The Evening Class;Music technology;Mind and body;Features amp; Arts

12th November 1999 at 00:00
Dylan Robertson repeatedly taps a note on the music keyboard and peers at the computer screen. After a few clicks of the mouse, a drum beat starts pounding out.

Next with the keyboard she conjures up cymbals, and then a few bass notes, adding layer upon layer of sound. In a matter of minutes, Dylan has created a dance rhythm that wouldn't sound out of place on Radio 1.

Song writing used to involve sitting in a dive, strumming an acoustic guitar and scribbling down chords. Now, as Dylan is beginning to discover, there is music technology. With a sequencer - a piece of computer software which records and arranges music - you don't even need a band.

Tutor Robert Evans says the sounds which currently dominate the charts are now at everybody's fingertips. "Most people have a PC at home," he says. "You can get simple programmes to do sequencing free with computer or music magazines."

In the music technology room there is an eerie silence, broken only by the clattering whisper of music on headphones. Here beginners sit in front of Apple Mac computers connected to music keyboards as Evans guides them through the basics.

Meanwhile in a recording studio, more advanced students are putting their own songs together. While they tinker with digital sounds, from down the corridor come the strains of Prokofiev as a music pupil practises the piano.

Dylan Robertson is a singer-songwriter. She is in a pop duo making dance records and has had some interest from an independent record label. "I've come to learn about the technology side," she says. "Even after a week it's starting to make sense."

Dave Housley, a buyer for an outdoor pursuits company, is also in a band in his spare time. "I'd like to get a sequencer for use at home," he says, grinning. "I just love making a noise, basically."

Martin Whittaker

This course took place at Cirencester College, Stroud Road, Cirencester,Gloucestershire GL7 1XA.Tel: 01285 640994

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