Meet Prof. Cory McKay: from the ethics of video games to the technology of sound

Rudy MoleyFaculty

A Music teacher at the College for over a decade, he has this to say to future Marianopolis students:

What are some classes you have taught at Marianopolis?

– Video Games, a Humanities course where students study ethical issues relating to video games. In addition to looking at general background topics like ethical theory, risk perception and virtual worlds, we focus on different specific ethical issues. Past examples include: violence in games, stereotypical portrayals, video game addiction, sexuality, art games, educational games, censorship, in-game advertising. We try to bring in guest speakers from the video game industry or tour one of Montreal’s studios.
– Music Technology, a course that gives Music students a broad technological background that they can use in their careers. The main focus is on sound recording and production but we also cover topics like score editing, artistic uses of technology and digital signal theory.
– Digital Music Technologies, a course focusing on performing live music with computers, culminating in a student concert during ArtsFest. We also look at a range of related techniques, like editing and mixing mashups.
– Sounds of Music, a Humanities course that takes a very broad cross-cultural and multidisciplinary look at Music. We examine fields like Philosophy, History, Psychology, Acoustics, Anthropology and Sociology for insights that can be applied to Music.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Try to be as organized as you can and try to get started on work early. There are many incredibly interesting things to learn at CEGEP. Planning things out ahead of time can help avoid stress. On the other hand, I would advise them not to be afraid to change the plan. Life can sometimes push us in unexpected and wonderful directions. We shouldn’t be afraid to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.

How did you come about getting a graduate degree in Music Technology?

My first Bachelor’s degree was in Physics, a subject I still find fascinating. My love of music led me to complete a second Bachelor’s in Music. I also picked up the credits for a Computer Science degree along the way and then decided to combine it all by doing my Master’s and Ph.D. in Music Technology.

What do you do outside the classroom at Marianopolis?

I’m the coach of the school’s Reach for the Top team, a competitive trivia team that won the Quebec championship and placed fifth in Canada last year. I also really enjoy being one of the coordinators of ArtsFest, where students from all programs get a great opportunity to showcase their creative work. I’m also the music director of MLOrk, the school’s computer orchestra and I serve as a judge for student-run music competitions.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I’m actively involved in doing research on applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to music, especially on training computers to recognize musical styles or genres in intelligent and meaningful ways. I’m fortunate enough to be funded and affiliated with the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology, which allows me to give particularly motivated Marianopolis students access to their excellent music research labs and other facilities.

What’s your favourite thing about teaching?

It’s hard to choose just one thing but I especially enjoy the fresh viewpoints students bring to the table when discussing topics like ethical issues or the arts. I really like the ways they challenge one another’s perspectives in class, to say nothing of how they challenge me with great questions.

Check out Cory McKay on YouTube.