Jesse Seegers

As you put your headphones on and drift away to the melody of your favorite music, have you ever stopped to wonder how those funky beats and sound effects were created? Of course, much is generated from a computer. But who is the person behind the magic, the one who invented a program to distort and change the sounds of instruments and voice for those major recording companies? For his Abbot scholar project, Senior Jesse Seegers ’05 will explore just how musical composition and recording works. He plans to create an album featuring at least 10 songs of various styles and genres, from classical to experimental to acoustic and a capella, all of which he will compose, perform, and edit himself. Throughout the process, Seegers will experiment with electronics and different recording techniques in order to learn exactly what gives music that “professional sound.” He also plans to add an additional element of difficulty to the project by making some of his own instruments to further explore the mechanics behind sound. After he received a few effects pedals for his guitar, an instrument that he has played for several years, a new interest in the physics of music recording and composing arose for Seegers. As his curiosity heightened, he explored books and Internet sites on the subject. “I got so interested in recording and electronic music [that] I wanted to know how everything worked, so I opened up everything I could find and started figuring out how it all works,” he said. In his AP Music Theory and Composition course last year, Seegers also dabbled in other instruments and learned about music theory, which he will use to write his classical style compositions. His two-year experience in a rock band also gave him the opportunity to record and edit songs from live performances in the Ryley Room and Kemper. Some of the effects pedals that Seegers hopes to experiment with include a distortion, a wah, a compressor, and a phaser; each pedal has a different circuit depending on the desired effect. Through his project, he plans to learn more about the electronics that control the pedals, which have become an essential element of music today. Seegers decided to apply for the Abbot Scholar program as a chance to further pursue his passion. He hopes to share what he will learn with the rest of the students on campus, demonstrating how he created the various sounds and effects on his album. He said, “[The program] has given me the opportunity to do a large interdisciplinary project that I would not otherwise have the time nor the encouraging environment to do.” He continued, “I hope my project will make [the student body] say ‘I really want to see what he has to say, because that looks like a very interesting topic and idea.”