It makes sense that I should use a Brian Eno app to create the sound in my dissertation website. I've listened to his ambient albums as much as anything whilst I've been working on my dissertation.
Also, the apps created by Eno and Bloom are in themselves multimodal, with their combination of sound and visuals. So I'll use a multimodal app to create the soundtrack for my multimodal dissertation.
Maybe it's worth acknowledging this somewhere in the dissertation - probably the combined acknowledgements and bibliography section (which perhaps lends itself to a more interesting title than Acknowledgements and Bibliography).
[Since initially writing the notes below I have abandoned the idea of soundtracking particular sections of the website and will instead include soundtracks only for the video components. Nevertheless, in case I have an unlikely change of plan, and also for completeness, I've included my initial thinking on this blog, below]
I don't have the time or ability (I don't think) to create an original piece of music for every section of the dissertation. Here then are the different options:
1. Only create music to accompany the major, lengthy sections.
This would be the literature review and the discussion of data. The problem here would be that the other sections might feel a bit incomplete without music. And how wold I justify only having music and sound for some but not other sections? I don't think a lack of time is an acceptable critical justification.
2. I create a long loop of music for all sections
In this case, rather than creating a piece of music to match a particular section of the dissertation - and I have no idea how I would create representative music for an appendix, for instance - I would instead create a single piece. Furthermore, it wouldn't be possible to create music that perfectly coincides with particular section of text. So I would Create a single long track that it representative of the wider project rather than a single, specific section of the text.
And the winner is.....Option 2. Well done Option 2!
So what would this involve and how would it work?
This piece would be on a long loop, evolving as it plays so that no two parts of the are identical. Thank you, Brian Eno and Jem Finer. Using one or more sound creation apps, I would create a long loop of music. This might involve creating a series of separate pieces that are then merged together. To that I could add other fragments of sound that I record separately.
To give the impression that these are all different pieces of music, there could be a different start place on each page of the site.
[Pity I've this idea this idea to the vaults - it was quite a nice solution, I think.]
I met up with Michael and Jeremy last night to run a couple of ideas past them. I'll blog about that later however I've had some clarity this morning on a significant change I might make to the dissertation.
Bearing in mind the difficulty (technology, conceptually, time required) to include aural components within my dissemination, I feel inclined to drop that area. As I've acknowledged elsewhere, this was always going to be a bit ambitious, particularly in terms of the need to create an aural 'channel' that is representative, integrated or complementary to the text and visuals on the page. Basically, how do I create a piece of music that is significant to or representative of 'Data collection'? Or 'Methodology'? Or Lit review? This would be hard to realise. It might also be difficult to justify within the rationale i.e. how can I show that music actually contributes to the communication of (my) meaning in the same way that image or text would. I don't think I can. It would be easier to drop the sound element of dissemination, then.
Dropping the aural element of dissemination also impacts upon the wider dissertation: I'll also need to drop the 'sound' from my title. But then, when I come to think of it, the content is actually attending to text and visuality much more than aural anyway (in fact, it only gets a couple of token mentions). So the dissertation title becomes: A constellation of image and text: tutor experiences of multimodal assessment in the digital classroom.
What does this actually mean in terms of the dissertation:
Of course, I'll also need to get Sian's take on this: on dropping sound and changing the title.
At my last meeting with Sian I proposed that that I would create a different piece of music to represent and accompany different sections of my dissertation. Sian seemed enthusiastic about this idea and felt that I would be capable of this. I'm not so sure about the capable, but am keen to have a go nevertheless. I'm going to write some notes here then on how this could work.
I have to be realistic about what's achievable, both in terms of time and also my own ability. Perhaps that means that I shouldn't try to create an original track for every single part of the dissertation? Maybe I could create some form of ambient music to accompany the more functional parts of the dissertation, for instance the front cover, contents, appendix, bibliography.
Taking this approach would free up more time to create music that is specifically representative of the different areas of discussion. I don't exactly know what this means or whether it would be feasible. For instance, what type of music could be seen as representative of a literature review? Or maybe I can channel the spirit of Brian Eno and think about composing Music for Methodology.
I'm assuming here that music needs to go beyond simply being pleasant accompanying sound? Or is it justifiable to include an audio element solely on the basis that it is intended to create an aural space that the listener might find conducive to reading or interpreting the words on the screen? I expect that I will need to offer a more convincing rationale for the inclusion of sound in this way - and within that, how I decided that a particular sound would be conducive to reading?
A way around this might be to use music that is itself the product of what is written in the text. Is there a way of feeding the text from a particular section into a piece of software that in turn will create music? I could always edit it afterwards without losing its original form.
In fact, does each piece of music have to represent what's contained in the text of for that part of the dissertation? Could I instead just create a number of pieces that are representative of the wider dissertation, rather than specific sections? This would mean that I could focus on the general subject matter - books, screen, colour, visual image, film learning - rather than the content of particular sections. If I did take this approach, maybe I could instead use the artefacts objects as a way of creating sound? For instance, perhaps there's a way of using one of the Brian Eno apps to create shapes that are representative of objects (e.g. a book) that in turn create music. In this way, the visual representation of the book creates its own sound.
If I create a particular sound for the different artefacts, these could then form the basis of different soundtracks. Taking the Brian Eno approach again, they would be used repeatedly in different sequences so that no two tracks were the same.
To any of the tracks I could add additional layers of sound that are in some way representative of the subject, for instance it could be the sounds of someone flicking through a book, a film reel or effects that fit with the constellation metaphor.