NEC students interact with current technologies in several areas of the curriculum.
Undergraduate Theory students utilize computer software programs in the Music Technology Classroom, Keyboard Lab, and Student Computer Lab to build skills in general musicianship, i.e.: ear training, solfège, keyboard harmony, and written harmony exercises. Related software available at NEC includes current ear training, sequencing, and notation programs. Since all undergraduates at NEC are required to complete courses in these areas, some students spend a significant amount of time with these technologies.
Students utilize current versions of leading notation programs in NEC’s Student Computer Lab, as well as a large-format printer and scanners for the digitization of printed sheet music that may then be modified electronically. Students from all departments often use the Student Computer Lab’s word processing programs to complete assignments for various courses, as well as graphic design programs to create promotional materials and portfolios for required recitals and professional artist seminars.
The Music Technology Classroom is heavily used by instructors whose courses emphasize the use of technology in music-making. Students work regularly with current multitrack mixing/editing, digital signal processing, synthesis, and real-time processing programs.
Courses offered through the Composition department include classes such as Composing for Film and Multimedia (CMP 463T), where students utilize the latest available studio and interactive performance technologies in the areas of computer music, film, multimedia, and music publishing. Students enrolled in Electro-acoustic Music I and II (CMP 461T and CMP 462T) work privately in NEC’s Electronic Music Studio for a minimum of three hours per week to create digital music projects.
Additional opportunities throughout the Conservatory further the goal of students’ interacting with specific technologies:
The Electronic Percussion course (PRCBR437T/438T/537T/538T) gives percussionists the chance to work with innovative MIDI-based percussion controllers housed in NEC’s Instrument Library.
For several decades, NEC has been home to an internationally known center for the use of technology in analysis (founded by Theoretical Studies faculty Robert Cogan and Pozzi Escot). Here, students use powerful spectral analysis software to aid in the study of tone color, texture, and form. Relevant courses include the Psychophysical Analysis series (THYG 555-556-557-558), Mathematical Systems (THYG 563), and Advanced Theoretical Projects (THYG 902). While most of these courses are analytical in focus, THYG 558 provides students with hands-on practice in generating spectrographs.
The Music-in-Education department teaches Digital Playgrounds for MIE (MIE 549), a course that views current music technologies through a pedagogical lens, in line with national teaching standards established by MENC, NBPTS, and others.
Graduate and undergraduate students in the vocal pedagogy curriculum benefit from access to The NEC Voice and Sound Analysis Laboratory, the first of its kind in Boston. Here you will find state of the art tools for real-time spectrographic (sound) and electroglottographic (vocal fold) analysis, as well as powerful software for voice synthesis, three dimensional anatomy, room response measurement, and deconstructive timbre analysis. Students are able to use this facility for real-time biofeedback, research, and analysis projects. As a research resource, the lab allows us to take objective measurements of the often subjective act of singing. However, one of the greatest values of such a lab in a conservatory environment is to help cultivate—through ear training exercises—a more nuanced understanding of what to listen for in a singer. As teachers and singers, we can use the technology to train our ears to not need the technology.