• Mix creative talents with mastering technical skills in the MIDI lab, other facilities
  • Students, faculty put on live productions such as Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' cover concert
  • Graduate students get hands-on experience in recording studios on campus
  • 'Pa's Fiddle' special for PBS showcases MTSU's Music City connections

Recording Arts and Technologies, M.F.A.

The Master of Fine Arts in Recording Arts and Technologies offers preparation for advanced work in audio production, recording, and integrated electronic media. Coursework helps students develop a strong foundation in audio production and an understanding of the theoretical concepts of closely related disciplines. The program is designed to foster creativity and features a strong technical component utilizing the latest advancements in software and hardware. A diverse range of technical and artistic projects are produced, culminating in a final project of professional caliber. The degree plan also offers preparation for select graduates to teach at the postsecondary level in the field of audio recording and production. Creativity is one of the primary qualities sought in new students for the six-semester program. This creative background may be in audio engineering or in a field closely related to what might be described as "entertainment technology."

Alum Rowland works with Nine Inch Nails, co-founds app company

Alum Rowland works with Nine Inch Nails, co-founds app company

Daniel Rowland, M.F.A. grad and recording industry online instructor for MTSU, co-produces now with acclaimed guitarist/producer Adrian Belew including working together on the latest Nine Inch Nails album. Hesitation Marks eventually reached No. 3 in the U.S. and No. 2 in the United Kingdom. Rowland used multiple iPads and his laptop at Trent Reznor's Los Angeles home to process audio of Belew playing guitar. Rowland also utilized a "modular closet" full of effects on the NIN song Everything -- from guitar pedals, iPads, tape machines, and amps to high-end guitar processors. These were connected via patchbays to easily create various signal paths. This inspired him to co-found the app company NOIISE and release an iOS professional multi-effects processor app, FLUX:FX, with Belew and Amsterdam-based companies Mobgen and Elephant Candy. They followed that with another app, FLUX by belew, a re-imagining of the album format that never plays the same way twice, featuring hundreds of tracks recorded, mixed, and co-produced by Rowland.

Professor performs various roles in, out of studio

Professor performs various roles in, out of studio

MTSU audio recording faculty member Bill Crabtree is busy outside the classroom with producing, engineering, performing, and recording. He produced a new album for Nashville artist Sali Hagan of funky, retro, artsy rock. Crabtree also played drums, did some percussion, and programmed a lot of electronic instruments on the recordings. M.F.A. student Grant Greene additionally worked on the album. Next up is co-producing and engineering recordings for Zigo, a St. Louis-based Americana band. Crabtree played drums on a live recreation of Pink Floyd's classic album Dark Side of the Moon that involved faculty, staff, and students at MTSU's Tucker Theater. In spring 2014 he did a three-day recording workshop on studio production and recording at the AES Central Region Summit. Crabtree also collaborated with Michael Fleming on writing the report for the AES 50th conference on audio education held at MTSU, where they were co-chairs. Crabtree is producing instructional videos about audio technology and recording, with the help of master's students.

This M.F.A. helps foster and develop creativity and trains students in technology for advanced work in audio/music engineering or related fields that could be described as "entertainment technology." Graduates can use the degree program to excel in professional pursuits such as

  • Audio post-production engineer
  • Audio studio design and installation
  • Broadcast audio
  • Independent audio contractor
  • Live sound engineer
  • Manufacturer audio product specialist
  • Mastering engineer
  • Media specialist
  • Recording studio engineer
  • Recording studio manager
  • Retail audio sales
  • Sound design for film/video
  • University professor 

Employers of MTSU alumni include

  • Alabama State University
  • Art Institute of Tennessee
  • Asbury University
  • Belmont University
  • Brickhouse Records
  • Butler University
  • Clair Brothers
  • CNN
  • GC Pro
  • Hope College
  • Jeff Slaughter Ministries
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • National Public Radio (NPR)
  • New England School of Communications
  • Old Dominion University
  • Sweetwater
  • Tennessee Digital Video
  • Truphonic Recording Studios
  • Yamaha Corporation of America

Graduate

The Department of Recording Industry offers the Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Recording Arts and Technologies.

A limited number of students, typically 12-14, are accepted each year for fall admission. The quality of the creative portfolio is usually the determining factor in admission.

A previous degree in audio engineering/music technology isn't required, but some students with little or no audio background may be asked to complete foundation audio courses in the summer before starting the program.

Residents from the following states are eligible to enroll in this program at MTSU at the in-state tuition rate through Academic Common Market agreements: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The M.F.A. program normally has two or three graduate assistantships to award each fall.

For complete curriculum details, click on the REQUIREMENTS tab above.

Undergraduate

A student majoring in Recording Industry can pursue a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in one of three concentrations: Audio Production, Commercial Songwriting, or Music Business.

The department also offers undergraduate minors in Entertainment Technology (an interdisciplinary minor) and Recording Industry (for non-majors).

Recording Arts and Technologies, M.F.A.

Bill Crabtree, Program Director
(615) 494-7908
Bill.Crabtree@mtsu.edu

The Department of Recording Industry offers the Master of Fine Arts in Recording Arts and Technologies (MRAT).

The purpose of the Master of Fine Arts program is to offer preparation for advanced work in audio production, recording, and integrated electronic media. Students develop a strong foundation in audio production and an understanding of the theoretical concepts of closely related disciplines. The program fosters creativity and offers a strong technical component utilizing the latest advancements in software and hardware. A diverse range of technical and artistic projects are produced, culminating in a final project of professional caliber. The degree plan also offers preparation for select graduates to teach at the postsecondary level in the field of audio recording and production.

Accelerated Bachelors to Masters Program

Qualified students pursuing an undergraduate degree in Recording Industry may take up to 12 credit hours of coursework in the M.F.A. in Recording Arts and Technologies program. These credits (up to 12) may be applied to both the B.S. in Recording Industry and the M.F.A. in Recording Arts and Technologies degrees. To apply, see the M.F.A. program director.

Please see undergraduate catalog for information regarding undergraduate programs.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Master of Fine Arts program in Recording Arts and Technologies requires

  1. an earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college;
  2. undergraduate preparation or significant professional experience appropriate to the graduate curriculum and a minimum overall grade point average of 3.00 in all courses attempted, excluding repeated courses;
  3. a satisfactory score on the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) that is not more than five years old. Successful applicants typically have scores of 146 verbal and 140 quantitative (current scale) or 400 (former scale) or better on the verbal and quantitative measures of the GRE, and an analytical writing score of 4 or better.

Conditional Admission

An applicant who meets all requirements for admission to the M.F.A. program except the grade point average of 3.00 on all undergraduate work attempted may be granted conditional admission status if the applicant has a 3.00 average on all upper-division undergraduate work.

An applicant whose GRE scores are below the expected minimum, but who meets all other admission criteria may be granted conditional status.

Conditional students must maintain at least a 3.00 GPA for the first 12 semester hours of graduate work or one year after first matriculation (whichever occurs earlier) in order to achieve regular status and continue in the program.

Students may also be admitted under conditional status if the admissions review committee recommends that work be done at the undergraduate level to make up deficiencies. Conditional status will be removed when deficiencies are satisfactorily completed.

Application Procedures

All application materials are to be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies except the creative portfolio. The portfolio should be mailed directly to the M.F.A. director (see below).

Applicant must

  1. submit application with the appropriate application fee (online at www.mtsu.edu/graduate/apply.php);
  2. submit official scores on the GRE;
  3. submit official transcripts of all previous college work;
  4. submit a formal statement of purpose addressing the applicant's career goals, related work experience, and how this degree will help attain the stated career goals;
  5. submit two letters of recommendation for graduate study-one from the undergraduate major advisor if the student is a recent graduate;
  6. submit a portfolio of works representative of the candidate's creative achievements in the areas of audio recording, composition, video, film, multimedia, Web design, or areas strongly related to the degree curriculum. (NOTE: The portfolio has no specific guidelines because applicants are expected to have developed varying types of creative skills. It is extremely important to document your contribution to each item you submit. For example, if you submit an audio recording, state if you were composer, performer, engineer, producer, or several of these things. Audio examples should be submitted on a playable compact disc [no data files] and video on a playable DVD.)
    Portfolio materials should be sent directly to:
    Bill Crabtree
    Director, M.F.A. in Recording Arts and Technologies
    Middle Tennessee State University, Box 166
    Murfreesboro, TN 37132

Curriculum: Recording Arts and Technologies

Candidate must complete 60 hours in the following course of study:

Year 1

 

Fall Semester

 

  • MRAT 6010 - Recording in Cultural Context

    3 credit hours

    Provides students with an accelerated introduction to the field of popular music studies. Inquiry focuses on recorded music as a commodified form of commercial art and its relationship between those who make it and those who consume it. Historical, legal, and rhetorical methodologies, as well as theoretical approaches drawn from cultural studies examined.

  • MRAT 6030 - MIDI and Music Synthesis Seminar

    3 credit hours

    Technical skills and conceptual foundation necessary to undertake advanced creative projects using MIDI and sound synthesis. Emphasis on mastery of hardware and software platforms including Pro Tools, Reason, Ableton, Yamaha, and Moog synthesizers and related peripherals.

  • MRAT 6040 - Digital Audio Studio Seminar

    3 credit hours

    A comprehensive in-depth study of audio theory and the digital tools used to record, edit, and mix audio. Students engage in analytical problem solving using scientific foundations in audio as well as the technical skills needed to use Pro Tools in advanced production projects.

  • MRAT 6050 - Multitrack Recording Seminar

    3 credit hours

    Systematic examination of the techniques and technology used in the modern recording studio environment. Emphasis placed on music recording with creative recording and mixing projects produced by each student.

Spring Semester

 

  • MRAT 6110 - Production Seminar I

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisites: MRAT 6030, MRAT 6040, and MRAT 6050. Studio production course which considers the evolving role of music producer for the 21st century, including audio production techniques and the overall production process, with a focus on the aesthetic, creative, and entrepreneurial aspects of recording studios. For the semester project, students will develop better understanding of the course concepts by acting as producer for a large-format recording project.

  • MRAT 6140 - Graduate Seminar in Audio Recording

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisites: MRAT 6030, MRAT 6040, and MRAT 6050. Advanced techniques and technologies used in music recording and engineering. Students assume the role of a recording engineer and work with a producer from MRAT 6110 toward the completion of an advanced multi-track music recording.

  • MRAT 6070 - Visual Aesthetics and Technology I

    3 credit hours

    Introduces students to the theories of visual aesthetics with regard to light, color, space, time, motion, and sound. Topics cover camera basics, lighting, and editing techniques needed to creatively capture, enhance, and manipulate these image/sound elements. Students explore the creative value of these elements through the production of several short videos.

  • Guided elective 3 credit hours

Year 2

 

Fall Semester

 

  • MRAT 6130 - Production Seminar II

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisites: MRAT 6110 and MRAT 6140. In this second year studio production course, students produce and engineer a variety of projects for their portfolio involving multitrack pop music, acoustic drum recording, and location/classical recording. Emphasis on development of creative skills and knowledge related to music production and engineering including critical listening skills and evaluation techniques. Final project mixes submitted in stereo and surround formats.

  • MRAT 6145 - Seminar in Advanced Mixing Techniques

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisites: MRAT 6040 and MRAT 6050. Advanced application of audio mixing techniques, designed to develop skill sets and knowledge base related to the craft of mixing. Provides students with a means for creative self-discovery and the exploration of complex ideas. An in-depth study of core mixing skills, signal processing and their application using a variety of tools, media and approaches. Additional topics of study include applied critical listening, automation systems, focus and foundation mixing, commercial concerns, and the NARAS guidelines for exchange and delivery of recorded music projects.

  • MRAT 6090 - Visual Aesthetics and Technology II

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: MRAT 6070. Continuation of MRAT 6070 with demonstration of basic and advanced visual technology as a foundation for more advanced video productions. Explores visual aesthetics theories and basic video skills applied to student produced videos and editing exercises. Designed to equip the student with more sophisticated mastery of the moving image form and its storytelling potential.

  • Guided elective 3 credit hours

Spring Semester

 

  • MRAT 6150 - Legal Rights of the Creative Individual

    3 credit hours

    Examines legal rights and duties of creative persons. Students apply concepts from copyright, trademark, trade secrets, privacy, publicity, defamation, and other branches of the law to media productions.

  • MRAT 6210 - Production Seminar III

    3 credit hours

    Prerequisite: MRAT 6130. Student recordings reviewed through regular peer presentation and critique. Students revise portfolio entries and undertake new projects in preparation for their Portfolio Jury. Students begin preparation and concept presentations for the third year MRAT 6650.

  • Guided elective 3 credit hours
  • Portfolio Jury (NOTE: Students must pass Portfolio Jury and Final Project Presentation to continue to the Final Project.)

Year 3

 

Fall Semester

 

  • MRAT 6650 - Final Project  1 to 9 credit hours  (3 credit hours)

    MRAT 6650 - Final Project

    1 to 9 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Permission of department. A directed production project of substantial size and scope proposed, developed, and realized under the guidance of the major faculty advisor in consultation with the final project faculty committee. The culminating experience in the M.F.A. program. S/U grading used.

  • Guided electives 6 credit hours
  • Comprehensive examinations

Spring Semester

 

  • MRAT 6650 - Final Project  1 to 9 credit hours  (6 credit hours)

    MRAT 6650 - Final Project

    1 to 9 credit hours

    Prerequisite: Permission of department. A directed production project of substantial size and scope proposed, developed, and realized under the guidance of the major faculty advisor in consultation with the final project faculty committee. The culminating experience in the M.F.A. program. S/U grading used.

  • Comprehensive examinations (if necessary)

NOTE:

Guided electives are normally selected from recording arts and technologies courses; however, up to 6 hours of guided electives may be from other departments upon permission of the student's advisor. A maximum of 12 hours of 5000-level courses may be counted toward the degree.

Program Notes

Candidate must

  1. file a degree plan in the College of Graduate Studies prior to entry into the program;
  2. file a Notice of Intent to Graduate form in the College of Graduate Studies within the first two weeks of the term in which candidate intends to graduate;
  3. attend full time, taking 9-12 hours per semester.
  4. successfully pass the comprehensive examination and portfolio jury during the spring semester of year two.

 

Dr. Joseph Akins
Professor
joseph.akins@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Mike Alleyne
Professor
mike.alleyne@mtsu.edu

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Cosette Collier
Professor
cosette.collier@mtsu.edu

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William Crabtree
Professor
bill.crabtree@mtsu.edu

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Charles Dahan
Associate Professor
charlie.dahan@mtsu.edu

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Dr. John Dougan
Professor
john.dougan@mtsu.edu

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Michael Fleming
Professor
michael.fleming@mtsu.edu

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Matt Foglia
Professor
matt.foglia@mtsu.edu

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Amy Macy
Associate Professor
amy.macy@mtsu.edu

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John Merchant
Assistant Professor
john.merchant@mtsu.edu

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Dan Pfeifer
Professor
dan.pfeifer@mtsu.edu

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Dr. Jim Piekarski
Professor
james.piekarski@mtsu.edu

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who is the MFA for?
  2. What would be an example of a creative area?
  3. Do I need an undergraduate degree in audio engineering?
  4. How soon can I start?
  5. When should I apply?
  6. How many students will you accept each year?
  7. Is financial aid available?
  8. What is the admissions process like?
  9. What should be included in a creative portfolio?


Who is the MFA for?

The MFA is an unusual degree, in that one of the primary qualities sought in new students is creativity. This creative background may be in audio engineering or in a field closely related to what might be described as "entertainment technology." Though creativity is fostered and developed throughout the program, a strong creative area is expected of all incoming students. An interest in audio production is not enough. This creativity is demonstrated through the portfolio required as part of the admissions process. The MFA is not an appropriate degree for someone who does not have substantial creative output in some related field or a previous degree in audio engineering/music technology. If a student’s strength is audio recording/technology, then the question that should be asked is “What is it about my recordings that sets them apart from those of everyone else who has a similar background?”

What would be an example of a creative area?

This will be different for each student and might consist of songs that you have written, audio recordings you have engineered, videos you have shot and edited, computer games you have authored, music scores of pieces you have composed, websites you have created, etc. Of course, the portfolio will be very different for each applicant depending on his or her background. 

Do I need an undergraduate degree in audio engineering?

Though some MFA students have previous degrees in audio engineering/music technology, the MFA does accept students who may not have a previous degree in audio engineering. Some students with little or no audio background may be asked to complete foundation audio courses during the summer before starting class in the fall.

How soon can I start?

The MFA accepts new students only in the fall term.

When should I apply?

The admissions committee will begin looking at new applications in late March and will continue to review applicants until all places are filled.

How many students will you accept each year?

The MFA accepts a limited number of students. In past years, 12-14 students have been accepted.

Is financial aid available?

The MFA normally has two or three assistantships to award each fall. These may be awarded to incoming students and are sometimes awarded to students currently in the program who have shown the aptitude for teaching an undergraduate course in our department. Assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis. It is recommended that applications for assistantships be submitted early in the application process since the admissions committee may begin awarding assistantships as soon as late March. Consideration for an assistantship requires that the applicant has submitted all the materials required for admission, as those materials comprise the primary means of evaluating the candidate’s suitability for an assistantship, and an applicant must have been admitted unconditionally in order to receive an assistantship. Though an assistantship could possibly be available as late as early July, in past years most assistantships have been awarded by the end of the spring.

Information about other sources of financial aid can be found on the following webpage:  http://www.mtsu.edu/graduate/student/financing.php
(This information can also be accessed by going to the MTSU homepage and under “Future Students”, selecting “Graduates”, then selecting the link, “Financing Your Education”.)

Another significant source of financial assistance is the “Academic Common Market.” This is a group of states that have agreements permitting graduate students who are permanent residents of those states to enroll at MTSU at the in-state tuition rate. This provides a savings of approximately $30,000.

What is the admissions process like?

Admissions are competitive and an applicant’s materials are compared with those of all other applicants. The primary factors considered in determining a student’s suitability for admission include the creative portfolio, undergraduate GPA, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and the letter of intent.

The quality of the creative portfolio is usually the determining factor in admission. 

Review of applications by the MFA Admissions Committee will begin in late March and a limited number of students will be accepted. Admissions are competitive and your materials are being compared with all other applicants. This process may take several weeks, however, places could also be filled in a shorter time. It is to your advantage to have your application submitted by April 1st. Later applications will be considered but there will be the possibility that all the places in the MFA may already have been filled.

You can view more specific requirements for admission to the MFA by clicking the REQUIREMENTS tab above.

What should be included in a creative portfolio?

A portfolio of works should be representative of the candidate’s creative achievements in the areas of audio recording, composition, songwriting, video, film, multimedia, web design, or areas that could generally be described as “entertainment technology”. Most applicants’ portfolio works will come from just one or two of the areas described above, however, some will have done creative work in more than one of these fields. It is extremely important to document your contribution for each item you submit. For example, if you submit an audio recording, state if you were the composer, performer, engineer, producer, or did several of these tasks. The admissions committee will be evaluating what your specific contributions were to each project. The portfolio has no specific guidelines because applicants come from a wide variety of creative backgrounds and each student’s portfolio will reflect their particular expertise, however a professional presentation of materials is expected.

Submit what you think is your best work. This may only be three or four examples but may include as much as you wish. If you have extended examples (a 20 minute video documentary or a dance mix, for example) you may wish to edit them. In addition to your submissions, include a list of ANY other projects on which you have participated and list your job on each project. In your portfolio documentation list the hardware and software with which you are familiar. List related technologies with which you are familiar and describe your competency. This might include: Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, iMovie, etc.

Audio examples should be submitted on an audio CD that is playable on either a Macintosh or PC computer or on a commercial CD or DVD player. MP3s are not acceptable. Video and/or film examples should be submitted on a DVD that is playable on either a Macintosh or PC computer or on a commercial DVD player.

QuickTime Video Requested
Though it is not required applicants are asked to submit a brief QuickTime video of them describing their background and reason for seeking the degree. This is a way for the admissions committee to get to know you beyond your written documentation. A QuickTime data file is adequate or this may also be submitted as a playable DVD if you prefer.

Contact and Student Information

Bill Crabtree
Bill.Crabtree@mtsu.edu
615-494-7908

Bill Crabtree
Bill.Crabtree@mtsu.edu
615-494-7908

Department of Recording Industry
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Box 21
1301 East Main Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37132


College of Graduate Studies
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Box 42
1301 East Main Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

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