Science and the Art of Music

Photo credit: Colin McKinley.
By Wendy Rees

Photo credit: Colin McKinley.

Science and the Art of Music

By Wendy Rees
A Foote Fellow, Amanda Abate will earn her degree in music engineering with a minor in computer engineering.

Amanda Abate by Colin McKinleyAmanda Abate grew up motivated in two different areas; following in her father’s footsteps as an aerospace engineer, while also pursuing her passion for making music. 

“I always wanted to be an astronaut, or an aerospace engineer, or a pilot,” she said, “but never a professional musician. It wasn’t until high school when I realized that music engineering was a way to bridge the gap between the sciences and the art of music.” 

Abate was born in Valparaiso, Fla., relocating at the age of five to Germany where she fell in love with playing the piano. Her family moved back to Florida, then to London where as a teenager she began experimenting with composition and recording. 

When it came time for choosing a college, Abate said, “the Frost Music Engineering degree at the University of Miami satisfied all of my interests in one program.” 

She was admitted to UM as a Foote Fellow honor student, minoring in Computer Engineering while playing contemporary keyboard and guitar in the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music program. 

“The experience of being a musically inclined software engineer inspired and challenged me to be creative with my studies and to explore deeper connections between music and technology,” she said. 

At the Frost School of Music, Abate has recorded and engineered projects for the concert halls, served as a live sound engineer for the award-winning American Music Ensemble (AME), and assisted in the Weeks Recording Studio. With AME, she worked at the Okeechobee Music Festival, the Ground UP Festival, and for the Estefan family in the Miami Design District. 

“I’ve engineered major recording sessions and mixed songs for Downbeat. I’ve been fortunate to have been treated like a professional during all of this, working alongside other engineers or just by myself under the direction of Professor Dan Strange,” she said. 

In May, Abate will have the unique opportunity to run live sound at UM’s commencement ceremonies while AME performs a new Miami anthem. 

“Not many engineers can say they got the chance to show off their talents at their own graduation,” she exclaimed. 

Summer internships have been instrumental in helping Abate grow into a confident young technician. Following her sophomore year, she travelled to Nuremburg, Germany to work for Franhofer IIS, a powerhouse whose many contributions include the invention of the mp3. She was the only female intern in the company’s Digital Radio Department, working side-by-side with senior-level scientists and engineers on leading-edge technologies and equipment.

“My music engineering core classes in Programming were the most helpful in preparing me for my projects there,” Abate said, adding that classes in Music Recording, Digital Audio Workstations, and Audio Post Production also prepared her for analyzing and manipulating the audio files used in developing a Windows consumer application. 

Last summer, Abate interned as a student researcher at UM’s Miller School of Medicine. Using her knowledge from MuE Professor Chris Bennett’s Psychoacoustics class, she participated in an alarm fatigue simulation to help further his research in memorable, noticeable and effective medical alarms.

“I have a wide range of skills thanks to Recording Services, the MuE curriculum, and my job here as Weeks Recording Studio Manager,” she said. “While working a regular ‘9 to 5’ is not every musician’s dream, I want to contribute to the audio engineering field in creative ways, which I think I’m best equipped to do through programming.” 

Abate will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Engineering Technology.