Summer Audio Production - Week 1

The students of RPF’s 2-month audio production program initially came in once a week for 3 hours. Class began with 1 - 2 hours of discussion, instruction and demonstration before students would independently work and practice the content of the day’s lesson.

Because we had 3 workstations and 6 regular students, at first we staggered the days on which some students would work on a computer, while the others were taken into another, separate lesson for the remainder of class; then in our third week we added one more day of class, so that when the students began their personal projects, they could spend more in-school hours working on them.

The course content was presented under terms of self-direction and personal musical desires. The curriculum was drafted as a branching map of possible chronological creative and academic routes. When each student enrolled, they were interviewed one-on-one by the instructor on their previous experience with music and sound, what they wanted to learn, and why. The overall focus of the course was then decided based on the collective interests of the students, plus whatever fundamental and contextual training was required as a basis for those focuses: for example, learning the definition of waveforms and how sound moves physically, before looking at recording audio and using a mixing board.

In the first week we looked at the physics of sound, signal flow, and basic functionality of Logic Pro X, our DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Then, we examined how to troubleshoot signal flow and problems within a recording path. We talked about filter envelopes and the properties of acoustical energy, and discussed proper handling of studio equipment, cable rolling, and how to properly hook up and power on the components of whatever studio you may be in. The rest of the week was spent attempting to get students familiar with keyboard shortcuts and Logic Pro, as well as with the parallels between an analog recording strip, and the digital multitrack layout of a DAW.

Unfortunately, one important lesson of working in studios is that there will always be something broken, missing, or not working predictably. In our case, the mixing studio did not have a patch panel into the recording booth, so we were unable to properly simulate tracking or recording sessions with a band. However, this Murphy’s Law is one more opportunity in which to be creative and to problem solve! Instead, we focussed on the post-production processes of editing and mixing.

- Tyrone
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