Department for Education
Music technology
GCE AS and A level subject content
December 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
9
List of acronyms
11
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 to 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
creative and professional 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 students’ 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 basic principles of acoustics, psycho-acoustics, and the
digitalisation of sound
understand the latest developments in music technology and the impact they have
on technology-based composition, performance and 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
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understand the history and traditions of the sonic and musical applications of
technology and how they promote personal, social, intellectual and cultural
development
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, creative 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
Specifications must also require students to apply these, where appropriate, to their own
work.
Recording and production techniques for both corrective and creative
purposes
7.
AS and A level specifications in music technology must require students to
develop knowledge and understanding for corrective and creative purposes 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 and manipulation
mastering
4
8.
Students will be expected to know and understand the following for corrective and
creative purposes, and use in practical work as appropriate:
At AS and A level
Software and
hardware
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Capture of
sound
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the core functions of a Digital
Audio Workstation (DAW)
detailed below in this table
a range of hardware including
microphones and audio
interfaces
gain-structure and how it
affects noise and distortion
the characteristics and
suitability of microphone types
e.g. dynamic, condenser
the suitability of microphone
techniques e.g. distances
Additionally at A level
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the advanced functions of a
Digital Audio Workstation
(DAW) detailed below in this
table
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other programming
environments and new and
emerging software
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the impact of new and
emerging software on music
production
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the advantages and
disadvantages of microphone
types in terms of polar pattern
and frequency response
advanced microphone
techniques e.g. coincident pair
how microphones work
including microphone
sensitivity, electromagnetic
induction and capacitance
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real time input
step input
quantise
velocity and note length
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Audio editing
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truncating
how to remove clicks and
noise
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how and why clicks and noise
occur e.g. discontinuous
waveforms
EQ
•
different types of EQ in a
recording e.g. low-shelf, highshelf, band, LPF, HPF
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how different parameters
affect sound
how to draw graphs of EQ,
e.g. Q, gain, frequency
Sequencing
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how MIDI and/or OSC works
by studying data bytes
data bytes including note on,
pitch, controllers, pitch bend
LSB and MSB
Dynamic
processing
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Effects
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Balance and
blend
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Stereo
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Synthesis
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Sampling
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different uses of compression
and gating
how to adjust threshold and
ratio on a compressor in a
recording
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reverb, delay, flange, chorus
phaser, wah-wah and
distortion in a recording
the core parameters including
reverb time and delay time
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effects including ADT and
autotune
detailed parameters including
reverb pre-delay time and
delay feedback
the relative balance of parts
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(tracks, instruments and/or
vocals)
how to identify pan positions
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of individual parts (tracks,
instruments and/or vocals) in a
recording
how synthesis is used to
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create different sounds by
using oscillators, filters,
envelopes and LFOs
how blend is affected by
compression, EQ and effects
pitch mapping,
cutting/trimming and looping
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
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Automation
how to use advanced
parameters of a compressor
e.g. attack, release, knee,
sidechain
how to draw graphs of
compression and gating
how to use volume and pan
automation
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panning law, mono-summing
and mid-side processing
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
how to automate parameters
of plug-ins e.g. cut-off
frequency, delay feedback
Pitch and
rhythm
correction
and
manipulation
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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
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limiting and perceived volume
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parameters e.g. limiter gain
understanding how EQ works
in the mastering process
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)
different types of monitor
speakers and how they affect
mix-translation
how leads and connectivity
work including signal path,
signal types
the different types and uses of
leads including jack and XLR
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the differences between digital
and analogue recordings
the advantages and
disadvantages of digital and
analogue recordings
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Leads
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Digital and
analogue
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how leads and connectivity
work including impedance
the advantages and
disadvantages of different
leads and connectivity
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
Numeracy
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Levels
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principles of levels and
metering including
management of levels to
prevent distortion and
maximise signal to noise ratio
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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
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) and emerging technologies (c.1996 – present
day)
11.
Through the context of the eras listed above AS and A level 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
samplers
synthesisers
DAW
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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 and A level specifications in music technology must require students to use the
knowledge and understanding of recording and production techniques for both corrective
and creative purposes (as listed in paragraph 8) to develop and demonstrate their ability
to:
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use music production tools and techniques to capture sounds including musical
instruments with accuracy and control
manipulate existing sounds and music with technical control and style to produce
recordings and technology-based compositions
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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use music production tools and techniques to 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
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apply the additional A level knowledge and understanding listed in paragraph 8 to
extend the skills developed at AS level with increased sensitivity and technical
control
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
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List of acronyms
Term
Definition
A/D conversion
Analogue-to-digital conversion
ADT
Automatic double tracking or Artificial double tracking
D/A conversion
Digital-to-analogue conversion
DAW
Digital Audio Workstation
dB Scales
Decibel Scales
EQ
Equalisation
LFOs
Low Frequency Oscillation
LPF and HPF
Low Pass Filter and High Pass Filter
LSB and MSB
Least Significant Byte and Most Significant Byte
MIDI
Musical Instrument Digital Interface
OSC
Open Sound Control
Q
Quality
RMS
Root-mean-square
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