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Music technology
Draft GCE A level and AS subject content
July 2015
Contents
The content for music technology AS and A level
3
Introduction
3
Aims and objectives
3
Subject content
4
Recording and production techniques for both corrective and creative purposes
4
Principles of sound and audio technology
7
Development of recording and production technology
8
Skills
8
List of acronyms
10
2
The content for music technology AS and A level
Introduction
1.
AS and A level subject content sets out the knowledge, understanding and skills
common to all AS and A level specifications in music technology.
Aims and objectives
2.
Together with the assessment objectives subject content provides the framework
within which the awarding organisations create the detail of their specifications, ensuring
progression from a range of subjects at GCSE and development into higher education.
3.
The specifications must provide access to higher education and university degree
courses in music technology and music technology-related subjects.
4.
AS and A level specifications in music technology must offer a broad and coherent
course of study which encourages students to:
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understand the principles of sound and audio technology and how they are used in
practice
understand a wide range of recording and production techniques and how they are
used in practice for both corrective and creative purposes
develop recording skills to demonstrate an understanding of sound and its capture
develop the skills to create and manipulate sound in imaginative and creative
ways
develop skills in critical and analytical listening to evaluate the use of sound and
audio technology in their own and others’ work
develop an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the use of
technology in the creation, performance and production of music
understand the interdependence of sound engineering knowledge, understanding
and skills
make links between the integrated activities of recording, processing, mixing,
sound-creation and creative music technology applications underpinned by
analytical listening
understand the latest developments in music technology and the impact they have
on the tonal qualities of recordings
develop and extend the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to create
recordings and technology based compositions which communicate effectively to
the listener
understand the history and traditions of the sonic and musical applications of
technology in order to promote personal, social, intellectual and cultural
development
3
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develop the skills required to manage music technology projects from inception to
completion, by evaluating and refining recordings and technology-based
compositions over extended periods of time
develop as effective and independent students, and as critical and reflective
thinkers with enquiring minds
Subject content
5.
AS and A level specifications in music technology must build on the knowledge,
understanding and skills established at key stage 4 and a range of GCSE qualifications.
6.
AS and A level specifications in music technology must require students to
develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of:
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recording and production techniques for both corrective and creative purposes
principles of sound and audio technology
the development of recording and production technology
And allow students to apply these, where appropriate, to their own work.
Recording and production techniques for both corrective and creative
purposes
7.
Specifications must require students to develop knowledge and understanding of:
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software and hardware
capture of sound
sequencing and MIDI
audio editing
EQ
dynamic processing
effects
balance and blend
stereo
synthesis
sampling
automation
pitch and rhythm correction
mastering
4
8.
Students will be expected to know and understand the following, and use in
practical work as appropriate:
At AS and A level
Software and
hardware
Capture of
sound
Sequencing
and MIDI
Audio editing
EQ
Dynamic
processing
•
the core functions of a Digital
Audio Workstation (DAW)
detailed below in this table
•
a range of hardware including
microphones and audio
interfaces
Additionally at A level
•
the advanced functions of a
Digital Audio Workstation
(DAW) detailed below in this
table
•
new and emerging software
•
the impact of new and
emerging software on music
production
•
the advantages and
disadvantages of microphone
types in terms of polar
response
•
gain-structure and how it
affects noise and distortion
•
the characteristics and
suitability of microphone types
e.g. dynamic, condenser
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the suitability of microphone
techniques e.g. distances
advanced microphone
techniques e.g. coincident pair
•
how microphones work
including microphone
sensitivity, electromagnetic
induction and capacitance
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real time input
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step input
how MIDI works by studying
data bytes
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quantise
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velocity and note length
data bytes including note on,
pitch, controllers, pitch bend
LSB and MSB
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truncating
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how to remove clicks and noise
how and why clicks and noise
occur e.g. discontinuous
waveforms
•
different types of EQ in a
recording e.g. low-shelf, highshelf, band, LPF, HPF
•
how different parameters affect
sound
•
how to draw graphs of EQ e.g.
Q, gain, frequency
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different uses of compression
and gating
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how to adjust threshold and
ratio on a compressor in a
recording
how to use advanced
parameters of a compressor
e.g. attack, release, knee,
sidechain
•
how to draw graphs of
compression and gating
5
Effects
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reverb, delay, flange, chorus
and distortion in a recording
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effects including ADT and
autotune;
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the core parameters including
reverb time and delay time
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detailed parameters including
reverb pre-delay time and delay
feedback
Balance and
blend
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the relative balance of parts
(tracks, instruments and/or
vocals)
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how compression, EQ and
effects affect blend
Stereo
•
how to identify pan positions of
individual parts (tracks,
instruments and/or vocals) in a
recording
•
panning law, mono-summing
and mid-side processing
Synthesis
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how synthesis is used to create
different sounds by using
oscillators, filters, envelopes
and LFOs
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how timbre is affected by a
wider variety of parameters e.g.
cut-off frequency, resonance,
attack, decay, sustain, release,
graphs, and mapping of
envelopes to filter cut-off
frequency
Sampling
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pitch mapping, cutting/trimming
and looping
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the use of samples in new
contexts to create new
meanings or effect
•
sample rate, bit-depth, other
synthesis parameters e.g. filter
and envelope
Automation
•
how to use volume and pan
automation
•
how to automate parameters of
plug-ins e.g. cut-off frequency,
delay feedback
Pitch and
rhythm
correction
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how to correct inaccuracies in
pitch and rhythm e.g. by retuning a vocal part or tightening
the rhythm in a drum part
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the parameters that allow
greater control and creativity
e.g. response time, transient
detection threshold and groove
templates
Mastering
•
limiting and perceived volume
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parameters e.g. limiter gain
•
understanding how EQ works
in the mastering process
6
Principles of sound and audio technology
9.
AS and A level specifications must require students to develop knowledge and
understanding of:
At AS and A level
Additionally at A level
Acoustics
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how the live room acoustics
affect the recording
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acoustics including describing
a reverb tail e.g. pre-delay
time, early reflections and
reverberation time
Monitor
speakers
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the characteristics of different
monitor speakers e.g. woofer,
tweeter
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how monitor speakers work
(electromagnetic induction)
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different types of monitor
speakers and how they affect
mix-translation
the different types and uses of
leads including jack and XLR
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how leads and connectivity
work including signal path,
signal types and impedance
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the advantages and
disadvantages of different
leads and connectivity
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the specifications of digital and
analogue recordings and how
they affect sound quality e.g.
A/D and D/A conversion, tape,
vinyl and streaming
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how to display information
graphically e.g. in waveforms
and EQ curves
•
how to interpret graphs e.g.
frequency response graphs
and polar response graphs to
understand how sound quality
is affected
•
technical numeracy including
binary, formulae, logarithms,
and how they are used in
music technology
•
how to make calculations to
describe sound waves
including waveforms,
frequency, phase and
amplitude
Leads
Digital and
analogue
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the differences between digital
and analogue recordings
•
the advantages and
disadvantages of digital and
analogue recordings
Numeracy
7
Levels
•
levels and metering including
dB scales, psycho-acoustics,
and when to use different
scales including peak and RMS
Development of recording and production technology
10.
AS and A level specifications must require students to develop knowledge and
understanding of the history and development of recording and production technology
from the 1950s through the eras of:
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direct to tape and mono recording (c.1950 – 1963)
early multitrack (c.1964 – 1969)
large scale analogue multitrack (c.1969 – 1995)
digital recording and sequencing (c.1980 – present day)
digital Audio Workstations (DAW) (c.1996 – present day)
11.
Through the context of the eras listed above AS specifications will require students
to identify and describe how recording technology has been used to create and shape
sound, in relation to:
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electric and electronic instruments
multi-track recording and equipment used
samplers
synthesisers
DAW
recording media from a number of significant eras
12.
In addition through the context of the eras listed above A level specifications will
require students to:
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describe the technical function and operation of recording equipment identified
through the eras
understand the impact of music technology on creative processes in the studio
understand the wider context of music technology and how it has influenced
trends in music e.g. computer games, popular music, film score, soundscapes in
art installations, sound effects for film
Skills
13.
AS level specifications in music technology must require students to use the
knowledge and understanding listed in paragraphs 8-12 to develop and demonstrate their
ability to:
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use music production tools and techniques to capture sounds with accuracy and
control
manipulate existing sounds and music with technical control and style
effectively use processing techniques to produce a balanced final mix
develop competence as a music producer and sound engineer by producing
recordings and technology-based compositions
analyse critically and comment perceptively on music production techniques from
a range of source material and their impact on music styles
apply musical elements and language e.g. structure, timbre, texture, tempo and
rhythm, melody, harmony and tonality, dynamics within the context of music
technology
use aural discrimination to identify and evaluate music technology elements in
unfamiliar works and to refine recordings
14.
In addition, A level specifications in music technology must require students to
demonstrate the ability to:
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create new sounds and music with technical control and style
develop effectiveness as a music producer and sound engineer by producing
recordings and technology-based compositions
use aural discrimination and technical skill to refine technology-based
compositions
apply the additional A level knowledge and understanding listed in paragraph 8-12
to extend the skills developed at AS level with increased technical control,
sensitivity and creativity
make informed decisions about equipment by analysing and interpreting a range
of data, graphical representations and diagrams relating to frequency response,
microphone polar patterns and dynamic response
9
List of acronyms
Term
DAW
Definition
Digital Audio Workstation
MIDI
Musical Instrument Digital Interface
LSB and MSB
Least Significant Byte and Most Significant Byte
EQ
Equalisation
LPF and HPF
Low Pass Filter and High Pass Filter
Q
Quality
ADT
Automatic double tracking or Artificial double
tracking
LFOs
Low Frequency Oscillation
A/D conversion
Analogue-to-digital conversion
D/A conversion
Digital-to-analogue conversion
dB Scales
Decibel Scales
RMS
Root-mean-square
10
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