how long I could sit in the same chair of a hotel lobby on a military base, getting work done. Did I get some confused expressions from the hotel staff every once in a while? Yes. But did I accomplish a lot and make for a fun and distraction-free road trip halfway across the United States, ending with a Saturday night showing of Finding Dory? Most definitely.
Now, on to the assignments. This week, my travel circumstances basically forced me to front load everything I had to get done into the first three days, including all the things for my other online class, and somehow, it worked. I read and annotated everything on Monday, produced my DS106 Audio Assignment on Tuesday, and wrote my digital story critique on Wednesday. Somehow there in between, I did both of my Daily Creates, blogged everything, Tweeted everything, and responded to everything. I’m really glad that I had already gotten into a groove this week, because that was the reason I was able to complete all my assignments with such conviction. I knew where to look for everything and I had all of my formatting figured out, which saved me a lot of time and stress. I didn’t even any trouble keeping track of my agenda and assignments. I guess it only gets better from here!
The good, the bad, and the ugly. My favorite thing this week was honestly creating my DS106 Audio Assignment mashup, Brazilian Strobepathy. Even though it took literally all day, I was excited to see what my musical ear was capable of, and it ended with a product that I was actually really proud of. I must say that the reading this week was hefty, but it set the stage for the remixing theme that I adopted for all my assignments for the week. Having to read something that long made me realize that I don’t have to become an expert on everything the chapter talks about. There’s just not enough time in the week for that. The most important thing was that I learn new concepts that expand upon my previous understanding of the bigger picture, in this case new literacies. This week, I learned that remixing is just another way in which new literacies propagate. Music, software, fanfiction, you name it. The process is just about the same. Receive, interpret, recreate, and share…together!
If I could go back and do it all over again…I’m pretty sure I said this already, but I’d spread out the distribution of my work a little more over the course of the week. My travel circumstances made it impossible to get actual work done on some days, but I could have just as easily checked in a little bit every day just to stay engaged with the course during my travels. Even though I was eventually able to catch up on Sunday, it kind of messed up my rhythm to cram for three days, check out completely, and check back in to find a humongous pile of stuff.
The larger issues surrounding my work. Before posting my mashup on YouTube, I first posted it on SoundCloud and it was immediately taken down for copyright infringement. I didn’t expect this to happen because I had recreated a product that was different from the original, but it made me think of copyright law and where we draw the line. How close to the original is too close? When does it become copyright infringement? Tons of artists have been sued for infringing on copyright law and the lines get very blurry.
The self assessment. I’m pretty good with saying that met the expectations this week. I feel a lot more confident in what to expect in this class after the first week, and listening to Remi’s audio feedback reinforced that confidence. I’m looking forward to expanding on what I’ve learned so far as we progress in this course!
© Emily Joan Wu
Teacher Candidate | Math
University of Colorado Denver
INTE 5340 | Summer 2016