Music Technology

This course combines practical and theoretical study to help you discover the history of popular music and master the art of music production in our fully equipped mac suite using Logic Pro as standard.

In the recording component you will study the technical workings of specific pieces of hardware, including microphones, loudspeakers, cables and DI boxes. You will also explore capture methods for a range of musical instruments as well as corrective audio production in Logic Pro.

In the composing component you will create short pieces of music, in a range of different genres, focused on specific criterion, including sampling, synthesis and creative FX. Creative music production and traditional musical composition tools, including harmony and texture, are at the heart of this component.

In the listening component you will study how technology has shaped musical style and the general popular music landscape from 1940 to present day. Styles include 1950s Rock & Roll, 1980s Hip Hop, 1990s House & Trance and 2000s Drum & Bass. You will listen to a vast range of popular music and make specific links with the technology available at the time of release. In the producing component you will study the art of ‘fixing’ a mix using advanced processing methods in Logic Pro.

Our professional technicians at Bailey Audio run a technical crew. Music Technology students therefore have many opportunities to assist at live events at the college. Tasks might include rigging a stage for live performance, monitoring sound/microphone levels, operating a lighting board, overseeing technical rehearsals and setting up portable PA systems.

Performance is not assessed as part of the Music Technology A level course, and therefore performers are encouraged to sign up as session musicians to assist Y13 students completing recording coursework. Students may also participate in other college ensembles, including Jazz Collective and Concert Band. Pop musicians have the opportunity to enter our annual Battle of the Bands competition, which takes place just before the Easter holidays.

The A level in Music Technology equips students with a variety of transferable skills, including creative problem solving, practical ICT application, creative self-expression, project management and critical listening. These skills are essential for students wishing to access all higher education courses, not just Music Technology.

A level Music Technology falls under the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) category of study. Students will learn how to program MIDI messages, calculate frequency changes and delay time, combat phase issues when using multiple microphones and analyse digital waveforms. Students have enjoyed much success when combining this subject with the likes of Computer Science, Electronics, Mathematics & Physics, however, students studying humanities subjects historically take Music Technology as a creative outlet.

Students wishing to study Music Technology in higher education have a wealth of opportunities available to them. They may wish to specialise in areas such as Music Production, Music Marketing, Sound Engineering, Recording and Mixing, Live Sound Application, Film/Television/Radio Production or Creative Sound Design. These courses can be studied at Universities such as The University of Huddersfield, The University of Surrey and the University of Salford to name a few, or they can be studied at specialist institutions such as Leeds Conservatoire, Futureworks in Manchester and Point Blank Music School in London. Several courses now offer a year in industry, or ‘sandwich year’, which is extremely valuable when establishing a career after university.

Recording – Coursework – 20% of marks

Composing  – Coursework – 20% of marks

Listening  – Written Exam  – 25% of marks

Producing  – Written/Practical Exam – 35% of marks

Summary

Recording
This piece of coursework requires you to choose one song from a list of ten artists. You will capture, edit, process and mix up to 24 tracks of audio. The final mix will be 3 – 3 ½ minutes in duration.

Technology-based Composition
This piece of coursework requires you to choose one brief from a choice of three and complete an original musical composition in response to it. You will create, edit, manipulate and structure sounds to produce a piece of music that exploits all of the tools available in Logic Pro.

Listening and Analysing
This written exam will test your knowledge and understanding of technology used in the production of music and the principals of sound production in the context of several unfamiliar recordings of popular music. In the second part of the exam you will be required to complete two extended responses testing your argumentative skills; one comparing two different versions of the same recording and one evaluating the wider impact of a specific piece of technology.

Producing and Analysing
This written/practical exam will test your knowledge and understanding of editing, mixing and production techniques. You will be required to ‘fix’ a mix using digital audio editing tools, audio FX & processes and basic digital synthesis in Logic Pro. In the final part of the exam you will complete one extended response testing your technical evaluation of a picture related to a music technology scenario.

You should have basic keyboard skills to get the most from the composing component. This includes playing melodies and basic chords.

You should also familiarise yourself with the following content, but you do not have to memorise any of it. The suggested preparation is to spark interest and to introduce you to the content you will be studying. The following suggestions are e-books that can be viewed for free using Google Books:

1. The Art of Mixing: A Visual Guide to Recording, Engineering and Production by David Gibson
2. Sound Recording: The Life Story of a Technology by David Morton
3. Sound Synthesis and Sampling by Martin Russ
4. The Synthesiser: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding, Programming, Playing and Recording the Ultimate Electronic Musical Instrument by Mark Vail
5. Practical Recording 1: Microphones by Norbert Pawera
6. Practical Recording Techniques: The Step-by-Step approach to Professional Audio Recording by Bruce Bartlett

Study Level

A Level

Exam Board

Edexcel

Contact Details

Mr T Murphy

Teacher of Music Technology

murphy_t@sjd.ac.uk