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Experiencing Music Technology

Fourth Edition

David Brian Williams and Peter Richard Webster

Publication Date - July 2022

ISBN: 9780190635794

576 pages
8 x 10 inches

In Stock

A comprehensive and up-to-date introduction to music and technology


Experiencing Music Technology is a comprehensive introduction to the broad topic of music technology as it exists in contemporary practice across music making, music production, and music teaching and learning. Unlike other music technology books, EMT is designed not only as a major text for a course of study but also as a resource and reference guide for a wide audience of amateur, student, or professional musicians both inside and outside the academic setting. Although it is introductory in scope, it provides considerable depth of coverage anchored around a thread of ten core music technology competences integrated throughout the book.

The newest edition of EMT enters the world at a time of real change in education that favors independent and creative thinking by learners. Our fervent hope is that the book meets the need of newer trends in music curriculum design to integrate technology understanding into specific courses within the discipline and to serve the needs of more modular course design in creative ways. The exciting development of the e-Book edition with its many links to internal and external resources helps to support multiple courses, curricula, and interdisciplinary connections.

New to this Edition

  • New Projects centered on music technology's role and impact on creative, entrepreneurial, and community-based fields of work
  • Updated content on new hardware realities that cover alternatives to traditional music technologies and feature models for implementing hardware set ups for all different environments using the latest in technological solutions
  • Ten new music technology competencies based on survey data of college music instructors frame the learning objectives of the book and are linked to the US 2014 National Music Standards
  • Webport material in the new e-book version of the text includes links to appropriate tutorials, additional software and hardware examples, and commercial hardware information and specifications


  • Provides a broad, conceptual overview of music and technology with essential study and reference material
  • Offers modular organization of the material to provide flexibility for the reader and the instructor in a course of study
  • Defines a set of core music technology competencies that serve as a thread of accomplishment throughout the book leading to the development of a personal set of knowledge and skills
  • Reflects on the history of computing and music technology identifying historic milestones
  • Provides a foundation of essential computer and music technology concepts and tools that underlay the use of technology, the procedures and data
  • Focuses on the conceptual and cross-application features that define current commercial software and hardware, leaving specific tutorial study of music software for other publications

About the Author(s)

David Brian Williams is Emeritus Professor of Music and Arts Technology at Illinois State University.

Peter Richard Webster is a Scholar-in-Residence at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He was previously the John Beattie Professor of Music Education and Technology at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University.


“This is a well-organized and clearly written text that will be useful in any music technology course. Its scope, inclusion of special projects, and links make this text a must have for any music student, semi-professional or professional musician, as well as for those simply interested in learning about music technology.”-Luis Loubriel, Benedictine University

Experiencing Music Technology is an incredibly complete and authoritative study of music technology and music technology education. Every music library should certainly have a copy.”-James Moses, Brown University

“This book covers the vast majority of the material needed for a student's well-rounded education in the concepts of Digital Music and the accompanying topics needed to continue taking courses in the area.”-Keith A. Umbach, Prince George's Community College

Table of Contents


    Viewport I: Musicians and Their Use of Technology

    Music Technology in Practice: College Students at Work in a Recording Session
    Music Technology in Practice: College Students Performing a "Cover" - Rob Dunn and Brittany May
    Project Suggestions for Viewport I

    Module 1: People and Music: Technology's Importance in Changing Times
    Why Study This Module?
    Musicians and Technology
    The Importance of Human Creation
    Changing Patterns of Music Curricular in Higher Education
    Technology Adoption and Change

    Module 2: People Making Technology: The Dance of Music and Technology
    Why Study This Module?
    Ballet of Music and Technology
    Five Periods of Music and
    The Mechanical Age: 1600s to Mid-1800s
    Powered by Electricity: Mid-1800s to Early 1900s
    Vacuum Tubes: Early to Mid-1900s
    Transistors and Miniaturization: 1950s to 1970s
    Personal Computers: Late 1970s to 2000s

    Back to the Future: Key Technologies of the Present

    Module 3: People Competencies for Music Technology
    Why Study This Module?
    People, Procedures, Data, Software, and Hardware
    Core Competencies and Solving Problems

    Module 4: Getting Help
    Why Study this Module?
    Online Support
    People with Technical Knowledge and Skills
    Printed Materials
    Professional Associations
    Professional Conferences

    Module 5: Finding Your Experience Level
    Why Study this Module?
    Growing Levels of
    Considerations for Platform and Operating Systems
    Choosing Hardware
    Choosing Software

    Project Details for Viewport I

    Viewport II: Platforms, Operating Systems, and Internet Concepts for Musicians
    Music Technology in Practice: Composer Working with Score -Frank Ticheli
    Project Suggestions for Viewport II

    Module 6: Operating Systems, Digital Work Habits, and Internet Use
    Why Study This Module?
    Devices and Their Operating Systems

    What Is an Operating System and What Is its Purpose?
    Keeping Current
    Basic Functions
    Human Interaction and the Graphical User Interface
    Files and Folders
    Connecting Hardware and Internet Connections
    Look and Feel of Devices
    Digital Work
    Naming and Saving on All Devices
    Viruses, Malware and Device Security
    Choosing and Managing Passwords
    Backing Up
    Complexities of Copyright
    Length of Copyright
    Notion of "Covers"
    Performance Rights
    Streaming Services
    Fair Use
    Future of Copyright

    Internet-Based Software for Personal and Professional Development
    Service and Hosting
    Web Browsers
    File Sharing
    Digital Audio Services: Sharing, Streaming, and Purchasing
    Developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN)

    Module 7: Concepts of Computers, Networking, and the Internet
    Why Study This Module?
    Analog to Digital: Computers and the Analog World

    Counting and Thinking with 1 and 0
    Computer Bits and Bytes
    and Parallel: Computers and Their Peripherals
    Network Protocols: Communicating Among Computer Devices
    Internet's Primary Protocol: TCP/IP
    Domain Names and IP Addresses
    Sorting Out Domain Names
    Email Internet Protocols: POP, IMAP, and SMTP

    The World Wide Web: URL, HTTP, HTML, and More
    Web Internet Addresses and Protocols: URLs and HTTP
    Constructing Web Documents: HTML
    Web 2.0: HTML5, CSS, XML and More

    File Formats: Sharing Files
    Packaging and Compressing Sets of Files: ZIP, TAR, Z, DMG, and EXE
    Text Documents: ASCII, RTF, DOC, PAGES, ODT, and PDF
    Music and Audio: WAV, AIF, MIDI and More
    Graphics and Video

    Safe Computing: Backup and the Cloud
    Clone Backup
    Incremental Backup
    Synchronized Backup
    What Backup or Backups
    to Use?

    Module 8: EMT Workstation Designs: Internals and Connectivity
    Why Study This Module?
    The Five Components of a Computer System
    The Internal Process of Computer Devices

    CPU, GPU, and the Clock
    Memory: RAM and ROM
    Internal Connectivity: SATA and PCIe
    Audio Codecs
    Internal Storage: HDD and SSD

    Chromebook and Mobile Internals
    Mobile Devices

    Wired Connectivity
    The Wires: USB and Thunderbolt
    The Protocols: USB and Thunderbolt
    Applying USB and Thunderbolt to Desktop and Mobile Devices

    Wired Internet: Ethernet, Fiber, and More
    Ethernet Internet
    Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and Cable Internet
    Fiber Internet
    Applications for Wired Internet

    Wireless Connectivity
    Wireless: NFC and Bluetooth
    Wireless: Wi-Fi and Cellular


    Module 9: EMT Workstation Designs: Internals and Connectivity
    Why Study This Module?
    Input Devices

    Mouse Devices
    Touch Pads and Screens
    Pencils and Styluses
    Virtual Assistants

    Output Devices
    External Storage: HDD and SSD, Flash and SD, CD and DVD
    Video: VGA, HDMI, DVI, Thunderbolt and More
    Audio Output

    Internet Hardware
    EMT-1 Applications Wrap Up
    The Desktop Workstation
    The Mobile Workstation

    Project Details for Viewport II

    Viewport III: Analog and Digital Audio Basics
    Big Picture: Digital Music Production and Live Performance
    Music Technology in Practice: Musicians and Music Production-Henry Panion and Ian
    Suggested Projects for Viewport III

    Module 10: Concepts of Acoustics, Audiology, and Digital Audio
    Why Study This Module?
    Acoustical and Perceptual Dimensions of Sound
    Vibrations, Frequency, and Amplitude
    Harmonic Spectrum
    Summary of the Acoustic Properties of Sound

    Audiology and the Human Ear
    Components of the Human Ear
    Protecting Ears of Musicians

    Digital Audio: Analog to Digital and Back
    Sampling Rates and Quantizing
    Optimizing the Quality of Digital Audio
    Aliasing, Filters, and Oversampling
    Going Higher: 24 Bits at 96 kHz and Beyond

    Formats and Compression for Storing Digital Audio Files
    Sound Compression
    Lossy Audio: Increasing Compression While Fooling the Ear
    Streaming Audio Files
    for the Internet
    Music Synthesis Techniques
    Analog Synthesis: Additive, Subtractive, and Distortive
    Physical Modeling
    Digital Wave Synthesis
    Granular Synthesis

    Module 11: Building a Basic Analog and Digital Music Studio
    Why Study This Module?
    Introducing EMT-2 and EMT-3 Music Studio Models

    Sorting Out Audio Plugs and Ports
    Tip, Ring, and Sleeve
    Balanced and Unbalanced

    Analog Audio Studio with EMT-2
    Simple Analog and USB Audio Interfaces
    Connecting to the Outside World: Input and Output
    The Role of a Mixer
    EMT-2 Mobile Considerations
    Web Audio and Web MIDI

    Digital Audio Studio with EMT-3
    Features of Digital Audio Interfaces
    Integrating a USB Audio Interface into the EMT-3
    Sound Drivers and Latency: Why is My Computer Behind the Beat?
    EMT-3 Mobile and Chromebook Considerations

    Storage and Sharing Digital Audio Work
    Digital Music Players and Smartphones
    CD/DVD-R Drives
    Flash Memory and SD Cards
    Cloud-based Storage

    Module 12: Wave Editing and Basic-Level DAW Software
    Why Study This Module?

    Understanding Mono, Stereo, Channel and Track
    Wave Editors vs. Basic-Level Digital Audio Workstations
    Installation, Space Use, and Plug-ins
    Importing Pre-Existing Audio
    Recording Live Audio and Auditing Playback
    Choosing the Right Platform

    Exemplar Software: Wave Editors
    Audacity (macOS/Windows/Linux)
    WavePad (Windows, macOS, iOS, iPadOS, Android)
    TwistedWave (macOS,
    iOS, iPadOS, web-based)
    Introduction to Audio Effects Processing
    Critical Role of Effects
    Families of Effects
    Sound Quality (Timbre)

    Exemplar Software: Basic-Level DAWs
    GarageBand (macOS)
    Mixcraft Recording Studio (Windows)
    Soundation Chrome Studio (Web-Based)
    Audio Evolution Mobile (iOS, iPadOS, Android)

    Module 13: Concepts of Modular Analog Synthesis and Synthesizers
    Why Study This Module?
    A Bit of Analog History

    Two Pioneers: Buchla, Moog, and Others
    Analog Synthesizers Modules
    Primary Components
    Basic Modules of an Analog Synthesizer
    Adding Elements of Control and Modulation
    Global Controls and Effects

    Virtual Renaissance of Analog Synthesizers
    Minimoog Virtual Analog Synth
    Setting a Patch for the Minimoog Synth

    Getting Started: A Sample of Physical and Virtual Analog Synths
    KORG littleBits Analog Synthesizer Kit
    MonoStereo Synthesizer
    Common Analog Synthesizer (AN Synth)
    Eurorack: Open-Source Virtual Modular Systems and VCV Rack

    Project Details for Viewport III

    Viewport IV: Adding MIDI to the Mix
    A Potpourri of Audio and MIDI Effects
    Music Technology in Practice: Music Technology Professor, Composer and Guitaring- V. J. Manzo
    Suggested Projects for Viewport IV

    Module 14: Concepts of MIDI
    Why Study This Module?
    How MIDI Works?
    Understanding MIDI Performance Codes

    MIDI Device Configurations
    Channel Messages
    Defining Channels for MIDI
    Traffic Flow
    System Messages

    General MIDI
    General MIDI Instrument Groups
    MIDI 2.0 Specifications
    Web MIDI

    Mapping MIDI Codes: Hardware Meets Software
    MIDI Connectivity and Networking

    The Original MIDI Connectivity
    Virtual Wired Solutions: USB and More
    Virtual Wireless Solutions: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and More
    Inter-App Solutions: IAC, AU, VST and More

    Storing and Exchanging MIDI Files
    Managing MIDI and Audio Resources
    Apple (macOS) Resources
    Microsoft Windows and Other Resources

    MIDI and Audio Timing: SMPTE, MIDI Time Codes, ADAT, and Word Clock
    Who's Conducting This Group?
    Keeping the FSK Tape Time and SMPTE Time
    Keeping the MIDI Time: MIDI Time Messages
    ADAT and Word Clock Time

    Experiencing MIDI Software and Hardware

    Module 15: MIDI Editing and Basic-Level DAW Software
    Why Study This Module?

    MIDI Versus Digital Audio
    MIDI Channels and Timbre Numbers-Getting Connected
    Exemplar Software: Basic Level DAWs and MIDI
    GarageBand (macOS)
    Mixcraft Recording Studio (Windows)
    Studio One Artist (macOS, Windows)
    Soundtrap (Web-Based)
    Audio Evolution Mobile (Android, iOS, iPadOS)
    GarageBand (iPadOS)

    Specialized Software for Mobile Platforms
    DAW: Korg Gadget 2 (iPadOS, macOS)
    DAW: NanoStudio 2 (iPadOS)
    Software Synthesizer: Audio Kit Synth One (iOS, iPadOS)
    Beatbox/Drum Machine: DM1-The Drum Machine (iOS, iPadOS, macOS)
    Workflow Utilities: Audiobus and AUM-Audio Mixer

    Mixing, Mastering, with Basic-Level DAWs
    File Formats and Distribution
    Mixing and Mastering Capabilities for DAWs at All Levels
    Mixing and Mastering: Are They the Same?
    Personal Choices with Mixing and Mastering: A Few Hints

    Module 16: MIDI Hardware: Interfaces and a Cornucopia of Controllers
    Why Study This Module?

    Overview of MIDI Hardware
    MIDI Hardware Basics
    Traditional MIDI Networks
    MIDI THRUs, Mergers, and Patchbays

    EMT-4 Music Studio with MIDI
    The Mobile Version of EMT-4
    Keyboard Controllers
    Pad Controllers

    EMT-5 Enhanced MIDI Music Studio
    Controller Cornucopia: Drums, Guitars, Winds, and More
    Drum Controllers
    Guitar and String Controllers
    Voice Controllers
    Wind Controllers

    Mixer Control Surfaces: Hardware for the Software DAWs
    Hardware Mixer Controllers
    Mapping the Hardware to DAW Software
    Automated Mixing
    Tablets and Smartphones as Mixer Control Surfaces

    Creating New Modes of Expression
    Pioneers Experimenting
    Sweat, Movement, and Biofeedback Controllers
    Experimentation with MIDI and Music Learning
    Hardware Tools for the DIY Experimenter

    Subjective Factors for MIDI Controllers

    Project Details for Viewport IV

    Viewport V: More Advanced Digital Audio Workstations
    Music Technology in Practice: Film and TV Composer, Arranger and Producer-Steve Morrell
    Suggested Projects for Viewport V

    Module 17: Multichannel Audio Hardware and Concepts
    Why Study This Module?

    Superheroes: The DSP Algorithms, Chips, and Plug-ins
    Audio Mixer Concepts and Design

    Routing and Channels
    Summing, Buses, and Mixes
    Processing: Effects, Dynamic Processors, and More
    Effect Mixes: Aux and Insert Buses
    More on Mixes for Groups and Effects

    The EMT Digital Audio Workstation Goes Multichannel
    Inputs for Recording or Performing
    Outputs for Recording, Monitor-Studio Audio, and Stage Audio

    EMT-6A: Analog Mixers
    Hands-on with an Analog Mixer
    Advantages and Disadvantages of an Analog Mixer Solution

    EMT-6B: Digital Mixers
    Hands-on with a Digital Mixer
    Hands-on with an Expanded Feature Digital Mixer
    Advantages and Disadvantages of a Digital Mixer Solution

    EMT-6C: Virtual or In-the-Box Mixers
    Hardware Mixer Control Surfaces
    Hands-on with a Multichannel
    Audio/MIDI Interface
    Hands-on with a Multichannel Mixer Controller
    Advantages and Disadvantages of a Virtual, In-the-Box Mixer Solution

    Three Mixer + Hybrid Solutions Wrap Up
    Just Getting Started
    Ready to Move Up
    A Good Fit for ITB Mixing?

    Mixers for Unique Recording Needs
    Wireless Multichannel Portable Mixers
    Small Mixers for Small Jobs
    DJ Mixers

    Portable Recorder/Players in the Digital Realm
    Two Scenarios for Portable Applications
    Features in Common
    Features that Differ

    Moving up to Surround Sound

    Module 18 Software for Advanced DAWs
    Why Study This Module?
    The Advanced DAW Landscape

    Eleven Advanced DAWs
    Notable Characteristics
    Which Advanced DAW is Best?

    Exemplar Software
    Logic Pro (macOS)
    Software Similar to Logic Pro
    Auria Pro (iPadOS)
    Ableton Live (macOS, Windows)
    Software Similar to Ableton Live

    Concluding Perspective: Advanced DAWs and Hardware
    Examples of DAW/Hardware Tradeoffs
    Audio Production Timeline

    Project Details for Viewport V

    Viewport VI: Music Notation Production
    Music Technology in Practice: Professors and Composers-Chia-ya Hsu and Jenni Brandon
    Suggested Projects for Viewport VI

    Module 19: Representing Music on the Printed or Digital Page
    Why Study This Module?
    How Is Symbolic Music Notation Represented in a Computer?

    Data Structures for Performing and Display
    Translating Data Between Performance and Display
    Tour of Computer Music-Coding Systems
    Pre-1960s: Music Typography and Mechanical Coding
    Mid-1960s to Mid-1970s: Friendlier Text-Based Music Coding
    Late 1970s to Early 1980s: Enter the Personal Computer
    Mid-1980s: The Democratization of Desktop Music Publishing
    Late 1980s and 1990s: Intelligent Rule-Based Music-Coding Systems
    1990s: Seeking Interchangeable Notation-Coding Systems

    Universal Solution for CMN Coding: MusicXML
    Recordare's MusicXML
    Deciphering MusicXML Tags

    File Formats for Notation Applications
    More on File Formats for Notation Applications
    Music Notation Import and Export Formats

    Music Fonts for Notation
    Two Flavors of Music Fonts: Bitmapped and Outline
    Music Font Layout (SMuFL)
    Potpourri of Music Fonts
    Is WYPWYP Music Software Possible?

    Module 20: Entry Techniques for Scorewriters
    Why Study This Module?
    Entry of Symbols

    Alphanumeric Keyboards, Key Shortcuts, and Numeric Keypads
    Mouse with Icons, Palettes, and Ribbon
    Step-time with MIDI Keyboard and Virtual Keyboard
    Real-Time MIDI Recording
    Real-time Recording with Tap or Foot Pedal
    Live or Recorded Audio
    Handwritten Notation

    Closing Thoughts on Entry Techniques for Music Notation

    Module 21: Software for Scorewriting, Scanning, and Digital Music Readers
    Why Study This Module
    Scorewriting Software

    Six Exemplar Scorewriters for Desktop Computers
    Software Choice: Music Content Requirements
    Basic Setup and
    Note Entry
    Basic Editing
    Editing Music Details
    Playback, Printing, and Saving/Sharing
    Specialized Capabilities Overall
    Other Scorewriter Software for Desktop Computers

    Scorewriters for Mobile Devices
    Mobile Options for Scorewriting Exemplar Software
    StaffPad (iPadOS, Windows)
    Still More Options for Scorewriter Mobile Apps
    Optical and Audio Music Scanning Software
    Characteristics of Optical and Audio Music Scanning Software
    SmartScore X2 (macOS, Windows)
    Music-to-XML (macOS, Windows
    PhotoScore Ultimate & NotateMe Ultimate 2020 (macOS, Windows)
    AudioScore Ultimate 2020 (macOS, Windows)
    ScanScore (macOS, Windows)
    PlayScore 2 Professional (iOS, iPadOS, Android)

    Digital Music Reader Applications
    Characteristics of Digital Music Readers
    forScore (iOS, iPadOS)
    Newzik (iOS, iPadOS)
    TomPlay (iOS, iPadOS, Android, Windows, MacOS, Web-Based)
    Other Digital Music Readers

    Module 22: Hardware for Music Printing, Scanning, and Mobile Music Reading
    Why Study This Module?
    Printers for Music Notation

    Overview of Printer Concepts and Operations
    The Mechanics of Inkjet and Laser Printing
    Physical Properties in Common with Inkjet and Laser Printers
    Printing Music Parts and Scores
    Setting Up Music Page Sizes for Printing from a Scorewriter
    Final Notes on Laser and Inkjet Printers for Music

    Scanners and OMR
    The Mechanics of a Scanner
    Optical Music Recognition (OMR)

    Accessories for Digital Music Readers
    Page Turners
    Tablet Mounts
    Pencil and Stylus

    Project Details for Viewport VI

    Viewport VII. Software for Music Teaching and Learning
    Music Technology in Practice: Music Clinician and Music Educator-Barbara Freedman
    Suggested Projects for Viewport VII

    Module 23: Software and Resources for Music Teaching and Learning
    Why Study This Module?
    Changing Landscape of Music Pedagogy

    Scenarios to Consider
    Underlying Themes
    Pedagogical Skill and Knowledge to Use Technology
    Resources Dedicated to Music Teaching and Learning
    Listening/Conceptual Study: Younger Learners
    Listening/Conceptual Study: More Advanced Learners
    Performance: Younger Learners
    Performance: More Advanced Learners
    Composition: Younger Learners
    Composition: More Advanced Learners

    Module 24: Further Technology Resources for Teaching and Learning
    Why Study This Module?
    Music-Related Website Resources

    Interdisciplinary Resources
    Portals of Music Teaching Resources
    Portals for Audio/Printed Music
    Music Education Blogs

    General Technological Resources
    Distance Learning and Conferencing
    Learning Management Systems
    Portfolio Management
    Video Applications
    Assessment Aids
    Social Media and Building a Personal Learning Network (PLN)
    Social Media in Action for Music Teaching and Learning
    Personal Learning Networks

    Music Production Content in Service to Music Teaching and Learning
    Project Details for Viewport VII

    A. EMT Workstation Equipment Guide and Codes
    B. Selected Readings
    C. EMT Competency Checklist