Teaching Music through Technology

Experiencing Music Technology, 4th Edition, both the print version and the brand-new e-book version, is a comprehensive introduction to the broad topic of music technology as it exists in contemporary practice across music making, music production, and music teaching and learning. Unlike other music technology books, EMT is designed not only as a major text for a course of study but also as a resource and reference guide for a wide audience of amateur, student, or professional musicians both inside and outside the academic setting. Although it is introductory in scope, it provides considerable depth of coverage anchored around a thread of ten core music technology competences integrated throughout the book. 
New Era. The newest edition of EMT enters the world at a time of major change in education and technology with shifts in music production, distribution, and approaches to learning since our last edition.  Here are few highlights:

  • The explosion of “cloud computing” permits not only storing and sharing computer documents and digital music creations anywhere over the internet but offers music software applications (web-based applications) that are accessible from the internet in their most recent versions without installing them on a desktop or laptop computer or mobile device. Emerging from this trend is a new, web-based operating system, ChromeOS, and a dedicated web-based Chromebook laptop.
  • Social computing has grown exponentially since the previous edition with sharing and social networking available not just from Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, but from music networking applications such as SoundCloud, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, Twitch, and more. 
  • Our dependence on desktop devices and labs for school settings in the early editions of the book now gives way to very powerful and thin laptops with applications from macOS and Windows environments in parallel with sophisticated smartphones and tablet devices with applications in the iOS, iPadOS, and Android environments. With the trend to handhelds, the term “apps” enters our vocabulary and “music apps” seriously contend for our hardware.
  • Music resources to support music teaching and learning are no longer as teacher centered as before and offer more opportunity for creative exploration blended with skill and knowledge acquisition of multiple music experiences.
  • Mobile software and related hardware for digital audio workstations, scorewriting, and digital music reading—captured, coded, notated, scanned, and handwritten—for performance and practice a major new dimension along with inter-application file sharing through lossless digital audio, MIDI, and now MusicXML.
  • MusicXML, which was presented as a research effort as recently as the third edition, is now the universal file format for sharing music notation and ubiquitous in music reading, scanning, and scorewriting software as well as handheld music apps.
  • Paper-based sheet music, documents, and books give way to e-Books, electronic documents and tablet music reading apps—PDF files moved from a convenience to a necessity and MusicXML conveys sophisticated music notation from one application to another, from one device to another.
  • A renaissance of analog music tools both physical and virtual emerges with a return to vinyl recordings, vacuum-tubed amplifiers, analog synthesizers, hybrid analog-digital mixers and more. One of the most dramatic examples is popularity of modular analog synthesis through the Eurorack (the physical) and VCV Rack (the virtual).
  • Wireless access is pervasive throughout our communities, schools, and homes from Wi-Fi to cellular to Bluetooth connectivity and many music devices and instruments wirelessly communicate. Relief is in sight from the tyranny of wires that is part of every tech-savvy musician’s performance and stage setting.
  • What-you-play-is-what-you-print (WYPWYP) music software continues to evolve and improve through audio music recognition (AMR) software, artificial intelligence inherent to digital audio workstation software, and other innovations with software like AudioScore and Melodyne leading the way.

New EMT. Given the above, what is continuing and what has changed for EMT?  The overarching design of Experiencing Music Technology remains generally the same for both the print and the e-book versions.  The e-book version contains more detail on selected topics like music production, especially more advanced concepts.  Note, too, that the e-book is the better choice for those interested in the role of technology for music teaching and learning since it contains expanded sections on music teaching software and other teaching resources for today’s changing landscape of music pedagogy.  In this edition of EMT, the reader will find:

  1. Focus on a more select set of software in each Viewport, software that is representative and effective for group instruction as well as self-study. The music software in each Viewport includes summaries and screenshots from desktop/laptop, web-based, and mobile music applications.
  2. Change in the organization of the book with the MIDI Viewport moved earlier to permit an orderly progression of topics on digital audio and multi-track recording.
  3. A new set of people noted under the banner of Music Technology in Practice in the Overview of each Viewport—prominent musicians of all sorts sharing their use of technology to enhance their creative work.  Interviews with each is featured in the e-book edition.
  4. Many new screenshots reflect the inevitable changes in software and hardware development since the previous edition.
  5. The inclusion of new software titles and deletion of others, based on our understanding of the changing scenes in music production and in music teaching and learning for workstation, web-based, and mobile solutions.
  6. Reflections on the changes in major operating systems, including the development of Microsoft’s Windows environment, the new versions of macOS, iOS and iPadOS for Apple products, and the recent prominence of ChromeOS and Chromebooks. Android as well as a few examples of Linux operating systems are added.
  7. Reviewed and updated hardware and new technologies and products that reflect the current computer and computer music scene.
  8. Vastly expanded support materials that include “Webport” sections at the end of selected Modules in the e-book and our supportive website (teachmusictech.com) which you are reading now.  The site includes links to additional resources including large sets of highly selective video tutorials on much of the software and hardware featured in the book.
  9. A selected set of related readings for major topics with live links provided for these resources in the e-book version.
  10. Finally, a large number of creative, hands-on projects for each Viewport content included, aligned with the ten core competencies that are supported throughout the book.  

Flexible Application. Our fervent hope is that the book meets the need of newer trends in music curriculum design to integrate technology understanding into specific courses within the discipline and to serve the needs of introductory and advanced courses in music technology application for both music production and music teaching and learning.  In addition, the modular design of the book will appeal to those teaching contemporary pedagogy construction; social and cultural sharing of global and ethnic music making; community service through music experiences; music making with special needs populations; medical, health, and music therapy explorations; hardware foundations and innovative design; data structures and coding; and music technology engineering—all with music technology as a key element.  

So welcome to this Fourth Edition of Experiencing Music Technology. Enjoy the ever-changing landscape of what it means to include technology into the profound art form of music.

David Brian Williams, Bloomington, Illinois
Peter Richard Webster, Marina del Rey, California


New Resources & Events
  1. See the new section under "Music Tech Resources" tab dedicated to Generative AI & Music.
  2. Checkout the videos of our Oxford University Press Webinar and view the video of our 2022 ISME Conference presentation on the new 4th Edition of our textbook .
  3. Handouts to check out include (on Safari, click on the square icon with the small ink bottle to see the full PDFs): 
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