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Digital Audio II: Syllabus
MCO4360 - CRN: 60122, Purchase College Spring ‘17
Room #MUS-0001 Wednesdays 4:30-6:20

Instructor: Peter Denenberg / 914.251.7933

Course Description

Digital Audio II is the logical continuation of Digital Audio I (prerequisite).
Digital Audio II expands on concepts for creatively recording and mixing using DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations). Mixes are created from soup to nuts in class stopping along the way for “how do they do its?”- from “which compressor do we use here anyway” to sound-replacer, tuning & ethics, psycho-acoustics. In depth “in the box” mixing and mastering studies explored, practical applications of plug-ins and outboard processors. More digital audio theory, DAW signal flow and especially stereo mixing techniques. Surround mixing will also be discussed.

Recommended Reading

The Mixing Engineer's Handbook (second edition) / Bobby Owsinski
ISBN-10: 128542087X
ISBN-13: 978-1285420875

This subject requires all students to have access to a digital audio workstation (DAW). The recommended DAW is ProTools 12. The following DAWs may also be used, though only limited support and instruction will be provided: Logic (Pro or Express), Cubase, Reaper, Digital Performer, Sonar, or FL Studio, Ableton Live. The Purchase library has ProTools installed on several computers and these can be used for classwork.

As a result of meeting this course’s requirements students will be able to; Mix multi-track music recordings with an understanding of more advanced principles of mixing. Learn how to mix with a project / song’s “best interest” in mind. Utilize signal processing such as equalizers to effectively manage frequency balance, compressors and limiters to control dynamic range and reverb in an advanced manner to create professionally mixed recordings.

Weekly outline

January 23 – January 29
Week #1
Overview lecture & discussion -
“When is a song really ready to mix” arrangements decided and organized? Files and tracks labeled? Vocals tuned? Outtakes/alternate playlists, unused files removed? (Session as small as possible). Are any decisions not made? ie: parts muted where they don’t belong?, muted how?, what is “rendered” or still should be? Discuss when and how to stop and fix things. Begin discussions on when loud is bad and when loud is good, Mp3’s – rough mix level, final mix level discussed.
Discussion of Dream Theater live project story.

January 30 – February 5
Week #2
Review of session file management, Pro-Tools file structure, storage methods,
Discuss music genres/styles, see list at “how do we understand how to approach different styles / genres as mixers?”
Mixing Alternative Music -
Listen to modern and classic alternative music, identify aesthetics and approaches. Mix song together in class.

February 6 – February 12
Week #3
Mixing in the box and out of the box discussed, the pros and cons of each, we will “ask the experts” (PRS, WAVES, other mixers). The history and evolution of mix methods and technologies explored and remembered with fondness.
Mixing Hip-Hop Music -
Listen to modern and classic hip-hop/rap music, identify aesthetics and approaches. Mix song together in class. Students will be exposed to pitch manipulation and groove manipulation, both automatic and manual (Beat Detective, Sound Replacer, Elastic Audio).

February 13 – February 19
Week #4
Philosophical aspects of mixing explored, “understanding where a song is coming from on a case by case basis, learning to mix with the song’s best interest in mind”. How to understand what “vibe” works for a particular project and how to work towards that goal without becoming sidetracked or losing focus….
Rescuing drums, drum replacement, vocal tuning and the ethics hidden within these processes.
Mixing Rock music / listen to modern and classic rock recordings, identify aesthetics and approaches. Mix song together in class. How to make something sound “big” when it’s played through small speakers.
Assignment - due IN CLASS for week 6; make mix – 2 ways – vox up / down

February 20 – February 26
Week #5
Advanced Mix automation explored in detail.
Troubleshooting---- various problems/puzzles for groups in the class to solve with mix set-ups and session files.
Mixing Jazz music / listen to modern and classic jazz recordings, identify aesthetics and approaches to working with Jazz music. Mix jazz song together in class.

February 27 – March 4
Week #6
Students present vox up/down assignment.

March 5 – March 12
Week #7
Surround sound mixing / DVD prep, 5.1 monitoring, what to do with the .1 track in music mixing, workflow and delivery formats, authoring for Dolby Digital vs DTS.
Session recovery, back up strategies, import/export utilizing OMF utility, appropriate level (see BBC spec).

March 13 – March 19
Week #8
Mastering; practical discussions about level, compression, dither, and the philosophy and techniques surrounding mastering (orange book, red book, isrc codes, metadata) polite level and file types to send to mastering, video people, internet etc. File delivery options, YouSendIt, DropBox etc.
Assignment - due IN CLASS for week 9; master something- metadata too.

March 20 – March 26
Week #9
“Mastering” assignment presentations and discussion.

March 27 – April 2
Week #10
“Helping” the music, how to make the corners turn more dramatically, enhancing drama and dynamics in music.
Ear training/ students identify filters in classroom demonstrations.
Mixing Electronic Music (guest?)
Listen to modern and classic electronic ,music, identify aesthetics and approaches. Mix song together in class.
Assignment - due IN CLASS for week #11; “CORNERS”

April 3 – April 9
Week #11
Review corners assignment / students present.

April 17 – April 23
Week #12
Parallel compression.
Multi-band processing and side chain.
Audio restoration / noise management / Izotope, Waves etc.
Mixing for broadcast / TV & Radio-
Identify different approached that may be required for broadcast / streaming mixes. Audience perspective, mono compatibility, audio follow video aspects, delivery level, clocking, behavior, ethics, professionalism and getting along with “TV people”, union issues.

April 24 – April 30
Week #13
Monitoring puzzles, how to make work “translate”, identifying problems and strategies for workarounds
Mixing Acoustic Music - Listen to modern and classic acoustic music, identify aesthetics and approaches. Mix song together in class.

May 1 – May 7
Week #14
Guest / the modern remix business, discuss Soundcloud, YouTube and remixes, monetization, remix methods.

May 8 – May 14
Week #15

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to meet all attendance and participation requirements in music classes. Unexcused absences, tardiness, or lack of preparation for class will not be accepted; students are allowed two excused absences (with prior permission only), three unexcused absences in any course earn a student a failing grade for that course. Two late arrivals equal one absence. Leaving class early is considered equivalent to arriving late.

Course Grading

There will be graded homework assignments during the semester covering material from reading, class lectures, discussions, and listening.

Grades based on attendance 30%, class participation and quiz grades 30%, and final exam 40%.

All graded activities will be reflected in the final grade.  All projects and assignments should be completed neatly and completely.  They will be graded on content and grammar (when applicable). In order to receive an A on an individual writing assignment, students must submit complete, thoughtful answers that are grammatically correct, and that demonstrate good academic writing style.  They must be turned in on the stated due date to receive full credit — no exceptions.

Academic Honesty

In this and all of my classes, every student must be aware of and adhere to the college’s policy on academic honesty.  See the Student Handbook and other college publications for the policy

Academic Progress within the Major- Conservatory of Music Policy

A grade of “C” or better must be obtained for all core music classes within a major. Core classes are any music courses that appear on the 8 Semester Plan for graduation. A C- or below constitutes failure to progress academically and is grounds for dismissal from the major. Once the Conservatory is notified as to a student’s standing he or she will meet with the BOS area head. A letter will follow from the Director’s office informing the student that due to “poor academic progress” he or she will be counseled into another in the program of study.

Professional Standards – School of the Arts

Breaches of professional conduct are grounds for dismissal or probation depending on the severity of the infringement. Examples of poor professional conduct include, but are not limited to, poor treatment of facilities and studios, lack of preparation for rehearsals and/or lessons, disrespectful/disruptive behavior directed toward peers, faculty, administration and staff. The Conservatory of Music follows the SOA procedures for due process for any possible infractions.