What you will study
There are several strands to this module. Hands-on activities involve making your own recordings and manipulating what you have recorded using the software Sonic Visualiser and Reaper. These activities are introduced at the beginning of the module and you'll build your skills with them right up to the final assessment.
Interspersed with this practical element you'll learn about the scientific basis for music – how it is transmitted through air and produced by a wide variety of instruments – and the physics that lie behind its production. You'll learn about how we hear sound as well as how we perceive it, relating observations about, for example, loudness and pitch to the physical basis on which those descriptions are based.
You don't need any knowledge of musical notation in order to study this module, but a grasp of some basic musical concepts – names of notes and the octave, for example – will be helpful. If you've not studied music in any form previously you'll be directed to websites where you can gain the relevant information.
Similarly, you won't need any sophisticated mathematical or scientific knowledge, but since some mathematical and scientific ideas are introduced it will be helpful to have a basic understanding of mathematical concepts; again, you'll be directed to websites that will help.
The core teaching text of the module is grouped into four blocks.
- Blocks 1 and 2 introduce you to recording practice and history, the software that will form a major part of your study throughout the module, some of the science behind recording, the physical properties of sound and the way in which we perceive it. Throughout these blocks there is an emphasis on developing listening skills, which are essential to the production of recordings.
- Block 3 examines the acoustical properties of instruments, and explains how they produce the sounds that they make and why they sound so different from one another.
- The main aim of Block 4 is to develop your recording and editing skills prior to the module’s final assessment project, which involves the recording and editing necessary to produce a mobile phone ringtone.
The module is presented online and the text is interspersed with musical examples and video clips. Before you begin you'll need to download the relevant software, which is supplied as part of the module’s materials, and you will need to buy a small hand-held recording device, if you don’t already own one (no other purchases are required for the module). Throughout, there are activities of various sorts – quizzes, listening exercises, recording and software tasks – which help you to engage with the teaching materials. You will also be asked to interact with other students as you undertake tasks on the module’s online forum.
This module will be particularly relevant to a number of careers in the creative industries that involve music technology, including sound production, recording and editing. It will also help performers understand the instruments they use and the spaces in which they perform as well as the technology and process that are used in recording.