Important Message for Incoming Freshmen!
Each year the Music Technology program accepts 16 first-year pre-majors into the second year of the Music Tech program. This gate allows us to offer sufficient resources (faculty, staff, classroom space, and studio time), while also ensuring that students admitted to the BA Music Technology degree program have the best chance for future success in the field.
Because our incoming numbers tend to be large, we need incoming freshmen to have as much information as possible about Music Technology at MSU. Because our students come from a wide variety of musical backgrounds, we have three pre-tests to help you assess your own pre-college preparation and determine if the Pre-Music Technology major is the right fit for you.
Pre-Test #1: All incoming students, at orientation or on the first day of MUSI 140 - Aural Perception I, will be asked to match pitch: to hear notes played on the piano and SING those same notes. If that skill is extremely difficult for you, it means that any music major - including Music Technology - will not likely be the right choice for you.
Pre-Test #2, required of all incoming freshmen, is the online Music Theory Pre-Test. Any student who does not take the pre-test online will be tested at Summer Orientation. The online pre-test determines whether you are eligible to enter MUSI 105 - Music Theory I. This pre-test covers note reading in treble and bass clef, key signatures, time signatures, rhythmic values, and major and minor scales.
Note: The material in the Music Theory placement test is preliminary to MUSI 105. Students who have taken AP music theory in high school typically score well, but a high score on the pre-test does not "place out" of MUSI 105. (Students can typically "place out" only if they have successfully completed an equivalent college-level music theory course at another university.)
Please follow this link:
Type "musicplacement" for the Assessment ID
Log in with your name and email address using "musictheory" as the password
Open the window to full size and GO! You have 25 minutes to complete the test
If you experience technical difficulties, you will be allowed to retake the test one additional time
Some additional resources to prepare for the music theory pre-test can be found here: Preparing for Your First Year
Pre-Test #3, recommended for all prospective Pre-Music Technology majors, is to spend as much time as possible with any music software you have available, and to read books and websites about computer music. One that we can recommend is Tweak's Guide for Newbies.
Another excellent source of information is Sound on Sound magazine's "Basics and Beyond" guide.
In addition to these resources, you may also want to read "An Introduction to Music Technology" by Dan Hosken.
If you have no experience composing music or working with sound on a computer, you probably don't yet have enough information to determine if Music Technology is a good fit for you. Many students who enjoy songwriting discover they do not enjoy the complexities and frustrations of music software. Many students who love computers may not enjoy composing music. Music Technology is professional-level preparation for work as a composer and sound engineer. A Music Technology major is not primarily about learning to record your own music in your own personal style. It is about learning to compose music with many different software programs, in all styles, for all different media and clients. While Music Technology (like any music major) can be challenging, we get the experience of creating new music every day.
If reading about music technology (Tweak's Guide, and/or other resources such as Electronic Musician magazine) is fascinating to you, this is a good indication that you might be a Music Tech person. If your interests lie more in music performance and general music study, MSU's Bachelor of Arts in Music may be a better fit. The Bachelor of Arts in Music does not currently have a gate, but does require that you be proficient at college level on your principal instrument.
Whether you pursue music technology as a major or avocationally, the above information and pre-tests will help you plan your college education and your future musical endeavors. Please email me anytime with your questions about Music Technology at Montana State University!Thank you,
Dr. Jason Bolte
Head of Music Technology
Montana State University
Frequently Asked Questions
- What exactly is Music Technology?
- What courses are required for the Bachelor of Arts in Music Technology?
- How do I know if a Music Technology major is right for me?
- Is this a gated program?
- What are some future opportunities for Music Technology graduates?
- What kind of music will I write at MSU?
- Can you help me record myself or my band?
- Do you have Music Technology courses for non-majors?
- Can I double-major in Music Technology and something else?
- Do you have a Vision Statement?
1. What exactly is Music Technology?
Briefly stated, Music Technology at MSU is the integration of music composition, sound design, audio engineering, and interdisciplinary collaboration.
That being said, in reality the only constant about the field of Music Technology is that it constantly changes. New developments in hardware and software continually redefine the field, which is what makes it so much fun.
2. What Courses are required for the Bachelor of Arts in Music Technology?
The course sequence is listed in the MSU online catalog. More information is available by email (email@example.com)
3. How do I know if a Music Technology major is right for me?
This is a music degree and not just a "recording" program. If you have never read music or played an instrument, you will have remedial work to complete before the regular course sequence. Even then, the music classes may still be more challenging for students with less experience. If you start as a Music Technology pre-major with less experience reading music, it may take longer than a year to complete the initial course sequence and apply for the Music Technology major. However, we do recognize that many exceptionally talented students have written music with a computer or by ear, but have less experience reading and writing music on paper. We fully intend to support those students with extra assistance along the way, provided they are willing to put in the time and effort to learn.
Above all, our Music Technology program seeks students who have the "creative bug," students with ability in songwriting, composing, and/or experimenting with sound, and students who show aptitude for exploring different kinds of music and creative collaboration with other disciplines.
4. Is this a gated program?
Like certain other majors at MSU, the Music Technology major requires each entering student to declare a pre-major and complete an initial course sequence before applying for the major. The gate is necessary to ensure that students have sufficient studio time and individual instruction, and to manage enrollment in School of Music courses.
For the Bachelor of Arts in Music Technology, the pre-gate courses are: MUSI 140 and 141 (Aural Perception I and II), MUSI 105 and 106 (Theory I and II), MUSI 135 and 136 (Keyboard Skills I and II), MUST 115 (Introduction to Digital Music) and MUST 125 (MIDI and Electro-Acoustic Composition).
Each spring, any Music Technology Pre-Major may submit an application for the gate after 1) completing these courses and 2) qualifying to enter one of the performance studios on their principal instrument. A specified number of pre-majors (typically 12-16) each year will be admitted into the upper level and may then declare the Music Technology Major. Evaluation for the gate is based on three components: 1) GPA in the pre-gate course sequence, 2) Composition portfolio submitted with the application, and 3) Service credits for participation and volunteerism throughout the year. Students have plenty of opportunities to help!
5. What are some future opportunities for Music Technology graduates?
There are many, especially if you are a self-starter who thrives on working independently. Music Technology is not the kind of field where you're likely to work one job for one company your whole life and then retire. It's more the kind of field where you can build your own self-directed niche from among many kinds of work (sometimes all at once!). The professionals who achieve success in this field are the ones who can quickly adapt to new technology and new developments in the music industry, and the ones who can fill multiple roles in the process of creating sound and music. Some of the areas that Music Technology students might pursue after graduation are listed below. Most Music Technology graduates will pursue further study or work in several of these areas, along with other opportunities that have yet to be invented!
- composition, production, and marketing of independent music
- graduate study in electroacoustic music, teaching, and running a university studio
- music and sound design for film, television programs and commercials, theater, visual art, computer games, virtual environments, and consumer devices such as mobile phones
- design and operation of a recording studio
- design, installation, and operation of live sound systems for concerts and other events
- content for new internet and broadcast media
- musical instrument and audio equipment design, manufacture, and sales
- audio software research and programming
- music education at all levels. The connection with music education is increasingly important, as new technology encourages young people to become music creators instead of passive consumers
6. What kind of music will I write at MSU?
Any and all. In the field of new media, the cardinal rule is you never say "I don't write that." Music for new media is all about finding the right sounds for the job and the story you want to tell. Whether the job calls for aleatoric atonality, groovy trip-hop, acousmatic machine sounds, guitar-based blues, 1930s swing, nature soundscapes, or blippy digital synthesis, the composer is expected to provide. Versatility is the name of the game.
Don't worry - you won't be required to write twelve-tone serial pieces the way academic composers once were. But you won't major in "recording your band," either. You will be stretched beyond your comfort zone. You will design your own sounds, using both real-world recordings and electronic synthesis. You will be asked to think about sound and music in ways you might not have considered before.
Electronic music, electroacoustic music specifically, is a field without boundaries, a genre that lets you do literally anything and incorporate any sound or any style of music. Using electroacoustic composition to explore diverse historical and current sounds and styles, you can discover the qualities in your work that make it uniquely yours. If that sounds like a challenge you would like to undertake, we'd love to meet you!
7. Can you help me record myself or my band?
We are not a commercial studio or a recording service. Due to rapid growth in the School of Music, and the resulting demands on our staff and resources, our School Director has established policies governing the use of Music Technology facilities. By necessity our facilities must be reserved primarily for teaching and for Music Technology class projects. If you are an MSU music student, you are eligible to check out recording equipment with faculty permission; for assistance please see our Computer Support Specialist, Joe Sweeney (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you are not an MSU music student, we'd be happy to give you a referral to one of the excellent commercial studios or location recording services in the Bozeman area.
8. Do you have Music Technology courses for non-majors?
We may have a limited number of spaces for non-majors in MUST 112, Basic Home Recording, taught by Doc Wiley at Peach Street Studios (627 East Peach Street). Basic Home Recording requires each student to purchase an MBox interface and Pro Tools software, approximately $350 for students. For more information, please contact Doc Wiley: email@example.com
9. Can I double-major in Music Technology and something else?
It depends. MSU allows students to officially declare two majors once they have reached senior year, but not before. You may not apply for the Music Technology gate unless Music Technology is your primary declared major. The Music Technology major is a full-time course sequence, and it is not expected that many students will double-major, though there are exceptions. In some cases it is possible, for instance, to complete a minor in the College of Business and/or complete pre-gate Business coursework while in the Music Technology major. Please see Prof. Bolte for specific advising.
One of our long-term goals is to establish a Music Technology Minor for students in Media and Theatre Arts. This is a long-term goal that, like any new degree program, will require development work before it can become a reality.
10. Do you have a Vision Statement?
In the past ten years, the widespread proliferation of devices for recording and manipulation of digital audio has redefined the music industry. Music production-- composing, performing, recording, and mixing-- no longer requires a commercial recording studio. While high-end studios still attract elite clientele, the once-ubiquitous 24-track tape studio has been nearly squeezed out of business by musicians learning to self-produce using only software and affordable, portable hardware. The traditional roles of composer, producer, performer, and sound engineer mesh and overlap. Today's music industry offers fewer opportunities for specialist engineers and strictly pen-and-paper composers, and more opportunities for composer/recordists who can work in all aspects of sound and music production.
Professionals in sound and music are called upon to handle a wide range of work, from composing music and sound effects to programming software to designing and operating recording studios and equipment. One common scenario is a "package deal" in which a composer is hired to compose, notate, conduct, and record a film soundtrack. Composition and sound design are also increasingly linked, as composers and sound designers work together closely, often using similar source materials. The composer, sound designer, and sound board operator may be the same person, particularly in multimedia and theatre performance.
Students are best prepared to direct their own careers when they have educational background in all of these areas. The Music Technology program at MSU meets this need, integrating theory and performance, composition, acoustics, audio engineering, music and sound design for visual media, and interdisciplinary studies. Students will work in creative teams, solve technical and musical problems, explore the history and significance of multimedia art through reading and critical analysis, and find their own paths in the world of artistic communication through sound.