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Technology Infused Project

Hello, everyone Alex and Dean here!! Very excited to be sharing with you our technology-infused project which we have decided to do together. Our idea is simple, combine both of our specialisations (Composition and Technology) in order to create a project that explores them both in further depth and be used as a scaffold for students wanting to create a similar song. We have gone about this by composing and recording an original composition in the blues/rock genre which is inspired by the song “Baby Let Me Follow You Down” by Bob Dylan.

Our project consists of a recording of Dean and my original song named “Lay It Down” as well as our tropes and scaffold (baby steps) which we used to write the song.

When approaching compositional tasks in this vein, it is important to understand the key components and tropes of your chosen genre. But what are the key tropes of Blues/Rock music?

The key tropes of the Blues/Rock genre:

  • 12 bar blues
  • Structure varies depending on the song, however, common structures are; 12 bar blues, ABA, riff-based, and repetitive verse structure.
  • Songs are often riff-based or structured around simple chord progressions.
  • Pentatonic melodies
  • steady pulse (4/4 rhythms)
  • syncopation
  • Electric instrumentaiton
  • Solos
  • The lyrical content is often about adversity or heartache

What are the key components??


  • Electric Guitar
  • Electric Bass
  • Drum Kit
  • Vocals
  • Mouth Organ
  • Keyboards/Organs

This is a step-by-step process that Dean and I used to compose and record our blues/rock song “Lay it down”


Step 1: Students are to listen to these examples of the blues/rock genre in order to familiarise themselves with this style of music. It is important to note the important characteristics of the genre. Some good examples are “Baby Let me follow you down” by Bob Dylan, “Baby please don’t go” by Them, “Lay Down Sally” by Eric Clapton

Step 2: Drums

Create a steady 4/4 drum loop to start jamming over, This will help with the bassline and riff creation further on. Programs like ‘Logic’ and Garage Band’ have built-in drum loops in an array of different styles, tempos, and time signatures. This will allow you to structure your composition more fluently.

Step 3: Bassline!

Pick a key to start composing a simple bassline over ( we used A ). In our composition, we used the minor pentatonic scale for the bassline. A good technique that can be used to construct a bassline or riff, is to limit yourself to only using 4 or 5 notes from this pentatonic scale. In the case of “Lay it down”, the bassline is constructed from the notes A, C, and D. This can be created digitally in ‘Garage Band or Logic Pro X’ or recorded live.

Step 4: Guitar Part!

With our bassline sorted now, we can move on to our guitar parts. The main riff in our song “Lay it down” is constructed around a simple and typical blues movement. Try experimenting with our riff and using it as inspiration to writing your own original.

See the TAB below for reference. 🙂

Step 5: Lyrical Structure

See how the first three lines of each verse are contrasting lyrics, followed by a repeat of the first line. Many blues and rock songs use this same lyrical structure. Consider doing something similar when constructing your own lyrics, it helps to pick a theme.

Step 6: Melody Construction

Writing a melody should be an organic process!! Sometimes once you have a drum loop, bassline, and riff, you might start naturally hearing a melody in your head. However, if this does not come easy to you, that’s okay! You can start simply by improvising over the riff/chords using your chosen scale. (e.g. minor pentatonic).

Try doing this and see where it leads, but as Picasso once said “Good artists borrow and great artists steal”. Pick one of your favorite blues/rock songs and try and sing a new melody over the top of the chord structure and if all else fails, feel free to take some ideas from our song “Lay it down”.

Step 7: Structure

“Lay it down” has a structure that adheres to a verse followed by an instrumental which is repeated throughout the song, with improvised solos on the guitar breaking up the verses. This is a structure that is quite common in the blues/rock genre.

Our First Verse!

The songs “Baby let me follow you down” by Bob Dylan, “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley, and “Baby please don’t go” by Them follow the same structure. Perhaps consider a similar structure when approaching your composition.

Listen to them here!

Step 8: Improvisation

The blues/rock genre is well known for its solos and improvisation and “Lay it down” incorporates solos throughout the song, with there being one after each verse. A good way to approach this is to simply use the scale on which the song is based, once again meeting with our good friend the minor pentatonic scale. Solos don’t have to be too extravagant, sometimes it’s not about how fast you play or how many notes you include in your solo. But rather the feel, articulation, and musical expression are most important when constructing a solo.

Here’s a great example of simple and slow yet effective soloing by B.B. King


Tech we will need for our project according to Kuhn and Hein!

  • Computer with DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
  • Headphones
  • Midi
  • Interface
  • Microphone
  • Dedicated creative workspace
  • Soundproofing (if possible)
  • Cables
Here’s a photo that Dean snapped of me in his studio!

Step 1 Drums:

Start a new session in ‘Logic Pro X’, incorporating your already made drum loop in the session.

Step 2 Recording Bass:

Plug the bass into channel 1 of your audio interface and create a bass track on ‘Logic Pro X’. There’s a variety of different presets you can use, we used the “60s combo” for “Lay it down”. Begin recording your bass part, but remember that you don’t have to record the whole song in one take. Focus on doing part by part, section by section. This approach was used to record “Lay it down”.

See the example of what our bass and drums sound like in the google drive folder!!

Step 3 Recording Guitar:

The recording is similar to the bassline step. Plug the guitar into channel 1 of your audio interface and create a guitar track on ‘Logic Pro X’ and begin recording. Like the previous step, Focus on doing one section at a time.

See the example of what our guitar parts sound like in the google drive folder!!

Step 4: Recording Vocals

Plug your XLR cable into your condenser microphone. Before recording, ensure that phantom power is on, on your audio interface and your studio monitors are turned down to avoid feedback while recording. In “Lay it down” we incorporated double tracking and harmonies which required extra tracks for the project. This is not essential but adds more texture to the song and creates interest.

See the example of what our vocals parts sound like in the google drive folder!!

Our critique of Kuhn and Hein’s Electronic Music School

What works?

  • Project-based learning is a great way to maximise student interest as it fosters student agency and student-centred learning environments
  • Working with technology provides students with essential skills that can stay with them after their studies – As students are working on recording using DAW’s they are actively creating a portfolio for themselves, thus, gaining confidence and experience with using DAW’s in the recording process.
  • Utilising technology gives everyone an opportunity to create music regardless of ‘talent’ or ability. Kuhn and Hein dislike the word ‘talent’ stating “it’s important to banish the word “talent” from your vocabulary. We do not believe that any such thing exists—“talent” simply describes the previous opportunity and motivation to learn. Behaving as if talent is real is directly counterproductive to learning” – chapter 6.1, Electronic Music School.
  • Working with technology aids in creating positive learning environments which enhance creativity and collaboration in the classroom.

What doesn’t?

  • The extensive focus on using Ableton live as our main DAW. Don’t get me wrong, Ableton is great and there is a reason why it is one of the industry standards for recording. However, in stage 4 or 5 classrooms where you may be working with beginners who have never recorded or used technology for any musical projects before, we believe that DAW’s such as Garage Band, and Logic Pro X are more appropriate. Our reasoning behind this statement comes down to a few main points.
  • 1. Ableton is ugly!! On the contrary, Logic Pro X and Garage Band are far more aesthetically pleasing DAW’s and we believe that when working with young students it would be advantageous to use a resource that is more appealing to them
  • 2. Logic Pro X and Garage Band contain loads of presets (guitar amps, microphone sounds, bass amps etc.) which mimic the classic sounds of Fender, Vox, & Marshall and Orange amplifiers which is perfect for our kind of project where students are required to compose and record their own blues/rock songs. However, in Ableton, these authentic sounds are a little trickier to replicate.

How has it changed our teaching philosophy?

  • The style of learning presented by Kuhn & Hein was one that we were not familiar with when starting our Masters of Teaching degree. It was very refreshing to have our perception of music teaching challenged and changed. It has opened our minds to a new teaching philosophy of learning through doing rather than learning through being told.
  • (Kuhn and Hein, 2021) – As teachers, we are now inspired to go out into our field, utilising technology & project-based learning in practice.
  • Our way of thinking about assessment tasks and lesson planning has been altered as we are now thinking in terms of using technology as a means to encourage student creativity and student individuality.
  • It has shifted our views on composition. Each of the example activities throughout the Kuhn and Hein book focuses extensively on creation, songwriting, and the development of students’ unique voices.

How have we used it in our project?

  • As mentioned in our blogs, we have incorporated instances of technology throughout the compositional process. E.g. Drum loops, bass, guitar & microphone presets – The sounds of the instruments in the recording are enhanced by the use of various audio enhancement tools such as; reverb, compression, and equalization. Furthermore, the vocals are double-tracked in order to produce a fuller and richer tone colour.
  • We have also included technology via the recording process, through the use of DAW’s – The combined use of condenser microphones and electronic instruments through an audio interface highlights the use of technology in our project
  • The nature of the task in itself is project-based. Our project could be adapted for group work and getting the students working together collaborating

With our baby steps scaffold and resources completed, here is our finished product!! “Lay it Down” by Dean Alic and Alexandro Lecca. Listen to it below!


One response to “Technology Infused Project”

  1. I found this really helpful and interesting when trying to establish my own blues tune. The photos of you in the studio were really cute as well


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