BCIS 1405 Music Technology

Nowadays there is no need to gather a symphonic orchestra in a studio to record an arrangement. Music technologists can do it on the computer using special equipment like MIDI, synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines. There is a wide range of professional software and hardware music technologists use to create a track.

Among the most important items of musical hardware used by sound engineers are digital audio workstations, MIDI keyboard controllers, sound models, USB audio interface, linear wave samplers, expandable synthesizer modules, monitors and others. The following hardware manufacturers are one of the most famous in the musical industry: Kurzweil, KORG, Roland, and Yamaha.

The first example of the necessary hardware for the musical studio is a workstation. It usually combines a synthesizer and a music sequencer. Such modules have different characteristics and vary in price according to their functions. Workstations differ by their modularity and expansion options, number of tracks that can be recorded in the sequencer, the number of supported formats. An up-to-date example of such device is V-STUDIO 700 that was created by Roland and Cakewalk. The software of this digital audio workstation, SONAR 8 Producer, opens a wide range of possibilities to compose, record, edit, arrange and master tracks. Fantom hardware synthesizer that goes with the V-STUDIO 700 can be definitely called the legend among Roland instruments.

It is impossible to imagine a studio without a monitor system. The possibilities of modern audio engineering are really great, though the nuances will be left unheard on cheap headphones. Monitors are used in the studios as well as on the live concerts, and reproduce deep bass sounds fully as well as high ones. Another example of this kind of hardware from Roland is the CUBE monitor CM-220. It can be used both in a professional studio and at home, because it can be connected even to a personal computer. A CUBE monitor consists of two speakers and a subwoofer. It has three input channels and can be connected to an external mixer.

The third item that can be definitely called a necessary hardware for the music studio is a virtual drum kit. A normal drum kit has several serious drawbacks. It is very loud and that is why it is impossible to use it at home studio. Another drawback is more technological: it is easier to record drums using MIDI format, because the sound will be better and MIDI can be edited on the computer without problems. MIDI drums can be recorded only with a virtual kit. Another way to work with “real size” drums is to amplify them with microphones so that all the waves were heard on the record. It causes certain problems and in addition a linear record can not be edited afterwards. Roland gives the following description of their TD-15K V-Tour kit:

  • Diverse sound library.

  • Professionally recorded backing songs onboard, ideal for play-along practice and performance.

  • QUICK EDIT buttons provide instant editing control over tuning, muffling, and snare strainer.

  • Practice features include Quick Record/Quick Play, plus a unique COACH function that helps players of all levels build drumming skills effectively.

  • Large LCD and icon-driven user interface for easy operation.

  • USB function provides direct connectivity to computer applications, as well as data backup and playback of WAV and MP3 audio songs.” (“TD-15KV: V-Tour Series”).

The work of the music technologist is impossible without specific software. The programs for notating music scores made the process of composing much easier than it used to be. Two major programs for music notation are Finale (mainly the USA), Sibelius (the UK) and Capella (Europe). This kind of software allows the musicians to play the written tracks using virtual instruments of the program and MIDI. There are options to transpose the tunes, send the scores by email or publish in the Internet, or print them.

The majority of professional software for music creation works on OS X and Microsoft Windows. The most well-known digital audio programs are Steinberg Cubase, Pro Tools, Cakewalk Sonar, Sound Forge, Digital Performer, and FL Studio. It is possible to create so-called projects in such programs, where a music technologist can edit raw MIDI tracks, change instruments, add lyrics and scores, master the tracks and then download an .mp3 or .wav file. There are web storages of VST instruments, or in other words, software synthesizers. With the help of VSTi it is possible to choose which instrument should play the particular part, even if the music technologist can not play it in real life.

Creating a musical studio can become an expensive initiative, because there are many things to buy. Though, there is a minimum that might help to start this business. A music technologist needs to choose hardware first. A computer with Microsoft Windows/ Mac OS, a workstation that consists of a synthesizer and a music sequencer, a monitor system, a microphone and a drum-kit is the basis that turns a room into a studio. It is better to buy the hardware from well-known companies like Kurzweil, Roland, KORG, Yamaha, because their production has already got positive feedback from professional musicians and sound engineers.

The second thing to think about is professional software for music recording and editing. Such programs are usually proprietary and not cheap, though they are worth it. The first item is a digital audio program that features the main options for the work of a music technologist like editing MIDI, using software synthesizers, mastering tracks, and others. It is possible to recommend Steinberg Cubase that is a serious platform for music creation. It is used by many professional musical technologists and sound engineers. Another necessary program is Finale that is used for creating musical scores. It has an easy interface and has all necessary options that make the work with the score a pleasant thing.

The last important thing in creating a music studio is networking and communication. It might be good to use the software like Skype that combines voice, video and text communication. It might allow the music technologists who work in different studios participate in group discussions and conferences. Another traditional way to use Internet for business and communication is email. Sending scores and messages offline is an indispensable part of working process.

Contemporary software for music creation allows many musicians to experiment with the sound, form and way of presenting their work. Nowadays there is no need to be a virtuoso to play Paganini’s Caprice. It is not a must even to play the violin – someone can play it slowly on the MIDI synthesizer, to change the sound of the instrument in the program and to increase the tempo. It is not difficult to create a musical studio – there are only several things needed, like certain hardware, software and desire to make experiments with the sound.

Works Cited

Bybee, Jim. “CM-220 and CM-110 CUBE Monitors. Ultra-Versatile 2.1 Monitor Systems for Studio, Practice, and Performance”. Web. 17 Sep 2013.

Peters, David. “Music Soft Ware and Emerging Technology.” Music Educators Journal. (2003): 22–63. Print.

Rolanus. com. TD-15KV: V-Tour Series. Web. 17 Sep 2013.

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