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Curriculum: TAC Professional Studies Students

Radically creative. Radically pragmatic.

A lot can happen in a year. As a PSD student in the TAC program, you will take an immersive selection of courses designed to provide you with the experiences and practice needed to succeed in an evolving industry.

Our interconnected courses are built to transform you intellectually, artistically, professionally, and individually. The Professional Studies Diploma (PSD) is a one-year, accelerated selection of courses from the TAC curriculum that focus specifically on industry-standard technologies and professional composition workflows. Students immersed in this program gain access and perspective on the bustling culture and industry of music for media that the Bay Area has to offer young professionals.

Introduction to Sound Recording
Production Techniques in Logic Pro
Private Composition Lessons
Game Audio
Tools, Techniques and Analysis
Building Applications for Music in Max/Msp
Theory of Musical Synthesis
Mixing Workshop

Composer at the Keyboard

Class Piano-style course designed to develop and internalize fundamental harmonic listening, as well as common rhythmic patterns and textures, through intensive piano exercises. More advanced students can test out of the first year but are required to do at least one year of advanced study. Additional lab sections may be added for students in need of continued instruction.

Tools, Techniques, and Analysis

This course introduces studio technology as a vehicle for realizing musical ideas through listening and practice. The keyboard is the primary instrument for the student to realize goals. Other tools will be explored. Students will engage in the analysis of traditional and multimedia works with corresponding scoring assignments, and be introduced to basic production techniques through exercises corresponding to sonic quality, compositional methodology, aesthetics, and context. The principal aim of this course is to develop students’ ability to write and produce convincingly in a variety of styles.

Introduction to Sound Recording

Introduction to recording studios, equipment and technology. Students will learn the concepts of psycho-acoustics, listening for EQ, compression, stereo field, and reverb. Students will learn terminology of studio roles/division of labor, theory of analog and digital recording, and how microphones and mixers are designed to function. Student will also learn basic audio editing in Pro Tools, how to set up a session file, automation, and basic exporting of an audio session.

Introduction to Sound Design

Students learn practices of Foley, voice, and sound design through field recording, working with narrative and actors, developing sound effects, layering samples, and incorporating synthesizers. By the end of this course students will understand signal chains of effects and musicality in sound implementation as well as the emotional and narrative aspects of sound.

Production Techniques: Apple Logic Pro X

Students transfer their knowledge of Digital Audio Workstation functionality between platforms and expand beyond audio to MIDI, realizing techniques for traditional writing using the computer as a tool. Understanding workflow techniques, editing audio and MIDI, using software instruments, working with audio effects, mixing and automation, and the manipulation of pitch and time are covered in the course. Students will learn to edit to picture using Quicktime, as well as use Logic’s software instruments for synthesis, sampling, and sequencing.

Private Lessons

Students will receive weekly mentoring that involves critical feedback and recommendations regarding the student’s developing portfolio of work samples. The objective of this mentoring is to prepare the student’s portfolio for professional life upon graduation.

TAC Composition Workshop

Through a series of collectively coordinated lectures over the course of an academic year, students complete composition assignments, attend lectures, and receive feedback from a roster of accomplished visiting industry faculty directly related to the fields of scoring for film, games, and other emerging media.

Max/MSP I: Building Musical Applications

Students learn techniques for using the computer for random, procedural, and generative operations to produce a custom music app in Max/MSP. Students are introduced to basic programming concepts in a visual object-oriented environment and gain an understanding of what it means to work in a nonlinear paradigm. In this instance, the computer is used as a vehicle to design processes that exceed the limitations of traditional composition and give "under the hood" insight into many third-party software solutions commonly used for implementation in video games.

Max/MSP II: Theory of Musical Synthesis

Students learn the theory behind standard synthesis techniques such as signal generation, additive synthesis, frequency modulation, and advanced topics in computer music. Students will demonstrate their understanding by performing the techniques in the analog realm on modular synthesizers and through object-oriented programming, building on their knowledge of Max/MSP.

Mixing Workshop

Students practice the art of MIDI Mockups for speed and excellence in sound. Students learn to organize and manage content, files, and documentation using high end sound libraries such as Vienna Strings and hybrid acoustic/electronic scenarios.

Game Audio

Basic techniques for implementation and industry workflows using middleware software such as Fmod and Wwise and Unity. Students learn how a game is scored and implemented into an interactive medium with professionally simulated workflows.