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Culture Watch: Do I Hear a Song?

Have you ever wanted to design sound? Did you even know that you could learn how to do such a thing?

Multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer Justin Peake not only knows how to do it, but he’s willing to teach one and all. All you need is a laptop computer and an open mind, and he’ll take it from there. Peake’s Digital Sound and Recording Techniques Camp will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. from Monday, July 18, through Thursday, July 21, at Big Top Gallery, 1638 Clio Street, just a block off St. Charles Avenue.

While this unique digital recording camp originally was designed for computer-savvy youths aged 12-18, it already has been invaded by techie-fascinated adults who want to learn more about ways to capture new and creative sounds. For four evenings, both the young and the curious not-so-young can experiment in this small (only 20 can participate) cutting-edge immersion into the world of digital music.

“Using today’s technology allows for easy recording set-ups,” says Peake. “It’s all so different from what the major recording studios of the ‘80s and ‘90s needed.”

In fact, after four evenings with him, Peake says that attendees can expect to have “strengthened knowledge in how to use a technological palette.”

Using Arduino, a contemporary open-source software, campers will learn how to take a sound and translate it into a digital language.

“They will learn how to mic specific instruments and then hear and see how that translates,” explains Kirah Haubrich, Big Top Gallery’s executive director, who expects to have a group of live musicians in place for this group experiment. “They will be able to manipulate the sound,construct or deconstruct it, make it shine.”

And, in addition to 12 hours of hands-on, practical demonstrations, they will leave with even more.

“There will also be a final mix of a recording session,” Peake says. “And, while everyone will get the same set of sound files, each person will be able to mix them their own way to have a unique product.”

So all those wannabe Brian Enos (U2 and David Bowie), George Martins (Beatles) or legendary Walter Legges (Maria Callas for the classical lovers among us) check in with Big Top; the world’s waiting to hear from you.

The Digital Sound and Recording Techniques Camp takes place July 18-21, 6-9 p.m. at Big Top Gallery, 1638 Camp Street. Non-member fee: $150; member fee: $120; new member fee: $145. For information go to or call 504-569-2700


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