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The world of music has taken great strides due to the many technological advances in audio production tools. The computer has moved to the center of the modern production studio, allowing artists to create high-quality recordings that once required access to often prohibitively expensive facilities. The Internet has leveled the distribution playing field between the major labels and smaller, independent labels. Artists and producers can more affordably than ever create recordings—with a fidelity that was once impossible on a small budget—and distribute them through online sales of CDs, DVDs, and/or formats like MP3, AAC, and RealAudio. Much like the transition experienced by the photography industry—from expensive, highly technical cameras to point-and-shoot models that anyone could use—recording equipment has followed a similar path, making powerful tools available to nearly anyone.
What is still common to both industries is the sensibility and technique of the operator: a photographer must understand image composition and lighting, while the music producer must be a knowledgeable and practiced musician. It is the goal of the Music Production and Technology (MPT) department to train musicians to be producers of quality music products (thus the audition requirement and core music curriculum).
What is a music producer? There are many acceptable definitions, depending on the musical genre in question. To produce a quality recording, however, one must have strong musical skills and instincts, and be proficient as a recording engineer to exploit the full capabilities of the production studio. Training in the studio is approached in much the same fashion as the process of learning an instrument. To play an instrument, one must spend a great deal of time practicing in order to make a connection between the written music, or music heard in one's head, and where to place one's hands and fingers. Eventually a level of proficiency is reached at which that connection is made subconsciously—it is at that level that one truly becomes a musician. Students in the Music Production and Technology program are trained to view the studio as an instrument through which they will create music, both their own and the collaborative product of working with other artists. Reaching that level means dedication to learning and practicing the craft.
Students follow a course of study that combines a traditional music conservatory curriculum (including study of an instrument or voice in classical or jazz) with courses in recording engineering, music production, electronic music, acoustics, and music business. Included are both a practicum (working in Hartt's professional recording studio) and an internship at a production facility off campus. In the final semester of the senior year, students work in small teams to engineer and produce a full-length recording. These senior projects become a valuable part of the student's portfolio.