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MA Record Production

Course Description

Designed to combine the technical skills of advanced recording techniques, digital signal processing and mixing with 'human skills' such as managing sessions, pre-production, developing your career, communication and performance in the studio.

Deconstruct and analyse the process of record production to develop the knowledge and skills necessary in understanding the contemporary, fast-changing music industry or as a springboard to further postgraduate study.


Developing Your Career
Advanced Recording Techniques
The Development of Audio Technology
Manipulating Sounds
Performing in the Studio
Combining Sounds
Research Methods
Developing Your Career
This module is based around personal development planning, where you create a career or business plan based on your personal goals. You examine and investigate current social and consumer trends in the industry, and how your commercial and entrepreneurial skills should reflect and interface with today's music industry.

Lecture topics include basic accounting, marketing, promotion, publicity, communication skills, market research, and technology. The module includes breakout sessions that deal with the specifics of production-related careers.

Advanced Recording Techniques
Here we analyse how and what recordists 'capture'. You will also study the history and theory of transducer design, and current and developing approaches to location and stereo/surround recording - including 5.1 and Ambisonics. The module examines a range of microphone techniques (and their accompanying pre-amps) - from close microphone placement to the capture of complex acoustic environments. Having discussed and explored the philosophies and beliefs of people involved in recording, you will research and develop you own surround or multimicrophone stereo recording systems. We then invite you to share your findings with your peers online and during playback sessions and seminar discussions.

The Development of Audio Technology
In this module, you study recording technology and the people who have used it over the years. This involves a survey of how recording technology has developed since the early 20th Century, taking into account geographical, social and cultural contexts. You will also look at how the record producer's roles have changed and the kinds of skills required to be successful in the industry today.

You investigate and join debates about the difference between analogue and digital sound, and the notion of audio 'quality'. You also study training, professional practice and communication in the recording process. For example, what were the advantages and disadvantages of the apprentice-based systems of training and work-based learning, compared with contemporary college and university education in the subject? How are power struggles between producers, technicians and artists negotiated in the recording studio? How can we use language to describe the sound of music? You then investigate how the design of the human/technology interface affects creative and practical processes in record production.

Manipulating Sounds
Techniques for manipulating audio have transformed the recording process, from one of simple documentation to the point where the recording studio - or today, a mere computer - is considered an instrument in its own right. Many contemporary forms of music owe their existence to the power of technology, to edit, transform and even recontextualise audio. This module involves the theoretical and practical considerations of manipulating audio, examining the history, social significance and psychoacoustics of manipulation in a wide variety of musical styles and contexts, from dub reggae to glitch, and from groove and rhythmic structures in dance music to spectromorphology in electroacoustic music. You will study a wide range of techniques, from the traditional - such as dynamics, time and frequency domains and timbral effects, to advanced techniques like vocoding, FFT, granulation, glitch and groove manipulation.

Performing in the Studio
This module investigates the idea that musical performance for recorded output is very different to concert performance. A record producer not only has to be aware of these differences, but also of what is required and how to achieve it. Alongside the technical issues of recording sound, there are also all the psychological and interpersonal issues involved in creating the right atmosphere for the communal activity of creating recorded music. How do participants engage with one another? How do they critically evaluate the process and results? What methodologies and theoretical frameworks are there for studying these phenomena?

Combining Sounds
This module explores the process of combining sounds, from simplistic mono tape recordings to multitracked, multichannelled environments. We deconstruct genres, focusing on the working practices and methods used to combine and mix sounds. You will have practical studio sessions, allowing you to experiment with and analyse sound construction and multilayering techniques. With you, we will evaluate distinctions and parallels, and the tactile and non-tactile differentials in methodologies. We also examine technical and non-technical intuitive approaches, together with linear and non-linear mixing methods in stereo and surround sound.

Research Methods
As preparation for research requirements later on in the course, in this module you will undertake a number of tasks related to your discipline. For example, a précis of an article, a critical commentary of two book reviews, a book review, and a proposal for your dissertation or project, with an annotated bibliography. There are weekly seminars in the first semester and then one-to-one supervision sessions for your dissertation or project.

Dissertation or Project
You choose to undertake either a dissertation or a project. Both incorporate a substantial research element. The dissertation is a piece of written work of around 10,000 words, on a subject you choose in consultation with your supervisor. The project structure involves a practical element and a shorter written piece, and is also is arranged in consultation with your supervisor.

Visit the MA Record Production page on the University of West London website for more details!

Entry Requirements

2:1 Honours degree or higher in Music Technology or a related subject, or substantial industry or prior experience in the field.This course requires advanced musical knowledge, but not knowledge of notation and instrumental skills. We will ask you to provide a portfolio of degree level or professional work, with a written statement.International students need to meet our English language requirement at either IELTS at 6.5 or above, and a minimum of 5.5 for each of the 4 individual components (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening).

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