Friday, July 15, 2016

Teaching Electronic Music with a 21" Tablet

(Post by Benjamin Ang of COSMIC ARMCHAIR)
Recently when I conducted the two day workshop on Producing Electronic Music for School of Music Arts (SOMA), I decided to use the Yoga Home 500 PC/Tablet for teaching. In the process, I discovered 3 benefits:

1. Using the same computer for production and performance is more efficient
Until now, we've been making music in our personal studio on a heavy duty desktop computer (Lenovo A720) with a large screen. The powerful CPU enabled us to experiment with multiple instruments and effects, and the large screen enabled us to see many channels of music, instruments and effects at the same time. We even performed with it at the Esplanade Waterfront. 
Cosmic Armchair playing touchscreen at Esplanade Waterfront
But that desktop was not only heavy duty, it was also heavy. So for many live performances, we had to duplicate our files onto our IdeaPad ultrabook instead. And if we made any new changes during the rehearsal or performance, we had to duplicate them back to the desktop. This led to messy duplicates and sometimes versions went missing or were over written.
   Now our Yoga Home 500 not only has all the CPU power and screen size of a desktop PC, but is also portable enough to be brought out to the performance (or in this case, the lesson). The foldable stand turns it into a tablet that can be carried in a tote bag, and the wireless keyboard and mouse mean there are less messy cables. 

2. Teaching by touchscreen is easier than teaching by mouse
My students used to have to strain their eyes to see where my mouse pointer was clicking on screen, even after increasing screen size and pointer size. Now that I use the touchscreen of the Yoga Home 500 to teach, students can see exactly where my fingers are pressing, and follow along on their own computers.

3. Performing live on the touchscreen is intuitive and fun
The multi-touch touchscreen of the Yoga Home 500 allows my students to experience hands on the ability to play live on the Ableton Live software, triggering and manipulating music with their fingers (see below) without requiring additional hardware or configuration.
Playing Ableton Live on touchscreen
   We pioneered playing the touchscreen PC as a musical instrument with our Lenovo A720 at larger shows like our Esplanade Waterfront show (see first photo above). The Yoga Home 500 is more portable which means we can bring it for almost any performance.  This versatility is a great benefit for teaching electronic music, and I'm looking forward to playing it in live performances as well. If you'd like to see more of our shows or hear our music, please visit http://www.cosmicarmchair.com 

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