Music and Scratch
You can add music to your Scratch narratives, in different ways.
There are at least four ways of doing this, and at varying levels of technical and musical difficulty:
- by importing music files from the Scratch sound archive
- by adding music through coding within Scratch (See also Loops and Repetition below)
- by singing, and/or playing a musical instrument directly into the program
- from Audacity files (currently under development)
How to do it
1. From the Scratch sound archive
- This is simply done by clicking on the Sounds button at the top of the Scratch screen.
- Click on the Import button.
- Choose a folder e.g. Instruments.
- Choose a sound file e.g. AfroString
- Click the play button.
This is probably the simplest way of adding musical “sound tracks” to your story.
It is a start, but it relies on music created by others...
2. Music through coding
- In Scratch, you can code your own music. This method takes longer, but allows endless creative possibilities.
- Use the Sound button. Click on Play note 60, and explore the little keyboard that appears. Drag the note with the correct pitch, duration, instrument, volume etc. across into the Scripts column.
This obviously requires more knowledge of musical terms.
Payoff: Moving the pupil’s level in Mark Dorling’s Progression Pathways, from the pink elementary level to the second, yellow, level, can be achieved by using Loops and Repetition.
Loops and repetition (i.e. level two, yellow)
Loops can be developed in Scratch in a number of ways. First, there is a very simple, cross-curricular way, through music. In order to create a musical background to the story, or a song within it, or a dance at the end of it, the Sounds section of Scratch can be a very useful tool. A song like the traditional “Good King Wenceslas” (well-known both in the Czech Republic, and in the UK), for example, has the repeated phrase:
Programming music in Scratch
Download the Good King Wenceslas Scratch file here: Good_KW.sb (465 KB)
Why repeat the writing out of the coding when a simple loop (or repeat) can be used, as above? This, incidentally, was coded by a seven-year old pupil, who has clearly met the simplest algorithmic thinking statements (AL) already. More importantly, progression to a higher level in Computing is driven by adding music to the project. I like this idea!
3. By singing and/or playing a musical instrument.
Music sound tracks
Recordings (Note: this works in exactly the same way as for recording Voice-overs in English, or in a second language.)
These are made in the Sounds section. Simply click Record, then OK, and remember to save!
You really need two computers, side by side, to do this easily:
The first, on the left of the picture above, is for the pupils to make the actual recording, and the second, on the right, is to show them the running Scratch file, so that timings can be made accurate much more easily.
You can, of course, sing, play an instrument (or speak) directly into the first computer without the second running the timings, but then you have to work out all the timings mathematically (which might be a good thing?).
Have a few practice runs first!
More to follow...
Additional Materials: Computing and Music
These materials have been kindly shared by Nadia Rana, PGCE Student, Brunel University:
- Lesson Plan 1 (Word 22 KB)
- Lesson Plan 2 (Word 45 KB)
- PowerPoint file on this project (PowerPoint 5.6 MB)