Hip-Hop Workshop

Objectives of the Workshops

  1. To reveal to the participants in the program the power they already have within themselves.
    1. This may mean the power to communicate, or the power to make a difference, or the power to tell a story, or anything else.
    2. The facilitators in this program are resources for the participants to tap into to gain knowledge of and proficiency with tools and developing skills. The facilitators are not to approach this program with the perception that they are creating anything in the participants that does not already exist. The facilitators are not putting things into the participants, rather, they are there to help the participants to draw out what is already inside of them, to help them shape it, and to help them organize it.
  2. Intellectually and emotionally process social conditions, and to continue the process of healing from trauma or traumatic experiences that have occurred in the lives of the participants.
    1. This may either be achieve directly by specifically addressing particular events or indirectly through providing a positive outlet through which emotions can be channeled.
    2. The participants are the directors of the productions, they are the creators, and will be the ones responsible for making the decisions about the content of the material produced. This is the practical application of the first objective, and it also provides protection from pushing an issue onto the participants that they may not be ready to address.
  • Whatever the content the participants select, the facilitator is to ask the questions “why is something important,” and “how does that make you feel,” and to seek to look at the content from different perspectives to foster a deeper understanding.
  1. To produce a final project that brings the vision of the participants to life such as, a complete recorded song or album, a video, or a live performance.
    1. The creation of art is deeply personal, cathartic, and expresses power. In addition, the final product is participant driven because the healing and processing component of the creation of art requires this for it to be the most effective.
    2. All three of the potential final products are interrelated, but have different steps, skills, tools, and planning associated with them. They also tend to have differing audiences and levels of impact, so what the participants would like to achieve with their final product will help to direct what that product is.
  • Components of the Workshops (2 days = 1 Week)~10 Weeks

 

  1. Introduction (1 day)
  2. Writing/Voice (2 days)
  3. Music/Beat Production (2 days)
  4. Song or Poem Development (4 days)
  5. Memorization/Recitation (2 days)
  6. Performing (1-2 days)
  7. Audio Recording (2-4 days)
  8. Video Production (4 days)
  9. Rocking A Show (2 days)

 

  • Tools
    1. Depending on the scope, nature, and constraints of the program, as well as, the access to resources, the tools necessary and selected will vary. If there is access to full audio studio and video equipment, then those may be selected when there is not a concern that the participants will have issues continuing to create material after the program.
    2. If the participants of the program would like to continue to produce material after the workshop and do not have ready access to the equipment needed for continued production, alternatives should be selected.
      1. Free For Computer
      2. Free For Phone (look in google play)
        • It is possible to download all the apps/programs necessary for both audio and video production onto a smart phone for free, and while the tools will not be as powerful as a full studio, they are vastly more than sufficient to create high quality material. (This is only an alternative, and it may not work if the participants do not have smart phones, so this must be considered as well.)
          • Music/Beat Production
            • Music Maker Jam
            • Groove Mixer
          • Audio Recording
            • Band Lab
          • Video Production
            • Adobe Clip (Photoshop)
          • Introduction
            1. Introduction of facilitators, participants, and the program.
              1. This may include a performance or display of material in audio or visual, such as poems, songs, or videos. If possible, the participants should be encouraged to display their work and talent as well.
              2. This is a time set up to let the participants an opportunity to get to know who they are working with and vice versa. Perhaps, some history of how music and poetry came into their life and why it is important to them now.
  • It is also a time to get to know the participants, why they enjoy music or poetry, what they would like to do with it, and what they would like to get out of it.
  1. This should be a time for setting the goals of the program.
    1. What kind of product do the participants want to create? Do they want to create audio recordings, videos, or to organize a performance.
    2. How much experience do they have and with what? What would they like help with?
  2. Introduce the tools that will be used to create their material so that the participants can play with them and start to learn what they can do and how to use them; if there are tutorials they can access share them at this time.
    1. There is no real right way to use any of the tools and the best way that I have found to learn any program is simply to play with it. Aside from the basics or how to get it started, my experience has been that most other instruction is not very effective until problems are encountered when attempting to do a specific function.
    2. There will be time set up later in the program, during each particular phase for working through the programs and whatever instruction is needed throughout the process of creating. Initially, this is merely to give the participants access to the tools so they can have something to take with them and get familiar with.
  • Writing/Voice
    1. Writing is the basis of both hip-hop and poetry and at the core of the writing is the voice of the author.
    2. This session or sessions should be devoted to introducing the participants a few different styles of writing; for example, while hip-hop may be a little more constrained in its stanza formation and rhythm, poetry does not necessarily have to be. While hip-hop is traditionally a style that incorporates rhyming, poetry does not necessarily have to.
    3. There is first person or third person perspective to consider. The consistency of tense; past, present, or future. The six basic questions to answer; who, what, when, where, why, and how of a piece of writing. The usage and power of metaphors and similes when discussing a subject. Is it a story, a description, an explanation, an apology, or a statement of fact?
    4. What are the emotional cues and relevance of particular styles and how emotion works with words to convey the desired message.
    5. Practice writing a few styles and putting together stanzas. The facilitator should come up with a few random prompts for the participants to exercise and play with. At the end of each of these sessions give the participants something to work on to bring back with them to the next session to share.
    6. Each subject can be approached from several perspectives and can be approached with many styles. Each has strengths and weaknesses. For example, a first person perspective while powerful may not necessarily be able to adequately address something that bigger than just the individual, or in reverse, something in third person may not really be able address the personal.
    7. These session will be focused on helping the participants select style, perspective, and to develop the voice of the piece so that it will best convey the messages they want to transmit.
  • Music/Beat Production
    1. These sessions will be devoted to learning the music production software, and the layout of the instrumental aspect of a song.
    2. The music can convey as much if not more emotion and intent as do the lyrics themselves. For example, is it fast or slow (excited or repressed), is the music bright or dark, happy or sad, is it scary or inviting; does it change?
    3. Most hip-hop is in a 4/4 time sequence, with sixteen bars to a verse, 8 bars to a chorus; with two or three verses and choruses to a song. It is this sort of standard recipe that identifies how much writing needs to be done and how long the stanza should be. Then there may be bridges, intros and outros also added into the song, with breaks and beat drops to provide emphasis.
    4. The participants will have had about a week or so to play with the software by this point, so hopefully they have some idea of how to use some of it. The facilitator should walk the participants through the basics of how to set up a drum line, bass line, and melody with the software.
    5. The take home assignment will be to create a beat with the structure of a song
  • Song/Poem Development
    1. Combining the writing and beat sessions, the facilitator should now focus on helping the participants to write to the instrumental.
      1. The voice is like a percussive instrument similar to that of the hi-hat of a drum, thus, the rhythm of the syllables of the written words have a sonically pleasing space to occupy as a component of the music; this is called cadence.
    2. The chorus is the thesis, or the underlying point of the song, and what many people will pay the most attention to. The chorus should be something that ties all the verses together and helps to make the song make sense.
    3. If there are three verses, there could be two or four, regardless, each verse should have a function.
      1. For example; let’s say there is a story, verse one can be scene one, verse two can be scene two, and verse three can be the moral of the story or what is learned from the story or why the story is important.
      2. For example; let’s say it’s a description of a problem, verse one defines in broad terms the subject, verse two gets specific to a particular issue, and verse three tell why it is a problem or what can/should be done about it.
    4. Aside from explaining the general structure of songs, the facilitator should really let the participants do their own writing and creation, and be present as someone who can answer questions or provide a sounding board. This will potentially be one of the most personal aspects of the entire process and is where the majority of the internal power of the participants will be developed and expressed. So, the less influence from the facilitator during this phase the better.
    5. The bulk of the writing process will not occur during the facilitated session, but rather, in between sessions, so that the facilitator can help the participants revise their writing as they create their song.
  • Memorization/Recitation
    1. Each facilitator will have different techniques associated with how to memorize their pieces
      1. One suggestion is to work on memorizing line by line without the music at first and as each verse is memorized to then practice saying it with the music. The verse may need to be revised during this process because it may be discovered that breathing is difficult, or that syllables are hard to say in sequence with one another when performed.
    2. When the piece is memorized, or as it is memorized in steps a major practicing technique is to recite it in front of others. When the performer is confronted with more thoughts than only the lyrics, such as, an audience those thoughts tend to interrupt the ability to recite and requires practice to manage the emotional impact of performing from memory.
    3. This is often a long process and will mostly be homework for the participants.
  • Performing
    1. This particular session will overlap with the memorization and rocking a show sessions, but it will be important at this point to discuss stage presence and how to move one’s body with the music and the lyrics because it impacts both focus and breathing. Part of this will include how to hold a microphone.
    2. This session is also a segue into recording the audio and shooting a video
  • Audio Recording
    1. These sessions will dive into how to use the recording software that the participants have been playing with for a few weeks.
    2. The recording method that will be used is called “dubbing,” wherein tracks will be layered onto one another.
      1. For example; Verse one will be recorded in entirety on one track and on another track specific phrases from the verse will be highlighted by recording them again, and lastly, depending on the verse “ad libs” may also be recorded on a separate track to give the song extra character.
    3. The last component of audio recording is called “mixing” which is setting all the levels of the instruments and lyrics to give the appropriate space to hear everything clearly. Mostly this stage is about turning volumes up and down, but it can get a lot more precise with equalizers and reverb effects depending on the time constraints and desires for the final product.
  • Video Production
    1. These sessions will dive into how to use the video recording and production software/equipment that the participants have been playing with for a few weeks.
    2. A solid discussion with the participants about how to visually represent the material of the song within the budget of the program and participants to begin to develop a plan for how to create the storyboard of the video.
      1. The storyboard details each scene, what will be required to successfully shoot the scene, and how all the scenes will fit together.
    3. The next step is the shooting of all the scenes of the video
    4. The editing process of the video will probably be the most time consuming component because this is where all the clips of video are put into time with the music that has been recorded. Much of the skill for this process will likely have been developed in the music production phase and working with that software. There will be medium specific things to deal with, but the concept of moving pieces around will be familiar.
  • Rocking A Show
    1. Part of rocking a show is setting it up and promoting it.
    2. The video will or can accomplish a lot of the promoting component, but there will also be an aspect of creating a flyer and informing people about the show. This will utilize both paper flyers and social media events and advertisements.
    3. However, before the promotion of a show, a venue has to approve the performance, which entails both negotiation and contracts usually. So, there should be some discussion and practice with securing a venue to perform at.
    4. Because the songs have been memorized and the video shot, much of the preparation for performing live will have already been accomplished. Returning to microphone control, watching cables, and stage dynamics, with a rehearsal or two; and the participants should be ready to perform if they want to.

 

Song Produced & Shared On My Phone Using Some of the Programs Listed Above

 

 

Summary and Benefits of the Hip-Hop/Spoken Word Workshop

 

The participants in this program will learn how to and develop the skills necessary to create and promote an album, to shoot a video, and to perform on stage. These skills will include writing, revising, teamwork, negotiation, contracts, editing, music productions, video production, recording audio, conceptualization, and project management which are all translatable skills into many fields. In addition to that, the participants will also learn how to use an artistic platform, which can be used as a positive outlet to process through their thoughts and emotions.

Depending on the scope of the project and how many songs and videos the participants want to create, the workshop should take between two and three months to complete. There is a lot to learn and a lot to do and moving much faster than that may not provide enough time for the participants to really grasp the programs and skills. In addition, many of the stages of the development of a hip-hop video is by its very nature creative, and that process may be longer than expected for different groups and individuals. So, setting at least two months aside to work through the program should be a sufficient amount of time for at least one or two songs being brought to completion.

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