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Why do you want to be an engineer?

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Postby FadingFromShane on Thu Nov 13, 2003 5:25 pm

I want to be an engineer because I love music, and I don't want to spend the rest of my life doing something I don't like. I just recently finished training at "The Recording Workshop" I had no idea where to start before I went there, I learned more in that 5 weeks than I did in High School. I am new to this board is there a discussion on how people got there first job in the bussiness...let me know.
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Postby patrick md on Thu Nov 13, 2003 8:25 pm

While I still have a lot to learn, all my engineering skills came from school....but in a different way than most people. I'm an English major in college, but I had been involved with the school radio station and was doing a basic show spinning records. In 2001, I was asked to join the crew of a show called Live From the Fallout Shelter, which has bands, live-on air, each and every week.

So, having only about an hour to get a band set up, miced, and mixed for an on-air show is like the most extreme crash course in SRT/Audio Engineering/whatever you want to call it.

I went into it with no knowledge of audio, but I guess the bug bit me and I started to gather mics, gear, and knowledge like a mad man soon after.

I think it gave me a good and interesting perspective. When you only have an hour to get a band to sound reasonably good for radio, there isn't a lot of time for experimenting. Things have to be somewhat standard. So when I started recording outside of the radio field, when I did have more time to try different things, I would specifically think, "How can I do this in a different way than we do it on-air?"
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Postby keith on Sun Nov 16, 2003 5:57 pm

Why you ask??

It's simply the music. I want to be able to make my contribution to the music by making it sound as good as it possibly can. I want to experiment and come up with new ways of making music kick ass. There's also something completely compelling with having a bunch of knobs and faders to play with.
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Postby brianbiv on Tue Nov 18, 2003 4:56 pm

want to be an engineer because I love music, and I don't want to spend the rest of my life doing something I don't like. I just recently finished training at "The Recording Workshop"

You can do many other things "because you love music". Its more along the lines of do you love the Sound of Music. Its about aesthetics of the sound. You should of purchased a tape machine and small console with the money you spent at "The Recording Workshop". The best way to learn is by doing.
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Postby MTAR on Tue Nov 18, 2003 5:19 pm

brianbiv wrote:
want to be an engineer because I love music, and I don't want to spend the rest of my life doing something I don't like. I just recently finished training at "The Recording Workshop"

You can do many other things "because you love music". Its more along the lines of do you love the Sound of Music. Its about aesthetics of the sound. You should of purchased a tape machine and small console with the money you spent at "The Recording Workshop". The best way to learn is by doing.


There's nothing worse than a fuckload of assholes doing without knowing. There is nothing wrong with going to a school to learn about audio technology. It may not teach you how to make a great sounding record, but that's not the point anyhow. That, obviously, should come with experience.

Yes, there are a lot of other things one could "because they love music". So what? Recording's one of them.

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Postby MTAR on Tue Nov 18, 2003 5:22 pm

brianbiv wrote:You can do many other things "because you love music". Its more along the lines of do you love the Sound of Music.


I can't stand the Sound of Music. The most god awful musical composition from the last century. I had no idea it had anything to do with wanting to be an engineer.
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Postby brianbiv on Tue Nov 18, 2003 11:19 pm

can't stand the Sound of Music. The most god awful musical composition from the last century. I had no idea it had anything to do with wanting to be an engineer.

You know what I mean.
I went to Columbia College and learned a ton about theory. Theory this theory that. But practical experience, nada. The theory though is what will advance you as an engineer. Then you will be more than just a button pusher.
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Postby toomanyhelicopters on Mon Feb 23, 2004 7:20 am

this thread seems long dead, but since i just read it now i really have to comment on something brianbiv said here in the last post.

I went to Columbia College and learned a ton about theory. Theory this theory that. But practical experience, nada.


that blows my mind. that's nothing like my experience there. sure, there was plenty of theory stuff. which is great. but NO practical experience? NADA? WHUH?

to get my degree, taking the classes i took, "hands-on" type stuff i had to do:

cut and splice tape

edit and mix audio with voiceover

record lots of live acoustical performances using stereo mic'ing configurations

learn to use a TEF analyzer, and create a project in which i put that skill to use. (got a kinda low grade in that one since my project consisted of measuring realtive frequency response curves for the three pickups in one of my guitars. didn't use the TEF for its intended purpose, nor to its full potential. but that's what i wanted to do with it.)

generate 10 minutes worth of post-production sound for a movie, *everything*, from music bed to sfx to foley to voice. we started with just a picture, and using an analog 24-track, an analog 2-track, a couple video machines, a synch system, and some mics, produce a finished product. with very little involvement from the teacher, unless we really needed help... just a "how-to" of working the machines. after that, we had to do everything on our own.

mic live instruments (like piano for example) for live sound reproduction, get a natural tone, no feedback etc.

so i don't know what the hell classes you took over there. but my experience with columbia was nothing like you describe. there was a ton of practical, hands-on type experience. that's part of what makes that school so great and, i think, its graduates so successful.

anyways, yeah, what the hell classes did you take that you didn't have to do all the stuff i did? no Sound Reinforcement? no Live Sound Recording? no Audio for Visual Medium? no Advanced Acoustical Design? no Production I?!?! even the non-sound classes still offered a venue for practical use of your skills. i took a humanities class about Einstein, and my final project was a totally fucked-up song about him that i wrote and recorded. same thing with Forensic Science, wrote and recorded a song for the final project. i dunno, i can't really imagine coming out of that school without a shitload of practical experience. it's pretty much at the core of their philosophy... getting real-world experience in your field, learning from guys who have at least a decade of proven success in that field, as working professionals and not just "professors".

sorry to be such a spaz and all, but i don't like the thought of someone reading this thread and thinking columbia is a waste of time. it's quite the opposite.
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music schools

Postby sndo on Mon Feb 23, 2004 9:51 am

I go to Fanshawe college, we have a program called Music Industry Arts (funny how the title sounds like an oxymoron)
Know what you want out of a program before you take it. When they told me that there would be lots of stuff about MIDI and business I thought "oh well, there will still be lots of time for the studio." But I've been very bogged down with extra school work that I don't really need. Not that I'm ignorant to the information they've given us; it's just that I already read most of it out of self-interest in high school.
The other problem I have is that alot of my fellow classmates don't know shit about music and what could've been a good year in musical theory has turned into a debate over why orchestras have Bb, Eb, and F instruments as opposed to having everyone play in C. This one guy still doesn't get the concept of transposing for these sections after 3 WEEKS of discussion. I even gave him the analogy of a guitar detuned a step or two... "the E major shape stays the same but it's a different chord, dig?"
I did get lots of hands on experience in this program, however, I feel that if I had bought the required text books and then bought a modest recording rig and also spent time interning I would have progressed a lot faster and with more real world experience. Fortunately I didn't have to go into to debt to take this program, but I know a lot of people who did and I feel bad for them.
Really do your research. Don't go to college just because your parents tell you to do something with your life and they happen to have saved enough money for you to go. If you have enough motivation, you'll do all the things you do in college under your own steam. Not everyone is that dedicated, but like I said, I was reading about this stuff for fun in high school. I don't know anybody else that bought Guitar World in order to read the tech-y stuff in the back pages but I used to eat it up.
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Postby same on Sat Apr 03, 2004 7:47 pm

faucet wrote:girls!

ha! over the past 5 years our male to female ratio here at michigan tech has gone from 6:1 to 4:1. let the good times roll.
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Re: Why do you want to be an engineer?

Postby USERNAME ALREADY IN USE on Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:34 pm

I started around 14 when I accidentally put a head phone jack into a mic input on an old stereo/karaoke machine. Later I move on to high tech stuff like hand held recorders including the Home Alone Talk Back. I've always played in bands and always recorded them. At around 15 I started making records in real studios and I can still remember every moment of every session I've done. I watched every move those engineers made. I just thought it was natural to want do what they do. Then a friend bought a house and we built a studio. I've never thought of myself as an engineer. Never thought of myself as an artist or even a musician. It's really just been natural. But don't let that fool you. I suck at it and have little to no understanding on how or why things work. I'm impaired by a lack of intelligence and talent and have only made it this far from a combination of dumb luck and determination.
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Re: Why do you want to be an engineer?

Postby Michael.E on Sat May 16, 2009 4:09 pm

Mostly cause I love the constant impoverishment,
it's done wonders for my abs! really :)
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Re: Why do you want to be an engineer?

Postby theknifeisthelaw on Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:02 am

1st post- don't flame me out.


i want to fuck with stuff. i wanna blow out ribbon mics and slit speakers. i want to put mics in water bottles on the other side of the room. i want to turn all the knobs up to 10. i want to have you play your trumpet in the fucking bathroom. yes, i want to put a fucking mickey mouse tape player mic on that trainwreck amp. i want to be a mad scientist and play a mixing board like an instrument. i've been messing with whatever i can get my hands on since i was 9 years old. i made my first record in a studio last summer and i saw my masterpiece get burned to the ground by someone who had no clue what i was looking for. i want to be everything that guy wasnt. i want to make records. real fucking records.
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Re: Why do you want to be an engineer?

Postby kampman on Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:15 pm

I love all the fun toys, switches, buttons, and blinking lights I get to play with.

On a more serious note, I love engineering because it enables me to create the "frame," or the sonic context in which the listener perceives the music, much like the concept of the "frame" in the visual arts. Like composing a photo, the choice and positioning of the mics, the amps and instruments you use, and the choice of room have a big influence on the way the performance (or work) is perceived, and I really enjoy seeing how those choices (and others) can affect the finished product when I'm making a recording. It's a great feeling knowing that you've created a sonic context that conveys a great performance effectively, especially when it puts a smile on the face of the musicians you're working with.
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Re: Why do you want to be an engineer?

Postby Dovey on Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:56 am

Because I have a weird fetish for patchbays

(you think I'm joking but I'm really not)
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Re:

Postby aen on Fri Oct 02, 2009 10:03 am

steve wrote: The time to decide if you want to be a parent is before you are one, but once you are one, you can't really undo the decision if you don't like it.
-steve


Good point.

Translated into my life: Somebody's got to record my records, and I have very little money. Somebody's got to record other peoples records, and i can make them sound like not-shit.
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Re: Why do you want to be an engineer?

Postby sail on Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:19 pm

For most of my life, I thought I wanted to do something technological as a career. More specifically, I had an interest in Information Technology. Working with computers to solve problems seemed exciting to me.

As my interest in underground music began to grow throughout high school, I finally set upon learning an instrument. Christmas of junior year, my parents got me an electric bass. I became enthralled with playing it, practicing over six hours a day right from the onset. Knowing by then that playing music would easily become a lifetime commitment to me, I spent the following summer working and saved up enough to buy a Music Man Stingray.

During that summer I also started playing six-string guitar. Naturally, upon becoming competent in both instruments, I began to write songs. Recording them was a given, since as a freshman and sophomore I picked up basic audio skills through trial and error, doing a weekly op-ed podcast using the cheapest equipment I could find.

It later dawned on me one night early in the following year while working on college applications, all for IT programs, that I could do something with audio or music instead. Despite spending most of my high school career involved with audio and obsessed with music, the thought had never even crossed my mind. Several weeks of soul-searching later, I finally settled upon attending a local community college as a Music major, in order to save money and get the General Ed. requirements out of the way, before transferring to a four-year school.

Meeting with my counselor that summer to sign up for classes, she delivered to me an ultimatum; Assuming I wanted to be involved with industry, did I want to focus on production or audio engineering? The business side versus the technical side. Of course, I chose the technical side. I figured that, with a good amount of common sense, business could be learned better by doing.

To fulfill this, I started an indie record label, about one month after that meeting. Not only am I learning oodles, but I'm getting to work with music I love. I'm also still recording my own music and am tentatively planning on attending UCSD for their Interdisciplinary Computing and the Arts major after my two years at the CC are up.

So, that's essentially the story compacted into one, possibly self-indulgent, post.

[Edit]:
USERNAME ALREADY IN USE wrote:Later I move on to high tech stuff like hand held recorders including the Home Alone Talk Back.

Hahaha, I had one of those!
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Re: Why do you want to be an engineer?

Postby Fish on Mon Nov 02, 2009 12:55 am

In all honesty, it's because I love playing with music and creating different sounds.

I'll be honest here. I know fuck all about engineering or recording other than hitting record, playing, stopping recording once you're done. And I've never actually recorded anything other than on my computer, but that's the way us kids learn these days.

Which is why I'm here. I want to learn to do it right, and this seemed like a good place to start.
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Re: Why do you want to be an engineer?

Postby Ryan Electrocution on Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:41 am

Great post, Sail!

For me, i'd determined early on that there had to be a reason why bands were sounding the way that they were on a recording, but I didn't know how or why it was. I saw some of the same names on my favorite bands' records---Andy Wallace, Steve, Brian Paulson, John Agnello, Jack Endino, Dave Jerden, Don Smith, Butch Vig, etc. I knew that they probably all had their own style, seeing as that some bands like Tad and Nirvana had worked with Steve, Jack and Butch--and the records all were quite different from each other. Not only that, but I wanted to figure out how a producer, engineer, mixing engineer, assistant engineers and mastering engineers all imparted their sound, since i'd heard demos and songs with early mixes/ early stages of production and they weren't quite to where the finished, official versions were. Sometimes the earlier versions were also better than the final ones. Some guys like Dave Jerden, i'd realized, their sonic signature was very slick--it worked with some bands, and the atmosphere and big reverbs didn't work with other bands.

Most of my wanting to learn the technical details of recording is pretty self serving. I needed it for my own recordings, and the reason for that is because I don't think that anyone really understands an artist or musician better than they, themselves do. There will be people that are close, but if a band or musician is really in tune with what they're doing and what they want to hear and hear the things in their head of how they want it to go, it will inevitably be fairly difficult for some producers/ engineers to replicate....at least without the artist not being totally happy with it. It just becomes a matter of getting their vision down on the recording. Through trial and error over the years on some rudimentary equipment (ghettoblasters, 4 track, 8 track), i'd learned the basics of recording and setting up microphones and got better equipment (guitars, amps, mics, recording equipment) to get what's out of my head onto the medium, and it always seems to end up sounding the way that I want (granted, sometimes it takes a fair bit of tweaking and work).

Or in a shorter explanation--I always at least wanted to be the one to screw it up, if anyone was gonna screw it up, ha ha. I'd also heard examples of where some producers/ engineers were just looking at the clock and didn't care about the bands. Which is like any job--there's some things that you like and some things that you dislike--but when you're dealing with a recording, it's basically like delivering a baby, so it needs some care and sincerity, I think. I just really love the whole idea of experimenting with acoustic sounds and electronics (mics, amps, recording equipment, synths, etc) to try and expand on what's already there in the initial vision.
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Re: Why do you want to be an engineer?

Postby stupid_life on Sat Apr 03, 2010 11:57 am

I'm no engineer, but the reason I started recording is probably just because there aren't any studios in my area that offer good sound at a reasonable price. Just like I started playing drums because I couldn't find a reliable drummer I could work with. At some point, instead of just recording my own bands I would like to work with other bands in the area, mostly because I feel like Lexington deserves an affordable studio, there are plenty of musicians here with good material that could benefit from better recordings. Now I love playing drums more than playing guitar, and love recording more than playing drums. Who would have figured?
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