information provided by Purdue University
HAMMOND, Ind. (April 8, 2019) – Purdue University Northwest has introduced Electronic Music Production to the course catalog that will be offered in the fall on its Hammond campus. Visiting Instructor Michael Shallow teaches the class of 14 students how to use software and hardware controllers to make beats and create electronic music using industry-leading software like Reason and Reaper.
In the classroom
Students learn how to create sounds from scratch which then make up a communal sample pack collection of the class’s work. Using the sample pack and the digital software, students stack, layer, and create progressions to produce a song.
At the end of the course, all of the sounds will make up a beat tape. Although all students pull from the same pool, no two songs sound the same.
“Everyone hears the song they want to make in their head,” said Shallow. “Even if they use the same sounds, they will manipulate them differently to create a completely different vibe.”
Broadcast student Ryan Stephens plans to apply the teachings to add a personal touch to the music he uses to DJ. “I appreciate the amount of creative control we have with our assignments,” said Stephens, “the prompts and parameters guide us to staying within the electronic music genre, but there are so many sub-genres to explore which allow us to be confident in the sounds we create.”
In the music community
Along with creating the beat tape, students are also tasked with going out in the music community to interact with people who work in those spaces. Meetups for musicians, DJs, and beat-makers are recommended more often than live shows, where the barrier between fan and musician is more prominent.
“Social engagement is where inspiration comes from, and music is almost always social,” Shallow said. “When people share music, it comes alive.”
The class has many beneficial aspects, whether students have a broad sense of knowledge about music theory or not.
Senior Brad Brooks had never worked with Reason but quickly caught on. “I’ve recommended the class to so many people. It’s a good stepping stone for anyone who wants to try to do music for a living,” said Brooks.
Experience and teaching
Shallow has 15 years of experience creating electronic music and teaching classes about visual communication and art appreciation.
Throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies, Shallow edited music for dance companies, mixed tracks for cheerleading competitions and worked sound production with five bands, occasionally stepping in as a piano and violin player.
After pitching the production course to the university, Shallow was able to bring his passion of music to the classroom.
“Music has affected every aspect of my life,” said Shallow. “Music is a language. Just like the English language, it’s not a separate entity. It permeates my life.”
In October 2018, Shallow launched a music label, GESAMT. GESAMT is an independent electronic music label that connects the work of artists in different mediums to spark inspiration and collaboration. Since its launch, GESAMT has released three projects.