Friday, SF State will host its first ever Electronic Music Class Show, where students from Music 436 will present their final synthesized music projects at The Depot.
“It’s always a great experience for the students to have a culminating concert where they can display the work that they have been crafting during the semester,” said showcase organizer Benjamin Sabey, an associate professor in composition, theory and electronic music.
The students performing have been working all semester long on their music pieces and will be showcase their track for three to four minutes.
“It gives them a lot of motivation to work hard because they know they will be presenting their music in front of an audience and their peers, so it gives them more of an incentive,” Sabey said.
Music 436 is an introduction to the electronic music studio where students receive the opportunity to learn how to operate digital electronic music equipment, which includes using up-to-date electronic software on computers, such as Apple’s Logic Pro.
In addition, students also experience the practical side of an electronic music studio by learning how to use analog Moog Synthesizers and the digital one that is used in Logic Pro.
An analog synthesizer is an instrument that uses analog circuit and analog signals to generate electrical sounds, according to Sabey. Its oscillation is created by voltage going on and off, similar to the oscillation from a piano string or when a guitar is pluck. Instead of a string vibrating in the air, Sabey explained it’s an electric charge oscillating back and forth.
There are 20 students enrolled in Music 436, all of whom will showcase their original work. Most of the performers will be mashing up their synthesized tracks through a cappella singing, rapping or playing traditional instruments like piano, according to Sabey.
Daniel Markowitz, a fourth-year jazz piano major, will be playing a unique mixture of jazz piano and EDM. It will be a five-minute track that will consist of a synthesized track playing and a live piano performance.
“It will be a fusion of electronic and jazz, so I’m taking my jazz piano studies and putting them in electronic music,” Markowitz said. “I’ll be doing some soloing and playing around with the tracks. It will be cool.”
All of the students will be showcasing as a one-man band.
“It’s more empowering to be able to create everything by yourself,” Markowitz said. “It’s great to have a bass player and drummer with me, but this also gives a lot of freedom because I’m able to compose and perform myself without relying on other people. It has its ups and downs.”
Students will have the ability to manipulate the sounds coming from their track by using a keyboard that has a drum pad button and mod wheel, which can filter out the sound coming out of the synthesizer and shape the quality.
“The raw sound is really bright and obnoxious,” Sabey said. “The reason why it’s like that is because that type of sound has a lot harmonic content in it and there are a lot of complex noises in it.”
Sabey noted the music field is very tough and competitive, but the skills learned in his course can provide students an alternative opportunity to work in the music field not as performers, but as auto engineers, music producers, and writing music for films or sound designing video games.
The Electronic Music Class Show is one of many events that Sabey has organized this school year, such as Electronic Music Week, and he said he hopes the events inspire the student body to enroll in his music courses. The courses are open to any students, and Sabey said no music experience is required.
One of the several reasons Sabey was hired to teach at SF State’s School of Music this year was to re-surface electronic music on campus and offer classes that were originally not available, according to Dr. Dee Spencer, the department chair of dance and music.
“We are very excited that we are launching this new era in the school of music that’s going to attract students and address the needs of the growing demands,” Spencer said. “This a great opportunity for our students to get a really good chance to learn about electronic music and technology.”