So you are probably familiar with popular looping apps like Incredibox and BeastBox, but did you know that the code for creating your own looping app is readily available and free for the taking? That is how I designed this app, Mikey's Beats.
Build a Looping App
I had an idea while talking to my friend who works in gaming. What if it were possible to create my own looping app to go along with my new children's book to give it an engaging interactive component? We chatted for a bit, and afterwards I began trying to see if it were possible. I had an idea: Scratch! Would Scratch have the code ready for remixing? As it turns out, it does, and it's not even generic code, it's the code from the folks at Incredibox themselves. Here is the link for this code on Scratch. The code alone does nothing, but that's the point. It is designed for whomever is using it to upload their own sounds and animations. Below is a bit of a teaser that I released in the build up to Mikey's Beats premier. It goes into a little bit of the back end of Scratch and how I found the code. There are notes and instructions written into the code in some places and there are tutorial videos online if you are in need of extra guidance.
Artwork and Background Removal
To make the characters move I had to upload separate characters at different sizes. But I needed the backgrounds removed to show only the character. I usually use Canva for all my design needs, but in this case, I needed to remove the background from drawings as opposed to photos. MS Paint seemed to be the best app for the job. I was able to do custom background removal to remove the drawn background using the eraser tool. Make sure you shrink the canvas around your character, remove background and then use the eraser tool to get the rest. The icons were designed within Scratch itself and it is pretty intuitive to use.
Making the Loops
All the loops were recorded using Ableton Live 10 Lite but you can use any DAW to do this. The Incredibox code from Scratch defaults to 120 bpm for the whole project, but there are instructions on how to change the bpm of the project if you like that are built into the code as comments or notes. Whatever DAW you end up using, be sure to record to a click that matches the project. Then export as STEMS or as individual tracks only the 4-bar portion intended to be the loop. Heads up: if you or your learners have not played or recorded to a click before, it can be a very humbling experience.
Adding in The Loops
Once the loops were recorded and rendered, inserting them into the code was very easy. Select the image (Sprite) you want associated with the sound and upload it. The best thing about Scratch is you can always test the code in the upper right corner of your screen.
In Your Classroom
This could be a very fun and engaging project for your learners at any age, with lots of room for adaptation of course. What are your ideas for creating your own looping apps in Scratch? Have you done it before? Do you have creations your students made? Let me know.
Until next time, Happy Musicking!