Author Archives: Eli Marshall

George Floyd was a musician

George Floyd’s death has been invoked, with good reason, by many movements including this letter signed by at least 500 staff, grad students, and faculty this week at Cornell.

But his music isn’t mentioned much; while media have mentioned his most recent work as a truck driver and security guard, in the early 2000’s he was known as Big Floyd, a member of a group in Houston led by an artist named DJ Screw.  This group, the Screwed Up Click, is widely cited for a technique called “chopped and screwed,” where original samples are slowed down for a hypnotic effect – a musical effect which has seen a resurgence in the last few years.

Floyd’s own work is here.

For those of you in Intro to Computer Music, I’m sharing this recording of George “Big” Floyd to offer perspective on both variety of technique and expression accessed by the human voice; and to suggest that the semantic of recording is horrifyingly poetic, considering that Floyd’s voice was again captured by a microphone in the last minutes of his life and shared with the world. So it’s good to be aware of his real voice, with artistic agency (and artistic license – be aware of some profanity and graphic subjects).

Unofficial lyrics to this album can be seen on by searching for “Sittin On Top Of The World Freestyle,” by DJ Screw.

And here is a news report on Floyd’s connection to the Screwed Up Click of Houston’s Third Ward.

Welcome (again)

This post discusses the blog and forum; and links to a summary of Week 0 (with a bit of commentary and definition of terms).

Thanks to those of you who have posted Assignment 0* – good to get to know you!

We know you’re navigating a difficult landscape with unusual pressures and unknowns. Thank you for carrying out this balancing act on campus and online. Regardless of modality, we’re here to introduce tools and the understanding to make music, and to share the results.

The forum
On the website, I’ve opened a discussion forum open only to members of the course. This can serve many functions – musical and acoustic concepts, software documentation, additional audio examples, a place to pose questions on any aspect of the course, and to try your hand in answering them. Topics will be added as we continue.

The blog
This blog, on the other hand, is publicly viewable. It is the outward face of the course, and presents announcements like this one.

These old-fashioned tools, the blog and discussion board-style forum, we feel, offer focused, text-based methods of communication and straightforward sharing of files and media. As we address other needs and interests, we may add other communication methods in line with the spirit of the course.

Summary of Week 0
As we transition from Week 0 to Week 1’s lecture tomorrow, covering the basics of digital audio, I’ve posted a document summarizing Prof. Ernste’s overview of this “maker course.” I’ve amplified a few points, including definitions of some terms you may find it useful to understand. This isn’t to give you yet another thing to do – instead, think of it as a distillation of the information you have already, with a few hints for getting started, which may help you in this first complete week of the course, and as we continue.
That text is here.


[*our blog’s font currently shows zero, lowercase-oh and capital-oh as: 0, o, O.]

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