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Lab-of-the-Month: The College of Music General Access Lab

By Dr. Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner, Student Computing Services Manager

Have you ever wanted to be a rock star? How about the greatest rap artist since Dr. Dre? Is a symphony worthy of Beethoven burning in your soul? Or perhaps you have visions of being the next George Lucas? Members of the University community can realize all of these dreams -- and more -- if they step into the General Access Lab located in the College of Music! The three-room COM lab (entrance in room 239 of the Music Building) offers one of the largest and most varied technical inventories of all of the general access facilities, reflecting the great variety of musical and artistic forms taught today on the UNT campus.

A photo of the standard computer station in the COM lab
The standard music station in the COM lab

Though located in the Music Building, this lab is open to all university community members and is a favorite spot of students who may not be music majors but continue to make music a vital part of their lives. In this lab you will find one of the largest inventories of Macintosh computers reflecting this platform's usefulness in the fine arts arena. The main room of the COM lab features several 350 mHz iMacs and a G4 450 mHz machine. Additionally, the PC platform is represented by a selection of Pentium II 400s. Each lab station is optimized for musical production with a Roland SC-50/55 Sound Canvas (a general MIDI* synthesizer) and a Roland MK-11200 MIDI controller keyboard for musical performance and musical data entry.

A photo of one of the special editing stations in the COM lab
One of the special editing stations available in the COM lab

A smaller second room in the lab features what manager James Kazik calls "The Special Stations." Kazik reports that this room recently has seen the most activity on the part of the students. The room features an advanced MIDI workstation, an audio editing station, two scanners and four CD burners. Computers in this room include four Macintosh G3's, a Macintosh G4 (with an external 2GB Jaz drive) and five Pentium II 400s. The MIDI and audio workstations offer advanced digital recording and editing options for the production of professional quality CD demos and electronic music works. Eminem and Depeche Mode would feel right at home in this room creating their latest hit CDs.

A photo of the A/V production station in the COM lab
Create your Oscar-winning film here at the massive A/V production station!

Lucas, Spielberg, and even Woody Allen would love to sit down and work at another specialized station in the College of Music lab: the Audio/Video Editing Station. Created initially for distributed learning projects, this station has proven popular and useful for composers of multimedia projects that involve various audio sources and video. With 450 mHz Macintosh G4 and a 45 GB RAID array, any aspiring film maker would have all of the digital power and space he or she needs. Additional equipment on this station includes a Panasonic SVHS deck, a Sony DVD player, a dual cassette deck and a DAT machine, a Mackie 16 channel mixer, and a turntable. Patrons are also able to connect their own equipment into the station with the permission of the lab manager. To supplement this station, the lab makes available for checkout a digital still camera, two digital camcorders, a portable DAT recorder, a portable MiniDisc recorder, and an Audio-Technica stereo microphone.

A photo of the new digital piano classroom
The newest room of the COM lab is also used for piano classes

A new addition to the music lab is its piano classroom, which is utilized for keyboard classes but is also made available for music publishing and production work. This room features fifteen Pentium III 500 mHz computers and larger MIDI keyboards.

A photo of the advanced MIDI editing station in the COM lab.
The advanced MIDI editing station in the COM lab

The College of Music General Access lab has all of the standard E-mail, Web browsing and Microsoft Office software of the other labs with many additional applications specifically geared to music use. Anyone who wants to test and train their listening skills can use a variety of ear-training software. For those who need publisher-quality musical scores (or even if you just want to print something your band can read easily at their Groovy Mule gig!), Finale notation software and laser printing are available. Those wanting to work on compositions have a variety of MIDI sequencing and editing packages to choose from including Performer 6.0, Digital Performer 2.7, Cakewalk 8.0, and MAX with MSP. Audio editing software available includes Peak 2.5, Sound Forge 4.5, Sound Edit 16, and Pro Tools. Video fans have their choice of Adobe Premiere and After Effects, Final Cut Pro, iMovie 2.0, and the Media Cleaner suite for their work.

Lab personnel are hired for their considerable skills in music and multimedia technology and several are on hand to help lab customers do their work and realize their artistic dreams. Newcomers to the lab are welcome to ask for special training on the lab equipment from these knowledgeable workers. The lab is always busy with creative activity! To learn more about the College of Music General Access Lab check out their Website at www.music.unt.edu/musiclab.


*MIDI is an acronym meaning "Musical Instrumental Digital Interface." It refers to a protocol for digital communication between computers and musical instruments.