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Essentials of Music Technology / Edition 1

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Overview

This useful handbook provides a concise introduction to the principle topics of music technology. It discusses fundamentals in a straightforward style, with the extra levels of detail essential for those specializing in music technology. A five-part organization covers acoustics and music, computers, MIDI, digital audio, and other tools of the trade. For personal computer users introduced in the production of music.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780130937476
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 10/31/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 8.03 (w) x 9.84 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Read an Excerpt

What Is Music Technology?

This newly defined component of music education means many things to many people. Music technology, a broad subject, has meanings that may differ for music educators, composers, performers, audio producers, electrical engineers, computer programmers, or perceptual psychologists. All of the music activities in these fields intersect in the personal computer. Within the span of the last decade or so, computers in music have gone from being a niche subject to becoming a ubiquitous presence that all music students are bound to encounter in their professional lives. Furthermore, the new and varied role of the computer in music making brings about surprising overlaps with all of these fields.

Prior to the 1980s, "music technology" (if the term was used at all) would most likely have referred to audio engineering, the conversion (transduction) of musical material into electricity for purposes of amplification, broadcasting, or recording. The first step in the process was the microphone, which performed the acoustic-to-electronic conversion. Once the musical material existed in the form of electrical current, it could be sent to an amplifier that would drive a set of speakers, thus relaying the material over a public address system. Alternatively, the electromagnetic radiation that resulted from the electrical current could be broadcast from an antenna for television or radio reception. Or, if the signal were to be recorded, the musicians were likely to be assembled in a recording studio, with a number of microphones strategically placed for optimal sound capture. The signals from the various microphones were combined in a mixer, which allowed a technician to adjust the relative volumes and stereo positions of each microphone's signal. With a mixer, it was also possible to send the signal to processing devices to adjust the character of the sound, making it, for example, sound as though it were occurring in a large room. Following effects processing, the mixed signals could be sent to tape for storage.

Other possible meanings for "music technology" might have included the use of synthesizers for composing electronic music, an activity attractive to musicians who had a penchant for electrical assembly or who had the means to employ technicians to create and maintain the machinery. Perhaps least known to the general public were those who worked in high-end research institutions who had access to computers, sharing time on these mysterious machines with engineers and rocket scientists and programming them to emit sounds and music.

The personal computer has generalized and expanded these models and affected every area of education. Music technology, implying "the use of computers as an aid to music making" is now a subject that all music educators must address in some way. Small desktop computers may now be part of every step of the musical production process just described, acting as performer, mixer, processor, and storage medium. This development has implications for all practitioners of music, regardless of their specialty. Whether they find themselves working at a school, a recording studio, or concert hall, musicians can count on finding computers at work in the production of musical activity. Performers are often expected to send CDs of their performances as part of applications for jobs. Educators are expected to employ the resources of the Internet and multimedia technology to teach students about music rudiments. Composers are expected to provide performers with laser-printed scores and parts. Thus, knowledge of music technology is becoming a core skill of musical training, along with history, figured bass, and Roman numeral notation.

Purpose of This Book

Things should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.
— Albert Einstein

With any learning endeavor, it is typically the basics that are most difficult to master. This book is meant to provide an overview of essential elements of acoustics, MIDI, digital audio, and sound recording so that students may understand what musical elements may be stored in a computer and what type of manipulations and representations of musical information are possible. It is written in an attempt to find a balance between simple and straightforward presentations and descriptions that are thorough enough to explain the material without "dumbing it down."

The book is not meant to be a substitute for a qualified instructor. A performer cannot master an instrument without the help of an experienced musician, just as an athlete cannot excel at a sport without the guidance of a coach. But even experienced performers and athletes find it useful to consult a fingering chart or a rule book as a reference. This book is intended to play a similar role for a student learning some aspect of music technology. Different sections will be relevant for different types of projects or different levels of learning. It is broken into short sections in order to allow an instructor to assign reading selectively to focus on areas that are important for a given group of students.

The only assumptions are that students are familiar with a computer operating system and fundamentals of music. Certain concepts are best presented with equations, but no advanced mathematical training is necessary to understand the main points. Computers deal with information in the form of numbers, and different programs may require information to be entered differently. A given program may ask for frequency values or musical pitches, for loudness in decibels or in arbitrary units. Mathematics is not presented for its own sake, but rather to give students alternative views of how to understand and work with music in a computer environment. The cognitive psychologist Marvin Minsky has stated that a thing or idea seems meaningful only when we have a variety of different ways to represent it, providing different perspectives and different associations. Viewing music through the lenses of acoustics, physics, or computer science has the potential to yield rich rewards in the form of new perspectives and associations that they bring to the meaning of music.

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Table of Contents

1. Basic Acoustics.

2. Music and Acoustics.

3. Acoustic Factors In Combination: Perceptual Issues.

4. Introduction to Computers.

5. Representing Numbers.

6. Introduction to MIDI.

7. The MIDI Language.

8. MIDI and More.

9. Digital Audio.

10. Working with Digital Audio: Processing and Storage.

11. Acquiring Audio.

12. Treating and Mixing Audio.

13. Digital Instruments.

Appendix 1. Suggested Class Projects

Appendix 2. Web Page Template with MIDI File.

Index.

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Preface

What Is Music Technology?

This newly defined component of music education means many things to many people. Music technology, a broad subject, has meanings that may differ for music educators, composers, performers, audio producers, electrical engineers, computer programmers, or perceptual psychologists. All of the music activities in these fields intersect in the personal computer. Within the span of the last decade or so, computers in music have gone from being a niche subject to becoming a ubiquitous presence that all music students are bound to encounter in their professional lives. Furthermore, the new and varied role of the computer in music making brings about surprising overlaps with all of these fields.

Prior to the 1980s, "music technology" (if the term was used at all) would most likely have referred to audio engineering, the conversion (transduction) of musical material into electricity for purposes of amplification, broadcasting, or recording. The first step in the process was the microphone, which performed the acoustic-to-electronic conversion. Once the musical material existed in the form of electrical current, it could be sent to an amplifier that would drive a set of speakers, thus relaying the material over a public address system. Alternatively, the electromagnetic radiation that resulted from the electrical current could be broadcast from an antenna for television or radio reception. Or, if the signal were to be recorded, the musicians were likely to be assembled in a recording studio, with a number of microphones strategically placed for optimal sound capture. The signals from the various microphones were combined in a mixer, which allowed a technician to adjust the relative volumes and stereo positions of each microphone's signal. With a mixer, it was also possible to send the signal to processing devices to adjust the character of the sound, making it, for example, sound as though it were occurring in a large room. Following effects processing, the mixed signals could be sent to tape for storage.

Other possible meanings for "music technology" might have included the use of synthesizers for composing electronic music, an activity attractive to musicians who had a penchant for electrical assembly or who had the means to employ technicians to create and maintain the machinery. Perhaps least known to the general public were those who worked in high-end research institutions who had access to computers, sharing time on these mysterious machines with engineers and rocket scientists and programming them to emit sounds and music.

The personal computer has generalized and expanded these models and affected every area of education. Music technology, implying "the use of computers as an aid to music making" is now a subject that all music educators must address in some way. Small desktop computers may now be part of every step of the musical production process just described, acting as performer, mixer, processor, and storage medium. This development has implications for all practitioners of music, regardless of their specialty. Whether they find themselves working at a school, a recording studio, or concert hall, musicians can count on finding computers at work in the production of musical activity. Performers are often expected to send CDs of their performances as part of applications for jobs. Educators are expected to employ the resources of the Internet and multimedia technology to teach students about music rudiments. Composers are expected to provide performers with laser-printed scores and parts. Thus, knowledge of music technology is becoming a core skill of musical training, along with history, figured bass, and Roman numeral notation.

Purpose of This Book

Things should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.
— Albert Einstein

With any learning endeavor, it is typically the basics that are most difficult to master. This book is meant to provide an overview of essential elements of acoustics, MIDI, digital audio, and sound recording so that students may understand what musical elements may be stored in a computer and what type of manipulations and representations of musical information are possible. It is written in an attempt to find a balance between simple and straightforward presentations and descriptions that are thorough enough to explain the material without "dumbing it down."

The book is not meant to be a substitute for a qualified instructor. A performer cannot master an instrument without the help of an experienced musician, just as an athlete cannot excel at a sport without the guidance of a coach. But even experienced performers and athletes find it useful to consult a fingering chart or a rule book as a reference. This book is intended to play a similar role for a student learning some aspect of music technology. Different sections will be relevant for different types of projects or different levels of learning. It is broken into short sections in order to allow an instructor to assign reading selectively to focus on areas that are important for a given group of students.

The only assumptions are that students are familiar with a computer operating system and fundamentals of music. Certain concepts are best presented with equations, but no advanced mathematical training is necessary to understand the main points. Computers deal with information in the form of numbers, and different programs may require information to be entered differently. A given program may ask for frequency values or musical pitches, for loudness in decibels or in arbitrary units. Mathematics is not presented for its own sake, but rather to give students alternative views of how to understand and work with music in a computer environment. The cognitive psychologist Marvin Minsky has stated that a thing or idea seems meaningful only when we have a variety of different ways to represent it, providing different perspectives and different associations. Viewing music through the lenses of acoustics, physics, or computer science has the potential to yield rich rewards in the form of new perspectives and associations that they bring to the meaning of music.

Read More Show Less

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