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Professor brings creative edge to the music department

By Amanda Valentovic Staff Writer

Electronic music has become more popular than ever recently. Artists like Swedish House Mafia and Avicii have grown in recognition and Daft Punk reigned over the Grammys this year, so what better a way to be inspired than to take the freshman seminar, “From iPod to IMAX”? Every Tuesday and Thursday, students spend time in the computer lab to compose their own original songs, replacing traditional instruments with their laptops.

Dr. Ken Lampl, who runs the music merchandizing program, created the class for first- year students as the freshman seminar to serve the music department.

“I thought it would be great to have freshman writing music right from the get go; it doesn’t have to be their majors,” Lampl said. The class, which uses Apple’s Garage Band to mix tracks, does not require any previous musical background. “You don’t have to be able to read music. Wherever you are, you can start interacting immediately. This is a very different approach, without needing to know anything,” said Lampl. “I’m excited about it, because … this is a class of my own creation.”

At the beginning of each class, students can share what they have created with each other to receive feedback and to get new ideas.

“It’s really interesting seeing what everyone else is doing,” said Elie Hess, who decided to take the class based on her interest in music. “I want to be a music supervisor, which is choosing the music that goes into movies,” she said. “So I thought this was the closest [class].”

Even for students who do have a musical background, learning how to compose with technology has been a whole new experience. Danielle Oliveras played piano and clarinet growing up, but learning how to use Garage Band is something new to her. “My prior music experience did help, but I’m learning a lot more, being that it’s all computer generated rather than with an actual instrument in my hands,” said Oliveras.

Students have creative freedom to do what they want, and being in class is pretty hands-on. They learn which components work together and where each beat must be placed in a song by actually experimenting with it themselves. “You’re making music for about an hour and a half and, if you don’t know how to start or where to begin, Dr. Lampl helps you,” said Joseph Barone, a journalism major. Adding to that, Lampl said that “The whole point is that the students are sitting there writing music, and I go back and forth and talk to them.”

Whether students plan on entering the music industry after this semester or not, “From iPod to IMAX” seems to be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

“My whole purpose is that people find what they love, and I think they can get that from this. Students should find what they’re passionate about, whether it be music or business or computer science. A class should be designed to figure out what you want to do,” said Lampl.

“I would definitely recommend the class for anyone interested in making music, or even just having fun,” said Oliveras. Barone echoed her enthusiasm, and said, “It really is an awesome class.”


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