Live Drum Performance Inspires Creativity

Live Drum Performance Inspires Creativity

Students in Christine Ireland’s Architecture/Interior Design/3D Art class are used to creating projects based on her directions or from other external resources, but on Jan. 29 they were expected to get their inspiration in a new way. 

Thanks to a collaboration with the TV/Video and Sound Production programs, the students had the opportunity to gain inspiration and ideas from a drum playing session right in their classroom.

The lesson, titled “What Does Music Look Like?” was intended to prompt the architecture students to come up with ideas for new wall art, but also to draw their attention to the effects that different sounds can have on an architectural space.

Both teachers agreed that while much discussion goes into the merits of, say, green building, there is often less about how building sounds can make people feel. Spaces that are designed and lived in all have distinctive sounds, they said, whether people consciously hear them or not.

A newly purchased digital drum set was the perfect addition to the lesson. The Roland TD-30 is a 10-piece electronic drum with a module set that the students used, together with a stereo amplifier.

Sean Harty, an instructor in the Sound Production Program, will be using the set to teach students how to record the drums, which is one of the harder instruments to record, as well as microphone placement and techniques in music composition and producing.

The students will also be using the drum set, along with the other instruments in the program, to emulate a recording session of a band using several recording techniques common to the industry.

Ms. Ireland’s students frequently choose to create their projects on PhotoShop, Illustrator or SketchUp, but on this day, she wanted them to draw by hand in their sketchbooks.

She assured her students that it wasn’t necessary to come up with an elaborate design. An abstract creation would be just fine, she said. “Whatever sound is most prominent to you could be the basis of your work,” she explained.

Earlier in the morning, Mr. Harty’s students spent time setting up the drum set, laying down the required audio cables on the floor, among other tasks. His team included an audio engineer, two sound mixers, a boom pole operator and two cable men.

First-year students Christian Caceres of Edgemont High School and Lukas Vitullo of Port Chester High School played the drums.

Students from the TV/Video Production Program were busily filming and taking still shots, which will become part of a special video highlight on the lesson.

“You can deflect it and absorb it, but sound cannot be stopped,” Mr. Harty told the students. That’s particularly important, he explained, when architects design buildings and other structures that are intended to be kind to the ears.  

As the drum playing started, students began to draw on their sketchbooks, flipping to a new page when the music evoked a different emotion or inspiration.

Miss Ireland said she was excited by the prospect of what her students might create. “I see some really interesting stuff happening,” she said.