Skip to main content

Electronic Music Technology Straight Talk: Music Technology -The Great Democratizer

Composer Sabrina Pena Young (SOURCE: TEDxBuffalo)

Electronic Music Technology Straight Talk: Music Technology -The Great Democratizer

Want to make a difference? Want to write music? Straight talk from a music pro. Change the world one note at a time.

(Lecture at Murray State University IAWM Electronic Music Concert November 9, 2010)

I could give you a historical overview of electronic music. We could sit here and trace the birth of electronic music, from the record player and ondes martenot and theremin all the way through the whacked out 80s with MTV and Laurie Anderson's drum suit. We could talk about France's IRCAM electronic Studios and the contributions of women like composers Pauline Oliveros and Alice Shields. I could mention younger generations of electronic music composers like Kristine H. Burns and Alex Shapiro. But to be honest, you can Google or Wiki almost anything I have to say about electronic music history.

So if you are interested in electronic music history, here is a quick list (quick, write them down):

  • Electroacoustic 
  • Electronica 
  • Theremin 
  • Ondes Martenot 
  • Pauline Oliveros 
  • EIS System 
  • MAX/MSP 
  • Supercollider 
  • Multimedia 
  • Intermedia 
  • Mixed media 
  • Dick Higgins 
  • Tape Music 
  • John Cage 
  • Sound 
  • Silence 
  • O Superman 
  • Wendy Carlos 
  • Louis Barron 
  • Alice Shields 
  • Alicyn Warren 
  • Alex Shapiro 
  • Recording 
  • Char Davies 
  • Beth Anderson 
  • Mixing 
  • Brenda Hutchinson 
  • Joan La Barbara 
  • Ione 
  • Laurie Anderson 
  • Laurie Spiegal 
  • Rebecca Allen 
  • IRCAM 
  • Virtual Reality 
  • Bell Labs 
  • Fluxus 
  • Futurist 
  • Performance Art 
  • Forbidden Planet 
  • Graphic Notation 
  • Yoko Ono 
  • Noise 
  • Synthesizer 
  • Science Fiction 
  • Moog 
  • Njinga

So. What are we going to talk about today?

Electronic music? Yes.
Technology? Yes.
Women? Maybe.

We are going to talk about YOU. 
What is happening now in technology, where it's going, what you can do with it.

Technology is the great Democratizer. If I don't want someone to judge me based on my appearance, gender, or age, I can create a new avatar, an identity, all linked to a valid e-mail account and website which tout my achievements without giving away a single personal detail. I can contact someone across the ocean (or even just two blocks away) via text or FB or Twitter, Instagram, collaborate on a project, distribute it, and never have to meet a living, breathing soul.

What is beautiful about this? If you, or you, or you want to create a great piece of art, whether it is music, or visual art, or an ebook, all you have to do it create it and hit SEND. It doesn't matter if you are ten, or twenty, or one hundred and ten. It doesn't matter if you speak Spanish, or Mandarin, or Arabic. If the music is good, if you know what you are doing, you can share your creations with the world.

Even if your music is bad, someone is bound to like it out there. 

So here is the crux of today's talk:

1. Say Something
Seriously, there is a massively huge world out there. In case you didn't get the memo, the economy sucks, people around the world are starving to death, corporations are raking in billions, and the media keeps shoving worthless garbage down our throats.

So say something. Don't waste your talent, whether its in music, or art, or writing, or math, or whatever. Don't waste it. Use it. And make a freaking difference.

Musicians, there are thousands of songs out there about dum tweeny bop crushes and partying. Are we really that lame? There are tens of thousands of string quartets, thousands of symphonies, and tens of thousands of piano solos. Is that what we are about? Tiny little notes on scraps of tree bark?

Make a difference with your music, your art. 

Change the world one note at a time.

2. Get with the program.
Which program? Garageband, Audacity, Acid, Fruity Loops, Cubase, Cakewalk, Ableton, Logic, ProTools, Finale, Sibelius, PC, Mac, or doesn't matter. The program is just the tool, the creator of great music is you. And don't worry if you can't read a note, never wrote a lyric in your life, or don't know a major dominant from a majordomo. Music is sequential and exponential. You learn one new skill today, you will know two tomorrow, and four the next.

I wish I could tell you that I have a top of the line studio back home. That I run everything on only the best equipment in the world, and that I have tens of thousands of dollars of engineering goods at my disposal. Truth is, my studio used to be the most ghetto of studios. For years I composed using a half-broken kid's keyboard hooked to a decade old MOTU and used a demo version of Pro Tools. 

The tools didn't matter. During that same time, one of my film scores made it to the NY International Independent Film Festival, another was a finalist in Miramax's Greenlight Competion, and another was chosen for an international sound festival. 

My studio was garbage. I am not. 
So don't stress what program, just get the program. 
Any program, and start making music.

3. Get it out there
What's the point of writing the most amazing symphony, love song, or beat in the world if you keep it all to yourself? Get the music out there. You don't need to wait for a contract or someone's permission. Get your music out there.

How are you going to know if it is good or bad or just plain ugly if you keep it safe at home? 

Set your music free, and wait to see where it lands 
(or crashes), then write some more. 

One day you will find that you actually are good at what you do, and you won't even realize it until people start asking you for advice.

4. Keep at it
Figure out why you do what you do. And I am not just talking about music. Why do you study what you study? Find what you are passionate about, whatever it is, and pursue it like a starving wolf hunts its prey. Thirst and hunger for what you do. If you don't care about what you do (what you write), then no one else will care about it. Be passionate, and forget everything else.

5. Share the wealth
Once you get to the point where you are doing what you love and actually living your dream, and you will if you work hard, then share the wealth. Share your knowledge and your experiences. 

Help those around you get to where you are. It makes you a better person, it helps someone else, and it makes this crazy world just that much more livable.

"Libertaria: Genesis is dystopian, and good at it, and that needs further examination." 
- J. Roseman, 




A $40 Value for only $3.99


In the abandoned ruins of a Nueva York dystopia, teen Libertaria escapes a horrific world of DNA testing and loneliness, only to team up with her megalomaniac father in a quest to destroy the Factory that made her. Armed with a ragtag army of cyborg misfits, Libertaria joins forces with her drug addict dad Simeon Aguila, leader of the Underground metropolis, to destroy GenTech's immortal Collective. But who is the deformed soldier invading her thoughts? And can she destroy the Factory before her traitorous deformed nemesis Lucinde betrays them all? 

Unearthing dangerous family secrets that explain her mysterious past, Libertaria learns that sometimes to save the world 

you must first lose your soul! 

“One of my favorite things about this story is its odd apocalyptic tone and strong sci-fi/fantasy foundation. The dark quality that comes with it is the cherry on top.” – on Libertaria: The Virtual Opera 

Based on the "groundbreaking" and "epic" animation sci-fi film Libertaria: The Virtual Opera by award-winning composer and artist Sabrina Pena Young. In the spirit of Hunger Games and Divergent

With a score composed by award-winning composer Sabrina Pena Young, the Libertaria Instrumental Soundtrack combines electronica and film music in an exciting and riveting way that jars the imagination and explodes the soul. 

With over fifteen years experience in music, film, and the arts, Sabrina Pena Young can provide you with the insight you need to develop your creative dreams into a reality. 

Contact Sabrina Pena Young Today:


Composer and Filmmaker Sabrina Pena Young creates mind-numbing multimedia works in her home recording studio that is currently shoved into the corner of her dining room between the coats and trash can in not-so-sunny Buffalo, New York. Check out her "groundbreaking" and absolutely "EPIC" sci-fi machinima film Libertaria: The Virtual Opera, created entirely through Internet collaboration and social media. Young's latest projects include a work for Malletkat and Comic-Book inspired Multimedia, a social media opera, and a virtual machinima rock concert.  



Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 1

Feel like writing an opera is only for big name composers with big budgets? Or are you willing to take the plunge and create a work in one of the most compelling and cutting edge musical opera? Almost two years ago I embarked on the largest musical production I have created to date -  Libertaria: The Virtual Opera. After writing the award-winning Creation Oratorio and dozens of multimedia works, I wanted to combine my love of the audio and the visual into a single large scale work.  Find a Great Dramatic Story You need a strong story to write a compelling opera. Fortunately you can easily borrow from thousands of public domain works and modernize them. Think of West Side Story (just a contemporary version of Shakespear's Romeo and Juliet) .   Many great operas use Shakespeare, the Brothers Grimm , and Biblical stories, all of which include interesting characters, strong themes, and action.   Libertaria borrows heavily from messianic stories, but is se

Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 2

Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 2 After the incredibly positive feedback that I had from Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 1 , I thought I would talk a little bit about the composition angle of writing, at least how I do it in regards to vocal music . Here's a quick primer for anyone learning some of the basics of writing vocal music for opera, musicals, classical music , etc.  1. The Sketch I have had several great teachers in my life - Dr. Clare Shore , Hilton Jones, Dr. Kristine Burns, Paul Reller , Dr. Frederick Kaufman, Dr. Orlando Garcia, Chuck Owen, etc. My composition prof (and USF SYCOM guru) Paul Reller helped me develop the composition technique that I have had for years.  Download the Libertaria: The Virtual Opera Soundtrack at iTunes When I have the time to go through the entire composition process (because sometimes I have to skip a step or two for deadlines), I will start out with pencil, paper, and a piano (or keyboard, in my case).

Free Classical Sheet Music and Free Opera Downloads @ Scribd

Sheet Music (Photo credit: jayneandd ) Awhile ago I decided that I would upload the bulk of my music scores and sheet music to sites like Scribd, the Petrucci Music Library , and for free sheet music downloads. Some musicians told me that it was ridiculous to give away my music. The truth is that I don't depend on music publishing sales of my scores, and I would rather inspire a young piano student, percussion ensemble, opera singer, grandma, bored music student, or music teacher to play and study my music than hold on tight to my copyrights and let my music scores collect virtual dust on my hard drive.  The Petrucci Library, Scribd, and all have dozens of free music scores available for choir, vocal solos, piano, percussion, orchestra, opera, multimedia works, and more. You can see a short list of available free sheet music by checking out the Scores page. You might want to check out scores to my modern opera Libertaria: The Virtual Opera , an ex

Free Sheet Music Download: Classical Music Flute Solo Airborn Sand by Composer Sabrina Pena Young

Free Sheet Music Download: Classical Music Flute Solo Airborn Sand by Composer Sabrina Pena Young FREE MUSIC DOWNLOAD:,_Sabrina_Pena) Originally composed during a hurricane in South Florida . Inspired by a news reporter 's comments about "Airborne sand " whipping through her hair, the composer decided to write a work for flute that imitated the movements of sand whirling on a beach during a hurricane. It was subsequently performed at the University of South Florida in Tampa . Flute Solo Related articles Friday Freebie: Old Rugged Cross The Landing - Science fiction Robot music - Sabrina Pena Young Music Marketing Secrets: How to Use Twitter, Youtube, Social Media - S P... Quiz: Which Classical Music Era Are You? Latest iTunes 12.5 Beta Should Please Classical Music Fans After Dark - Romanian Rhapsody concert at the Limerick City Gallery of Art Russian inspiration for Clandeboye Festival The Tran

How to Write Film Music in 5 Easy Steps

How to Write Film Music in 5 Easy Steps How to write film music in five simple steps for any composer. Thanks for checking out this video! Subscribe for more great content! Like this? Then check out AMAZON BESTSELLER Composer Boot Camp 101, a comprehensive guide to songwriting, composition, and film music with 50 exercises for students, educators, and music professionals! DOWNLOAD TODAY

The Phantom of the Opera - Prague Cello Quartet

The Phantom of the Opera - Prague Cello Quartet

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Songwriter?

What Skills Do You Need to Become a Songwriter?  Becoming a successful songwriter is the dream of many musicians. But knowing how to write a song , learn an instrument, and make a successful musical career can seem impossible. Well, it does take a lot of work. Not everyone that wants to be a professional musician will succeed, and many just enjoy writing songs as a fun hobby for their enjoyment.  Do I need to Sing or Play a Musical Instrument? This might seem like a simple question, but it actually has a complicated answer. Why? Some songwriters never learned a single instrument yet can come up with great lyrics and catchy melodies. Others have played piano or guitar for years or are trained singers. So what is the answer?  As a songwriter, you need to understand different aspects of the songwriting process. That doesn't mean you have to have an incredible voice or be the best guitar player on the block. What it does  mean is that you need to know music. There is no better

What is Blue? and other Post Postmodernist Thoughts

1000 Pennies for Your Thoughts - NARA - 534149 (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) One of my many hats is online university instructor. I teach courses in Media and Music History. In my Media in American Society class, we discuss many aspects of media, including truth in media, media conglomeration, marketing, advertising, and the like.  Today my students had an intriguing discussion/debate online about news and partisan politics. The debate was a healthy one, with some students claiming that they see all sides, others describing their favorite political pundits, and others lamenting the lack of authenticity in the media today. In the end, the fact that there would be no answer to today's questions, largely due to the lack of authenticity and the inability to trust anything in print, online, on a TV, spoken by a political leader, etc. etc., I brought up a short discussion on postmodernism, postpostmodernism , and its effects on American culture.  Here is a small snippet that I though