An ordinary day at the office for Adam Ayan at Gateway Mastering & DVD does not involve the usual Mainstreet login, BlackBoard navigation and class lecturing again and again grind that many professors here at the university experience. Instead, this USM School of Music adjunct lecturer finds himself working on two, three or even four or more mastering projects a day.
For a mastering engineer like Ayan, the music recordings that he finds himself diving into every day vary quite a bit by genre and artist. Whether it be a half hour of work spent mastering a single by one artist or six hours of work mastering a full-length album by another, Ayan has proven he’s got the patience, the gift and the grit to do the job right.
Just in the last 365 days, Ayan has been busy, mastering projects for artists like Carrie Underwood, Lindsey Stirling, Sarah McLachlan, A Rocket To The Moon, Nico Vega, The Tom Tom Club, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Band Perry and Godsmack.
In addition, Adam also mastered the audio for the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief. A few of the performers on that stage included big names such as, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Alicia Keys, Bruce Springsteen, Roger Water and Paul McCartney, who Ayan describes as his personal favorite recording artists of all time.
With a Grammy Award, three Latin Grammy awards, a Technical Excellence and Creativity (TEC) Award and the 28 Grammy Award-winning recordings he has mastered, including more than 90 Gold, Platinum or Multi-Platinum projects, Adam Ayan brings his expertise and knowledge directly to USM students.
His class, Topics in Music Technology, will be taught this fall. Students enrolled in the course will be learning the fundamentals of audio and recording, including “live to two track” recording.
“I’d like my students to learn the basic language of audio and recording and to have some foundation from which they can build from to become great recordists,” said Ayan. “I also hope that they learn to listen, that is, to begin to hear the nuances of a recording and the nuances of capturing musical performances. Listening is the number one skill needed for making a great recording.”
School of Music Director Alan Kaschub hopes that maybe later in the future Ayan can offer a level two class for music technology.
“Students get to work one-on-one with their artists (musical performers) and collaborate to make an aural work of art. It’s hands-on in an actual recording/editing studio, the real thing,” said Heather Hastings, a USM graduate, and a former student of Adam Ayan.
A musician at his core, this bass guitarist started off his career in music as a performance major at UMass Lowell as what Ayan describes as “being on the other side of the glass.” His experience as the one being recorded sparked his initial interest in recording until he switched gears completely.
“Once I got heavy into the recording side of the program I found I really enjoyed it creatively, and shifted my focus and energy there,” said Ayan. “I realized that mastering was a very specific part of the recording industry that was appealing to me. I could affect a recording as a whole, and see the final product though to the end, that really spoke to me.”
This is the goal for the musicians here at USM. Adam Ayan’s class, Topics in Music Technology allows students the opportunity to express themselves creatively through music in an alternative way.
“As a musician myself, the course has changed how I think about my sound, and it’s certainly made me more capable of producing the best recording than I can,” said Hastings.
Both Ayan and Kaschub agree that it is important for student musicians to learn how to produce and record their own music. Recording your own music cuts down on the expensive cost of having someone do it for you while also providing the community with a sample of your specific style as a musician.
As the School of Music Director Alan Kaschub simply puts it, “These days the CD is the new business card.”
Adam Ayan’s most recent project, the new album, “Crash My Party,” by country star Luke Bryan was released last Tuesday, August 13th. Currently the album is comfortably sitting on top of the iTunes Album chart and is anticipated to have one of the largest sale release weeks of the year.
Kaschub credits the community for providing students at the USM School of Music a special opportunity most music students do not receive.
“Due to the sheer location of the school the experts in the community and the Portland artistic community allow students a special advantage,” said Kaschub.
Kaschub also thanked the music professionals in the community for donating materials and supplying resources for students at the School of Music, much like mastering engineers Bob Ludwig and Adam Ayan of Gateway Mastering & DVD have done.