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Deans discuss tech in music, architecture

By Mengjia Liu     4/22/15 7:33am

Dean of the Shepherd School of Music Robert Yekovich and Dean of the School of Architecture Sarah Whiting discussed the impact of technology on their disciplines at a Scientia colloquium on April 14.

According to Yekovich, the development of virtual instruments and electronically produced sounds has dramatically transformed the music market and pushed musicians to find new ways to adapt.

“It’s far more cheap and cost-effective to have a computer playing the score for a film than to have 90 or 100 musicians sitting in a recording studio,” Yekovich said. “As a result, many musicians have had to learn computer-based skills, such as how to orchestrate, arrange, record and edit, in addition to knowing how to play their instruments.”



Virtual instruments have also changed music composition and the way professors teach composition, Yekovich said. 

“When I write a string quartet, I can now sit with my computer and hear every note I write in real time on all four instruments,” Yekovich said. “When students go to lessons, they come in with their computer and whatever the piece has been scored for is played in real time.”

Yekovich said he believes human performance and human interaction are still many years from being replaced by machine sounds despite these technological advances.

“We still contend that human performance and the kind of experiential learning that is derived from that remains central to our musical endeavor,” Yekovich said.

According to Whiting, a current challenge in architecture is how to convince people to invest in architecture or push architecture forward instead of imitating designs from the past.

“Architecture is experienced in a state of distraction, and the public doesn’t really pay that much attention,” Whiting said. “We need to do is teach students how to make evaluations of their own and make those arguments convincing for a broader audience. If you don’t do that, you can end up repeating the past in a false form.”

With new technology, architects can develop more sophisticated models, Whiting said.

“Through these softwares, you can form more realistic environments where the imagination is rendered almost real,” Whiting said. “It’s opened the possibility for us to work digitally to create complex relationships among components.”

Architecture student and lecture attendee Neha Sahai said she wishes the deans discussed experiential learning in more depth because the school does a great job balancing the technological side with the experiential learning.

“Our fields are very based on experiential learning, and technology is a very integral part of our education,” Sahai, a Will Rice College sophomore, said. “For example, we take technology classes for two years in which we learn about structural systems and the basic mechanics behind constructing buildings. So it’s a huge component to the education and lets us push the boundaries with designing.”



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