Digital Audio Soundscape

By Nick Pothetes

This past week I’ve been diving deep into the world of music. Besides following the world of a cappella, I’m also deeply immersed in a digital audio production class at the university of oregon. Music 447 teaches you the basics of digital audio production, synthesis, sampling, and arrangement; however, what it doesn’t explicitly teach you is how to apply these tools to your own interests beyond electronic music.

So during a recent lecture we learned about the musical timeline, a place where you can arrange samples in time to form a great composition, and something clicked. It suddenly made sense to me. Technology evolving around the study of music has gotten so fantastic that most anyone could arrange a digital composition. Heck! It’s easy enough that you could teach the basics to a small child or the elderly. I quickly suspected that if I dug around youtube a bit I’d find an a cappella trend.

You see, a few months ago a friend shared with me the a cappella work created by up and coming youtube star Jon Cozart, also known as “Paint.” The video I saw was called “After Ever After.” The arrangement is a multimedia performance parody of disney classics. It has seriousness, timbre, and lots of joviality, but the most impressive quality of the video are the group members.  There are four of them. One person for each song, and one person for each vocal part. The only thing is that they’re all Jon Cozart. He used video editing software to place four copies of himself performing next to each other separated by a black frame, and he used new digital audio production technology to create the wonderful harmonies.

With all the “razz n’ jazz” of tablets, holograms, nest, and many other technological innovations, After Ever After may not seem that that amazing, yet it is. Ten years ago it would have been extremely difficult to pull off something like Jon’s video. It would have included difficult to use software, and lots of physical analogue splicing. None of these things would be easy for the average person.

Nowadays though, there’s multiple technologically innovative programs that regular people can easily learn to use to create a wonderful digital soundscape, and in Jon’s case, an amazing a cappella soundscape. Kyma, Pro Tools, and Garage Band are among these yet range in difficulty, price, accessibility, and renown. Despite this, they all can take bits of audio samples and rearrange their place in time, and characteristics such as frequency and timbre to create a new soundscape built from scratch. The potential is amazing, especially for the world of a cappella.

Bellow is Jon Cozart’s (Paint’s) After Ever After:

Jon Cozart (Paint)

Jon Cozart (Paint)


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