The academic study of technologies used in every facet of music is exciting and challenging for both instructors and students. What technologies should be covered? Which technologies should the focus of study be given towards? How much versatility is too much and how much is too little? In a field that is changing and growing daily, the aforementioned questions will never get easier to answer. However, prioritization of subject focus should be given to the instructors’ specialty but students should be informed of modern/current technologies used in the field. In addition to the instructor’s specialty, there are three base categories that all music technology content should include: electronics, MIDI/Synthesis/Sound Design and/or programming.
An extremely, large majority of all music technologies are electronic devices. Thus, it is appropriate for all aspiring music technologist to have a basic understanding of electronics, electronics terminology, and electronics functionality; many of the terms and concepts in this field are from, or stemmed from, the electronics field. Today, music technology is the bridge that connects music to electronics and vice versa. A music technologist is a musician and technologist. Whether a particular program is weighted toward recording, composition, engineering, software development, or multimedia applications, each area of focus is connected by two mediums: music and electronics.
Incorporating basic electronics principles in instruction is encouraged. There are many ways in which an instructor can integrate electronics technology content into various courses.
1: Recording Introduction courses could begin with a survey of basic electronic concepts: what is resistance, capacitance, voltage, amperage, etc.? Simultaneously, basic electronic components could be covered; for example, while covering electrical resistance, Resistors and their function could be explained.
2: If the instructor is not experience with electronic component technology, a qualified, guest lecturer could be invited to lecture, present, or host a hands on lab activity.
3: Electronic components and principles could be covered in a studio design course. As the student is instructed on studio design, construction, and operation, topics such as selecting appropriate cable lengths and types, blend well with the fundamental electronic concepts that codify “appropriate” cable lengths and types.
Programming has become a major area of study within the music technology field. The advent, popularity, and functionality of smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers has increased the 21st century global demand for programmers and creative innovations. Programming has been a part of music technology since the advent of computer technologies and is an integral part of modern music technology.
Programming courses in a NASM accredited music technology undergraduate program must maintain a learned-musical-outcome focus (NASM). If students are instructed in a particular program language, how to apply that knowledge to music can be achieved through projects and course work requirements. For instance, if students are instructed in XCode App Development, integration of music or music based themes should be incorporated.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)
Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) studies have been more and more a part of music technology education. Due in part to computer, synthesizer, and programming innovations, MIDI has become an almost inseparable part of modern music production. Additionally, its functionality is integrated into major music notation programs for playback auditioning, notational input, and DAW integration. MIDI is a versatile, standardized tool that most all music production software incorporates and allows for ease of multi-functional-program integration. Instruction of MIDI concepts, terminology, and functionality is most appropriately combined with applied MIDI instruction. See Applied MIDI Instruction.