Instead of picking up a guitar or sitting at a piano, students here are turning to their smartphones and mobile devices to make music.
Gadgets like tablets and phones now support a suite of apps that encompass the entire music-making process, and polytechnics here are riding on the trend.
"With mobile apps, we are opening up more possibilities in music production," said Mr Chua Kim Chye, a lecturer at Republic Polytechnic's (RP) School of Technology for the Arts. "We are not telling our students to forsake the traditional way of producing music in studios, but that there are many ways to make music."
RP students pursuing a diploma in sonic arts are taught to use mobile apps as part of modules such as music composition and sound design. While the programme has been around since 2006, mobile apps were introduced in the curriculum only last year.
"The craft of creating music goes hand-in-hand with technology," said Mr Chua. "When students get exposed to mobile music making, they are well-attuned to the industry and get an edge over someone who only writes music."
With mobile apps, students can quickly modify a musical piece, add percussion, additional music tracks, wraps, voice-over singing or even effects.
Popular music making apps include basic programmes such as GarageBand and Cubasis, and advanced ones such as Audiobus.
Students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic's audio-visual technology programme and Singapore Polytechnic's music and audio technology course are also introduced to such apps.
"When the inspiration hits, the composition of music cannot wait," said Mr Vinnie Chan, course manager for the audio-visual technology programme at Ngee Ann. He added that with mobile devices, students can create music quickly, while on the go.
Several industry practitioners The Straits Times spoke to noted that the use of mobile apps to compose or produce music has been more prevalent in the past two years.
"In the past, whenever musicians have ideas while on the go, they had to write down the musical notations and all," said Mr Zennon Goh, music director of Ocean Butterflies Studios.
"Now, with mobile apps, they can do a simple recording on their phones. It is much more convenient."
Yesterday, RP's School of Technology for the Arts signed a memorandum of understanding with digital music instrument manufacturer CME to develop new apps and provide internships for students.
One project is the creation of a mobile app to teach students music theory.
Mr Warren Sng, 18, a second-year student pursuing a diploma in sonic arts, said: "Before mobile apps, I had to keep tapping my feet just to record the rhythm. It was a long and tedious process."
This article was first published on September 23, 2014.
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