Monday, July 2, 2012

Creative Mash: Music, History and the Web 2.0 Alex Chadwick plays 100 famous guitar riffs in one take giving you a chronological history of rock n' roll.

This would make an excellent backdrop for students to remix media to create a historical timeline.  I thought it would be a cool project to work on, seeing history through the eyes of a musician.  Changing their historical perspective or lens, so to speak.

Students could research the release date for each song sampled in the video.  Find images or news articles from that date and then overlay the images to the music as it is playing.  I made a quick example of how this could work using a few free Web 2.0 tools.

First, I found the video on YouTube searching "100 riffs."    

Next, I clicked on the share button located at the bottom of the video to get the video specific URL. 

I then went to and used their free service to convert the audio from the 100 Riff YouTube video into a .mp3 file.  After the conversion was finished I had the audio version of the video.

With the audio version of the YouTube video I could now upload the music to a free video editor like WeVideo.  WeVideo is a free web based video editor that can be accessed through Google Drive.  It is pretty to use and has some pretty advanced features.  And did I mention it is free!

I know some of you may not like this, talking to the librarians out there, but I did use Wikipedia to find the release dates of the songs Alex played.  On YouTube, under the video, each song that Alex samples is listed in chronological order.  

I searched through Wikipedia and found the dates with a little bit of hunting and searching.  I messed up the first song "Mr. Sandman" because I used the date it hit number one on the charts.  I will definitely lose points on the rubric for such carelessness!  A good lesson to show your students about how careful they have to be with their searches.

Once I knew the release date of the song I could then search for notable news for that date in history.  To make it easy for this example I used the Time Magazine database and looked for covers of the magazine.  I saved those images to a file on my computer.

So, with the music and few magazine covers I went into WeVideo, uploaded the audio track and covers, lined up the covers with the music and dropped in a title and ending slide.  Fairly easy, took a few minutes to line up the Time Magazine Covers with the transitions in the audio track.

WeVideo allows you to shorten music samples.  I cut mine down to about 45 seconds. One thing I need to do a better job of is properly citing my sources at the end of the video.  

Here is my quick version:

Overall I could see this project taking a few days to complete.  You could differentiate in number of ways:

vary the music sample length
vary the number of images required
vary the number of sources required
vary the number of students working together

There could be another component to this as well.  Students could create a digital scrapbook of the stories/images they collect and use in the video and then briefly summarize the events they chose to display.  Groups of students could then come together and compare the information they found, the pictures they chose.

You could focus their discussions:

What significant patterns do you notice in your historical analysis of the US from 1954 to now?
What unanswered questions do you have about the significance of music in the development of our country?
What possibilities do you see for the future based on the trends of the past?
How did past events converge to influence future events in US History?

When they are done they may have a very different perspective of history having used music as the background.  

Before you begin working on this, students would need to know some basics about WeVideo, how to get images from the internet, how to cite their sources and how to focus their search queries so that they do not waste a lot of time on dead searches.

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