Why Audio?

Part 1: My Influences

I have sometimes been asked why I chose to study audio production. Part of the answer is that I have always loved music. When I was young, I carried around a succession of music players, from a Fisher Price cassette player to a CD walkman to an iPod nano. There has never been a time in my life where I’ve been without music.

The other part of the reason is what kind of music I listen to. We have all been asked who our favorite band is, and for me my answer has always been The Beatles. Where I grew up, while I was not the only fan of theirs, I was the only one who was below the age of 40 or so. I spent my seventh grade year not watching Family Guy, but by burying myself in the paperback version of The Beatles Anthology, having already watched the documentary on DVD, and listened to the albums. I was getting an education in the art and science of music recording, and they, along with George Martin, Geoff Emerick, Ken Scott, and the other engineers at Abbey Road were my teachers.

Through my reading (and of course, listening) I learned some of the following:

  • How to use the varispeed control on a tape machine to make a piano sound like a harpsichord
  • What a tape machine was
  • What double tracking, and artificial double tracking are and how they differ
  • How different effects change the sound of a recording
  • The differences between mono and stereo

The older I got, the more I wanted to learn about the strange and fascinating world of making music. Not through the obvious way, through becoming a musician, but by going behind the glass and being an engineer, just like Scott and Emerick. From there, I was led to Webster University, and I was given a very thorough education in the world of audio, both in and outside the music industry. But that’s another post.

There have been days where I wonder, “Why did I study this? The studio system is dead! There’s no single career path anymore! I should have studied something useful!” But then I remember the third reason I chose to study audio, and it’s something I don’t often hear: it makes me happy. There is nothing I love more than sitting at a DAW and playing with audio, whether it’s changing the speed of a song to hear what it sounds like, making a mash-up of two completely different songs (or two completely different versions of the same song), or dissecting the differences between one mix of a Beatles song versus another. I love playing with audio, and the fact of the matter is, I can’t see myself doing anything else. It’s simply who I am.

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