Last month (June) was Black Music Month. Since announced by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, June has been recognized as the designated month to formally honor the achievements and contributions of black music. Because of this celebration, it seems fair to reflect and pose the question, “Where would black music be without engineering? -not only the engineering that goes into creating and recording sound, but the engineering that goes into producing a “good” sound?”
When people think STEM, they don’t always think STEAM. STEAM is the inclusion of art and design as a driver of STEM innovation. Well, when folks think STEAM, they don’t always think music. But nestled between our proclivities about art and technology, there lies musical composition through the Digital Art Workstation.
A Digital Art Workstation is a software that allows artists to do vocal recording as well as compose beats digitally. From claps, to drums, to tings and explosions, this software has hundreds of sounds to choose from. It allows the control of volume for these sounds. It provides a meter for you to keep time while composing a beat. It even lets you cut music, play it back and piece portions together. This thing is absolutely BOSS!
And there are so many different kinds of workstations: Ableton, FL Studios, Logic, and Pro Tools, just to name a few. And the great thing about this method of composing beats is it can all be done on a computer! You can compose a piece within minutes, if you’re that good! Some workstations have tangible equipment as well for those who prefer touching dials instead of clicking them to master songs.
A music engineer is nothing without his or her equipment. The fact that beat-making is now on software and does not require external components, this sort of engineering has fallen into the hands of many people desiring to spread their sound. At-home studios are popping up and young professionals are blossoming into their passion. Independent artists are getting their own music out without making it to “the big-time”. Creativity and expression are flooding the streets thanks to technological advancement.
The culture of Hip Hop is furthering. Rhythm & Blues is being cultivated by the hands of those who grew up listening to it. The Digital Art Workstation is an affordable, portable studio.
Like music, life is what you make it. When life gives you sounds, make a beat. When it gives you noise, master it into something easy on the ears. No matter your circumstances, your voice matters. Your creativity belongs somewhere.
Stay grinding. Stay STEAMy. 💪🏾💪🏾