Explorations in Music Technology

I. Course description

A course which focuses on the creation of musical compositions through the use of computer sequencing and recording software, electronic musical keyboards and related MIDI and audio devices.  Music theory concepts, connections to cultural studies, lyric writing exercises, mathematical principles of music and recorded sound and a study of acoustics are integrated into the curriculum with technology and creative experiences as the unifying thread.

II. Instructor’s educational preparation and current employment


  • Bachelor of Science in Education, University of Missouri-Columbia (1995)
  • Bachelor of Music in Performance, University of Missouri-Columbia (1995)
  • Graduate coursework completed through Northwest Missouri State University, the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Missouri-St. Louis
  • Currently employed by the Ladue School District, St. Louis County, Missouri

CONTACT INFORMATION:  Chad Prewett, Ladue Middle School, 9701 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO  63124. cprewett@ladue.k12.mo.us

III. Rationale for inclusion in a program for gifted students

This course provides enrichment and extension opportunities in the study of musical composition, theory, history and social context through the extensive use of tools and technology not readily available in most Missouri high schools.  The intensive pursuit of musical knowledge and creation allows for indepth understanding of the creative process, the challenges of artistic collaboration and art’s place within the human experience.  Connections with literature, science and math are explored in ways not possible in traditional high school music programs.

IV. Major topics covered
  • Components of the creative process
  • Compositional structure and form
  • Elements of music and their application to musical analysis
  • Social and historical uses of music, with particular attention to the work of theorists such as Adorno and Merriam
  • Set-up, configuration, operation and troubleshooting of MIDI sequencing software and digital audio recording software
  • Ethical and legal implications for composers and other holders of intellectual property rights
  • Basic and advanced techniques for tracking, editing and mixing musical scores using MIDI sequencing and digital audio recording software
  • Structure and pattern within chord progressions
  • Basic piano keyboarding
  • Strategies for lyric writing in various forms
  • Digital audio sampling techniques
  • Internet music and Standard MIDI Files
  • Underlying mathematical principles in digital sampling, audio recording, acoustics and calculation of delay times in audio signal processing
  • Industry roles and processes in audio production, music production, composition and audio engineering
V. Prerequisite knowledge

Some prior music theory knowledge and/or piano keyboarding skill are helpful for the course, but not necessary.

VI. Learning objectives
  • To allow students the opportunity to explore and experience the elements of the creative process.
  • To expand and extend student knowledge and experiences in the areas of musical composition and theory.
  • To allow students meaningful and advanced experiences with integrated projects combining musical creation with projects from other curricular areas.
  • To expose students to cutting-edge technology in the world of music and audio production.
  • To encourage the application of non-linear thinking to creative thought.
  • To increase student awareness and understanding of music’s role in society and culture.
  • To equip students with skills necessary to express creative thoughts through composition with the aid of contemporary technology.
VII. Primary source material

Explorations with Computers in Music, Fifth Edition (Prewett, 1998)


  • FreeStyle MIDI sequencing software (published by Mark of the Unicorn, Inc.—www.motu.com)
  • ProTools LE hard disk recording software (published by Digidesign,Inc.—www.digidesign.com)
VIII. Supplementary source material

Curriculum guides from the Experience Music Project online (www.emplive.com)

IX. Computing and the Internet (if applicable)

Much of the course is computer-based.  Uses of Internet music and legal issues surrounding Internet music are covered; the Internet is not formally used by students during the course.