Syllabus - MUSC 482: Recording Techniques 2

 

 

Course Meetings: Monday from 3:30-6:10
Center for the Arts, room 3086
Additional independent studio time is required of all students

MUSC 482 fulfills an Upper Division elective in the Department of Music
Official prerequisites: MUSC 281

Instructor: Thomas Ciufo
Email: tciufo at towson dot edu

office hours: M / W 2:30-3:30 or by appointment
Office: CA 3098



Course Description
Through reading, discussion, listening sessions, independent research, technical tutorials and hands-on projects, we will examine the theory, techniques and practices surrounding audio recording and production. While lecture and demonstration will be a component of the class, you will be expected to develop your own critical / personal approach to the subject and conduct independent research and develop and present individual and group projects. We will focus on advanced tracking, editing, mixing, and production techniques. There will be in-class tech labs and demonstration sessions that will contribute to the development of core technical skills, as well as prepare students for individual or collaborative studio projects. Most class meetings will include recording or production sessions in the Music Department studio. Students will also utilize group and individual studio time outside of class meetings.

Objectives
* To master the fundamentals of audio recording with an emphasis on advanced microphone techniques, including microphone specifications and selection, placement, and preamp use.
* To gain fluency with digital audio workstation setup and operation, including editing, signal routing, DSP plug-ins, stereo and surround mixing, experimental production approaches and remixing.
* To develop vocabulary, technical skills and hands-on experience with a range of audio recording practices, supported by exposure to a wide range of musical genres.

* To develop listening skills in the context of both aesthetic and technical concerns, and understand how certain technologies influence the composition and production process.
* To think critically and creatively about the role and use of technology in music practice, and in society in general.

Required Texts and Materials
Regular access to the following texts are required.

Izhaki, Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools, 2nd edition
Senior, Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio

Both of these texts are available as e-books through the Cook Library.

All other required reading materials, as well as supporting resources will be available online from the course web site or in the library. You are expected to read carefully all assigned materials prior to class, and be prepared to ask questions, engage in discussion and offer insights.

This course requires basic computer literacy, access to a computer with an internet connection, the ability to listen to sounds on this computer (with or without headphones), and the ability to regularly check your Towson University email account. University computers, in the music department lab, library and elsewhere, are available for students without direct computer access. You are required to own or have access to headphones. Storage of digital files are your responsibility and should be handled carefully. You may want to bring a portable hard drive to class, or use a flash drive, H drive, or cloud-based storage option.

Online Materials
This course will have little or no printed materials - all information regarding the course will be distributed on the course web site or directly through email. It is your responsibility to stay connected to these sources of information. Use of a Towson University email addresses is required. All class assignments will be submitted digitally or left on the studio computer. Technical information regarding how to submit or post files will be on the course web site. This class moves quickly and all assignments are due on time as listed in the online course schedule. Late assignments will receive a 5% grade reduction per day and will not be accepted more than one week after the due date.

Recording analysis write up / presentation
For this project, you will pick a recording to research and study. The main goal is to research and analyze the particular recording, attempting to figure out where and how the recording was made, what equipment and techniques were used, and how this all led to the sonic outcome of the recording. Try to discover something about the larger context of the recording -where there important additional (non-technical) factors that influenced or shaped the project? Did the recording break new ground, refine existing techniques, or otherwise impact the musical landscape? You will also include a detailed analysis of the sonic elements and production techniques used in the particular recording. Your write ups will be posted on the course web site and you will also do short in-class presentations.

Reference CD
Each student will develop their own personal reference CD / ram drive over the course of the semester. This will develop into a valuable resource - a sonic frame of reference that can be used in various capacities. Instructions and techniques for this project will be drawn from our course texts and in-class presentations.

Microphone info sheet
A microphone information sheet will be developed and submitted by each student. This research report will be a brief and concise summary of the primary microphones available in the Music Department recording studio and will help you with microphone selection during your individual studio sessions.

Plug-in info sheet
A plug-in information sheet will be developed and submitted by each student. This research report will be a brief and concise summary of one or two main plug-ins from each primary signal processing category (compressors, EQ's, reverb and so on) available in the Music Department recording studio and will help you with plug-in selection and use during your individual studio sessions.

 

Sessions and Projects
We will have tech labs and recording sessions during class as needed. These will be hands-on demonstrations, tutorials, or recording / production sessions dealing with a given hardware or software tool or technique, and will be followed by hands-on labs or short projects. There will be at least one tracking project, one editing project, and three mixing projects over the course of the semester. All projects will be discussed and demonstrated in class and information will be posted on the course schedule. We will devote some class time to project work, but substantial time outside of class will be required to complete your projects. Each student will have required independent session time in the main studio (both group time and individual time). Missing these individual sessions will be the same as missing a regular class meeting.

Examinations
Throughout the semester there will be occasional in-class quizzes or short tests. These quizzes will require short written responses and will pose questions about materials presented in lecture, readings, demonstrations or labs. If a quiz is missed, it is the student's responsibility to take the quiz at the beginning of the next (and only the next) class meeting. Computers, notes, and other aids are not permitted during tests. These tests will focus on the concepts, techniques, practices and technologies related to audio recording, and will not emphasis low-level memorization.

Attendance
Attendance and active participation are absolutely necessary for this class to function. Unexcused absences will directly impact your grade, as well as indirectly affecting the quality of your work. Allowances will only be made for official excused absences presented to me before the absence or for documented emergencies. Students are permitted one unexcused absences without a grade penalty. Beginning with the second unexcused absence, the final course grade will be reduced 3% for each additional absence. Since all assignments are submitted digitally, assignment deadlines remain regardless of attendance. If a class is missed, it is the student's responsibility to make-up any missed work. Three instances of excessively late attendance will constitute one absence.

Grading
The final course grade will be made up of the following required elements:
10% reference CD
10% recording report
5% microphone sheet
5% plug-in sheet
60% projects
10% at least two tests

The grading scale is as follows: A (93-100) A- (90-92) B+ (88-89) B (83-87) B- (80-82) C+ (78-79) C (70-77) D+ (68-69) D (60-67) F (0-59).

Grade Description
F Unsatisfactory overall performance; indication of lack of commitment, lacking critical engagement; incomplete submissions.
D Unsatisfactory overall performance; minimal commitment, lacking critical engagement; partially incomplete submissions.
C Satisfactory; consistent effort and on-time completion; meets basic requirements and shows some progress.

B Good to excellent; indication of progress; creative and critical engagement with fundamental issues; good technique / execution.
A Excellent to outstanding; work displays significant effort and progress; developed and insightful; creative and surprising solutions to assignments; excellent technique, clear communication and good presentation.

Any questions regarding grading must be raised within one week of receiving the grade.


Academic Integrity, Courtesy and Respect
While general collaboration and exchange is encouraged, each student is responsible for their own work. Towson University has a defined Student Academic Integrity Policy, which will be followed in this course.

This class will include discussion and differences of opinions. While critical and thought provoking exchange is expected, courtesy, respect and civility are essential. We are part of a learning community where open mindedness, curiosity, and a wide range of opinions are encouraged. Out of respect for our shared time together and to maintain engagement in the classroom, the use of cell phones, text messaging, facebooking or e-mail is not allowed. Laptops maybe used, but only if they are directly relevance to the classwork at hand. Please also refer to the COFAC civility code.

Unique Requirements
If you have any unique or special needs, please talk them over with me. I will make every effort to make this course as accessible as possible. Students with disabilities should register with the Disability Support Services. Students with University-certified disabilities, in the event that their disability prevents completion of a course requirement, may be offered alternative assignments. Students with University-certified disabilities are required to discuss accommodations with me at the beginning of the semester.