InFocus: Class allows students to create the sounds of the future

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A workstation provided to students in Victor Olvera's Digital Audio class. Photo by Aaron Rhodes, The Campus Ledger.

Annie Beurman

Reporting correspondent

abeurma1@jccc.edu

When it comes to music, the ways people listen or record it has greatly expanded over the years. In the 21st century, the most common form of music is digital. Not only does the college offer a course on the subject; it houses its own recording studio.

Digital music uses a lot more technology than other forms that use acoustic instruments. Professor Thomas Ransom has been working in recording studios since the 1970s. Ransom says digital music is different from other forms due its recording and storage process.

“By definition, digital music would be described as a method of representing sound as numerical values, namely, ones and zeros,” said Ransom. “If you are 25 or younger, digital may be the only way you have ever listened to music. One iPhone, iPod or USB stick can store an individual’s entire music library. To those of older generations, this means you no longer have to carry around libraries of CDs, cassette tapes or vinyl records to enjoy your favorite music.”

Professor Victor Olvera teaches a class called Introduction to Digital Audio, which increases a student’s skills in editing, recording and composition. The class has been offered for the past 15 years.

“Students practice using ProTools digital audio software, combined with a digital audio interface to record, edit and play back music,” Olvera said. “Students learn basic concepts of sound and common audio effects, including reverb, delay and compression. In the class, students create audio recordings of their music.”

One of those students is Adriana Williamson, who has been playing the guitar and writing music for quite some time. She took the class to learn how to record her own songs.

“The department offers students a music scholarship, which I obtained by Dr. Olvera’s recommendation,” Williamson said. “The program fosters a great environment for learning and creativity. The classes are fun if you’re interested in music.”

Digital music itself has progressed over the years, to the point where some can’t tell the difference between digital and acoustic instruments. However, not everyone approves of the method.

“Some born before the digital revolution dislike the quality of sound that digital technology produces,” said Ransom. “The vast majority of music consumers and even many audio professionals either disagree or simply don’t care about the differences. At the end of the day, convenience and cost seems to be what truly matters.”

In mid-September, the recording studio will be transferred to the CoLab, which will contain state of the art technology and an improved facility. The room will be bigger so other genres such as rock, pop, jazz and others can be recorded more easily.

“Because of the affordability and superb quality of modern day digital technology, there has never been a better time to pursue and increase your knowledge and skill in the recording arts,” said Ransom.

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