One of the coolest things I found out about this year at Harvard Graduate School of Education is something called Scratch. It is a block-coding web application, developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten at the MIT Media Lab, which allows a community of learners to re-mix each others games, stories, and other creations.
I developed a sample of a simple improvisation/music-theory oriented game, using the blues scale and some midi sounds to create an interactive connection between abstract notation with shapes, and the musical lines of base, rhythm, and melody.
The player interface allows people to use their left hand on the keyboard to play with a melodic line and their right hand to play with drums. The space bar triggers the walking base line. each of the keys interacts with a “character ” in this case a triangle/bird, a spiral, and a circle, to change its shape as different keys are hit, linked to particular sounds.
Here’s two images of the player interface:
One of the drum sounds makes the circle multiply and change color. another makes it re-set. The spiral is linked to the walking base line and moves when the space bar is hit. The triangle flies around the page like a bird swooping through the air as the melody plays.
These were done with the block-coding offered by Scratch. The mixer and re-mixer has several sets of options to pull from with a drag-and-drop set of blocks that look a little like Lego. These nest to help the learner visualize the logic tree that they’re adding to, and they’re color coded by type.
The options that I used were not all the options available, but here’s a brief summary of what I chose to play around with:
- Creating Sprites and changing the background in the visual interface
- Applying actions and states (like colors or motion on the page).
- Using pre-made sounds to create the music.