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Lecturer

About

Dustin Ragland works in the borderlands of music technology, education, and performance, with a focus on connections between philosophy and contemporary music.

Working as a touring + session drummer for 12 years, with a background in ancient languages, Dustin has built up connective tissue between the hands-on act of music creation and textual explorations into sound and technology. He has presented sound installations and lectures at the OK Contemporary Gallery, Science Museum Oklahoma, MAINSITE Norman, and the OKC Museum of Art. He writes and performs music as Young Weather.

Dustin has been a professor of music production at the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma since 2010, an Ableton Certified Trainer since 2014, and is an active studio engineer, live, and session musician. He is currently working on a Masters of Music Technology, and doing research and composition with Max/MSP to provide pitched ambient dimension to traditional acoustic percussion via real-time granular synthesis.

Classes Taught

  • MIT I - Logic Pro
  • Music + Meaning
  • MIT II - Ableton Live + Push
  • Advanced Ableton Live
  • Studio Recording I
  • Studio Recording III
  • DAW I - Pro Tools 101
  • Advanced Pro Tools
  • Advanced Logic Pro
  • Physics of Sound

Education and Certifications

  • Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Languages, cum laude, Oklahoma Baptist University, 2003
  • Master of Music Technology, Southern Utah University, in progress
  • Ableton Certified Trainer, 2014
  • Pro Tools Avid Certified Expert 2017, Avid Certified Instructor: Game Audio 2017
  • Certified Online Instructor, Center for eLearning and Connected Environments, 2015
  • STLR Certified Instructor, 2016
  • Selected Faculty for Transformative Learning Conference, 2018

Experience

  • Lecturer, Music Production, ACM@UCO, 2010-current
  • Recording/Mix Engineer, Producer, 2004-current 
    • Mir Studio, Stowaway Recording, Blackwatch Studio, THE Music Grou
  • Touring Drummer/Programmer, 2003-2015 
    • Charlie Hall Band
  • Sound, Technology, and Musical Director, 2014-current 
    • Frontline Church, Oklahoma City
  • Session Drummer/Multi-instrumentalist, 2002-current
    • Beau Jennings & The Tigers, Stranded at the Station, studio, live, remote
  • Pyramind Mentor Network, 2017-current

Research, Published Work, and Scholarly Activities

"He Is A Brittle Crazy Glass: On Music and Theology"

Essay published on Peer Development, 2017

Max/MSP

Real-time granular synthesis of percussive sounds, pneumatic MIDI delay,

responsive visuals, custom MIDI effects, color composition,

generative music, interaction with Ableton Push + MIDI controllers

Music and Philosophy

Developed Music + Meaning class at ACM@UCO; interactions of color, language, and the ear lecture at OKC Museum of Art; Intersections of popular music and aesthetic theory

Studio Recording, Production, Maintenance

Small, medium, large format consoles; analog and digital signal chains; artist communication and development; session perspectives from both artist and engineer

Teaching Philosophy

“Why would you go to school for music production, when the best way to learn is to just do it?”

This question provides clarity to my instruction each semester, as it rolls off the explicit and implicit questions I get from students at each stage of their academic journey in contemporary music. Contemporary music production, recording, and composition as an integrated collection of fine arts skills is relatively young in academia. My work as a teacher is to harness the zeal of youth among the subject, my students, and myself. My work as a teacher is also to anchor these young fields of study to the standards of audio engineering, aesthetic awareness, and imaginative production techniques that provide a thorough liberal arts education. This takes its form not only in responsiveness to broader stylistic and technological trends, but just as much in teaching students to make connections between ideas, technical tools, and one another as imaginative people.

Pretension-Free Zones

One of the ways I go about this in the classroom is to explicitly lay out a “pretension-free zone” in our labs, studios, and lecture rooms. I emphasize to the students that I am well aware of the supposed need to know more about audio than the person next to me. Rather than being embarrassed by what we don’t yet know, or have yet to discover, I emphasize the power of asking questions: there is a very good chance that another student has the same question as you, and needs you to ask the question so each of us can learn from it. Rather than projecting expertise towards an inert collection of neophytes, I work to apply my expertise in the act of discovery alongside the students.

Khalepa ta Kala

“Khalepa ta kala” is another guiding principle for the creative development of my students. “Beautiful things are difficult” is a concise, Grecian reminder that the music and sonic character of artists and engineers they admire comes from hard work. Despite it being a stereotype, many students arrive in a contemporary music program expecting coursework to be easy because it is something they have natural interest in. When they stumble on signal flow in a patchbay, starting from scratch with sound design in a new DAW, or identifying a source of noise in a complex mix – this is when I have an opportunity to help my students develop endurance, and concrete workflows that result in finished, professional works of music. This endurance is a portable skill that will serve the students from class to class, and from job to job. 

This is the real world, here in class

Finally, I work with my students to tear down the conceptual wall that often exists between “the real world” of music, which is “out there” in studios and on stages, and the classroom, which is merely for busywork. My challenge to my students is to understand each project and assignment as a portion of their creative output, which acts as a resume to other artists, and potential employers. Most of my students are balancing work, school, family, and creative endeavors, and I explicitly remind them that our classwork is a built-in time to develop their curiosities with all of the analog and digital resources we provide for them. I look for experienced students who are doing the minimum and challenge them to connect their course work to their experiences. I look for students struggling with foundational concepts, and work with them to connect theory to hands-on actions, and show them that a completed project is a lot closer than it might seem when stressed. 

It is difficult to express the common sentiment that, as a teacher, one learns at least as much as one instructs others, without sounding trite or clichéd. Yet this simple fact of constant, continuing learning on the part of a professor is what not only strengthens the connective tissue of interdisciplinary knowledge, it also provides a humility to the art of teaching. Rather than being blown and tossed by the waves of constantly changing technology, genre, aesthetic sensibility, and academic standards, I find it to be an opportunity to use the same imagination I apply to rhythm, melody, and sound design to evaluation, feedback, and stoking curiosity among the next generation of musicians, sound engineers, and composers.

The views expressed by UCO faculty and staff on their personal websites and social media pages do not necessarily reflect the positions of the University of Central Oklahoma. UCO faculty and staff are advised to follow the university’s social media guidelines and are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with policies outlined in UCO’s Employee Handbook and/or Faculty Handbook.