Sweet Briar welcomes visitors to check out new electroacoustic composition lab

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Senior Briana McCall gets a demo of the equipment in Sweet Briar’s new electroacoustic composition studio from Professor Josh Harris. McCall, a singer/songwriter double majoring in music and French, is considering using the space to record songs.

Sweet Briar College has just completed an electroacoustic studio for music composition — known as the SArPA studio for sound art production and analysis — and is hosting an open house to show off what it can do. The event will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, in Babcock 020.

The College installed the studio equipment and state-of-the-art recording software using a $10,000 Chegg David B. Goldberg Music Grant to expand the music department’s offerings and add incentives for students interested in composing — a field in which women are historically underrepresented.

Assistant professor of music and composer Josh Harris says the space is ready to go for an honors course he will teach on sound design in spring 2017 — and students are eager to get started.

Learning the technical skills needed for sound design in video gaming, television or movies is one of the studio’s practical applications, Harris says, as well as how to use professional recording software. Moreover, most music composition today is done with the aid of computers, he says.

“I think we have the opportunity at Sweet Briar to get women excited about composition,” Harris says. “This studio is going to be a way in for a lot of students who might not have thought of music composition before — especially if they’ve been thinking about it in terms of writing classical music.”

Chegg’s vice president of brand marketing, Heather Hatlo Porter, was happy to hear how the College is using the grant — even more so to learn of the students’ enthusiasm.

“At Chegg, we live to help students, whether that’s saving them time and money or offering a fun surprise and delightful experience. With the Chegg Music 101 event featuring Rachel Platten and the David B. Goldberg grant, we are proud to have done both for Sweet Briar,” Porter said.

“Far too often, music and arts programs are the first to be cut when school budgets are tight, which is why the grant is such an important part of our Music 101 campaign. We are thrilled to see Sweet Briar utilize the grant to encourage music education and ensure this is a lasting victory for the school.”

Harris has two students planning to use the studio for composition projects next semester. A third, singer/songwriter Briana McCall ’17, recently told WDBJ7 that it offers a better alternative than her current method of capturing what she writes: recording on her iPhone.

“It allows us to make a recording that we can put out and that is professional enough to use in our projects,” McCall said, adding later: “I’m just excited to start using it.”

The public is welcome to attend the open house. For more information about the event, contact Harris at jkharris@sbc.edu or (434) 381-6115.

Read more about the electroacoustic studio here.

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