The Brock Library Makerspace, in conjunction with the Faculty of Humanities and Centre for Digital Humanities, hosted a Digital Music Primer to give insight into the challenges and opportunities for music creation with current music technology.
The two-hour long workshop was hosted on Jan. 10 by Makerspace Coordinator and musician Tabitha Lewis.
“In my position at Brock as a Makerspace Coordinator, I demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to establish and maintain good relationships with university stakeholders. My responsibilities include but are not limited to: developing training material, conducting workshops, offering user support and project coordination. I continue to build relationships with a variety of faculties and departments to support innovative learning experiences using technology. Currently, I sit on the Rankin Family Pavilion Working Group as representative of the Library Makerspace, building relationships with all levels of staff at Brock,” said Lewis.
Her primary machine of choice is the Apple Mac with the MacOS or OS X operating system, so the workshop took place using Mac-specific tools and resources. She focused on the two main production suites that Apple makes available to its users: GarageBand, which is free and comes installed on every Mac and Logic Pro X, which has to be downloaded from the App Store at a cost of $280. The key differences between the two are the level of features offered and the editing capabilities. The workshop saw Lewis, who has extensive knowledge of these programs and has been working with music for over 10 years, offering a comprehensive look at both suites and highlighting how they can be used to produce music.
GarageBand is an entry-level program, suited well to individuals with no prior experience who want to dabble in the world of audio production. Once an individual owns a Mac, they have access to GarageBand’s complete musical package, which offers a reasonable amount of power and usability for a beginner, plus a respectable level of options for those who have more experience but do not necessarily want to pay the premium to obtain a more professional software.
Logic Pro X on the other hand is a full professional package that contains a myriad of virtual instruments, advanced sound creation tools and editing capabilities. While similar features can be found in GarageBand, Logic Pro X’s features can accomplish much more with a much higher quality. The software is geared more towards experienced users and can be complicated and easy to get lost in. Reading manuals, watching YouTube tutorials and attending workshops such as the one hosted is important in order to get a good grasp of the tools available. Despite the arguably high cost, if students want to get serious about making and editing music, or even just benefit from and experience the wider array of tones that the countless modules and plugins can bring you, it may be the right software for them.
The issue of copyright is one of the biggest challenges that aspiring musicians face, as highlighted in the workshop. Nowadays the internet provides a lot of opportunities for music promotion and access to many musical elements such as beats and samples, whether through YouTube, Soundcloud or others, especially with the proliferation of streaming services. It also however presents a challenge in determining what content is licensed in ways that prevent their use without serious legal work and what content can be referenced or interpolated without infringing on copyright laws. The advice given to students interested in delving into the music sphere was to learn the tools for themselves as much as possible and not ever have to rely on content that could potentially land them on the wrong side of a copyright dispute.
Justin Howe, the projects coordinator at the Centre for Digital Humanities, is a frequent presence at workshops such as this one. Howe highlights the importance of workshops such as these for students in the field of digital humanities and beyond.
“Teaching students in the workshop format is always successful and effective because it helps students interact with industry experts who can teach them skills that they would have otherwise only learned being in the field for a number of years,” said Howe.
The Faculty of Humanities includes students, staff, and faculty in eight departments and four centres, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and the Rodman Hall Art Centre. Most of the events and workshops out of the faculty, while typically geared towards a particular set of students, are open to all members of the Brock community and can be found on ExperienceBU weekly. Interested students are encouraged to attend workshops to learn skills that may be applicable in both academics and other aspects of their lives.