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1 Sim sound SimSound is an engaging multimedia game for year old that aims to use the context of music recording to introduce a range of concepts about waves. Sim sound encourages pupils to explore the scientific principles behind sound and music production. It makes use of the raw sound files created by a real life band and presents the challenges encountered by a sound engineer working with an unsigned band in a recording studio. The game play builds on young people s familiarity and interest in music recording and mp3 technology. It will show the importance of collecting and interpreting data for making decisions. It incorporates game based tutorials and instructional videos to introduce the theory which are followed by open ended challenges that get pupils to apply what they have learnt to a real life problem in the recording studio. The challenges also show students how to use Audacity, a well known free open source software application that is widely used for sound editing. For full instructions on how to install Simsound please see the Technical Guide at the end of this document. Curriculum links SimSound will teach a significant amount of sound-related physics at KS3 and 4. It contributes to the How science works component of the programme of study for the National Curricula in England and Wales, the Science strand of Environmental Studies for the 5-14 Curriculum in Scotland and the Science and Technology strand of the Northern Ireland Curriculum. Simsound uses real-life examples as a basis for finding out about science and careers in music production and helps learners address learning objectives through 'hands-on' experiences. Learning Objectives At KS3 Most pupils will: Relate changes in pitch and loudness of sounds to changes in vibrations. Relate these to the oscilloscope representations of waves. Understand how software can be used to produce and control sound. 1 SimSound Institute of Physics 2008

2 Some pupils will: Relate pitch to frequency of sounds and loudness to amplitude. Understand the advantages of digital technology and it s use in music technology. At KS4 Most pupils will: Understand the relationships between volume/amplitude and pitch/frequency. Examine waveforms of analogue and digital signals using an oscilloscope and identify changes in volume/amplitude and pitch/frequency. Create am MP3 download by using software to convert sound file formats. Some pupils will: Describe the differences between analogue and digital signals and the advantages of sending information in the form of a digital signal. Determine the best way to create a high quality, low files size sound files using software. : Using the game There are various options: 1. Independent learning - pupils play the game from start to finish, and submit their reports for assessment. Teachers can then run a plenary discussion session during a lesson, with screenshots. 2. Scenarios - the teacher chooses a selection of the challenges, for pupils to do one at a time in a classroom setting or for homework. 3. Direct teaching - the teacher uses each challenge as part of a lesson, presenting the concepts before each challenge, and then the pupils apply them with the game. Whichever option is chosen, there are 'review checkpoints' built into the game during each challenge as well as a report form to be downloaded and filled in by the student. The teacher can review a group's work after each challenge, based on pupil 'report'. Getting started Instructions on how to download and install the game are contained at the end of this guide. 2 SimSound Institute of Physics 2008

3 Before starting the game there are a couple of technical things that you will need to check students understand. 1. Students will need to toggle between the Audacity software and the game interface to complete the challenges. They can do this by pressing alt + tab and using the arrow buttons to switch between applications. 2. Students will also need to print screen grabs for their report. They can do this by pressing the print screen key on the key board and then edit, paste to copy the screen grab to their report. There is an introduction video in the Help section of Simsound which demonstrates how to do these things. 3 SimSound Institute of Physics 2008

4 Simsound Challenges There are four Sim sound challenges: 1. Fix the guitar riff - students learn about pitch and frequency and remove a pitch change in the guitar riff. 2. Fix the vocal - students learn about volume and amplitude and correct 3. Adding special effects students learn about analogue and digital signals and use the software to produce sound effects. 4. Make an MP3 download - students learn about digital compression. Each challenge contains three parts: 1. A tutorial comprised of 3 interactive questions to introduce and reinforce the background information for each challenge. 2. An introductory video tutorial for Audacity. 3. A task to perform in the recording studio using Audacity software. Challenge Learning objective 1 Recognise, define and explain how the frequency of a wave relates to the pitch of the sound. How learned Look at a waveform to compare the frequency of sound waves at different pitches 2 Recall the definition of amplitude, interpret diagrams, and understand how to use an oscilloscope to measure amplitude. 3 Understand the differences between an analogue signal and digital code, the advantages of digital signals over analogue for quality/noise/processing, the advantage of analogue in terms of simplicity and the use of digital signals in music technology. Compare the amplitude of different sounds to determine the loudness of the sound Interpreting differences in waveform shapes Use Amplify to balance amplitude of differently played riffs Compare waveforms of analogue and digital signals using an oscilloscope. Use FFT filter to remove a specific range of frequencies to appreciate processing of digital signals Use the Bass boost function to replace lost bass frequencies Add a fade out to the finished track. 4 SimSound Institute of Physics 2008

5 4 Digital signals are either on (1) or off (0) whereas analogue signals have a continuously variable value. How digital signals are created by sampling The terms word, bit, bit rate, byte, binary Compression of digital signals as a way of reducing the quantity of data sent; The sensitivity of the ear depends on frequency Interpreting binary codes Identifying analogue signals on an oscilloscope trace Manipulating mp3 settings to get lowest file (mobile phone) Alter the bit rate of a sound file to see how it affects the file size. Convert track from stereo to mono Hints and notes for challenges Challenge Hints and notes 1 Interpreting the pitch change may be difficult for pupils who are tone deaf and so it is best to get pupils to work in small groups or pairs and discuss their results. The pitch in challenge 1 problem 1 needs to be altered by approximately 2 semitones (up) although there is a pitch change at the end of the track as well which the more able pupils should aim to correct as well. The pitch in challenge 1 problem 2 needs to be altered by approximately one semitone (up) but care needs to be taken to select the correct part of the track and correct the pitch. 2 There is a relatively small change in volume and so encourage pupils to use precision. Some pupils may find it easier to correct the volume change if they tick the box that says allow clipping. The volume will need to be altered by approximately -8 db. 3 This task will require trial and error to get right. Removing the hiss entirely is difficult and so perhaps advise pupils that removing that background sound entirely is not necessary. 4 Pupils will need to examine the images carefully, in the first tutorial question there is only a small difference between B and C but it is important! 5 SimSound Institute of Physics 2008

6 How can we assess pupils' work? Each challenge incorporates a report for the Producer for pupils to complete as they go through the challenge. This is downloaded from within the game in Word template form. A full list of reports can be downloaded from the Reports section. Each contains: Screen grabs to show what they did. Checkpoint questions to show they understand the concepts. Opportunities for more extend writing in the form of written explanations of what they found out. At the end of the game, they finish the complete report for assessment evidence. There are several options for assessment: Teacher assessment, after each challenge, pupils produce a written assessment, using the reports form and submit to the teacher. Peer assessment, with different groups assigned the role of the 'Producer'. Presentation, instead of writing the report they could create a multimedia presentation of their results using PowerPoint and incorporate the sound files they produce and illustrate it with annotated screen grabs. 6 SimSound Institute of Physics 2008

7 Technical guide Getting started: To use Simsound you need to install the following: 1. Simsound 2. Audacity software 3. LAME MP3 encoder You can download these files from the Institute of Physics website. Please note it is a large file and so may take some time to download but it does contain everything you should need. It is possible to install Simsound on a local network in a share drive to enable networked computers to access the software. Alternatively you may install Simsound on each computer you are going to use. If you are going to install the software on each machine, we recommend that you download the software to a memory stick rather than downloading the software from the Internet each time. System requirements: Mac OS, Windows 95 and NT are not supported. The values in the "Recommended RAM/processor speed" column below are for tasks like recording for an hour, or editing three 20 minute tracks simultaneously. The values in the "Minimum RAM/processor speed" column will be fine for smaller/shorter tasks, especially if unnecessary programs are closed. Windows version Recommended RAM/ processor speed Minimum RAM/ processor speed Windows 98, ME 128 MB / 500 MHz 64 MB / 300 MHz Windows 2000, XP 512 MB/1 GHz 128 MB/300 MHz Windows Vista Home Basic 2 GB / 1 GHz 512 MB / 1 GHz Windows Vista Home Premium/ Business/Ultimate 4 GB / 2 GHz 1 GB / 1 GHz 7 SimSound Institute of Physics 2008

8 Generally, Audacity and Sim sound work best on computers meeting more than the minimum requirements in the table above. Installing Simsound: N.B. You may get an error message with a warning that you may be duplicating files, it is fine to ignore this message and click on OK. Download and save the zip folder containing Sim sound onto your desktop or memory stick. Extract the files from the folder (right click on it and select Extract all ). Open the Install folder. It will contain a start.exe (the game) and a copy of Audacity (the sound editing software) and an extension to Audacity that contains the MP3 converter. Open the folder Audacity and double click on install_audacity.exe. Once finished double click start.exe in the root of the uncompressed folder. Installing Audacity: Windows Open the Install folder and open the second Install folder. Double click on the Audacity installer, click on Run and follow the instructions in the Wizard. How do I download and install the LAME MP3 encoder? Windows The first time you use the "Export as MP3" command, Audacity will ask you where lame_enc.dll is saved. It is located in the Install folder in the folder LAME MP3 encoder. In case of difficulty, please view the more detailed instructions on the Audacity website For further help and advice visit the Audacity site: 8 SimSound Institute of Physics 2008

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