Updated on Friday 1 March 2013
Recording arts is a highly technical and creative field where basic entertainment is just the beginning. It is multidimensional and deals with audio in essentially all its forms and uses. As a crossroads of technology and creativity, recording arts is a strong draw for international students.
Maybe you're the kind of person who gets lost in a favorite album. Every note engages your being and every crescendo ignites your emotions. The beat is perfect. The words soar beyond your rational mind, lifted by a symphony of sounds. Maybe you're someone who gets excited by out-of-this-world adventure films. You're there in the theater on opening night, surrounded by state-of-the-art speakers designed to enwrap you with the movie soundtrack and transport you to mystical realms where every delicate sound effect brings you closer to the story. Or maybe you enjoy a physical interaction with your entertainment made possible through the advancement of simulation video games. As you gallop through unknown terrain, signals from nearby ring in your left ear, causing you to make a quick turn and save your own life, virtually speaking. All of these intricate uses of sound and the technologies that bring them to you are part of the recording arts.
So what is recording arts? Recording arts is a multifaceted field that extends far beyond the limited association with "recording artist." While "recording artist" often gets used to refer to just singers, songwriters, and other musicians, in the entertainment industry it means much more. Recording arts is a highly technical and creative field where basic entertainment is just the beginning. As a crossroads of technology and creativity, it is a strong draw for international students. A recording arts degree opens a world of opportunity for people with just about any interest in audio-visual engineering.
A good portion of the recording arts field has to do with the entertainment industry and so when someone asks, what is recording arts?, this industry tends to be what they're asking about. Sound and audio engineering have an integral function in just about all forms of entertainment. Can you think of some movie, music, or video game without any audio whatsoever? Probably not. And if you can, chances are that silence was used intentionally by a crafty recording artist.
Within the entertainment industry, most people associate the recording arts with music and the music business. This is for good reason. Music is full of people trained in various aspects of the recording arts. From the studio assistant newbie all the way up to a full-fledged record producer, all the essential roles have some kind of training in recording arts. Knowing this, most schools that offer a recording arts degree provide domestic and international students with a well-rounded training that covers several aspects of audio production. Just within music, there are also recording artists that work with remixing, post-production, and—for the truly adventurous—live music. Recording artists are the ones producing new pop tracks and the ones responsible for archiving timeless pieces of music that form part of our cultural heritage. Recording artists are behind the scenes at a live concert and they are on stage performing their own compositions.
Another realm within the entertainment industry that thrives on recording artists is that of TV and film. Just as the camera captures action, microphones must also bring the scene to our ears. Hours of recording, remixing, and post-production are required even for a brief television commercial. A well-placed jingle is sometimes more effective than the most alluring visual. Recording artists that work in TV and film also occasionally have the extra fun and challenge of recording on location. All those sounds you hear as the hero walks through the jungle don't just come from one microphone on the end of a camera. A recording arts training is absolutely necessary to set up the microphones in various ways to capture the scene and to enhance the sound in post-production. In live TV programs recording artists are responsible for making sure what happens in front of the camera makes it to our living rooms accurately.
Finally, the recording arts are a crucial part of video game production. If you think about it, video games are sort of a combination of elements from the music and TV/film industries with the extra dimension of enhanced interaction. As you'd expect, this extra dimension requires a whole other set of recording arts skills. Like for music, TV, and film, recording artists for video games work in studios gathering music, sound effects, vocal tracks, and other audio bits. These recordings are then remixed and enhanced in post-production. But for video games, these recordings take the extra step of becoming an interactive part of the game playing experience.
So in short, what is recording arts? It is a massively multidimensional field that deals with audio in essentially all its forms and uses. International students who seek a recording arts degree should have in mind some sort of niche within the sprawling recording arts industry, but they should also recognize the diversity of opportunities available to them and multi-task accordingly.