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Creative Technology

by Sharon Graf

The UIS Music Technology Lab (VPA 5) was bursting with creativity as the students taking MUS 181 Introduction to Music technology shared their final projects on the last day of class. Students selected their final project format from two different categories: some wrote creative interviews with well- known musicians and the rest composed original musical works.

students in MUS 181

Students opting to do the interview project first researched the biography of musicians and then created a mock interview. The students recorded the interview using the music technology software they learned to use in the course. This recording process presented a number of audio challenges including making an articulate narration and mixing the narration with samples of music by the artist who was “interviewed.” Students were surprised to learn how many variables must be adjusted when mixing audio tracks. They have a new appreciation of the lengthy process sound engineers go through when producing only a few minutes worth of radio programming.

The second project format was original composition. This semester the majority of students chose this option and created a variety of musical pieces. Some chose to use purely computer-generated sounds for their compositions, and others converted acoustic sounds to digital, using Music Technology Lab software. Some recorded their own guitar or keyboard playing and mixed these sounds with those stored on the computer or found on the Internet.

All of the final project presentations were impressive. Students demonstrated a healthy combination of technical skill learned in the course with their own creativity and originality. For example one student created an electronic music composition to accompany a power point set of slides illustrating the crisis in Darfur. She said she experimented quite a bit to find combinations of sounds to keep viewers interested in the sobering slide collection. The class agreed that she had achieved her goal. It was a moving presentation.

The music technology lab hours are located on the music website: http://illinois.edu/calendar/grid/1121?cal=20110525&skinId=3305