Day 3: Writing about music

Listening in

Create a NEW document in your IWA Google Drive folder (Not sure where it is? Click “Shared With Me” and look for the folder that looks like Lastname [IWA-3]). Listen to a track I play for you and describe what you hear (to an audience that does not have access to the recording).

WordPress, Part 2

  1. Designing content — pages v posts.
    • Your first page: About me
    • Your first post: paste the text from your HW (your Google Doc).
    • Format text and embed links
    • Add tags and a featured image.
  2. Composing and writing with blocks.

Embedding

Embedding links, images, gifs, video, sound, etc. is an defining feature of the web. It allows authors to network content is ways that are not possible in print. I’ll show you some ways to do this via sound in WordPress.

Easiest: Embed links. Simply choose the embed block feature, copy the link from the source you are using (Spotify, YouTube, Mixcloud, etc.), and paste it; WordPress then converts it to something like this:


Still Kinda Easy Method: Embed a stream with code. Sites like NPR let you embed their podcasts, but there’s a little more to it. Go to any page that features an “embed” link (this is usually next to option to download or share the content). Click this embed link and copy the code. It usually begins with <iframe…) and looks something like this:

Now, in a new block click the 3 vertical dots (far right of options) and choose the “Edit as HTML” option in the editor. Paste the embed code into the block. WordPress should then convert it and allow you to Preview so it looks something like this:

Harder Method: Upload your own audio file. This method is more complex because instead of linking to an already existing stream of music on the web, you are uploading a file to your own to a server. This often carries with it some legal issues since your listeners can now download, copy, circulate, remix, and otherwise “own” your original file. Unfortunately, the free version of WordPress.com does not allow for audio file uploads since they can be quite large (and provoke aforementioned legal issues). Once you start using the Phono Project site in a few weeks, however, you’ll need to upload your own audio files, which I’ll show you how to do then.

Post 2: Track reviews/Wordpress

I asked you to read at least one track review from Pitchfork, then write about a song you’ve heard. Let’s look at a recent track review of the song you listened to at the beginning of class.

How might we break this review down into separate parts? What does it notice? What does it describe? What language does it use, specifically the nouns and adjectives? What kinds of metaphors?

How does it compare to your own review of the track from the start of class?

So let’s review: what are the key components to a review?

  • Context (or, time & place): Does the author describe a context for the song? That is, do they tell us who the artist is or their reputation based on previous recordings? Do they mention popular or representative responses to the track? Is it on a certain album? Do they mention the year and/or social or cultural context of the track?
  • Content (or, music & lyrics): How does the author describe the music? What adjectives are chosen? What and how are comparisons are made? Are instruments/samples/beats named?  How does the description account for the ways the track is structured or organized? If there are lyrics, what does the author say about them? Do they guess about their meaning through some kind of interpretation?
  • Format (or, the recording & production): Does the author write about the production process? That is, do they comment on the how it sounds overall or who put their trademark sounds on it (Kanye, Timbaland, Rick Rubin, etc.)? Or maybe who this track is a collaboration with?

The syllabus/Phono Project & Sound Beat

The idea for The Phono Project is modeled after Sound Beat, a 90-second radio program produced by Syracuse University and syndicated on NPR stations all over the world. Here’s an example of a typical show that wrote about Cash’s song, above. We’ll talk more specifically about this in the next class.


Homework for Day 4

  • Read about The Great 78 Project on Philly.com and The Verge.
  • WordPress Post #3: Post a new review of a different song, but this time incorporate information from all three components: context, content, and format.