photo of student speaking to professor on stage

Embracing Technology

By Evan Calbi

USC Thornton debuted a new course last spring focused on training students to use technology like Ableton Live for performance.

There were not a lot of acoustic instruments at the Performance Technology Showcase in Carson Center last spring, but the possibilities of the laptops and keyboards and controllers on stage was limitless.

“You have any sound you can conceive of at your fingertips, so you have a lot more colors in your pallet to choose from,” said Composition student Luca Mendoza (’21).

The showcase was the result of a new course at USC Thornton open to all USC students, Performance Technology (MTEC 499), that focuses on using audio technology like Ableton Live as a real-time instrument, much like traditional instruments are performed.

“This class was about embracing technology as an instrument,” said Music Technology faculty member Timo Preece, an industry expert who conceptualized and led the course.

The showcase, a culmination of a semester of work, highlighted the ways that performance technology is not just for electronic musicians. Students blended genres by layering composition methods and songwriting with computer-generated sounds.

Software is becoming a necessity of modern performance in both obvious and non-obvious ways, and the course encouraged exploration with the tools and opportunities technology provides while leaning into the software as a new art form.

“The software itself is a very flexible environment. You’re building an instrument. How you interact with it is decided by you,” Preece said.

That much possibility encourages collaboration and creativity.

“It’s been insanely collaborative,” said Music Production student Grant Boutin. “I think it has been one of the biggest growing experiences of my whole life.”

Interested in enrolling in Performance Technology (MTEC 499)? The deadline to add is January 31, 2020.

TAGS: Composition, Contemporary Music, Contemporary Music Division, Keyboard Studies, Music Industry, Music Technology, Popular Music,

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