Due to the acoustic friendly environment, many musicians such as “Weird Al” Yankovic and Vinnie Martucci record music in their bathrooms. Up until now, that may have been the best option for SUNY New Paltz music students looking to record.
In an effort to provide students with an opportunity to replicate professional sounds without sitting on a toilet, the New Paltz music department has constructed a new music lab.
Martucci, the creator of the lab, a jazz pianist and music professor, says the lab will initiate students’ learning through digital recording and electronic scoring.
Opened at the end of September, the lab will enable students to record their voices and instrumentation so they could spread their work throughout Youtube, Facebook, and artist collective websites. For music majors, the lab facility will offer recording audio for bands to play, for performing a new composition, solo recordings, recording demos for graduate school and designing portfolios for auditions. With an enhanced learning environment, students and faculty will get a broader experience in a number of courses such as: Basic Recording, Computer Electronics, Contemporary Music, and Instrumentation And Arranging.
“This is a musician’s dream,” said Felipe Olivo, a second-year music major.
The lab, located in room 219 of College Hall, features eight work stations, eight Mac Quad Core computers, eight KORG Triton keyboards, synthesizers, genetic power studio monitors and an analogue playback containing the programs Sibelius and Finale. Six out of the eight stations contain the program Pro Tools LE; Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) computer software supplied at four stations, a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) and a Digital 003 Control Surface and mixing card.
Martucci envisions success to come from this project. He explained that it would be a good introduction for people with no experience to enter the music department. “I can’t imagine being 19 or 20 and getting hit like this if you’re not a computer file,” he said.
During the ceremony, Martucci showed the audience how to work the analogue playback. At the front of the room he showed how the sound is received and dispersed throughout the entire lab. The sound from the speakers echoed throughout the room as if someone was listening to an orchestra concert.
This year, the music department received a Student Challenge Awards Program (SCAP) grant of $32,000 and $2500 from the Technology Fund. The music department gained support from the SCAP Committee, Academic Computing, the Interim President of SUNY New Paltz Donald P. Christian, the Dean of Fine and Performing Arts Chris DeLape, former Chairman of the Music Department Edward Lundergan, Music Department Chair, violinist and music professor Dr. Carole Cowan, lab manager Josh Stark and Martucci. “I’m pretty impressed to be in a culture where people support each other,” Stark said.
As Martucci explained, New Paltz’s culture has changed within the last 20 years. According to Martucci, music majors and recording artists were still using the two inch-24 tracks in 1979. Today, such programs as MIDI allow people to import and export digital recordings to musicians and composers. James Horner, an accomplished film composer, blended his real symphony orchestra sound and computer generated recordings with a program like MIDI for the score of the movie Avatar. Martucci once did recordings for the blues artist Laurie Bloke. “I did tracks in Woodstock, emailed the files to Los Angeles for Stevie Wonder to record,” he said.
Cowan said that no one is allowed into the lab unless there is someone there to supervise. For Martucci, “It’s like balancing a beach ball on top of a pyramid.”
Teaching students in the lab will be an easy task because there is another lab that shares the recordings from downstairs. According to Martucci all they need to know is the framework. “This is 2010; some kids know at least as much as I do,” Martucci said.
With this lab, there won’t have to be another bathroom recording.