Music Technology in Higher Education


Technology has changed the way music has been recorded, produced, performed, and distributed. With the advent of new technologies, new figures started to appear in the industry such as the music producer. 

An analogy can be drawn between the music producer and the lm director; instead of working with images, the former works with music to convey an emotion. The producer’s goal is to bridge the gap between the artist’s ideas and the final product, providing a vision for what instrumentation needs to be used, how the arrangement should be, and more. 

And music production is just one of the many careers available for students with degrees in music technology. A student with a strong technology background can specialize in one of the many jobs in the industry: 

Recording engineer 

Acoustic consultant 

Studio designer 

Mix engineer 


Sound designer

Music supervisor


Pro Tools engineer 


Multimedia developer 

Computer music researcher 

Sound editor 

Sound technician 

To understand the interconnectivity and collabora- tion between all the aforementioned roles in the industry, we need to think about how any individual piece of music has been conceived by a composer, who needs a producer to help properly “translate” the ideas within in it; at the same time, the producer and the composer need an engineer who through his or her knowledge of technology can develop and execute the best approach to capturing the perfor- mance in a perfect recording. The line of intensive collaborations goes on and on.

Music Tech lab - DAW

Music Tech lab - DAW

Every time we turn on the television, we are constantly exposed to various TV shows, movies, and commercials. And what do all of these have in common? They all have music. The constant demand of music for all kinds of purposes is growing and so are the revenues from it. Businesses and consumers need more music every day. In order to supply this enormous amount of music, the industry needs highly trained professionals with strong foundations in music technology. The more prepared and versatile a person is, the greater are their chances of succeeding in the music industry. Of the many jobs in the industry, I will brie y describe just a few.

The Music Producer – Beyond the scheduling and budgetary aspects of coordinating a recording project, it is the job of a producer to help the artist and record company create the best possible recorded performance and nal product that re ects the artist’s vision.

The Engineer – The job of an engineer can be best described as that of an interpreter in a techno-artis- tic eld. He or she must be able to express the artist’s composition and the producer’s concepts and intent through the medium of recording technology by, for instance: conceptualizing the best technological approach to capturing a performance or music experience; choosing and placing the microphones; and mixing the project into a nal master recording in any number of media.

The Sound Designer – He or she can develop cool and unique sounds and e ects that can be used by bands, lms, and TV. Equivalent to the director when it comes to the sound of the lm, the sound designer takes all the audible elements of the lm (dialogues, music, sound FX) and shapes them to form an integral part of the storytelling.

Studio A

Studio A

Throughout all these years of experimentation with music and technology, we have made a very interest- ing discovery—creativity and technology can join together to create illusions of what we are listening to and watching with the purpose of enhancing an emotion to the listener. Every day we are constantly subjected to a “lie” in perception of music, even more if we associate music/sound with video. The recording studio has slowly become a lab, where sound engineers can manipulate and transform audio content in order to create these emotion-evoking illusions.

There are speci c issues that need to be fully understood and mastered by people who want a career “on the other side of the glass.” They need to have a solid understanding of:

Acoustics – How does sound propagate and react in speci c places?

Propagation of sound – How does it moves through air, and what are the physics behind what we perceive as sound?

struggles and aspirations and su erings and exalta- tions.

Today’s music has become a love a air between two willing individuals, the artist and the listener, to create that inseparable part of music known as emotion. In fact, today’s music rarely fails to produce emotions. Few songs fail to have some sort of e ect on us, triggering emotions that can change our mood from one second to the next—emotions that can enhance our feelings, emotions that can bring back memories.

Movie directors understand very well how profound- ly music can a ect us and how it can be used to solicit certain emotional responses from the audi- ence. The responsibility of a mix engineer is to understand the sonic message that a piece of music is trying to convey and help deliver it with the appro- priate emotional context, carefully adjusting the contribution of individual instruments to enhance that context. Mixing is a sonic presentation of emotions, creative ideas, and performance.

The rapidly changing nature of the music industry has led to a dramatic decline in the number of recording studios. This decline has led to a corre- sponding disappearance of gures such as the “runner boy,” the traditional apprenticeship role in which engineers, producers, and mixers learned their craft. It is no longer an option for most new- comers to learn on the job, following traditional career paths, from runner to assistant engineer to chief engineer or producer.

As it is no longer an option for people that wish to pursue a career in the entertainment industry not to be abreast with the new technology. Due to the constant development of new technologies and intro- duction of new work ow methods, jobs in the industry now involve an endless, rapidly shifting learning curve. As a consequence, music technology studies are more important than ever for students who aim to advance in the industry.

And in fact, higher education in music technology in many di erent sub elds such as audio engineering, sound technology, and music production have undergone extensive growth over the last two decades. The broad range of discipline areas re ects music technology’s diverse nature, which incorpo- rates a complex mixture of musical, technical, and cultural elements.

Developments in the creative industries have also highlighted the signi cance of audio studies in the realm of higher education more broadly. The post-digital economy has altered the way in which the recording industry operates and although traditional areas of employment have declined, new areas in lm, television, radio, new media, and online marketing have created fresh opportunities for graduates with skills in music and audio.

To conclude, the purpose of audio education is arguably more important than it has ever been. In a post-digital economic environment where audio visual communication, broadcast, and entertainment is so prevalent, the need for graduates that have relevant skills, knowledge, and abilities with sound and audio is constantly growing.

Perceptual cognition – How do we perceive music? What does music make us feel? How to capture all of that into a recording?

All of that brings us to another crucial individual in the making of what we de ne as music, the mix engineer, and the importance of the relationship between music and mixing. Ernest Newman once wrote about Beethoven’s symphonies:

The music unfolds itself with perfect freedom; but it is so heart-searching because we know all the time it runs along the quickest nerves of our life, our






Matteo Marciano