Updated: Oct 30, 2021
A powerful sampler inside your phone. Koala Sampler uses great intuitive ways to sample, sequence and perform using found sounds.
What is Found Sounds?
“A 'non-musical' sound used creatively in a piece of music" bbc.co.uk
Students often end up spending money for VSTs and expensive sound libraries to create music. While they should be encouraged to focus on the quality of production, they should also learn that it is not the only way to create good music.
In this unit, students explore the basics of creating samples, use sounds around them as instruments like kick, snare, bells, hi-hat, and other percussion instruments.
I just leave them with their phones in the football field to gather sounds for their music.
They also record melodic samples like their voice, a section(chord or melody) from a song, a single note from a pitched instrument or just recording a sound on their way in a subway ride and tuning it to a correct pitch. They can then play the instrument in the Ableton Push-like grid with preset scales like major, minor, harmonic, etc.
They also experiment with how different sounds around them can be used to create high quality VST-like sound and be used in musical expression. The software #koalasampler becomes this tool which ignites their creative minds with more ideas.
It blew my mind when the student hit the football and recorded the sound for his kick drum!
Once they record the samples, they start sequencing them into sections of a track. This also teaches them the basics of sequencing and helps them envision the structure of the final track. And then comes the fun part!
Students can use the sequences and the use the 16 built-in effects to perform the track and also record and export the performance.
You can reach them here:
This app is free on android and iOS currently.
How I use it in my classroom
Students work in pairs or small groups with the following submission requirements:
1. A track composed of only found-sounds of a maximum of 2-minutes. You should have the following:
Drum sounds: bass drum, hi-hat/bell, snare, percussion elements
Bass sound: pitched
Harmony: pads, chordal effects
Melody: Pitched melody
Effects: creative effects from the Koala sampler
2. A video of a maximum of 5-minutes explaining the found-sounds and the process of creation. You could:
Use video of your recording the samples
Use screen recording of your phone, playing the samples, recording samples into sequences, and performing with Koala effects
Marking criteria: (Based on Experimenting with Music - Criteria A and B)
Rationale and commentary for musical experiments in creating (through video): 6
Practical musical experiments in creating (through audio): 8
Their sample work will be published here with their permission soon.
John Cage, one of the pioneers of avant-garde music in 20th century (famous for his track 4'33") once said-
If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience.
While doing this unit I felt that the students felt very liberated from the mindset that music-making means playing an instrument. All sounds, both musical and non-musical, have a place in creative expression.
This is where all the creativity can flow as there is no entry barrier to music technology any more. A sampler so powerful and easy to use should be a must in every Music Tech curriculum. Now it is time to try out on your own. Send me a video(or audio), I would love to see how you have used it in your class or your assignment. Good luck!