Music Recording Technology and Audio Design (MRTAD)

About the Program

The major is designed to welcome students who are passionate about music, the technology surrounding it, and who love to fashion music their own way and meticulously polish it until it sounds awesome coming out of speakers.

It differs from many recording degrees in several key ways:

  1. It is a creativity based technology degree, that utilizes a hands on learning approach, and focuses on learning about technology by applying it toward the creation of original compositions. 
  2. It provides a solid background in music theory, aural skills, history, and ensemble performance,  to create literate graduates with a broad spectrum of career choices.
  3. It is a Swiss Army Knife degree with supporting courses in art, web design, dance, sound for theater, computer programming and psychology.

To prepare you for recording, composition, graduate studies in both, research in music cognition, theater sound and web design, post production etc…

The world is evolving rapidly and no one can predict the future — but we can prepare for it!! The overarching goal of B.M in Recording Technology and Audio Design is to give you the flexibility to adapt quickly to a rapidly evolving, technology-based world, to land on your feet and hit the ground running.

Core to the major is a six semester sequence of courses in electro-acoustic music.  These provide a solid grounding in acoustics, MIDI, synthesis, digital audio, audio recording & film/video scoring. 

NOTE: This is a very hands on degree and if you are admitted you will be part of the tech crew that is responsible for recording and providing sound reinforcement to the 300 some concerts that are produced in the school of music and dance every year.

This is an important position, and you will be working with professional engineering staff and training one-on-one on state-of-the-art equipment, the makes and models of which are found in equipment rigs on the finest touring companies with major artists such as Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney etc. 

Come prepared to work –– and be prepared to gIve up Saturday nights – we are looking for dedicated folks who are serious about their careers and who wish to become experts – the program is intense and we want only the most serious candidates.

Are you passionate about great live and recorded sound – and do you want to make this your career? If so we want to hear from you.

Additional Resources

Deadline to turn in materials is February 1, 2024 via our on-line audition portal.

**All printed materials (scores, music excerpts, recommendations, and grade transcripts etc.) need to be submitted via PDF format. Please upload links to two audio recordings of your original compositions (upload your audio recordings to YouTube, DropBox, BandCamp, Google Drive, SoundCloud etc.).  Upload a link to a one minute smart phone video of you performing on a musical instrument, any instrument, any style, original or not.**

Audition is via portfolio of compositions - we are looking for a creative spark, an original voice, a passion for music, evidence of the ability to work very hard. There is no specific genre, instrumentation or duration. Please submit two contrasting works.

  • Performance audition: we want to hear you play to get a sense of your musicality. Do not sign up for a live audition.  Instead, please record a short video of you performing, and provide a link to the performance via YouTube.  Instruments may include traditional classical instruments such as clarinet as well as other cultures: tabla, berimbau, dumbek etc., and pop instruments such as turntables, electric guitar, laptop etc.  Repertoire can be anything: original, improvised, scored, cover, in any genre.
  • Three letters of recommendation from qualified professionals.
  • Unofficial grade transcripts from past 4 years of education.
  • Statement of purpose - a 2-3 page essay on your musical vision, life and career goals and preparations.
  • A written statement on your music-reading ability.
  • A statement on the technical, software, hardware and recording equipment and software used to create your composition portfolio.
  • Audio recordings, and printed scores (if available) of 2 - 4 original works. (printed scores are not required, but highly recommended)

The major is extremely competitive—compile your materials with care as if you are applying for your ultimate dream job. Your materials should be excellent and professional, demonstrating your interest and seriousness.

All Recording Technology & Audio Design majors are expected to maintain at least a 3.75 GPA. This major prepares students to have a good chance of success, whether in the best graduate programs or within the music industry.

  1. Applied Musicianship
    Students will develop advanced professional competency in applied musicianship through written music theory, musical analysis, conducting, singing, and piano skills.
  2. Aural Perception
    Students will display deep proficiency in aural musicianship skills including the ability to transcribe melodies, transcribe rhythms, transcribe harmonic progressions, and to demonstrate proficiency in singing musical examples, patterns, and rhythms of advanced difficulty.
  3. Music Technology
    Students will apply, and demonstrate proficiency in current and emerging technologies used in the process of creating, analyzing, performing, and reproducing music and in reviewing or carrying out music research.
  4. Music Literacy and Critical Thinking
    Students will gain literacy and critical thinking skills by examining music literature and music research through performing, reading, researching, writing, listening, speaking, and reasoning about music. Critical thinking comprises the integration of historical and theoretical domains to identify and to solve problems within and beyond the discipline of music.
  5. Historical and Cultural Foundations
    Students will develop the capacity to situate contemporary musical experiences by interpreting a broad range of musical styles and practices from different historical eras and cultural traditions.
  6. Performance and Creativity
    Students on a performance track will perform on a primary instrument and will exemplify a high level of competence, both artistically and creatively. A similar level of artistry and creativity extends to those pursuing one of the non-performance tracks (e.g., the creation of music through our Global Composition track or other skills associated with one of our Professional Studies specializations).
  7. Musical Leadership and Community Engagement
    Students will exemplify musical competency through rehearsing and conducting SDSU ensembles, community ensembles, or public-school ensembles. Students will employ musical leadership in their participation in music organizations and through performances organized to engage the community.
  8. Pedagogy
    Students will assemble knowledge of curriculum development while also developing oral and written communication skills in order to effectively disseminate information, in a classroom setting, through various methodologies.
  9. Synthesis
    By the conclusion of undergraduate study in music, students will be able to solve musical problems by combining their capabilities associated with the learning outcomes enumerated above as appropriate to their respective area(s) of emphasis.
  10. General Skills
    All music students will hone the ability to collaborate effectively to engage in real-world problems, including academic, personal, and artistic matters. They will become independent learners, capable of accepting validation as a result of successful efforts while maintaining resilience in the face of challenges.