What makes DePaul’s Sound Recording Technology (SRT) program stand out? Three things, says Tom Miller, chair of the Department of Professional Studies, School of Music.
“One, it’s a music program.”
The students in SRT are musicians. They audition to be admitted to the program; then, for two years, they take theory classes and perform in ensembles. “Being music majors, my students ‘get’ it — they understand what it means to be in tune and in time. The best recording engineers have always been musicians,” says Miller.
“For students in sound recording technology — the way it’s taught at DePaul — the bar is set really high: we get a full music-theory education, without compromise,” says Kate Marcinak (’05) who creates sound effects for cartoons as a supervising sound editor with Warner Brothers. “Now, in my work, I cut sound as if I were writing a piece of music, always trying to hit low, mid, and high notes within a single sound. Also, cartoons need rhythmic engines — the sound of a golf cart might include bubble motors, conga drums, and tube thunk (the sound of one’s thumb popping out of a bottle). When sound is done right, it ‘fits’ the picture; if it’s wrong, it’s jarring. In the SRT program, students learn to blend art and science to get the sound just right.”
Alex Paguirigan (’12) agrees: “For SRT, you need your right brain and your left brain. If you’re not creative, your mixes are going to sound very dry, even if they are technically refined. And if you’re only technically proficient, you won’t be very eager to experiment and make new sounds.”
Fernando Alanis Arguello (’14) picked DePaul’s SRT program because of its music orientation: “I’ll graduate with a double major: guitar performance and sound recording technology. To record musicians well, a sound engineer needs to know the instruments: each one has its own timbre, its own body, and its own color. Then, in the studio, musicians have the ‘ear’ to manipulate sound to create an aural environment. DePaul’s SRT program is one of the best in the United States — everything is happening here.”
“Two, a cutting-edge curriculum gives our graduates a real advantage.”
“Our students are prepared for careers in the audio industry,” says Miller. “In addition to taking music classes, they study physics, microelectronics, acoustics, and math. Then, they do a huge amount of hands-on work, getting real-world experience with a lot of different technologies. As a result, they’re really well-rounded and marketable by the time they get out of here. These kids are really bright; employers and grad schools love them.”
“When I sent out my DVD resume, I was hoping to get an internship, but I got real job offers right away,” recalls Kate.
“Because we get experience in everything — tracking, mixing, and mastering — we’re prepared for anything,” adds Alex. “Two of my classmates are now recording and mixing engineers at an indie rock studio. Another is planning to move to New York to do analog recordings of jazz. In September, I’m going to the University of Edinburgh for an MS in sound design. My career goal is to make sonic landscapes to go with visual landscapes, such as movies and video games.”
“Three, we’re in Chicago.”
“We take advantage of the rich urban music scene, giving our students plenty of opportunities to work with and as professionals throughout Chicago,” says Miller. “For example, each year our SRT students record a live CD of DePaul’s ‘big band’ at one of the city’s jazz clubs. Our students intern at studios in Chicago, and they just completed a sound recording for WRXT. Really, the opportunities in this field are just about limitless — sound is all around us!”
Tom Miller wrote a new score for six minutes of the film Nosferatu; then, SRT students recorded 26 DePaul student musicians, using various microphone arrangements, film scoring, and “surround sound” techniques. View the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K82y5l5asJU
For his capstone project, Alex Paguirigan stripped the sound from four minutes in the sci-fi movie Serenity, and then wrote new music, added original sound effects, and found voice actors to record the dialogue. View his version of the film: http://vimeo.com/43158637
Listen to Fernando Alanis Arguello’s sound recording projects:
Just for fun – enjoy the work of Kate Marcinak: