Information technology tools and resources at the UW
Digital Audio Workshops
The Odegaard Sound Studio at the University of Washington offers a quarter-long series of eight, 1.5 hour workshops on digital audio editing and music production in Ableton Live. These workshops can be taken piece-wise, but it is highly recommended that you sign up for workshops from the start, as most knowledge and learning is cumulative.
Register for upcoming workshops here.
One of the most prohibitive factors in the early stages of learning how to record and produce music is the overwhelming amount of information required to realize musical ideas. Reading the manual or sifting through long video tutorials is a very dry, uninspiring way of learning. Clicking aimlessly in the program and hoping for something good to happen can be equally confusing and frustrating, and often leads to bad habits. For these reasons, this course will not cover every function of Ableton Live in its deepest detail; it will not be a reiteration of the manual.
This course is split into three sections: Fundamentals, Musical Realization, Finalization. Overall, the aim is to get participants iterating their musical ideas in an educated, streamlined way as soon as possible – to spark the inspiration for students to become autonomous agents of their own musical education and exploration beyond the scope of this course. The workshops are listed and described below:
Part 1: Fundamentals (4 weeks)
Part 1 is an overview of the fundamental knowledge and tools needed to start recording, creating, and processing sounds.
Sound Studio Overview & Digital Audio Recording
This workshop covers the basic functionality of the Odegaard Library Sound Studio including available hardware and software and the standard procedures for reserving the space and available equipment. Students can expect to come out of this class with a functional understanding of the Sound Studio’s equipment, and how to record basic audio into Ableton Live. This workshop is suggested for users with no prior experience with digital audio recording equipment and software.
Digital Audio Effects
This workshop covers the number of ways you can process and effect audio to bring it up to professional standards of sound quality. The Digital Audio Effects workshop demonstrates how Equalization, Dynamics Processing (Compression, Gating), and Reverb can be used to subtly enhance the quality of sounds created in Live. The importance of the digital signal chain is also emphasized. This workshop is suggested for users with prior experience in recording digital audio. Recommended: Digital Audio Recording
This workshop introduces participants to digital synthesis. The workshop demonstrates subtractive synthesis in Ableton Live’s Operator synthesizer. Students can expect to come out of the class with an understanding of the fundamental principles of subtractive synthesis, practical applications of those principles, and a better understanding of how to listen to and analyze synthesized sounds. This workshop is suggested for users with prior experience in recording digital audio. Recommended: Digital Audio Recording
This workshop introduces participants to digital audio sampling. Sampling allows a user to modify, pitch, and play any pre-existing sound and play it like an instrument. It is technique widely used in hip hop, pop, and electronic music. Sampling utilizes concepts such as envelopes, filters, and LFOs that are initially covered in the Synthesis workshop, and thus it is highly recommended that you have taken the Synthesis workshop beforehand. Recommended: Synthesis
Part 2: Musical Realization (2 weeks)
Now that you have learned fundamental skills to recording, editing, synthesizing, and sampling audio, we are going to shift our focus to putting these skills together for musical creation. By the end of Part 2, students will have the basis of knowledge to create their own music from scratch.
This workshop introduces participants to MIDI sequencing. Topics covered include melodic sequencing, rhythmic sequencing in Ableton’s Drum Rack, and Automation. On top of technical skills, we will begin to discuss more theoretical topics such as creative workflow. Recommended: all workshops in Part 1
This workshop is a time and place for students to listen and critique the audio pieces we have made since the Sequencing workshop. There are no technical skills covered in this workshop. However, sharing our own individual creative processes, trials, tribulations, and solutions can be enlightening and can inspire new ways to be creative and active problem solvers in the studio. Recommended: Sequencing
Part 3: Finalization (2 weeks)
You are now capable of creating your own tracks in Ableton Live – now what? Part 3 covers a little bit about the music industry, as well as the various platforms and mediums used to share and sell music. These workshops cover important details every music producer should know in preparation for making his or her music available for listen, purchase, or download by the public.
This workshop introduces participants to the final preparations that must be made to bring a musical production up to industry standards of quality. This process is often referred to as the “mixdown stage.” Concepts that are reinforced in this workshops are EQ, Gain Staging, Panning, and Loudness. It is recommended that participants have taken all previous workshops.
This workshop introduces participants to the various mediums in which an artist can publish and distribute their music to the world. There are no technical concepts of music creation covered in this workshop – rather, this workshop provides some insight into the music industry, covering areas such as mastering, distribution, and physical and digital publication.
Register for upcoming workshops here.