Recording Arts and Technologies

Master of Fine Arts

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Recording Arts and Technologies, M.F.A.

The Master of Fine Arts in Recording Arts and Technologies in the College of Media and Entertainment at MTSU 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."

If you live in one of these states: AL AR FL GA KY LA MD MS OK SC VA; you may be able to attend MTSU at in-state rates under the Academic Common Market program.

Careers
Requirements
Faculty
Information
Careers
Requirements
Faculty
Information

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CAREERS

Alum Highlight

Sarah Bailey stars, sings, acts, records, composes music, and is the creative visionary behind the streaming series "Incognita's Infamous Adventures". It all started with a song she wrote called "Gutsy Girl In Tights" about a flawed, quirky girl who also happens to be a superhero.

The song grew into a full-fledged film that Sarah created for her M.F.A. final project. Sarah met Media Arts professor Allie Sultan who believed in the vision and agreed to produce it. After months and months of filming and post production, the world of "Incognita's Infamous Adventures" has been winning awards at film festivals, getting rave reviews, and going viral on TikTok. The series is a fun and playful superhero sci-fi musical comedy that uses font names instead of swear words and the superheroes' fondest wish is to have dental insurance. Her nemesis, Badio is also her love interest and real-life husband Christoper Bailey.

Awards won:
2021 Winner Best Web Series — Orlando Film Festival
2021 Nominee Best VFX — Orlando Film Festival
2022 Nominee Best Fantasy/Scifi — Stareable Fest LA
2022 Tennessee Spirit Award — Tennessee International Independent Film Festival

Incognita is now streaming on Prime Video and The Fantasy Network. The soundtrack is available on Spotify and Apple Music along with all other major digital platforms. Season 2 is currently in the fundraising and preproduction stages.

Alum Highlight

Emily Eck is the full-time engineer and studio manager for indie rock band Arcade Fire. She spent the last three years recording their newly released album "We", which has just been nominated for Best Alternative Music Album in the 2023 GRAMMYs!

Congratulations Emily!

During the process of making the album, Emily traveled around North America and Europe working with producers and artists including Radiohead's Nigel Gorich, Peter Gabriel, Father John Misty, Beck, Joy Divison's Stephen Morris, Geoff Barrow, Pulp's Steve Mackey, and more.

After graduating from our MFA program in 2014, Emily returned to her hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana to record and mix records. Her credits reflect the influence that the culturally diverse city has had on her life, which encompass genres such as Cajun, Mardi Gras Indian, Hatian, Brass Band, Electronic, and Indie Rock. Along her career, she has shared the control room with some of her own childhood heroes such as Dr. John, Irma Thomas, and The Neville Brothers. Emily received a GRAMMY acknowledgment in 2018 for her work on Lost Bayou Ramblers "Kalenda" for Best Regional Roots Music Album. She also taught a college course in recording studio techniques at Loyola University, which had previously been taught by the first woman to win a GRAMMY for Best Engineered Album, Trina Shoemaker.

Emily attributes her ability to step right into the occasion, or sit in the studio's hot seat and survive, to the fundamental time she spent at MTSU building her engineering chops.

Careers Information

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
  • Asbury University
  • Avid
  • 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
  • Rensselaer Polytech
  • Sweetwater
  • Tennessee Digital Video
  • Top Track Recording
  • Truphonic Recording Studios
  • Yamaha Corporation of America

REQUIREMENTS

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FACULTY

INFORMATION

The Department of Recording Industry offers a 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.

Application Procedures

All application materials must be sent to the College of Graduate Studies with the exception of the creative portfolio. The portfolio is sent directly to the M.F.A.Director in the Department of Recording Industry.

To apply, please submit the following to the College of Graduate Studies:

  1. Application with the appropriate application fee;
  2. Official scores on the GRE;
  3. Official transcripts of all previous college work;
  4. A formal statement of purpose addressing the applicant’s career goals, related workexperience, and how this degree will help attain the stated career goals;
  5. Two letters of recommendation for graduate study-one from the undergraduate major advisor if the student is a recent graduate;

Creative portfolio – submitted directly to the M.F.A. Director.

The portfolio is an important piece to your admissions application and should represent your best creative achievements in the areas of audio recording, music composition, video, film, or multimedia. The portfolio may contain a broad range of materials as applicants to the program come from a wide range of backgrounds and have developed a diverse range of creative skills. Typically, the admissions portfolio contains digital audio and/or digital video recordings. These may come from sources such as prior undergraduate coursework, recitals, home recordings, professional work, or other events. While audio quality is always important, the quality of the recording is not necessarily the admissions committee’s primary concern. The committee is looking for your creative potential.This might be expressed through the musicianship, arrangement, composition, or creative message of the work. We do not expect our new students to be professional audio engineers, but we are looking for bright creative media creators. ! It is also very 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. The portfolio should contain:

  1. A comprehensive credit list for all of the entires;
  2. A short paragraph for each entry explaining the piece, where and when it was created and any challenges faced in the creation of the work;
  3. Four to six audio examples;
  4. Video examples (optional);
  5. You may also wish to include a personal introduction on video as well (optional)

Format

You may choose to submit your portfolio in one of two ways (upload or website). However, all portfolio elements must come together as a single presentation. In other words, do not submit a portion of the portfolio in one format and the rest in another. Below are descriptions of the options.

The portfolio is sent directly to the M.F.A. Director in the Department of RecordingIndustry. All other application materials (GRE scores, letters of recommendation, letter of intent, and transcripts) must be sent to the College of Graduate Studies.

  1. Option 1 – File Transfer
    1. Upload all of your portfolio materials together using www.wetransfer.com. It is important when using this option that all elements (documentation, audio, and video) are contained within one computer ”folder” and uploaded as a single file. Do not make multiple uploads (i.e. one for each recording). For example: Create a folder on your computer and name it “Lastname_Portfolio”. Place the following in the folder:
      1. Word file or pdf of credits and documentation
      2. 01_Song1
      3. 02_Song2
      4. 03_Video1… etc.
      5. Use “zipit” to compress the data size of the folder.
    2. We recommend using http://www.wetransfer.com. This service is free for up to two gigabytes of data and is very easy to use. To use the free version no account registration is required!
      1. Go to www.wetransfer.com
      2. Skip to the free service
      3. Click “Add files” and select your portfolio folder or zip file
      4. Enter [email protected] as the recipient email
      5. Enter your email and click “transfer” !
  2. Option 2 – Website: Alternatively,  you may assemble your portfolio into a website presentation. All audio and video would reside on your site and you would simply send us a link to the site.Be sure to include all credits and appropriate descriptions of the creative projects on the website.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.

For more information about the portfolio submission and format, click the “How to
Apply” button above.

 

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