poststructuralism

To prepare for the class ahead, I read through the online lecture and recommended reading. This gave me some insight into the topic of poststructuralism. I found exploring multiple sources for better understanding quite helpful. To better understand what poststructuralism is, I had to know what structuralism is. By my understanding, structuralism was a culturally accepted way of giving meaning to media text. It was the arbitral relationship between signifiers and signified. Structuralism shares the notion that “everything we see is a sign and ‘carries’ a meaning” (Mcdougall, 2012, p.18). Conversely, poststructuralism deviates from this notion and argues that how we give meaning to text “should be a reflection drawn by an individual rather than a generally assigned meaning from the top down” (Bennet, 2005, p. 46). 

I particularly enjoyed watching Animating Poststructuralism by Christopher Bolton on youtube. Especially the part where it said, “Poststructuralism is a suspicion of the concise definition” (7:25-7:30). This explains one for the radical ideas that poststructuralism presents as mentioned in the online lesson; that ‘every text has multiple meanings and all meaning is able to be contested’. The thought of this idea poses a challenge to me as a student and eventually a practitioner in the creative media industry, in that whatever I create can easily be subject to various meanings. I am aware that we see and understand life differently but at the same time, I have a specific message in mind whenever I create a media text and knowing that my meaning to this text can easily be lost in a poststructuralist world is a bit daunting. 

I must say that this has been a tasking journey because some of the text was somewhat challenging to understand at first read, but then it has challenged me to look into multiple sources for better understanding. What I will do better with subsequent classes is to read beyond the online lessons and recommended text and have a variety of sources to learn from. For the coming week, I will also be focusing on research into subcultures in relation to postmodernism. 

References.

Bennett, A. (2005). Culture and everyday life. London: Sage, p.46.

Bolton, C. (2012, November 9). Animating Poststructuralism . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/6a2dLVx8THA?list=PL-of4HBxbY3guEanS5X3aQsH3T58X7YQ0

McDougall, J. (2012). Media studies. London [u.a.]: Routledge, p.18.

The mainstream

I have not as much used the term “that is so mainstream” but i definitely must have implied it when I find something or a practice very popular. For instance when fashion styles are in vogue, or when a pop song is making waves. So before this class I would have used the word popular rather than mainstream. After going through this class though, now I know the right term to use is mainstream. However, mainstream is way beyond what is acceptable by most people. Some examples of mainstream given in the online lectures include; mainstream medicine, education or science. 

In the sense that mainstream might not be just about what most people accept or what is conventional, mainstream can also be associated with best practices in a certain field. This is however not to say that these “best practices” are actually the best ways of getting results as far as these industries are concerned. For instance, in the Audio production industry the mainstream software to use is Pro-Tools as it is considered the industry standard. But a lot of great music producers don’t necessarily use this software to produce award winning tracks. 

So, in answering this question “As creative practitioners and consumers, is mainstream always a model for best practice? Or is it an attribution and/or judgement of cultural value?” My answer would be that it is a mix of both, because in some cases it is a model for best practices. Take for instance in audio production, the more mics you use in recording a sound the more complicated the recording process is as well as the mixing process, the same goes for applying effects on a track when mixing, if too much compression is applied to a track it loses its dynamics and becomes pointless. 

On the other hand, we could say that this practice is an attribution to cultural value because a significant number of renowned producers have applied this process to their work flow and came out with excellent results which in turn made it like a rule of thumb for other producers to go by. This is not to say that excellent results cannot be achieved should one choose to attempt a different route as it is also generally believed that if it sounds good, then it is good. 

I believe that the mainstream can be positive or negative depending on how one sees it. I would probably use the mainstream as a yardstick to measure the quality of a work I am creating either to go with how mainstream sound or choose to go in the opposite direction. The point remains that the mainstream gives me a reference point to work with. 

References 

Cover Image [image]. Retreived from http://breakfastatbridgets.blogspot.com/2017/01/are-you-mainstream.html

AESTHETICS

According to the Oxford dictionary online, Aesthetics is defined as “a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty. Also, the branch of philosophy which deals with questions of beauty and artistic taste.” (google.com). I find this the easiest definition to grasp. However, there are several aspects to the concept of Aesthetics. As a branch of philosophy, it deals with Metaphysics, Epistemology and Axiology. 

To be honest I am trying my best to understand this topic enough to be able to relate it in my own words but I am not breaking through. If I understand anything I have read and watched so far; from the online lessons to the recommended reading and other resources I have read and watched. Aesthetics is such a difficult topic to define. I basically just understand it to the point that it is how we interpret beauty or art. 

I do not know if I am having a mental block at the moment which is making my CIU unit difficult for me to understand or if the challenge is that I am not studying correctly or that I lack the ability to brainstorm and reflect. The bottom line is I am struggling through this unit and It is draining me. 

As hard as this whole process is, I plan to keep reading and keep trying my best to process and understand the content of this unit.

REFERENCE

Cover Image (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.zedge.net/wallpaper/d21bfe93-ad4e-4162-9b5e-35a71c623072

Postmodernism

The first time I went through the online lesson it was quite interesting to be exposed to what postmodernism is. I guess I have not really paid attention to this subject before and how it affected the media space and the world at large. However, after carefully reading through the online lectures and the prescribed reading, I was even more confused than when I started because Andrew Edgar and Peter Sedgwick’s writing style in Cultural Theory is quite advanced. I found it difficult to consume and digest.

However, some portions of the extract that I found slightly understandable were two definitions of postmodernism. First is that postmodernism is “A form of apology for capitalism” (Edgar & Sedgwick, 2007, p. 257). Second, “Postmodernism is an avant-garde aesthetic discourse, which seeks to overcome the limitations of traditional conventions by searching for new strategies for the project of describing and interpreting experience.” (p. 258).  My understanding of postmodernism from these two definitions is that postmodernism disagrees with the idea that the way we see life or interpret our experiences should be defined by what a few have passed on from generation past. Rather it argues that there should be freedom to choose how our experiences are being interpreted regardless of how diverse it will make us be. It celebrates the diversity effect it brings instead of mourning its disunity effect.

Watching some of the videos on the online lessons also helped me understand a little bit better.  Sadly a couple of the video could not play thereby robbing me of the opportunity to better understand the subject.

I reckon that I am more of an audio-visual learner than reading and writing learner. So I think I would have a better grasp of the subject if I get to watch more videos online which I did. Additionally, the in-class discussion gave me more perspective on the topic of postmodernism. The view of some of my classmates on this subject was that postmodernity is the new way of giving meaning to theories and this has allowed for young people especially the millennials and the Gen Z to go against known and generally accepted conventions and practices to express themselves.

Understanding that this is the reality of this age and time helps me as a creative student to better come up with tailor-made content that will appeal to the millennials and Gen Z or X if I am set out to create content for them. The same thing applies if my content is to older people whose philosophy tilt more towards the modernist point of view.

For subsequent classes and topics in this Unit, I look forward to engaging more in class in order to enhance my understanding of the topic and to search out more audio-visual resources as well as keep reading the recommended text of the week.

The image below also gave me more perspective as it showed a contrast between modernism versus postmodernism. 

(North, 2018).

REFERENCES

Edgar, A., & Sedgwick, P. (2007). ‘Postmodernism and Poststructuralism’. In Cultural Theory: The Key Concepts (pp.256-266). London: Routledge.

North. A. (2018). [Screenshots]. Retrieved from https://owlcation.com/humanities/Postmodernism-Explained

Daw Fest, Maiden Edition

Does it not feel good to be part of the maiden edition of any initiative? Well, in my opinion, it does feel good to be part of something that gives back to its community. I believe this was one of the reasons DJCorner put together such a fantastic event and I really hope that this won’t be the last.

It felt good to be reminded that there is an array of DAWs at the disposal of any intending audio engineer or producer out there. Especially if you are just thinking of taking your production more seriously. I have to point out here that your choice of DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is totally up to you, but it is good practice to kind of sample a couple to get a good feel of it before going ahead to purchase the one that best suits your needs and seats well with you. However, note that the most important thing is to understand the technicalities behind audio engineering or production. Once that is settled, you can always adapt to any DAW of your choice.

At this DAW Fest, there were 5 DAW brands that came to showcase what their DAWs can do and they all looked interesting.

Pro Tools – Pro Tools is considered the industry standard. And it is now up to its 12th version. Some of my take away from the Avid session by Sreejesh Nair includes; i). When mixing, spend less time on the rough mix and more time on the actual mix. ii). When using a filter set to the highest dB, it might result in a phasing issue, so be careful. iii). Sends should be set at zero and control over the level of effect that goes into the mix should be from the fader on the Aux track. iv). When using plugins with graphics, e.g. EQ, don’t be overly concerned about the graph. In other words use your ears, rather than your eyes.

(Avid, 2015).

Studio One

I fell in love with the looks and feels of this one. I would really love to explore using this DAW soon, even if just to satisfy my curiosity. Some of its features are:

  • Flexible with third-party plugins
  • Drag & Drop features
  • Sounds Warm
  • Works well with time stretch
  • It allows you to use a different interface for input and output

Cubase

The last version of Cubase I used was Cubase 5 and it’s now up to version 10. One of the features that pulled me to this DAW during the presentation was how you can get to pitch correct audio in Cubase 10 by simply double-clicking on the Wav. I thought that was really cool.

Ableton

Ableton Live is that DAW that you can easily capture your ideas with on the go. Plus you can work with it in real-time as well as a performer on stage. Flexible and easy to use.

Fruity Loops

In the words of Mokhtar Doughan (personal communication, October 26, 2019), working on Fruity Loops is like painting your idea to life. I was fascinated by the way Mokhtar navigated Fruity Loops, it was clear that he had spent years working on it and become a master at it. I am not a big fan of this DAW but I appreciate the creative works that it users produce out of it.

Choosing a DAW for yourself might seem like a daunting task, but it really is not. The good thing about these DAWs is that they either have trial versions or free versions that you can work with to help you make informed decisions on which of them you want. And like I mentioned earlier, as long as you understand the principles of production, you can create the magic in your head with any of these DAWs. It’s just a matter of which workflow you are more comfortable with or that suits your personality or style of music.

The highlight of this event for me was of course when I was announced as the winner of a one year Pro Tools subscription courtesy of NMK Electronics.

A photo with staff of NMK Electronics and Avid Protools

It was a great event and I look forward to subsequent editions and more exposure to industry experts.

Me and my Avid Mug
The session by Sreejesh Nair from Avid Protools


References

Avid. (2015, January 22). Introducing Pro Tools 12 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPqdNygQB38

Ableton. (2017, November 2). Ableton Live 10: what’s new [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9Ku5ptjzKw

Cubase. (2018, November 14). What is new in Cubase 10| promo video [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSZ8yX1viV8

FL Studio by Imagine-Line Software. (2018, May 23). FL Studio 20 | Launch video [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuqqiuaLYJA

PreSonus Audio Electronics. (2019, May 21). Introducing Studio One [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrALp5dWv7A

PROFESSIONS IN THE AUDIO INDUSTRY; FOCUS ON AUDIO ENGINEERING

The Audio Industry is such a vast one, and it offers diverse professional opportunities. Some of which you can learn either by understudying a practitioner or by acquiring a degree and also understudying an experienced practitioner. There is a debate on which method works best, but that is not the focus of this post. This post will be talking about Audio Engineering as one of the numerous professions available in the audio industry. When it comes to Audio Engineering, there are specialisations of this profession within the audio industry.

Recording Engineers

(DIY Musician, 2015)

As the name implies, the recording engineer is in charge of recording. Mostly responsible for setting up the recording studio, making sure the right microphones are being used, works with the producer to apply the best recording techniques for different situations and sounds the band or individual is going for. Basically making sure the equipment in a recording session is working well and are optimally used. They communicate with all parties involved to get a recording that is satisfactory to all (Berklee, n.d., para 2).

Mixing Engineers

A mixing engineer is saddled with the responsibility to mix separately recorded tracks into a single harmonious file. For instance, after the recording engineer has recorded instruments and vocals on their individual tracks, it is the job of the mixing engineer to edit these tracks to sound as though they were all recorded at the same time. He sees to it that the end-user is able to hear both vocals and instruments sounding great together. Agarwal (n.d.) states some of the aims of a mixing engineer as making sure there is a balance on all the tracks, using equalisation (EQ) to ensure the mix sounds good, adding effects that are necessary and sometimes making specific corrections on the vocals (para 3).

(Yamaha)

The recording and mixing engineers have a lot in common with a slight difference when it comes to specifics. For example, both engineers can work on the same project at the same time, such as in the case of a live concert. While the recording engineer takes care of setting up the stage, making sure all the equipment are in their right positions (musitechnic, 2018, para 4), the mixing engineer ensures that there is a perfect mix of all the signals coming into the console for the listening pleasure of the audience (para 6).

Mastering Engineers

A mastering engineer is usually the last call in the production chain. He is responsible for the final mix of the master before distribution takes place. A mastering engineer is often expected to put a final touch to the mix already done by a mix engineer. There are different schools of thought as to what a mastering engineer should and shouldn’t do. Steve Albini is of the school of thought that the mastering engineer “should do very little to a master tape that is already satisfying” (Ereten, 2015, 12-15sec).

(Ereten, 2015).

On the other hand, Murphy (2010) thinks a mastering engineer should do more to get the best output (4:12-4:41). Whichever school of thought a mastering engineer belongs to, the end goal is to have a piece of work, music or otherwise, have the same quality across various device it is being played on. An important quality any of these engineers must possess is the ability to listen and pay attention to details.

(Murphy, 2010).

REFERENCES

Agarwal, R. (n.d.). Mix engineer-job profile, qualities and more [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.audioshapers.com/blog/mix-engineer.html

Berklee. (n.d.). Careers in music production and engineering. Retrieved July 10, 2018, from https://www.berklee.edu/careers-music-production-and-engineering

DIY Musician. (2015). [photograph]. Retrieved from https://diymusician.cdbaby.com/musician-tips/5-ways-get-moneys-worth-every-recording-session/

Ereten, A. C.  (2015, August 30). Steve Albini talks about mastering engineers and mastering process [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuvCIoiNPdI

Murphy, R. C. (2010, April 15). Recording boot camp: what is mastering and what does a mastering engineer do [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asgXZVhytUo

Musitechnic. (2018). The difference between a mixing engineer and a recording engineer. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://musitechnic.com/en/differences-mixing-engineer-recording-engineer/

Yamaha. (n.d.). [Photopgraph]. Retrieved from https://th.yamaha.com/th/news_events/2018/0316_10_plymouth.html

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