Demystifying Music Technology: An Introduction

Demystifying Music Technology: An Introduction

Christopher Steller
Melbourne, Australia

Demystifying Music Technology: An Introduction

In amongst the virtuosity and traditionalism of working in music, we have to take some time to squeeze in the necessities of working in today's world. Musical communication relies on modern gadgetry as much as any other form of “communication”, where you need to relay your ideas in any number of different formats - audio files for rehearsal notes, manuscript files for performance, or just sending a show reel to a prospective employer for a gig.

Do you want to record your rehearsals for self-evaluation or to document progress? How do you realise your compositions or arrangements in a practical format that doesn't involve paying players while you are still experimenting? Just making your scores look more professional in a notation programme can be a daunting task without the right tools.

Technology. There, I said it. Desktop or laptop computers, audio interfaces, software, iPads or tablets, microphones, tuners, even the best metronome for the job. That's why we're here.

Some of the areas I'd like to cover in upcoming tutorials include ’the does and don’ts of turning your computer into a recording system’,’how to record your rehearsals’, ’using sounds in your music software to hear your compositions’, ’utilising different audio file formats for different situations’ and ’what notation software types are currently available’. If you have any other questions about using any music-making technology, feel free to ask.

Owner's manuals are often not very friendly, which is why YouTube is filled with video tutorials. Manuals too often assume knowledge, or a familiarity with the technical jargon associated with equipment. Fine if you've been dealing with it for years, but mind-numbingly confusing for a novice.

To get started, we'll introduce the components required to turn your computer into a recording system, with the questions you’ll need to answer before you can set foot out the front door:
1) Will my computer be adequate? - check the requirements of the software you are considering
2) Do I need to record my voice/instrument or more than one simultaneously? - how many microphone inputs will I need when buying an audio interface?
3) Will I need a microphone? What sort of microphone? How many?
4) How will I hear the recordings? Headphones, speakers?
5) Do I want to use a music keyboard to enter notes, or will the qwerty keyboard be adequate?

That's enough to get the ball rolling. We’ll talk again soon.