Spring Tunes

By Michael Betkowski
NEWS Reporter


t’s spring and so it’s time for SpringTalks. Of course, the talks aren’t named for the season; they’re named for the school’s signature academic program, SpringBoard, the interdisciplinary senior capstone project.

Students fortunate enough to attend the talk last Sunday by Nathan Abel ’17 and Will Schoenberger ’17 about their project in CommArts came away duly impressed.
Abel and Schoenberger each produced an album featuring their own music.

Inspired by his “dream to make a full length project,” Abel has always wanted to create an album. He said, “It seemed like the best way to make use of my time to make something I was planning on making anyway.”

Abel wanted to find his own sound and create an album of original music—no samples from other artists. His plan was to start with twenty to twenty-five instrumentals based on a collection of sounds assembled over a two-year span. He created a few tracks here and there. In doing so, he completed the first track, called “Headspace,” on May 14, 2016.

The concept was to take perspectives from his own life, songs in which his life as a boarding school student is looked at through different lenses; over the course of the album, the “protagonist” accomplishes different feats.

A few of Abel’s fellow students are featured on his album, including Carlos Austin ’17, Alex DeGrange ’17, and Erin Pak ‘17, as well as alum Tancy Roofener ’16. Abel aspires to put his album on a major platform such as Spotify or YouTube, but he already has a few tracks on SoundCloud.

Like Abel, Schoenberger also produced an album, called “The Variety Pack.” Asked about his inspiration, Schoenberger said, “I’ve been producing music for about three years now, and I have always wanted to come out with a fully fledged mixtape, and CommArts was the best way for me to turn my hobby into my classwork.”
After a year of hard work Schoenberger came out with his “mixtape,” seven songs with the eighth on its way. The majority of the songs feature DeGrange rapping. Other featured artists include Ava Paul ’18 and Daphne Valen ’19. Another song called “Moonlight” was inspired by “Run to You” by Pentatonix, sung by Octet and Magalia in the 2017 Spring Pops Concert.

Unlike Abel, Schoenberger likes sampling other artists. One of his songs, “Local,” samples the song “Location” by Khalid; another track samples an old Japanese song. Because some of songs include samples, Schoenberger is not able to put the entire album onto an online platform without copyright permission.

Asked what was it like to work on the same project for a year, Abel responded, “I’ve only been working on it for a few months. However, many of the sounds and songs I used span over a year, as I have been planning its creation for a long time. The last two years of my life have been full of musical creation during my free time, and has helped me grow as a producer and singer to create the music in my presentation.”
Schoenberger concurred. “The project was huge, and it was a passion of mine, so it was not really too burdensome to work on it for a year; it was actually quite a lot of fun.” He added that the project even had an affect where he applied to college and what he has decided to major in.
Abel said the highlight of the SpringBoard course was “having all the support from Mrs. [Kristen] Pixler and the entire CommArts class, as I devoted much class time to making music, getting feedback, and collecting sounds. I worked alongside Will, who also created an album, and he was a great inspiration and motivational person to be around.”
For Schoenberger, the highpoint was “being able to turn what I love doing into a real commercial arts learning experience, and being able to share it on a professional basis.”

As well as producing their own album, the two seniors worked together in a Client Project for SpringBoard director Emily Howley. Their Client Project was to design logos for each SpringBoard course in order to replace the simple stars on the website. They used the same logo, a walking man, for each course but customized him based on the particular SpringBoard course.

Abel said the most difficult thing about SpringBoard was balancing his own project with the Client Project, but asked if they would repeat this SpringBoard course, both Abel and Schoenberger resoundingly said yes.

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