Want to learn how to create a badass audio mix? Put a magnifying glass on Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” That’s the premise behind a new class being taught at NYU called Play With Your Music, which uses a multi-track copy of the famous tune, as well as Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” to teach the ins and outs of effects, editing, and audio production.
A joint venture between NYU’s Music Experience Design Lab (MusEDLab), MIT Media Lab, and Peer 2 Peer University, the free class takes six to ten weeks to complete, and is designed to get people into audio production without the need to buy a mint’s worth of high-tech audio gear. According to a blog post about the project by co-creator Ethan Hein, no special software is required and the work can all be done over a web browser. Peter Gabriel himself donated the multi-track stem versions (which separates instruments by category) of his hit tunes for free, according to Hein.
Apart from giving the public an experience that is “ridiculously awesome,” this second take on NYU’s Play With Your Music is part of a larger media project from the MusEDLab, which was created to “design and test music learning experiences with technology.” The project will help its creators design new web browser-based music equipment with a priority on accessibility, and will also help its creators better understand “the learning context in which the technology is used.”
While that may sound a bit overtly academic to the average user, the end result is a free class, both for novices and stalwart enthusiasts, and a chance for the project creators to “battle test a suite of beginner-technologies” to help open up the rather condensed realm of music production to a broader audience. Hein says the project’s goal is to eventually make audio production a fundamental part of all music education, on par with basic theory and pedagogy.
The project’s laser focus on Peter Gabriel might sound a little odd at first, but it actually makes a lot of sense. Apart from his generous donation of multi-track versions of his own work, Gabriel’s catalog is often used as virtual roadmap to the world of audio production in University music programs. The artist is notoriously meticulous when it comes to producing his own work, famous for taking several years to perfect a new album, and taking a hands on approach to mixing and production. In fact, Gabriel is so deeply involved on both sides of the studio glass that in 2005 he purchased SSL, an icon in the studio world, and maker of top-of-the-line mixing boards and audio production software.
Apart from digging into Gabriel’s songs, the free Play With Your Music class will also host video lectures and interviews with audio engineers, NYU faculty, as well as musicians and engineers who worked with Peter Gabriel directly. Unfortunately, the man himself will apparently not be making an appearance.
If the project sounds up your alley, sign up here, or jump right in and start mixing Sledgehammer now at this site hosted by the project. The course begins May 16th. You can also find out more from the head of NYU’s MusEdLab, Dr. S. Alex Ruthmann in the video below.