All That Jazz

Dan White."I realize not every college student gets to release their own album, and I’m very grateful for this opportunity. It’s fulfilling to get these tunes recorded, and it documents an exciting time in my life."

So said Dan White, a fifth-year jazz studies and music education major, about releasing his first CD, Between the Lines, over the summer. Ohio State played a central role in the concept development and production of the CD, thanks to the School of Music’s new recording studio.

The recording/production studio is part of the Music, Media and Enterprise (MME) program, and opened last spring in a suite in Mershon Auditorium. Designed by Mark Rubinstein, a Grammy-winning sound engineer who joined Ohio State as audio recording coordinator, the facility includes two modular sound isolation rooms, a mixing surface, ProTools audio production software, and a full complement of microphones and signal-processing gear.

The modular studio system can be used for recording and mixing everything from instrumental and vocal music, electronic sounds, and electric and acoustic instruments.

“The studio connects the dots for our MME program. It adds tools for students in music, but also opens the door for students from a variety of disciplines,” explained David Bruenger, director of the MME endeavor, which recently finalized curriculum for a minor that attracts students not only in music, but also in communications, marketing, and business.

In White’s case, his sextet was a bit too big to record in the studio, but he used the facility for all of his mixing and overdubbing needs. “Ohio State was instrumental in the whole project,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to finish the CD without the studio here. I really can’t say enough about it—it’s essential today for a School of Music to have a recording studio.”

White explains that being able to use a studio adds “another level of musical possibilities beyond performance. It lets you be able to layer, add to, and polish your music. It lets you flex other creative muscles.”

He also said that having recordings of your music is necessary in today’s music market. “You need to have tangible examples of your work.”

Bruenger added that the studio allows students the opportunity to work on music in its recorded form, in versions that will be important to them as they develop their careers. “It’s helping students develop a basic literacy in the recording and technical areas of music. For music majors, it’s offering a new platform for communicating their work.”

For White, sales are already brisk for his new CD, which consists of his original compositions, combined with his versions of some pieces by Sting, Nick Drake, Kurt Cobain, and even Irving Berlin.

“I took their melodies but wrote the songs in my own grooves, and got into some really interesting improvisations with my band. It’s not just jazz, it’s not just swing—it’s a different combination of new music that we relate to, and classic music that we’ve learned from,” said White. “Because the music is pushing boundaries, there is more curiosity and spontaneity. This makes each show different and exciting for the whole band and for the listener.”

The studio was funded from the Targeted Investment in Excellence grant awarded to the School of Music in 2006 and a 2007 gift from Women in Philanthropy.