AES Section Meeting Reports

University of Massachusetts-Lowell - September 9, 2009

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"Engage music."

Dr. William Moylan repeated this phrase throughout the first half of his lecture, with nearly all of the sound recording technology students present. He was encouraging students to never miss an opportunity to listen, hear, and learn. While it is natural to listen critically to recordings we care about, and it is essential to listen carefully during recording sessions, students of audio should view every live concert and every student recital as an opportunity to develop their listening skills.

Only through the active engagement of sound could engineers-in-training understand the characteristics of that sound. Moylan explained that "sometimes you're there to be a photo-journalist, sometimes you're an abstract or surrealistic painter." He meant that, in an engineer's career, situations will arise where the recordist's actions must be transparent to the music, while other situations invite the engineer to make a major artistic impact. The role of the photographer is to make a clear, accurate report of the sounds that occurred. The role of the painter is to create their own art through the recording process, to leave their own mark on a piece of music. The greater experience a student of audio has listening to a variety of sounds, the more readily they can play either role.

The second half of Dr. Moylan's presentation was a critical comparison of the newly remastered Beatles' albums. He played portions of the songs "Strawberry Fields Forever", "Here Comes the Sun", "Eleanor Rigby", and "She's Leaving Home." This portion was more a group discussion than a lecture. Rather than simply telling us all the sonic differences between the two versions of each song, Dr. Moylan let students and faculty in attendance describe what they heard. He would acknowledge each comment and expand upon it, clarifying what was expressed and bringing certain aspects to attention that may have been missed. This was a very good introduction to critical listening to the students who have not yet taken the course on that subject, and a good reminder of the importance of practicing the skills for those who had.

More About University of Massachusetts-Lowell Section

AES - Audio Engineering Society