Music Student Supplies Soundtracks for New UAB TV Commercials
You won’t see Kevin Peek in UAB’s new student recruitment ad, but the senior music technology major plays a prominent role. Peek’s rippling, piano-driven score propels the fast-moving commercial, which launched the second phase in the university’s new brand campaign, “Knowledge that will change your world.” (Learn more about the faces behind these commercials in this related story.)
Peek is no stranger to high-profile gigs. In 2012, he won a national Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival sound design award for the 20 original songs he wrote for UAB Theatre’s production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and he has composed music for a host of films produced for UAB Digital Media. So the 30 seconds of music required for the new TV commercial was no big deal—which was a good thing, because he didn’t have much time to work with.
Following recommendations from Scott L. Phillips, Ph.D., co-director of UAB’s music technology program, and Rosie O’Beirne, director of Digital Media and Learning, Peek was commissioned by BLR Further, the advertising agency producing UAB’s new commercials. Because the project was part of his UAB Digital Media Fellowship, he earned course credit as well. (Learn more about Digital Media fellowships and internships.)
“Deadlines were pretty tight,” Peek says. He wrote a first draft in five days, but it “didn’t end up working when the editing process began,” so Peek went back to the piano, creating a new piece in “about 24 hours,” he says. (His original piece wasn’t wasted however; it forms the soundtrack for a new commercial for the recently launched Campaign for UAB.)
The bulk of the composition happened in UAB Digital Media’s lab, the Media Commons, a tech-packed space in Heritage Hall with the latest hardware and software for video, audio, and image editing. Peek says he created his music using Logic Pro software and a digital keyboard that plugs directly into a computer. “Most of the sounds heard in the TV spot are completely digital,” he explains, although he did record bass and guitar parts for the composition as well. “The ability to quickly get ideas into the computer and hear all the different parts together is integral to my process,” he says. “Quickly creating a quality piece of music would not be possible without the technology I use.”
Peek began his college career as an electrical engineering major, but he left after a single semester to “pursue music in the band I was in,” he says. The group didn’t pan out, but Peek found himself growing more and more interested in the recording process, from positioning microphones to mixing and producing each session in a digital audio workstation.
Then in fall 2009, he saw a UAB Computer Music Ensemble concert and “decided it was time to go back” to school, he says. “Before, I wasn’t aware there was a program in Alabama that actually extensively covered the technical/recording side of music, and I was even more attracted to the program because it still focuses heavily on music theory and musicianship, unlike many music technology programs."
The exposure from his TV work is a “great leap in the right direction” toward his career goals, Peek says. Working in a professional studio is one option. Peek has already earned professional certification in the industry standard Avid ProTools system in UAB’s recording studio and teaching lab. Then again, he would love to compose music for video games and feature films, “because my tendency is to create more dramatic compositions,” he says. “My goals seem to change as new opportunities are presented to me.”
By Matt Windsor