Jordie Shier

Jordie Shier
Jordie found his calling in the fertile intersection between engineering and music (Photo: Quinn Campbell)

Changing tracks

At concerts in high school, while friends admired the skills of the guitarist or the drummer, Jordie Shier’s attention was on the audio engineer at the mixing console. He asked for a mini-recording device for Christmas and started producing tracks, but when it came to choosing a university education, Jordie opted for engineering at Queens.

He soon found out the degree wasn’t right for him. He was spending more and more time making and performing electronic music, and less time in class.

Synthesizing passions

Back in Calgary that summer, Jordie started a band—his friend drumming over his pre-composed audio tracks—and they played shows all over the city. “I thought I’d arrived!” he says. For the next couple of years, Jordie enjoyed the excitement of being a professional musician. He gave engineering a second chance, this time at the University of Calgary, but says it just didn’t click. 

Still, Jordie craved more. He was looking for something academic that combined his aptitude for math and science with his deepening interest in music theory and composition. Something that synthesized his passion for music with the engineer in him. He found it in the University of Victoria’s combined major in music and computer science. 

A rewarding new challenge

At UVic, Jordie worked hard to make up for his lack of traditional musical training. He found the challenge exciting, but credits his success to the dedicated faculty members.

“Eugene Dowling spent hours helping me get through first year ear training, Christopher Butterfield encouraged me to discover the composer within myself, Dániel Biró has continually pushed me to expand my understanding of music theory, and Kirk McNally has been a constant source of encouragement”, he says. “Getting to work and learn from these professors has been the highlight of my academic journey so far.” 

Jordie’s also been highly engaged in the course union, organizing events such as Music Hack Day and Track Day, where students record and produce a track for a local band.

Full circle

This year, all of Jordie’s hard work and dedication was recognized when he was awarded the Joan Backus Scholarship in Music. The award gives him a financial cushion to continue exploring his musical projects beyond graduation. Recently he’s been learning how to create software for digital signal processing and music information retrieval, a growing interdisciplinary field.

“Things have gone full circle in a way, as I’m back in engineering classes,” he points out. “But I have a totally new perspective. I want to remain in this fertile intersection between engineering and music as I establish my career, whether that’s through composing music with technology, or creating technology for composing music.”