Sound has always been a part of the theatre experience. . .from drumming by the fireside in prehistoric times through today’s THX film extravaganzas. Aristotle saw fit to include ‘sound/mood/music’ among his six essential theatre elements. Few of us have ever heard the actual voices of George Clooney or Brittany Spears, the London Philharmonic or the Beatles. Elvis was dead before any of you were born. . .yet these sounds and so many others are instantly recognizable to us because someone recorded them and found ways to replay that sound for us today.
We might divide theatre sound into categories of reinforcement, recording and reproduction..
Reinforcement can include the miking of performer, instruments. .a whole choir. Few leading performers either on Broadway or in London’s
West End go without mikes these days.
Recording is involved from the typical “preshow announcement,” to the battle/chopper sequence in Miss Saigon, to a special phone for Cohn in”Angels in America.” It can involve composing, arranging, recording, mixing down,
Reproduction involves transmitting those correct sounds, clearly, and at a pleasing volume and fidelity from the proper direction to the auditor.
The scope of the course must be broad in order to cover these areas, and provide each of you with an appreciation of the art of the professional sound designer, and personally be able to accomplish the basic sound operations in an educational or community theatre environment.
It’s a big world. I took a full course called Audio Engineering a couple of years ago. It covered only mikes and mixers. I then took the first of five courses in ProTools, the digital editing program we are using,. . .one of a dozen such programs in common use. These are a small part of what we need to look at this semester. It will take serious study, it will involve a good deal of work outside of class, and it will involve some creative thought. If any of those three elements seem beyond what you have to give this semester. . .drop early to save money and time. Otherwise, let’s go to work.
Almost everything we’ll record, mix and replay, will be digital. The course text is: Sound and Music for the Theatre. I will also provide you with numerous handouts, some of substantial length. The book: Pro Tools for Dummies can help a good deal. Obtain a decent pair of earphones, an adaptor to fit the M-Box, and a couple of CDR’s, Mark and secure all hardware! Many class meetings will be in the control booth in the Fine Arts Theatre. Many meetings will involve set-ups and playbacks of pieces you have recorded and/mixed. If it is your performance, make sure you have mikes, speakers, cables, mixer settings, CD input, and your CD ready to play at the top of the class. We are your audience. Don’t make us wait while you trace a shorted cable.
Course grading will be based on quizzes worth a total of 30 points, 10 of the first 11 assignments at 5 points each, and the final project worth 20 points. The instructor reserves the right to adjust or cancel assignments as the course progresses. If, for some reason, assignments administered total somewhat more or fewer than 100 points, the method of obtaining the final grade will remain essentially the same: the total points achieved will be divided by the total points possible to obtain a percentage, and a grade will be assigned according to the percentage scale outlined above. Absences cost ½ a final letter grade each.
Federal privacy law prohibits me from releasing information about
students to certain parties outside of the university without the signed consent of the student. Thus, in almost all cases I will not discuss your academic progress or other matters with your parents. Regardless of these important legal considerations, it is my general policy to communicate with the students, not their parents, even when a student has signed a consent form. College students are adults and are expected to behave accordingly.
If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a
disability, if you have emergency medical information that needs sharing, or if you need special accommodations in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with the me as soon as possible.
All MSU policies regarding academic integrity apply to this course. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating of information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students. For any material or ideas obtained from other sources, such as the text or things you see on the web, in the library, etc., a source reference must be given. Direct quotes from any source must be identified as such. All exam answers must be your own, and you must not provide any assistance to other students during exams. Any instances of academic dishonesty WILL be pursued under the MSU regulations concerning academic integrity.