EarSketch engages students in computing principles through collaborative computational music composition and remixing. It consists of an integrated curriculum, software toolset, and social media website. The EarSketch curriculum targets introductory high school and college computing education. The software toolset enables students to create music by manipulating loops, composing beats, and applying effects with Python code. The social media website invites students to upload their music and source code, view other students’ work, and create derivative musical remixes from other students’ code. EarSketch is built on top of Reaper, an intuitive digital audio workstation (DAW) program comparable to those used in professional recording studios.
EarSketch is designed to enable student creativity, to enhance collaboration, and to leverage cultural relevance. This focus has created unique advantages for our approach to computing education:
- EarSketch leverages musical remixing as it relates to popular musical forms, such as hip hop, and to industry-standard methods of music production, in an attempt to connect to students in a culturally relevant fashion that spans gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
- EarSketch focuses on the level of beats, loops, and effects more than individual notes, enabling students with no background in music theory or composition to begin creating personally relevant music immediately, with a focus on higher-level musical concepts such as formal organization, texture, and mixing.
- The EarSketch social media site allows a tight coupling between code sharing / reuse and the musical practice of remixing. Students can grab code snippets from other projects and directly inject them into their own work, modifying them to fit their idiosyncratic musical ideas.
- EarSketch builds on professional development techniques using an industry-relevant, text-based programming language (Python), giving students concrete skills directly applicable to further study.
EarSketch is a National Science Foundation-funded initiative that was created to motivate students to consider further study and careers in computer science. The program, now in its second year, is focused on groups traditionally underrepresented in computing, but with an approach that is intended to have broad appeal.
EarSketch was developed and is overseen by Brian Magerko, an Associate Professor in the Ivan Allen College’s School of Literature, Media, and Communication, and Jason Freeman, an Associate Professor in the College of Architecture’s School of Music.
A public beta release of EarSketch is now available:
- Our online curriculum is accessible from the table of contents on the left column of this page.
- Our software can be downloaded from the download page.
- Our social media site (for sharing projects created with EarSketch) is available here.