Is This Real? Audio Engineering in Nashville

It’s great to be back!  So much has happened this month.  I’m in shock right now.

Firstly, those crazy music school auditions are over.  They went well, as far as I can tell, but I still don’t know for sure if I got in.  We’ll see in a couple more weeks, I hope.

But that brings me to my main piece of news–I didn’t audition as any kind of composition major like I had thought I would.  I’ve changed my mind again, and now I’m a music minor majoring in Audio Engineering.

For those of you who’ve been following my blog for awhile, you might know that I have felt so torn between majoring in Audio Engineering vs. Classical Composition vs. Contemporary (Commercial) Composition.  But I feel the most at peace about this decision.  I am just as much a producer and an audio engineer as I am a composer.  I couldn’t possibly be satisfied only studying composition for four years without learning more audio engineering.  The demands of music majors might not allow for me to do studio work even in my spare time–what little I might have.

This could be my classroom!

I also recently spent some time in my future hometown of Nashville, TN (where my audition was).  The school I will be attending there has one of the nation’s best audio engineering programs, and Nashville is also one of the biggest music cities in the country.  Their Audio Engineering majors get to learn at legendary studios.  I won’t name drop, but they’re so good that it almost doesn’t seem fair.  And because it’s in Nashville (aka Music City), the connections they have are phenomenal.  If I were to major in Composition in the School of Music, I might not get to be included in that.  I’ve tried to imagine myself spending four years at this school without being in those studios or meeting those people.  I want to make the most out of the school and its location, so majoring in Audio Engineering with a Music minor seems like the best way to go.

The fact that these were in the campus bookstore...
The fact that this is in the campus bookstore…

What will it mean that my degree will say “Audio Engineering” instead of “Music Composition”?  Am I giving something up?  I don’t think so.  Since I’m minoring in music, I’ll be able to receive composition lessons and take whatever other music classes I want.  I’m not losing anything–I’ll have the instruction I would’ve had as a music major, but I’ll also make more connections and improve as an engineer and as a producer.  It’s a win-win.

I don’t know why I’ve been blessed with such amazing opportunities. It seems too good to be true, but God-willing, it’s not–this is how it will be in a few more months.  All these years of long hours, sacrifice, and overcoming obstacles have sometimes felt like going nowhere, but now I see that they have actually sent me to Nashville.  I may not know yet what will take place there, but I’m going to serve God with whatever I have.  And I can’t wait to see what will happen!

3 thoughts on “Is This Real? Audio Engineering in Nashville

  1. I think it’s all wonderful. Life is unbelievably tough for those starting out in life and I’m often impressed by the way young people are rising to the challenge.

    I imagine you’re more interested in recording and producing, as stated but, musically, the acoustic/electronic divide is a question of balance sheets.

    I offer the following extract from my writings on the subject, purely to save time. If you agree with any of this, please feel free to use the material as you see fit:

    Music may divide itself more and more into two main camps: performer’s music and composer’s music. With performer’s music, the importance of spontaneity
    and of the interpretational aspects of playing will require the continued use of instruments that enable expression to take place with the minimum interference
    between mind and body. This means instruments that are keyed, bowed, blown, plucked or struck and which possess a relation to the size and shape of the
    human body, particularly the hands and face. In jazz, especially, it is an advantage if the instrument adapts itself tonally to our individuality as performers.

    Composer’s music has quite different criteria. We are fond of the belief that imperfections of any kind are a true sign that the human soul is at work and we regard our failings as being in some way desirable. It is doubtful if we could play a piece of music exactly the same twice in succession however hard we tried so that we have far less control over what we perform than we like to believe. Variations
    could be caused by all manner of prevailing conditions, even what we ate for breakfast.

    Some people believe that a composer may really be abdicating his responsibilities if he leaves any aspect of performance to the whim of the musician. He may wish to decide, for example, exactly how much vibrato is used, when it enters, what graduation takes place and how broad the oscillations are, together with making decisions on the precise nature of attack forms, the range of dynamics, their gradients, etc. He may wish to compose music with huge melodic leaps, in complex time signatures, involving phrases that leave no time for breathing and make no
    allowance for fatigue. Many rhythmic patterns evolved according to the
    serial development discussed in Book 1 will be extremely tricky for an instrumentalist to assimilate, however satisfying they are to listen to. The degree of pleasure experienced by the listener will be adversely affected if the difficulties of performance are too apparent.

    Consequently, the relentless precision of synthesized music, digitally edited on equipment that is becoming increasingly affordable, will be most attractive to
    composers familiar with the frustration and expense of assembling an orchestra. Such equipment is now in daily use and is especially useful to composers of
    music for films and TV commercials who wish to deliver an authentic demo to their clients. Even the interpretational aspect of playing music is being accommodated by sophisticated MIDI programmes with surprisingly convincing results.

    With luck, there will always be musicians around keen to preserve live music. Interest in all forms and eras of jazz certainly shows no sign of waning in the foreseeable future although there is a danger of its becoming a watered-down fashion accessory for the clientèle of bistros and coffee lounges.

    The degree to which commercial and marketing considerations continue to dominate music is a factor that will be with us for some time. Everything must be exaggerated in effect so that it is heard above the clamour of competitive forces, born of the need to
    survive in an increasingly commercial world.

    If you want to eat, you must play with more soul than the man across the street!

    1. Wow, thanks for leaving such a great comment! I may very well quote you in a future post.

      As both a composer and an audio engineer, I definitely agree with the fact that there can be a musical divide between acoustic and electronic and between perfection and humanity, like you say. Since my engineering and composing are inextricably intertwined, I find I must be all the more careful.

      The conflict is most clear for me when I’m editing recordings of my own piano compositions. I am tempted to piece together an impeccable take. I can fall into the trap of thinking it would help the recording live up to the impossible vision I had for the composition, but I often must give up perfection for the sake of musicality––and perhaps for the sake of my sanity.

      1. Please feel free to quote any of my comments on here, if you believe they’re worth it. With regards to the above reply from you, what I always say is ‘new methods, new disciplines’. I can’t believe that anything which improves the final product can be ‘wrong’ at the end of the day.

What do you think?