Music Production & Engineering Courses

Art of Mixing

MP-P207

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: Rob Jaczko
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All
Prerequisites: MP-P205
Department: MPE

This course explores the many creative and technical considerations necessary to mix in today's music production environment, regardless of platform or format. This course teaches the different steps of the mixing process, including equalization, panning, dynamic processing (compressors, gates, expanders, and limiters), reverb and delays, as well as automation techniques. The techniques presented apply to any Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), or digital or analog console. The course analyzes some of the most famous and revered brands and models of mixing gear, including comparisons between analog and digital outboard gear, plug-in emulations and plug-in processors. It features video, sound, and visual examples based on common platforms such as Pro Tools, Logic, and Digital Performer, as well as a hybrid mix performed on an SSL analog console, combined with Pro Tools and a large variety of outboard gear. Students will be required to deliver a mix every week for critique by the instructor. For each mix assignment, students will use professional recordings especially made for the course, in a variety of styles. The goal of the course is to impart both a technical and artistic approach to mixing, and for students to acquire the core skill set needed to mix multi-track master recordings to a stereo final mix-down suitable for release.

Advanced Mixing and Mastering

MP-P208

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: Rob Jaczko
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All
Prerequisites: Prerequisities: MP-P205
Department: MPE

This advanced course provides students with a deeper understanding of mixing and mastering tools and techniques that can be applied to a wide variety of styles. Students will engage in in-depth, hands-on examinations of several mix techniques, such as EQ, compression, reverb, delays, and tempo maps, unique to jazz, pop/rock, and electronic music. Students will learn to monitor and apply critical listening to their mixes, add character by using lo-fi techniques, multi-band compression in mastering, and mastering mix using EQ and limiting. These skills will be portable to any kind of studio, regardless of software, hardware, or if the studio is digital or analog-based.

Hybrid Recording and Mixing

MP-P226

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: Rob Jaczko
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: MPED majors
Prerequisites: MP-225
Department: MPE

This course addresses the increasingly hybrid nature of recording and mixing practices in music production. Through contrasts and comparisons, the course explores the impact on modern record-making of MIDI, music sequencing, sampling, extended frequency responses, file modification tools, and their effect on analog components in record-making. The course highlights why many current production teams seek the best of both worlds as they move forward in the creative process, beginning with digital sources, augmenting with analog components, editing on a workstation or laptop, moving to a large format console and ending up with a digital file, exploiting the DAW's functionality as a tape machine in the analog domain and its expanded creative capabilities in the digital domain.

Collaborative Production

MP-P235

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: Rob Jaczko
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All
Prerequisites: MP-P205
Department: MPE

Amidst the proliferation of desktop tools available to the modern producer, the traditional process of making music—that is, live performances by ensembles and bands—remains a unique and vital experience that can often yield more compelling results than what can be accomplished alone. However, these settings require a skill set largely unknown to those whose experience in the studio has been solitary. This course will help producers develop the capabilities necessary to succeed in collaborative production environments. The primary focus is on supporting and motivating creative work of writers and performers, coordinating complex projects with numerous participants, and managing the challenges and real-time decision making typical of collaborative recording sessions.

Audio Postproduction for Film and TV

MP-P302

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: Rob Jaczko
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All
Prerequisites: MP-P205
Department: MPE

This course will teach students the specific techniques and strategies used by working professionals during the post-production process. Students will learn how to spot, edit, and assemble dialogue, sound effects, foley, and music, in addition to mixing and prepping the audio for film and television using the industry standard, Pro Tools. The course begins with a real-world overview of audio post production, including its evolution, methods, sound crew, and media formats. It then explores techniques and tips for recording location sound, using sound effects libraries, editing production dialogue, and directing and recording a foley session. Students will learn strategies for working with composers and music supervisors, how to edit songs to fit a scene, and how to record and mix score music. In addition, students will learn how to assemble a pre-dub or temp mix (to group and sub-mix tracks into stems for the final dub), create the final dub, and prepare the mix for foreign distribution and final delivery. Contributors to the course material have worked on television and film productions such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Hills, Cider House Rules, U2 Rattle and Hum, Rescue Me, Grey's Anatomy, and many more. Throughout the course, students will have numerous opportunities to apply the techniques to real-world situations. By the end of the course, students will have completed full audio post-production, including sound design (sound effects), foley, dialogue, and music for a short film or portion of a film.

Audio Mastering Techniques

MP-P303

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: Rob Jaczko
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All
Prerequisites: MP-P205
Department: MPE

Mastering is the final, critical, step in the post-production process. Audio mastering is a process that relies on a combination of real world experience and knowledge. This course provides students with a thorough understanding of what is involved in creating a final master recording ready for duplication, replication, or online distribution. The course begins with a discussion of acoustics, monitoring, and the digital audio nuts and bolts particular to the mastering process. Students will learn how to make a proper assessment of what needs to be done to a piece of music to fulfill the artist's vision and expectation, and engage in a step-by-step process of optimization, using equalizers and compressors, to reach that vision. Topics include applying signal processing to enhance audio material, noise reduction techniques, advanced editing techniques such as album sequencing and manual gain riding, the importance of quality control, and disc/electronic delivery preparation, as well as other popular techniques in the field of audio mastering, including enhancing the stereo field of a master, and cutting edge filtering and fading techniques. This course will equip students with a professional level understanding of the day-to-day mastering process, enabling them to create a level matched, hi-fidelity, error free, and duplication-ready master with associated documentation.

Music Production: From Preproduction to Final Audio Master

MP-P304

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: Rob Jaczko
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All
Prerequisites: MP-P205
Department: MPE

This course focuses on the skills needed to produce music on a professional level, including leading a creative team, collaboration, employing appropriate interpersonal communication skills, budgeting, scheduling, time management, using technology in a variety of production and engineering tasks, listening, arranging, and striving for and achieving professional standards of fidelity and musicality. The course begins by exploring the key concepts of listening, conveying emotion, artist identity, vision, and intention. It then introduces the LRA (Listen, Respond, Act) technique, which you will put into action while producing a sound-alike project. The project involves remaking an important, pivotal, or hit recording entirely from scratch, note for note—replicating the sounds, performances, feel, and especially the emotional impact of the original. Through this process, you will learn strategies to achieve professional standards and effectively convey emotion. During the course, you will be required to assemble personnel for two large-scale production projects: a sound-alike of a hit recording, and a single for an original recording artist. The recording artist can be a singer-songwriter, rapper, or band. Note that you will need to pitch your artist(s) to your instructor, who will be playing the role of a record company A&R representative, and must ensure that all necessary personnel are available for the recording session.

Record Production for Musicians

MP-P305

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: Rob Jaczko
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All except MPED majors
Prerequisites: MP-P205
Department: MPE

For non-MPED majors, this course takes the student through the fundamental steps necessary for any music production project: defining the goals of the recording project; selecting composers, arrangers, players, and singers as appropriate; choosing and making the most of the technical resources available to fit the defined goals and budget; working with fellow musicians; critically evaluating performance; and orchestrating and motivating all of the participants, from rehearsal to recording and final mix. Two multi-track production projects are required.

Digital DJing Technique

MP-P335

1 credit(s)
Course Chair: Rob Jaczko
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: All
Prerequisites: ILEN-333
Department: MPE

Students will expand their analog DJ skills from ILEN-333 Turntable Techniques into the digital world with digital vinyl systems and MIDI controllers. The class will focus on learning popular DJ software to become proficient at performing in real world situations. Students will explore ways to remix live, organize their music library, edit songs for live performance and prepare sets. Weekly lab time will be required to complete class objectives.

Vocal Technologies for Records

MP-P432

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: Rob Jaczko
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: MPED majors
Prerequisites: MP-341
Department: MPE

This course addresses recorded vocal performances and the technologies used to highlight and support them in modern record production and mixes. The course explores the sonic evolution of vocals as the focal point of modern recordings with a signature that has moved from simple mix placement, dynamics processing, and time based effects to advanced concepts in audio editing, synthetic processing, automatic and graphic pitch correction, time compression, time expansion, flex, and elastic audio. Through analysis and hands-on processing of selected projects, the student will gain an understanding of the many choices available to modern record producers as they record and mix with a modern tool set that includes the vintage Talk Box, the Vocoder, Auto Tune, Melodyne, Elastic Audio, Flex Time, Vocalign, tempo based editing, and a host of other file modification protocols that are readily available on most digital audio workstations.

Orchestral Recording Techniques

MP-P435

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: Rob Jaczko
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: MPED majors
Prerequisites: MP-385
Department: MPE

This advanced engineering elective course introduces students to contemporary classical orchestras, as well as to nontraditional orchestras, such as period instrument, film scoring, or other large acoustic ensembles. The course explores recording techniques from historical (e.g. mono Koussevitzky recordings) through stereo and surround recording techniques. Through hands-on experience on the scoring stage, students will learn about the set up, recording, and mix of large ensembles.

Control Surface Mixing Techniques

MP-P442

2 credit(s)
Course Chair: Rob Jaczko
Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring
Required of: None
Electable by: MPED majors
Prerequisites: MP-341
Department: MPE

This course explores the functional operation of Digidesign's DAW controller, the D-Control ES (ICON), used in multitrack mixdown of digital master recordings. The emphasis is on basic and intermediate operation of the hardware, with consideration given to critical listening and the aesthetics of mixing. Topics covered include overview and detailed instruction in operation of the surface, common DAW procedures and protocol, data management, signal flow, editing, and digital signal processing (plug-ins) in Pro Tools. Projects consist of mixing prerecorded multitrack files.

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