TTU music classes collaborate to record first completely student produced CD on campusTwo Tennessee Tech University music classes are collaborating to learn the step-by-step process of creating a compact disc, making it the first entirely student produced music project of its kind at the university.
Joshua Hauser’s trombone choir and Jim Lotz’s recording techniques classes will be working together on the project — from selecting works to be included on the CD and getting the necessary permissions to editing the recorded material and hopefully working with a record label to market and distribute the finished product.
“Music — whether you’re playing it, recording it, producing it or marketing it — is all about critical thinking and evaluating,” Hauser said. “This project will get the students involved in that process every step of the way.
“It will show them there are other ways of making a living in the music industry besides just playing an instrument or teaching,” he continued. “Because of this project, someone may just decide to become a recording engineer instead.”
In making the final selections for the repertoire to go on the disc, for example, the trombone choir is learning what it can and cannot legally do. Different and varying fees apply, depending on whether a previously published piece of music will be recorded, a new arrangement will be created or an entirely new work will be commissioned.
Next in the process will be the actual recording, which isn’t always easy since trombones produce such a directional sound.
“In making a recording, you want to try to achieve the same sound that people in the audience would hear if they were listening to the trombone choir on stage, only closer and clearer,” Hauser said.
And that’s not as simple as seating the choir in the same configuration for performing to a live audience and having it play the full repertoire from beginning to end.
Although the recording techniques class often contributes to professional recordings, Lotz said, this would be its first entirely student-produced project.
“Last month, we recorded a new concerto for saxophone and wind ensemble that will be on a commercial CD coming out later this year, but the trombone project will be the first CD we’ve done that will be 100 percent student work — and that’s very exciting,” he said.
Once just the right configuration has been found to achieve the desired sound and take after take of the repertoire has been recorded — often in only a few bars at a time — the sound editing process can begin, and it can be done as specifically as one-sixteenth of a note, the equivalent of a millisecond.
“The students in the trombone choir will function as the producers, serving as consultants to the students in the recording techniques class, who will function as the sound engineers,” Hauser said.
When the editing process is complete and cover artwork and liner notes have been designed, the group must determine if it can afford to approach a record label with the project.
The project received $3,000 in funding through the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan, but another $2,000 would ensure the group’s ability to approach a record label.
In order to try to raise the remainder of that money, the trombone players have been accepting donations to provide their musical talents at holiday parties around campus and community.