Incoming: Instructional and Visual Design Themed Album

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Click on the image to access the player.

My latest instrumental album, Metacognition, will initially be shared on a Storyline player.

The purpose of this project is to draw parallels between instructional design (ID) and digital recording practices and to show that ID goes way beyond technological appeal. This is an attempt at my own metacognition which delves into music and visual design concepts. When you are learning two or more related concepts or skills, you are interleaving. The very idea of this album was to interleave similar approaches from two different arts.

Richard Mayer encourages us to include human figures when designing learning experiences. His studies clearly show that learners improve when another humanlike presence is involved in the process. Instructional design can incorporate characters, guides, or avatars into scripts and storyboards in ways that are beneficial to the learner. This is where Mayer’s embodiment principle plays a unique and important role.

The 12 Principles of Multimedia Learning help to reduce cognitive load from the learning experience. As Mayer’s studies demonstrate, background music and volume can certainly contribute to extraneous load. Metal music , by long tradition and nature, is mixed to sound very loud. Modern virtual instruments (VSTs) and digital audio workstations (DAWs) make it possible to combine separate recordings into perceptible ensembles, even when there’s a lot of noise involved. One of the biggest challenges in making this album was the mastering process and removal of extraneous elements in a highly compressed soundstage. The multimedia principles from ID gave me new insight into musical modailities.

ID has instilled in me the utmost appreciation for design principles. With Metacognition, my intent is to apply such principles towards music production. A great acronym from multimedia design is CRAP. It stands for Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity.

When applying CRAP to this album, I followed these principles:
Contrast the distinctive elements among the instruments without one eclipsing another. Repetition is spaced by revisiting various melodic moments of a song. Alignment is making sure each recorded piece provides scaffolding to the overall musical theme. Proximity in how the instrumentation is perceived throughout an organic and abstract soundstage.
As in ID: Contrast for clarifying communication. Repetition for strengthening unity. Alignment for visual connection. Proximity for clear structure.

The role of white spaces, also known as ”negative space”, in visual communication is to let your design breathe. There are ambient shelves throughout the recorded tracks that help carry the melody, yet faint enough to not distract from what the other instruments are conveying. Additionally, the album is instrumental to reduce the extraneous effects of discernable vocals. This may seem counterintuitive to ID, where narration plays a key role if used properly. However, the premise of this project is to reduce cognitive load in a musical sense. Ultimately, I hope others could use this medium to reimagine design concepts from ID and home studio recording.