Audio and Music Engineering

Audio and Music Engineering

September 17, 2019 9 By Kailee Schamberger


For about 15 years I’ve been a recording
engineer. A good audio engineer is extremely important to have because they’re trained
better; their ears are trained better. Anyone can come into a recording session and press
record. But it takes a certain finesse and a very critical ear that is developed over
time in order to be a good recording engineer. I’m a keyboardist and I also play guitar
and I also play drums and I also sing. I think it really helps to be both a performer and
an engineer because you listen better; you’re more in tune with what’s going on both sides
of the glass. So that will take care of some of your low end. Well I was a musician from
the get go. And I had a very kind high school music teacher. I was going to apply to music
school. And he told me what a good scientist I would be. So I took the hint and went and
pursued science, instead of music, as a profession. But it’s always been an interest of mine;
playing music. Well I’ve been working with a good friend and collaborator, Dave Headlam,
at the Eastman School of Music, for about 15 or 16 years now, on research on the intersection
of engineering and music. So it’s a very much a sonic-branding sort of thing going on here.
We decided to test the waters at the undergraduate level and so we invented this program. We
have a huge number of students here at the U of R who are interested in music and they’re
drawn to the University because of the proximity of the Eastman School of Music, so if there’s
anywhere in the world where you could combine engineering and music studies, Rochester is
really an optimal place. The students in my class, currently, come from all different
backgrounds; there are some electrical engineering students, there’s composition students from
Eastman, there’re some literature students. There’s a good balance and it’s actually
a good energy in the class to have so many different disciplines in the class. I think
what distinguishes a good audio engineer is someone who has a great set of ears and also
has the skillset that’s on the technical side that they can bring along to the program.
It’s not just one or the other; you really have to have both. It’s fundamentally the
same creative instinct that makes people want to do engineering and do music. It’s a nice
combination of rules and creative input; and engineering is a lot like that. We’re asking
the students to learn many different disciplines so that they can be ready to be in audio production
or software development or in the hardware development. The field is definitely still
changing. It evolves partially based on the technology, partially based on the demand
of what the output is. With sound design, you can do anything from movies and film and
television and radio to games. So there’s a lot of industries that draw from this skill,
and it really gives the students a lot of opportunity to explore all of those. A production
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