Music Technology

More and more churches are using technology in their sanctuaries, and the music minister is usually the person who is responsible for overseeing its use and installment. This course starts with acoustics, mixing boards and microphones. These are the basics everyone will encounter in their churches. Understanding the foundations of these areas helps future music ministers make wise decisions even as specific technologies change with time.

Course Syllabus

Course Objective:

To introduce students to basic concepts of acoustics, sound reinforcement, digital recording and MIDI, and to give hands on experience in specific music technology applications.

Required Text:

Wilkinson, Scott. Anatomy of a Home Studio: How Everything Really Works, from Microphones to MIDI. Vallejo, CA: EM Books, 1997.

MUSIC TECHNOLOGY SCHEDULE

Basics

  1. Introduction to course
  2. Acoustics & Electricity
    Chapter 1: Musical Physics (skip “Tuning and Temperment”)
    Chapter 3: Basic Electrical Concepts
    Chapter 4: Decibels
    (Don’t forget to do your reading outline for this and all readings!)
  3. Applied Acoustics
    Acoustic Characteristics (Shure Mic Techniques for Sound Reinforcement, page 14-21;

    http://www.shure.com/pdf/booklets/music.pdf)

    Basics of Equalization and Feedback (http://www.shure.com/support/technotes/app-eq.html)

  4. The Mixing Board
    Chapter 15: Signal Routing
    Cure Yourself of “Knobphobia” (Mackie Church Sound Notebook, Summer 97, page 1, 6-7;

    http://www.mackie.com/PDFs/MCSN/MCSN_2.PDF)

    Setting Channel Levels First (Mackie Church Sound Notebook, Spring 97, page 8

    http://www.mackie.com/PDFs/MCSN/MCSN_1.PDF)

  5. System Connection
    Chapter 12: Audio Connections
    The “Ins” and “Outs” of Inserts/The Tale of the Aux Return
    (Mackie Church Sound Notebook, Summer 97, page 2-3

    http://www.mackie.com/PDFs/MCSN/MCSN_2.PDF)

    Plugging into the Wonderful World of Connectors
    (Mackie Church Sound Notebook, Summer 98, page 2-3, 7

    http://www.mackie.com/PDFs/MCSN/MCSN_3.pdf)

  6. Microphones
    Chapter 13: Input Devices
    Microphones: Characteristics, Selection; Typical Applications
    (Audio Systems for Houses of Worship, page 11-25, 37-46

    http://www.shure.com/pdf/booklets/church.pdf)

  7. (continued)Recording
  8. Introduction to Digital Recording
    Chapter 5: Digital Audio
    Chapter 10: Computer Applications (only “Hard-Disk Recording”)
  9. (continued)
    Due: Test 1
  10. Introduction to Studio
  11. (continued)
    Due: Project 1
  12. Effects
    Chapter 17: Basic Effects
    Chapter 18: Modulation Effects
  13. More Effects
    Chapter 19: Equalization
    Chapter 20: Dynamics Processing
    Chapter 21: Other Effects
  14. Recording
    Chapter 22: Recording Technique
  15. (continued)
  16. Synthesizers, MIDI and Sequencing
  17. Synthesizers
    Chapter 2: Synthesis
    Due: Test 2
  18. (continued)
    Due: Project 2
  19. MIDI
    Chapter 6: MIDI
  20. (continued)
  21. Sequencing
    Chapter 7: Sequencing
  22. (continued)
    Due: Project 3
  23. (continued)
  24. (continued)Other Topics

    We’ll explore related topics such as sound for film, Sonic Foundry’s Acid, and sound design for theatre. Feel free to suggest topics or presenters.

  25. Class 25
    Due: Test 3
  26. Class 26
  27. Class 27
    Due: Project 4
  28. Class 28
  29. Class 29
  30. Class 30
  31. Final Exam:
    Due: Final Project

PROJECTS

READING OUTLINES

For every assigned reading, you will hand in an outline of the material. You can choose the outline style, but it should reveal A) that you have done the reading B) that you understood the material—this could include notes or descriptions of the material C) any questions that arise from the reading.

PROJECT 1: RUN LIVE SOUND

Run the sound or assist the sound operator for a live musical event. You need to be involved in the set up, the event itself and the break down. Make sure you have enough time to study the equipment and ask the regular operator questions, because afterward you will write a 1-2 page paper detailing the equipment used, how it was set up, the mic and mixing techniques you used to achieve the best sound, any problems you encountered, things you learned, questions that arose, and things you could have done differently. You will be responsible for setting up this session with a church, school, or campus event.

PROJECT 2: RECORD SPOKEN WORD

The goal of this project is to gain experience with mic technique and to become comfortable working with other people in the studio setting. In order to do that you will run a recording session with a person (not yourself) who reads poetry, preaches, or tells stories. Make sure to spend time with the equipment before your recording session, because you want to be as professional and proficient as possible when your voice talent arrives. During your session, try a variety of mic positions and mixing board adjustments until you get a sound that is satisfying; leave “audio markers” for each of these takes (i.e. “Take 1: Mic one inch from mouth, gain at 3”) so you can go back and compare. When you are finished, hand in a one page paper describing your process and giving details of your finished recording so I can open up your file and listen to the results. Note: The project will be more meaningful if you are recording something that interests you, and more beneficial to you as a sound technician if you are working with a skilled speaker.

PROJECT 3: EDIT SPOKEN WORD

Returning to the file you created in Project 2, you will now concentrate on turning it into a finished project. Identify the best performance/recording and fine tune it: edit out distracting elements such as lip smacks and overlong pauses, add EQ and effects to sweeten the recording, then burn your final mix(es) onto CD. Hand in a paper with the CD that explains what is on the CD; discuss any questions or problems that arose during the project.

PROJECT 4: MIX AUDIO/MIDI FILE

I will provide a file with raw MIDI and audio tracks from which you will create a final audio mix. At a minimum you will assign MIDI tracks to keyboard patches, use volume, panning, EQ, and basic effects such as reverb and chorus to create your final mix. You are also free to be creative by adding additional tracks or using avant garde mixing techniques. Make sure you label your CD clearly when you hand it in.

FINAL PROJECT: YOUR CHOICE

By the end of the semester you will have been introduced to a wide range of music technologies. The Final Project is your chance to put your new skills to use in a more challenging setting. Choose a project that interests you: record a band, create a soundtrack for a student film, supervise a church sound installation, write a MIDI composition, learn software that we haven’t covered in class, etc. I will approve your project proposal if it can be realistically completed by the end of the semester and it shows a sophisticated technical level.

Comments