Sunday, April 09, 2006

Week 6

Music Technology?

This week I’ve decided to change the way I layout my entry and not divide it into separate parts.

This week’s forum was set up as a discussion lead by lecturers Stephen Whittington and Mark Carroll joined by masters student Tristan Louth-Robins. The topic of the discussion was ‘What is Music Technology?’, a topic which I have not given much thought to even though I am now in my fourth year of studying ‘music technology’ at Adelaide University. Each of the three above mentioned discussed what they thought ‘music technology’ was with Stephen reading out some definitions of ‘music technology’ from other academics in prominent institutions around the world. They all seemed to agree that ‘music technology’ as a whole was an interdisciplinary field drawing on music, science, maths, engineering and performing arts in varying degrees. From my experiences at Elder, ‘music technology’ obviously has close ties with music, with the core subjects of Music in Context and Approached to Music which all undergraduate students must partake in. As the music technology course is part of the music faculty, ‘music technology’ at the University of Adelaide has minimal focus towards maths, engineering, science and performing arts. Although I have little to no knowledge in areas such as maths, science, engineering, etc, I feel that it would be good for me personally to look at improving my knowledge in these areas. It is good that in my year we have 2 students with knowledge in the maths/computer engineering so we can see the ideas they have coming from a different perspective other than my own.

Group discussion inevitably went to course content and the strong focus of traditional (classical and jazz) theory. Students expressed their opinion that the relevance of the theory aspects of the course to music technology was poor. This brought back flashbacks back to the end of first year and the issues we brought up and a subsequent meeting with Charles Bodman Rae. It is good to see the fruits of our labour with Forum, Workshop, Perspectives and also elective The Science Of Music now added to our course, hopefully those new students will read this and see that the Music Studies (music technology) is an ever-changing degree that in open to student input however from forum discussion they now know the focus on academic study rather than the sometimes initially perceived commercial ‘music technology’ applications.

The closest we have at EMU to commercial ‘music technology’ applications is the subject Audio Arts. This week we were joined again by the string quartet from the previous week in the EMU space. With a focus on getting a good stereo image we set up various pairs of microphones (i.e. Neumann U87, Rode NT4/5, etc) to hear how the placement and type of microphone will change the sound of the recording. The U87’s had the fullest sound. Creative Computing again moved more towards making sound in Super Collider with Unit Generators and using the Scope (oscilloscope in SC) to view them.

I am quite enjoying Workshop. It is good to get exposed to deferent type of music although other class members feel otherwise. It is good to hear how music technology compositions have developed over the previous decades as the technology has developed and the composer’s compositional ideas have developed. For me this opens my ears and helps me to listen to compositions on a focused level. Truax’s piece was especially interesting for me after looking at granulation in second semester last year.

Reference -

Grice, David. 2006. Stereo Miking. Tutorial presented at the Electronic Music Unit, University of Adelaide, 4 April.

Haines, Christian. 2006. SuperCollider. Tutorial presented at the Electronic Music Unit, University of Adelaide, 6 April.

Harris, David. 2006. Workshop presented at the Electronic Music Unit, EMU Space, University of Adelaide, 6 April.

Whittington, Stephen, Carroll, Mark, and Louth-Robbins, Tristan. 'What is Music Technology?" Forum presented at the Electronic Music Unit, EMU Space, University of Adelaide, 6 April.


At 3:37 AM, Blogger Adrian said...

I found it frustrating that the "Group discussion inevitably went to course content." Even though, it was a forum, I don't think it was the right forum for that to happen. I don't think our panellists were particularly interested in hearing the very familiar concerns again, especially so early in the year.

The maths/science elements are so obviously a part of all our creative computing that it would be great to have a better knowledge. My problem is that it relies on some pretty heavy calculus, and goes far beyond high school maths.

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Martin said...

I was glad to hear Henry's perspective towards the end of the forum, when he stated that MT for him is placed at the centre of a straight line drawn between Engineering and Art. This is not to suggest that MT is about circuitry and whiz-bang gadgets, let us acknowledge the large amount of theory and philosophy that informs engineering also.

In regards to Maths, if you have the time to brush up, or if you just find maths fun, there are a variety of online modules (with answers) here, courtesy of the MLS.


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