Genre Bending Assignment Tips

For Dr. Wollman’s “Genre Bending Assignment” (also found under Readings), you will be creating sound sculptures by transforming audio into something new. Two examples come to my mind when I think about this assignment – first is the song “Spinning Plates” by Radiohead which is famous for being a success both forward and backward.

The Wikipedia explanation helps to shed some light on why, ” ‘Like Spinning Plates’, was constructed from components of another song, ‘I Will’, which the band had tried to record in the same sessions. Unsatisfied with the results, which Yorke described as ‘dodgy Kraftwerk,’ the band reversed the recording and used it to create a new track… Yorke was recorded singing the melody backwards; this recording was in turn reversed to create ‘backwards-sounding’ vocals(source”

The second thing that comes to my mind is the constant sampling and remixing done by popular artists (particularly in the hip hop and rap communities). The most famous from my day (showing my age here) is “Come with Me by Puff Daddy” which recreated “Kashmir” by Jimmy Page to be the theme song to the recreation of Godzilla (Wiki article here: In fact, the video even features footage of Jimmy Page playing the original. How meta is that!?

I am sure you can think of hundreds of examples from your own experience, as there are in many in all art forms – including images, film, and sound. But for this assignment, we will be dealing with sound, therefore here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Find audio: Most of the songs you know and love are copyrighted, so in order to use them (even for private use), you need to obtain a license, which is often expensive and impossible to get for small projects such as yours. You may use public-domain music, which includes most songs published before 1923. And you may use 30 seconds of any song under fair use laws.  To find fair-use audio, one option is to use CC-licensed music (songs licensed under Creative Commons, an organization dedicated to making media available to the public). Sites such as and dig.ccMixter are good places to look. Wikimedia Commons is another source for free-use music. Another option is to Google “podsafe music.”
    Regardless of where you find your music, whether you pay for a license or use a CC-licensed song or use 30-second clips of songs, you MUST include a music credit in your project!

    Please ask your professor or an ITF for more help finding music!More on copyright and fair use

    In order to ensure you are within your rights to use the material you have selected, please assess any work of art you utilize (for any project you embark on at Macaulay and beyond) by considering these factors:

  2. 1.the purpose and character of the use (commercial or educational, transformative or reproductive);
    2.the nature of the copyrighted work (fictional or factual, the degree of creativity);
    3.the amount and substantiality of the portion of the original work used; and
    4.the effect of the use upon the market (or potential market) for the original work.

    (source, Ugoretz “Free as Air” presentation, 2013)

    Don’t end up like George Harrison!
    If you do not comply with fair use and copyright, you could end up owing millions of dollars to the artist or company you infringed upon! For example, “My Sweet Lord” written by George Harrison (of the famous Beatles) was at the center of a heavily publicized plagiarism suit due to its similarity to the Ronnie Mack song “He’s So Fine”, a 1963hit for the New York girl group the Chiffons. In 1976, Harrison was found to have “subconsciously” plagiarized the earlier tune, a verdict that had repercussions throughout the music industry.With liability established, the court then recommended an amount for the damages to be paid by Harrison and Apple to Bright Tunes, which Judge Richard Owen totaled at $1,599,987– amounting to three-quarters of the royalty revenue raised in North America from “My Sweet Lord”, as well as a significant proportion of that from the All Things Must Pass album (source, Ugoretz “Free as Air” presentation, 2013).

    NOTE: If you want to record your own sound, there are audio recorders available for you to “borrow” from Macaulay using this form.

  3. Transform audio: In order to transform the audio you find or create into a “sound sculpture” you can use a number of methods. The two suggested tools for this course are GarageBand (already on your Macs!) or Audacity (free to download at  You will practice these skills at your Media Arts Workshops using your Night at the Museum audio.
    • Find tutorials on Garageband here:
      Especially these tips on adding effects:
    • Find an excellent description (with images) on how to edit audio in Garageband here:
    • For advanced users, check out this demo on removing lyrics from songs using Garageband:
    • Here is a brief demo to get you started editing sounds that are available in GarageBand:i. Start a new project, and select the “loop” option
      loop-1ii. Next, select the loop symbol on the bottom right to reveal the sounds available. They are conveniently sorted by genre! You will add a loop to your project by dragging it from the list into the center of the screen.
      dragloopIf you wish to use a sound you have found elsewhere (following the guidelines above), select the media icon (which features a music note/ film strip/ picture) and choose the sound from the file on your computer.iii. Now, to manipulate the sounds you have dragged into your project, click on the title of that track on the far left. This should bring up a menu on the right with an Edit tab.add_effectPlay, experiment, and have fun! Even though learning a new tool can take time – and can sometimes be frustrating – the point of this assignment is to explore and learn. Try your best to be creative and take risks!

    Please see ITFs Amanda, Owen, or Brian for help.

  4. Upload your project: Find out how to upload and embed your audio here:
  5. A note about crediting your sources: You MUST credit any original source you use even if it is available under fair use. Each discipline has its own standard for properly documenting sources. The humanities, for instance, use MLA (Modern Language Association) guidelines, while the sciences use the CSE (Council of Science Editors) system. Ask your professor which system they prefer you to use, and find a reliable guide (again, ask your professor for recommendations, but Diana Hacker’s site is a good one to use). It is NOT enough simply to copy and paste the url of your source.

(Thanks to Dr. Joseph Ugoretz, and ITFs Jenny Kijowski and Maggie Galvan, for their previous posts on these topics which informed mine!)

About Amanda Licastro

Amanda Licastro received her BA in English and Creative Writing with a minor in Italian from Loyola College in Maryland, and an MA in English with a certificate in teaching in two-year colleges from DePaul University in Chicago. She has worked as an adjunct professor in both northeastern Pennsylvania and New York. Amanda is currently in her second year of doctoral studies in the English Program at the Graduate Center focusing on the relationship between technological progress and writing, and will be completing her certificate in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy this year through an independent study involving her work on the Writing Studies Tree ( Amanda also serves on the editorial collective of the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy and is the co-chair of the Graduate Center Composition and Rhetoric Group.

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