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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Studio: Rock on campus

Kyle Wilson, a marketing senior, sets up the recording studio in the music building on Tuesday, Nov 9. The recording studio is open to all UA students.
Kyle Wilson, a marketing senior, sets up the recording studio in the music building on Tuesday, Nov 9. The recording studio is open to all UA students.

On Olive Street, past Crowder Hall and down Stairwell B, lies the basement of the UA Music building and what Jeff Haskell calls the place he would spend his entire life.

Room 57 is a “”laboratory for production, for improvisation, for making decisions on the spot,”” a basement and the UA’s School of Music recording studio.

“”The studio is an omnivorous animal, it eats everything,”” said Haskell, professor in the UA’s School of Music and director of the recording studio.

January marks the studio’s 30th year in giving students the professional recording experience for the admission price of a professor’s signature and the careful guiding hand of Wiley Ross.

The Music Slide

Affectionately called “”the music slide,”” unfinished concrete and a quick prayer sends students the quick way down to the basement and behind a coded door, wherein lies Haskell’s favorite place – and one of the only of its kind in the nation.

“”If I was to name a place that I would rather spend the rest of my life, it would be the music studio,”” Haskell said. “”It is the only place to gain the most pristine musical environment that there is. That’s the way I’ve always lived and that is what the UA recording studio can deliver.””

The Control Room

Haskell’s favorite place inside the studio: the control room.

The control board, rows of flashing lights, rectangular buttons, various faders and knobs for volumes, is really a representation of everything the computer now controls.

A flick of the mouse moves buttons up and down their channels, each one representing a single instrument or voice to be layered to make a song.

“”It has gone from a razor blade and literally scotch tape to what it is now, a digital razorblade and digital waveforms for a physical manifestation of what there was before,”” Ross said.

Ross’s gray and white streaks of hair through his curled strawberry-blond ponytail and metal-rimmed bifocals denote his more than three decades behind the mixing board.

He explains each window on the digital screen and its place in the symphony: the mixer, the sequence editor and the bundles. It is all old hat.

Three different computer screens hang over the mixing board, leading to sets of speakers mounted into the walls in rows — woofers and subwoofers meant for different music frequencies play snippets of sound from Ross’s latest project – the new Park Avenue Records artist called the Olive Street Stompers.

The Students

“”I just feel like a professional musician in there,”” said Jose Barnett, manager of the Olive Street Stompers and a UA graduate music student. “”It’s got all the tools.””

Barnett is one of many students who took a whirl inside the studio, fulfilling its reputation of allowing real-life experience to students that may facilitate scholarships, CD recordings or entrance into their graduate school of choice.

“”I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I left Tucson that I had that opportunity,”” said Andrew Thompson, a music graduate student at DePaul University who completed his undergraduate music degree at the UA. “”(The studio) was huge for my development as a musician (and) it is a huge resource the UA is fortunate to have.””

The Coordinator

The fun and experience that gets the students in is only part of the draw. Ross is the thing that gets them to stay.

“”The best thing that we have is Wiley,”” Haskell said. “”(He) is able to fight for everything we need to make the changes necessary due to the advancements in technology. That guy is the best.””

For Ross, he isn’t what the studio is about. He just loves the service they provide in the little basement off Olive Street.

“”I’ve had many great experiences. Some of it is great musicianship, but also it is working with interesting people with interesting ideas,”” Ross said. “”In terms of like what we do here, the whole idea of the studio is to give students, faculty and staff a real experience with a professional studio with low or no cost.””

“”Accessibility is really important for students and we offer that in spades,”” he said. “”We offer services but we also offer educational experiences and that’s what we’re all about.””

 

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