Sonic Pi - Making, Mixing and Live Coding Music

Two performances did seem to transcend the present, with artists sharing music that felt like open-source software to paths unknown. The first, Sam Aaron, played an early techno set to a small crowd, performing by coding live. His computer display, splayed naked on a giant screen, showcasedSonic Pi, the free software he invented. Before he let loose by revising lines of brackets, colons and commas, he typed:

#This is Sonic Pi…..
#I use it to teach people how to code
#everything i do tonight, i can teach a 10 year old child…..

His set – which sounded like Electric Café-era Kraftwerk, a little bit of Aphex Twin skitter and some Eighties electro – was constructed through typing and deleting lines of code. The shadowy DJ sets, knob-tweaking noise and fogbank ambient of many Moogfest performers was completely demystified and turned into simple numbers and letters that you could see in action. Dubbed "the live coding synth for everyone," it truly seemed less like a performance and more like an invitation to code your own adventure.

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WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ARTS? IS CODE THE NEW CREATIVITY?

There is a helluva hullabaloo brewing around who codes, who doesn't code and who should be coding. My little boy is six months old and I'm seriously worried that if he isn't coding by the age of one then I'm failing as a father. His mother is a digital creative, an artist, a designer. So much for her influence then in these STEM-tastic times.

Seriously though what happened to the Arts? It seems that STEM is taking over what with the Maker Faire being hosted at the White House this time around it strikes me that the Arts (and anything related to it including it's denizens who reside within this field) must and will take firm backseat for a long time to come. While the UK follows the suit of the US in puppy-dog fashion, the 'Anti-Oik' and general antagonist Gove has been pushingSTEM in the UK in the guise of coding

I was talking to my secondary counter parts yesterday in a very impromtu drop-in and ended up talking about coding in Year 9, Raspberry Pi and how the Computer Science GCSE/ A Level is a far cry from the ICT GCSE/ A Level. In a nutshell: ICT = MS Office. As we are all too familiar with. However, this is legacy and nothing in comparison to what's coming. We talked that in Year 9 it's compulsory for the students to have experience of a wrtten language that isn't HTML (HTML doesn't count - I'd heard this but never in conversation with a teacher of KS3/4/5). The example I saw was Karel - an introductory language that can get quite complex as CodeHSdemonstrates. I am really pleased to see this as it's been a long time since my programming persuasion has been in line with KS3 and 4. However much I like Python, Ruby and Scratch (Small talk/ Squeak) before it. I think we're missing a trick here though. There should be a general lineage form KS1 too and this is where the fireworks can start. We all have our favourites.

Now, I'm all for technological advances and it interests me in many ways although as an old saying goes "anything excess in life is poison." So what happened to the balance? Is creativity taking a very niche route and bound to the confines of code? Or is Coding the new creativity? Is the App Store the Pop Idol for coders with the many also-rans trying to compete with the likes of Zynga for the next Chocolate Rain? With every student who makes it near the top there are thousands who are at a mere karaoke standard trying to vie with everyone else and dropping their prices to 99c. 

I feel there is an imbalance somewhere here that I can't quite put my finger on. Although, this coding leyline is exclusive unless you're inclined to digitally represent your creativity and eschew good ol' standard mediums. I think I may need to adjust my teaching style to bend the other way and only teach coding where there is an artistic flavour to hand .

The teaching of coding, I think, needs a tiny dousing of Leonardo Da Vinci and a little less Lenin; I'm going to strive to keep the true artistic balance in our future schemes.

Scratch and Bee-bots for Primary ICT - Year 1 Intro to Programming

Scratch and control as an ICT skills boost.

This term (February 2011) we are running a school wide control and programming topic that I feel is missing and entirely necessary to boost the attainment of ICT skills across the age range. Why am I doing this? The cohort I have inherited has such a wide ranging set of skills and inthe most part, poorly attaining children that we need to boost their awareness of what they can create with ICT. The way I envisage in doing this with Scratch from Year 1 to Year 6.

In the break between Christmas and Chinese New Year there is short half term that has seen the Year 3 children (who are my lowest achievers) realy take their learning into their own hands for te first time this academic year - and has prompted me to re-evaluate the path of the attainment for the rest of my year groups.

So this is ths plan:

To integrate scratch projects across the school from Year 1 to Year 6 with video accompaniment which should allow me to support the less confident children in my classes.

The first of the resources are as follows

 

Downloadable Scratch resources.

Children's Scratch introduction template

Children's Scratch template

Teacher's Scratch Template

Children who need help to make the ICT Challenge - Basic grid game with several backgrounds

Scratch


For a Long Time now we've been using Scratch from MIT as our programming and Conrtrol topic from Year 4 to Year 6. The idea is to make games (pong), story based games or simple apps like noise measuring devices (great home-made data collection programs for laptops)