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2011 ARP Conference

Information         Call For Papers         Abstracts         Program

Abstracts

Some full papers are published in the Peer Reviewed Proceedings of the 7th Art of Record production Conference

 

Adam, Nathan                         (Belmont University)

Online Audio Education: Revolutionizing Mixing Courses with Web 2.0 Tech, USA

Modern college students have grown up in a world of on-demand streaming video with one click accessto information on any topic. Until recently, the dwindling supply of secrets possessed by professional recording and mixing engineers remained safe, attainable only through brick and mortar music business programs and on ground internships.

In the last 4 years, everything has changed. From “Lynda.com” to “Multi-Platinum Pro Tools”, new media companies are filling the gap for future audio production students by creating hundreds of hours of streaming videos, at dirt cheap prices, detailing the secrets of music production and mixing.

While some schools are content to rest on tenure and large format consoles, others are blazing ahead, combining the best of ever changing online technologies with the expertise still found when working with an active professional.

This paper will present a proven model for any Music Business program seeking to position themselves at the front of the online education revolution.

Topics covered include:

  • ·      Streaming: Live streaming DAW Courses to students near and far.
  • ·      Connecting: Interaction techniques to keep an online professor connected to their students.
  • ·      Capturing: Screen and video tools to pre-record streaming courses on mixing and production.
  • ·      Delivery: The pro’s and cons of major file delivery tech including FTP, Dropbox, iDisk, etc.
  • ·      Securing: Methods of securing course content against unauthorized access

Alleyne, Mike             (Mid Tennessee State University)

Echoes of Dub 2.0: Reggae’s Studio Revolution

This presentation examines reggae recordings mainly in the context of studio production technology evolution, and how such technology affected the production process. In several tangible ways, 1970s dub’s innovators such as King Tubby and Lee Perry created soundscapes by reconfiguring artistic conventions and existing technologies, extending them beyond proposed limits and functions. Construction of custom-built consoles and effects units to match their creative ambitions altered perceptions of time, sound and space both within and beyond reggae.

These innovations predating the commercial ascent of disco and the popularization of remixing concepts elevated the use of the studio as a musical instrument to new levels. These have arguably not yet been superseded despite the multitude of virtually limitless computer-based digital sequencing and sound processing options.

On a fundamental musical level, while the projection of drums and bass in reggae may seem self-evident, it must be stressed that those rhythmic elements were innovatively reinforced in dub. This represented a full-scale inversion of treble-centered popular music production logic and of song mixing architecture. It therefore merits closer examination as a revolution in studio production technique beyond psychedelic rock experiments. This presentation will include specific song excerpts illustrating central points in the discussion in an historical context.

The discussion also explores theoretical dimensions in which the dub remix is itself a new performance of a pre-existing one for an imagined audience, perhaps different from the consumers of the original audio artifact whose performing artist might play little or no role in the dub deconstruction process.

Avanti, Peter                        (Università degli Studi di Bari, 'Aldo Moro')

The Equal Tempered Diatonic Keyboard, Ideal Tool or Intoxicating Control Technology?

This paper offers a reflection on the continuing use of the diatonic keyboard and equal temperament for music production. A short history of the keyboard from the ancient hydraulis, to the equal tempered pianoforte, to current keyboard synthesizers, and “intelligent” keyboard controllers tells a story of the development of western music technology. It parallels and prefigures the birth of computing and modern music production, the piano being an  input device which assigns fixed note values, triggered by pressing a key to release a hammer which independently plays the note, any note with any possible tuning. Equal temperament tuning fixed the frequency ratios of the instrument’s 12 note per octave format making for easy modulation, and structuring the development of playing techniques. This remarkably versatile hardware (hammer keyboard)/software (equal temperament) technology, with 88 note polyphony, dynamics, note sustain, and relative portability (compared to an organ), moved to the center of western music. Coupled with notation (a software technology) it became the preferred tool for composition, and might easily be understood as a composing computer. At the center of new musical styles, the pianoforte was symbolically modern, a prestigious entertainment device and the first true musical instrument consumer product (from Beethoven gear lust probably began with the pianoforte). Parlor pianos were iconic in bourgeois culture of the late 19th century, to be replaced by the phonograph/disc combination in the 20th.  The music keyboard also prefigured and led to the technology of the typewriter keyboard, in 1837 Giuseppe Ravizza invented the first typewriter by adapting piano keyboard for mechanical writing; he called it the cembalo scrivano (might we call the modern QWERTY keyboard when used with music software similarly?). Today the keyboard, its output commonly equal tempered, exercises something of a monopoly in music production technology. Though often used as generic input device with keys assigned to any form of control action, the fact of the 12 tone diatonic keyboard and its history weigh on the process and practices of modern music production keeping it tuned into musical models that, however useful, suggest only a fraction of the possibilities the new music technologies offer. Alternate controllers, apart from drum controllers (then only marginally) and/or loop triggers, never seem to move from novelty/experimental/avant-garde to the mainstream, or seem only to suggest substituting something modeled on a guitar or wind instrument. Is the keyboard simply the ideal tool for music production, or is it an intoxicating technology: an at hand encultured model, keeping us anchored to well worn musical schema? Listening to much popular music and film scores the answer would seem to be yes, listening to some alternative productions seems to suggest there is a world of creative life after the keyboard but it is not economically sustainable. This opens to a second question, how interested are we in exploring the sonic possibilities of our new equipment beyond sweetening sauce for the same old musical pasta?

Baker, Michael            (University of British Columbia)

Rockumentary as Record Production: Understanding Sound in Music Documentary

Rockumentary is an audio-visual genre which participates in and comments upon broader cultural discourses concerning the relationship between recorded musical objects and audiences.  Through the 1950s, the separation between live musical performance and recorded music grows exponentially on the heels of several sound recording technology innovations, and anxieties concerning the “liveness” of the music industry's orientation post-1948 manifest themselves in debates concerning the relative status of several genres and the real or imagined difference between audio realism and spectacle as it asserts itself in several areas including film, popular music recordings, and live musical performance.  Rockumentary illustrates the transformation which finds the recording supplanting live performance in the postwar cultural, industrial, and aesthetic landscape.  It highlights a continuing cultural fascination with the live in an socio-industrial context dominated by the recorded.  It is the consumption of a recording disguised as an unmediated performance.

My presentation will use the concert film to interrogate sound-image relationships in nonfiction film from a theoretical perspective and to chart a shift in the sound design of concert films and audio-visual representations of music at large.  Using the representation of live concert sound in cinema to focus our attention, I will expand upon established theoretical models pertaining to sound in cinema in order to better incorporate documentary into existing scholarly discourse on the subject.  An awareness of the unique role played by sound recording and reproduction technology in the production and exhibition of concert films serves to challenge prevailing cultural beliefs—linked to both documentary’s status as evidence and the authorizing role sight plays in the live performance of music—that “seeing is believing”.  A case study of The Last Waltz (Martin Scorsese, USA, 1978) will provide us with an opportunity to examine how evolving sound technologies and shifting cultural expectations of cinema sound result in diverse creative approaches to representing sonic events in a single film over time.  Concert films are both sonic artefacts and fully artefactual sonic events which highlight the complexities involved in the audio-visual representation of a live musical event and bring into focus fundamental debates within film and sound reproduction theory over the nature of acoustic events and expectations for their mediation.

Bates, Eliot                        (Cornell University)

What Studios Do

Despite the considerable literature on the products of recording processes, there is comparatively little scholarship on what studios are and what studios do. Studio work transpires in an environment that has alternately been termed a “laboratory” (Hennion 1989), an isolated “non-place” (Théberge 2004), an “assembly line for record producers” or “an artist’s workshop” (Kealy 1982), depending on the studio and how it was configured to facilitate (or discourage) particular workflows. Thompson’s 2002 study of pre-1933 architectural acoustics covers the development of modern sound studio acoustic paradigms, and correlates the development of “live” and “dead” rooms with changing modes of listening and the invention of scientific metrics such as RT60 measurements. But precisely what effects do studios have on creative practices, on soundings, production workflows and even on conceptualizations of music itself? And how do we compare the effects imparted by the iconic large studios of the twentieth century with those of the indie studios that serve niche regional markets or home and project studios in the age of digital audio workstations?

In this paper I suggest the beginnings of a framework for theorizing studios. I draw on recent work in Science and Technology Studies by John Law, Thomas Gieryn and Sofia Zöe that suggests productive approaches to theorizing spaces, places, workplaces, and the heterogeneity of relations between architecture, objects and humans. I contend that studios must be understood simultaneously as acoustic environments, as meeting places, and as typologies that facilitate particular interactions between humans and nonhuman objects while structuring and maintaining power relations. I will touch upon several kinds of interaction: interaction between tracking room musicians and control room engineers that is “mediated” by talkback and other technologies of audition; interaction between musicians who perform together on recordings (both synchronously and asynchronously); interaction between engineers and the interface(s) that they use for manipulating recorded audio; and social interactions that are not apparently immediately related to recording work. Part of what I wish to tease out is the extent to which such forms of interaction are shaped by the “raw” studio (one not yet populated with people or technological objects) itself as opposed to studios that are populated with objects.

My theoretical framework is supported by ethnographic accounts of several contemporary studios in San Francisco and Istanbul. I will focus on high-end engineer-owned project studios and medium-scale commercial facilities that have been active sites for the production of a considerable amount of commercially released material. As acoustic environments, they range from DIY acoustic retrofits of residential units to acoustician-designed buildouts of generic light industrial spaces. However, as a point of comparison I will also touch upon larger multi-room commercial facilities.

Bennett, Samantha            (University of Westminster)

Endless Analogue? Situating Vintage Technologies in the Contemporary Recording & Production Workplace

“In the history of music it is not all that rare for technological inventions to gain significance only long after their inception” - Theodor Adorno 1

This paper illustrates a range of contemporary contexts where technological precursors are regularly applied in recording sessions by renowned practitioners and/ or studios. As part of a larger post-doctoral study into tech-processual unorthodoxies in popular music, this research aims to posit the ‘place’ of technological precursors in modern recording practice.

In an almost wholly digital age, the use of vintage technology in the contemporary workplace presents a dichotomy; on the one hand, its use is perceived as luddite 2 or nostalgic, 3 yet on the other, it can be viewed as fashionable 4 or ‘cool’. However, since Jones has described individual rejection of technology as being a ‘deliberately symbolic act’ of ‘neo-luddism’, 5 are technological precursors therefore implemented by recording practitioners in order to make anachronistic sonic statements?

Despite pressure from equipment manufacturers on consumers 6 to continually ‘upgrade’ DAWs, a strong second-hand market for precursors exists; in particular, analogue tape recorders and microphones. Contrary to recent discourse pervading the sound technology press, 7 vintage systems retain a vital ‘place’, even in today’s diverse recording workplaces.

Avoiding the simplistic analogue/ digital paradigm (that I appreciate may be implied by the title), this paper situates technological precursors and vintage systems synchronically, and in a range of contemporary UK and US ‘case study’ contexts. Implementing a largely critical ethnographic methodology 8 to incorporate interview material with practitioners and case study examples, the research is based upon three key investigative foci:

  • Issues of source, implementation and repair/ refurbishment;
  • Technological precursors and ‘place’ in the contemporary workplace; and

·      Usage and authentication by practitioners deemed ‘fashionable’.

1. Adorno, T. W. (1969) Opera and the Long Playing Record. In: Leppert, R. (2002) (Ed.) Essays on Music. Los Angeles: University of California Press, p. 283.

2. For example, in: Toop, D. (2001) Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds. London: Serpent's Tail, p. 263.

3. For example, in: Taylor, T. (2001) Strange Sounds: Music, Technology and Culture. London & New York: Routledge, p. 111.

4. For example: Rich, LJ. (2010) Analogue Gadgets Back in Fashion in a Digital Age. [Documentary feature] Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/8710938.stm {Accessed: April 2011}

5. In: Jones, S. E. (2006) Against Technology. London: Routledge, pp. 19-20.

6. In this instance, ‘consumers’ are considered as recordists, educational professionals and establishments, as well as ‘enthusiasts’.

7. Noren, F. (2011) ‘On Test – Universal Audio Studer A800’ In: Sound on Sound, 26, 5, pp. 22-6.

8. Based on the idea of hermeneutic-reconstructive analysis, as described in: Ma, L. (2009) Critical Ethnography for Information Research in Diverse Contexts. In: Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 46, 1, pp. 1-4.

Burrows, Ben            (York St John University)

A Creative Process: The Art of Teaching Record Production

It is only a little over one hundred years since the birth of record production. It is still a relatively young art form. We are only just beginning to investigate the significance of this new phenomenon and its relationship to those arts we have known for millennia. Record production is artistic, and it requires technical knowledge: it is a 21st Century art form.

The last century witnessed the rise of the record producer: a new artist. The history is starting to crystallise and throw the spotlight on those who excited our ears with something new: Les Paul, Phil Spector, George Martin, Joe Meek and others. They led the way in mapping the frontier, and now the terrain is becoming more familiar people want to learn how to do the same. This paper addresses the question: what should be taught to prospective record producers within the context of a university education?

Record production should be understood as a musical skill. Music education has traditionally incorporated a wide range of disciplines, Music Production education should follow suit. Specific areas of study will be identified and analysed, leading to a model for determining the curriculum content for music production programmes of study. In all cases it will be shown one element is central: creativity.

The art of teaching record production revolves around the development of effective strategies for teaching creativity. In approaching its conclusion this paper will examine a number of well-known models of creativity, and show how they may be applied to the teaching of music production. For the next generation of record producers should be taught not simply how to re-produce known phenomena and effects, but to hear beyond them and produce things that continue to startle and amaze our ears well into the 22nd Century.

Burrows, Ben; Hepworth Sawyer, Russ & Golding, Craig,  (York St John University)

Teaching Production: The Future Direction Toolkit

As part of ongoing individual research by the authors, studies are being carried out in the area of course design and delivery for Music Production. For ARP 2011, the authors would like to propose a special gathering of a cross section of interested parties to discuss and consider future trends and best practice in course design.

A select panel of speakers alongside the authors will discuss future trends they perceive will influence future course design and delivery. The foundations for this research will stem from wide consultation and resulting interviews or surveys from industry, students (clients), the academics and the wider higher education community.

It is hoped that a new assistive ‘toolkit’ for future course development be created in the future based on wide consultation with the stakeholders and ongoing research such as this panel session. It aims to also collect views and future research from the diverse delegation at ARP and as such the authors will encourage input from delegates to help frame this exciting research project for the future.

Campelo, Isabel            (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

From LA to Lisbon: the “LA Sound” as a referential production sound in Rui Veloso`s recording career

In the 1980`s, a distinctive production sound came to be associated
with musicians, producers and sound engineers working in Los Angeles,
including, notably, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan. The
"LA Sound" became a reference for many musicians and sound technicians
around the world. Rui Veloso, a portuguese singer/song-writer, whose carreer started in this decade, tried to emulate it in his records released in Portugal. However, as a consequence of the socio-economic situation of the country, inherited from a closed 48 year old` political dictatorship, many areas of the economy were underdeveloped. The record industry, although living a very active period in this decade, was no exception, especially as far studio technology was concerned.

Veloso`s very successful recording career went on until today. Along these three decades, many changes in portuguese society ocurred, including the develpment of studio audio recording. But his search for sonic perfection never ceased. This search led him both to work with foreign sound engineers and to record in audio studios abroad,  whenever possible.  The results, however, were never completely satisfying for him.

Following the research of my Master degree,
which took Veloso`s recording career as case study, the aim of this
paper is to launch several questions regarding performance in the studio and the relations involved in the construction of distinctive conceptualizations of production sound in popular music. Can a particular recording sound, conceived, created and materialized in a specific geographic, social and cultural context
successfully be emulated elsewhere? What other issues, besides technology, are involved in this matter? What is the dynamics between technology and human agency in the recording studio? Who decides what to whom?

These questions will hopefully raise discussion about the power relations between the different actors present in the recording set – the artist, musicians, sound engineer, producer, the label`s AR -, but also issues concerning:

-      musicianship and its effect in the production sound;

-       language and verbal communication regarding the abstract world of sound;

-      technology and experience- does having the right equipment actally mean  taking the most out of it?

Methodology will include an ethnography based on interviews with musicians and sound engineers involved in this particular case. Also,  a demonstration of Rui Veloso`s production sound  through listenning to some of his most significant songs will take place, so as to acknowledge the actual material result of his quest, compared to his referential sonic locus- the “LA Sound”.

Case, Alex            (University of Massachusetts Lowell)

David Bowie’s “Fame” - A Case Study in Creative Focus

David Bowie made a particularly musical use of the recording studio when he collaborated with Carlos Alomar and John Lennon in the creation of “Fame.” In a one-day session at Electric Lady Studios, New York, 1975, that one word, that single syllable inspired a richly complex multitrack arrangement.  Despite the seemingly limitless capability of hardware and software tools available in the studio today, we have much to learn from this recorded work some three and a half decades later.  Transcription of the iconic, pitch shifted, descending line, “Fame, fame, fame, ..., “ in pitch, timbre, and space, reveals tremendous production thoughtfulness essential to the artistic success of the vocal gesture itself, as well as the overall mix.  Further embellishments of reverse piano, dynamic reverbs, and aggressively artificial timbral manipulation show the studio stretched to the signal processing limits of the day.  Reverse engineering the audio engineering points to extraordinary uses of humble technologies, testament to the value of creative drive and superb musicianship - relevant motivators in today’s vastly more open-ended production environment.

Castro, Guilherme         (Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) - Brasil)

Freire, Sérgio                (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) - Brasil)

Cyberock: the studio as a musical instrument in live performance of the Brazilian jamband SOMBA

The technologies developed for musical applications in the 20th century influenced directly the expansion of musical genres. Overall in rock music, there’s a high dependence degree between an artist’s sonority and the technology used in it. This generates a problem to the maintenance of the same sonorous mark in the different situations of musical practice: in rehearsals, in recording studio and in live performances. As an approach to this issue, the digital technologies (and, mainly, the computer) may be a great tool, with its characteristics such as: portability; an easier data storage, maintenance and upgrading; more possibilities in the use of signal processing resources; more possibilities of interaction, and others. The band called SOMBA – a Brazilian pop/rock jamband – considered to cover and research some of the possibilities that the current digital technologies can supply, in a way so it can define itself musically through a sonorous mark — among other factors. This occurs by the elaboration of a patch in Max/MSP, where occurs the dilution of borders between functions (composing, arranging, performing and engineering) in the musical process and, after that, using this designed patch to create a phonographic and performance work.

This paper also describes the general functioning of a Max/MSP patch developed specifically to this situation.  This patch creates a virtual acoustic environment based in simulation by digital modeling and emulation software. The patch manages the input’s audio signals and applies digital signal processing to treat and build the desired sonorous mark and, after that, to mix and master all of it in a final L-R output signal. The acoustical mark reference to be achieved is the sound of a controlled recording studio environment that could be also obtained in live performances and therefore, passive to interaction and manipulation by the musicians. Besides, this patch may serve as a base to future sub-patches that explore interactivity as a musical composition element.

Chambon, Philip                        (Kingston University)

Beyond the Bedroom Studio: Teaching popular music production at University level

In a question regarding how he got into music production, Don Was answered,

“…I learnt to engineer in Detroit and there were a couple of really great engineers … and they weren’t talking … they wouldn’t even let you watch the mix… I wanted that knowledge [of sound engineering] but it wasn’t available.”  

Online Music Production Clinic with Don Was (my italics) http://www.berkleemusic.com/welcome/music-production-clinic

[Accessed 9th May 2011]

Now, some thirty years later the situation is different.  There is a multitude of information available on websites and in books and magazines.  The hardware and software necessary to be able to make recordings at home is relatively cheap and accessible.  In recent years, there has also been a great expansion in University courses offering music production, music technology and sound engineering.  This begs the question: What can and should a University course offer that a website and a laptop can’t?

Despite all the available information, it seems that there is some confusion about the nature of music production, the techniques employed and what exactly a music producer is.  There are after all different kinds of producers working in a multitude of genres, each requiring multifaceted skills.  There is almost a mystical quality conferred onto the role of the successful producer and his or her production techniques.  Is the student expectation that the elusive secrets of popular music production will be unlocked and revealed to them?  This paper will explore these and other issues that arise from teaching popular music production at University level.

The discussion will centre on how the skills required for a modern 21st century popular music production can be defined and then inform the pedagogy, the curriculum and enhance student employability.  To what extent do the curriculum and teaching methods depend on the suitability of the facilities and student numbers?  What should the balance between the theoretical and the practical aspects be to provide the student with transferable skills to suit the job market?  To what extent should teachers delivering such courses have experience as professionals in the popular music recording industry?

I will draw on my own experience as a University lecturer in Popular Music Composition and Music Production and a practitioner in the popular music, media and recording business.  Research will be based on personal experience, interviews with students, colleagues and music industry professionals.

Collier, Cosette            (Mid Tennessee State University)

The Nashville Sound: A look back at the recording and production techniques that defined the sound of pop and country music produced in the 1950s and 60s in Nashville, TN

One way to better understand the variety of ways in which current production and recording techniques has affected the performer, composer, arranger and producer is to take a look back to the early days of pop and country music production of the 1950s and 60s. 

Using excerpts from a documentary that I am producing about the Nashville Sound and early days of recording on what has become known as “Music Row” in Nashville, Tennessee, this presentation will focus on the production and recording techniques from this era of pop and country music and how they changed over time.  The documentary consists of interviews with the producers, engineers and session musicians that made that era of music production famous.  There is footage of a recording session from April 2006 demonstrating some of the recording techniques of the era, as well as vintage footage from some early recording sessions at RCA Studio B, provided by The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

The engineers and producers in the documentary reminisce about the early days of recording and suggest that not only have production and recording techniques changed over the years, but, as a result, these technological advances may have paved the way for a different calibre of session musician in the professional recording environment, that perhaps did not have the same performance skills as the original A-Team session players.

The musicians featured in the documentary are the surviving members of the A-Team musicians, a name given to a select group of Nashville session musicians who played on hit recordings by Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Everly Brothers and Simon and Garfunkel, to name a few.  In the video, these musicians, along with their original engineer, Bill Porter, recreate the recording techniques used on several songs from the era, such as "Crazy" (Patsy Cline) and "Yackety Sax" (Boots Randolph).  This recording session was held at the historic RCA Studio B, in Nashville, TN, which has been restored as a fully operational vintage recording studio and teaching facility.

 As a recording engineer and professor of audio engineering for the past 18 years, I am also the director and editor of this video documentary.  It is my hope that an examination of the changes in music production resulting from technological advances in multi-track recording and acoustic isolation, as described by the producers, recording engineers, and musicians of this era of music production, will be both educational and insightful.

Crooks, John            (University of California Irvine)

Recreating an Unreal Reality: Performance Practice, Recording, and the Jazz Rhythm Section

This paper will discuss the effect of Jazz recordings on the expectations and performance practice of Jazz rhythm section players, especially bassists and drummers. Both aural/traditional and notated/academic approaches to jazz pedagogy rely heavily on recorded examples from the full history of record production. These recordings present a wide variety of perspectives on the sound of the Jazz rhythm section, many of which are highly distorted and "unreal." Close mic-ing, bass proximity effect, isolation, and the low end enhancement ("loudness") built in to many stereo systems will be examined vis-à-vis Jazz rhythm section musicians and their goals as performers and recording artists. The highly developed rhythmic language of Jazz will be problematized through direct engagement with the singular perspective and deceptive authenticity of "acoustic" recordings, which can seem real but are actually recorded interpretations of acoustic events from remote, and often forgotten or lost, times and places.

Crowdy, Denis            (Macquarie University, NSW)

Aesthetics in a Vacuum (tube)

The production of contemporary popular music influences, and is influenced by, discourses involving the acquisition, use and sound of particular kinds of recording equipment. Opinions surrounding analog and digital equipment provide a good example, with many of us advocating expensive analog equipment and the warm, rich sound of tubes over digital emulations and alternatives more accessible to those with home based studios. While not wanting to question the collective wisdom surrounding the sound of tubes, I do want to explore how these particular sound aesthetics might have developed and what an analysis of this context can offer studies of popular music. More specifically, following sociological and ethnographic trajectories exploring aesthetics in art (Wolff, 1983; Born, 2010; Becker, 1984) this paper analyses discussions, letters and advertisements in magazines aimed at audio engineers and recording musicians in Australia, to explore how musicians, engineers, producers and listeners act as consumers in a cycle of fashionable production aesthetics.

I then contrast this with an exploration of sound aesthetics in a very peripheral music production scene – that of Melanesia – where access to such equipment is not as evident due to economic circumstances and a high proportion of home studio activity. Despite the sound aesthetic being quite different, the fact that the scene is functional for so many listeners provides a useful analytical perspective for the point made previously about context. Ultimately, I argue that production aesthetics have developed that are directly linked to access to particular kinds of equipment and associated sounds. Further, shifting discourses around the use of certain equipment can be seen as part of a process of slippery reification that keeps distinctions between the periphery and mainstream firmly embedded.

While this might be fairly obvious in relation to peripheral scenes like those in Melanesia, where issues of access and shared listening histories diverge from those of the Western mainstream, the concept can be used to critique developments in what has been called the ‘democratisation’ of music production. This is through the consideration of tensions evident in the destabilisation of the professional recording environment by the growth of home studios, the accessibility of digital tools, and the reduction in income for traditional recording industries as technology and listener habits change. Changes in the attitude to and use of analog and digital equipment suggest that the discourse might act as a form of resistance for professional studio and engineer positions, in an attempt to reassert authority and standing in a changing industrial landscape.

D'Errico, Mike            (UCLA)

How to Reformat the Planet: Technostalgia and the “Live” Performance of Chipmusic

“It looks like you’re just pressing buttons.” It is perhaps the most common audience feedback received by the chiptune composer, who uses vintage video game consoles to create original music. At a basic level, the chipmusician is “just pressing buttons,” as they control the various parameters of the sound chip using the same equipment and controllers with which the game is played—often resulting in the misperception that they are actually just playing video games on stage. Yet at the same time, the chipmusician must constantly reflect on his or her creative relationship to the 1980s video game culture from which his or her sounds originated: Is chipmusic simply a way to relive the sonic memories of one’s childhood, or is it a “progressive” form of electronic dance music? What happens to the music when you begin to integrate acoustic instruments into the mix? On a broader level, is it possible to sever the nostalgic connection between current chipmusic and the specific cultural historical moment from which the sounds originated?

In this paper I will examine two contrasting styles of “live” performance in chiptune music, what I call “textual” and “intertextual.” The textual performance reflects a more “purist” aesthetic in which sounds and gestures are intentionally derivative of the sonic aesthetic of old video games, while the intertextual performance incorporates a multiplicity of video game consoles and generic conventions, resulting in a sonic aesthetic that is decontextualized from video game conventions. Engaging in technical analyses as well as performance theory, I will expand on Kiri Miller’s notion of “schizophonic performance” by positing a much closer connection between the “real” and the “virtual” in the act of mediation. Combining technical analyses of the compositional processes of the chipmusician with phenomenological analyses of the “live” performance will provide us, as the audience, with the necessary tools to better understand chipmusicians as creative musical artists, rather than techies who are “just pressing buttons.”

Danielsen, Anne            (University of Oslo)

What is liveness?

In his influential book on liveness (1999), Philip Auslander asks whether there is a distinction between live and mediatized music formats in our time, taking as his point of departure the fact that live concerts often mimic the recording and the increasing presence of recorded elements in performance. Is the presence of recorded or pre-programmed elements in conflict with live performance? In answering this, it is first necessary to clarify what live performance is, addressing the characteristics of live performance both in the sense of a format - the live format - and of providing the experiential quality called liveness. I will then approach the question of whether the use of preprogrammed and recorded elements contradicts live performance, making a live performance “unlive”. Finally, the discussion will be expanded to the question of how to cultivate liveness as part of a recording. Is it possible to have the experience of liveness when listening to a recorded format, and if so, which aspects of the sound connote liveness in such a setting?

Draper, Paul                        (Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University)

Toward a monograph: Working with fragments from within the improvisation-composition nexus

This paper will examine part of the life span of a practice-led research project entitled Monograph. An album of the same name will be produced and released in mid 2012 to present a series of original works each of which will reflect upon seminal events, people and places that have influenced the development of the author as an academic and musician over the last two decades.

Attracted to the energy and new ideas that improvisation can bring, this project takes a contrary view of one modern record production mantra that ‘the song is everything’. Rather, it explicitly seeks to bridge the gap between improvisation and composition by using the recording studio as a data collection and analysis device in the first instance, and accordingly there have been recorded regular live studio improvisations over the last twelve months. Sometimes this occurred as a duo (author /guitarist and drummer collaborator), on other occasions augmented by guests including bassists, keyboardists, wind players and a selection of world musicians and acoustic instruments from the Asia-Pacific, Turkey and India. Other significant elements include: no use of headphones; self-recorded; no re-takes or overdubs; minor edits only for the purposes of highlighting particular themes and circulation /review via iDisk.

At the time of writing there is an archive of approximately 180 workable recordings, a data set which prompts a useful trajectory, the next step in which has been the development and application of a thematic analysis process. Out of this has emerged some 30 unifying ideas – musical fragments often strikingly mirroring each other across differing performance dates, ensembles and locations. Tonal centres, emotional cues, ambience, rhythms, dynamics, tempi etc have all been part of this iterative mapping and culling, as has the emerging Monograph album track structure. The music is far from a free jazz ethos and embraces elements of R&B, film sound, fusion, world music, melody, harmony, groove, and certainly accessibility.

Improvisational energy and musical risk have proven to be the most engaging and palpable aspects of this music, therefore the least desirable next steps would be to chart, rehearse and multi-track set pieces to mimic earlier ‘channelling’.  Minimalist approaches have recently had some early trials, that is, tonal centres, broad cues and signals marked on scores and graphic charts. The next phase of the project orients around a central research problem: how to move beyond free improvisation, to being able to replicate the essence of these 30 distillations in live performance and recording contexts; and further, in just how these elements interact with and complete the Monograph compositional aspirations.

With the final album recording sessions posed to take place in early 2012, this paper will present audio examples and related methodologies to interrogate, refine and better understand these pre-production processes.

Gerber, Heidi            (Johns Hopkins University)

Exploring the Power Paradigm in Record Production:  An Analysis of Three Collaborative Studio Performances

This article draws upon the theoretical work of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (1991) and his “General Theory of Practice” model of power in professional relationships to analyze record production projects that utilized non-linear performance and editing, a process of creative “power sharing,” between audio producer and client.  The article describes three unique production scenarios experienced by the author in professional practice, and identifies multiple variables within the production process that potentially influenced the latitude and nature of creative collaboration between producer and client within each project.  Based on this analysis, the author offers a suggested set of predictors for successful production collaboration within the context of non-linear performance and editing, and makes recommendations for future research in the topic area.

Golding, Craig                         (Leeds College of Music)

Hepworth Sawyer, Russ            (York St John University)

The Quest For The Definitive Music Production Course : An Industry Perspective

Undergraduate course popularity is governed by various factors. Career focus & relevance, cultural trends and historical reputation to name but a few. The rapid change and advancement of the media and music industries has catapulted the popularity of courses in music production and music technology in the last ten years. However, the content of such courses are often discussed by practioners in the industry and questions are asked as to the true worth and relevance. As the industry is in a huge transitory period, and the way in which music is created and consumed rapidly changes, should the 'designers' of these courses consider the emerging requirements of today’s practitioners or hold on to the easier to teach, long standing, yet fading 'traditional' music industry?

In our UK educational system that is coming to terms with the introduction of higher course fees and charges should current course designers be writing content that fulfils the demand of those wishing to study, i.e. 'the clients' in order to maintain popularity and therefore 'custom'? Or should the industry, internationally, be consulted more closely even if the skills required do not match the perceptions of the 'customer'. Are these courses really 'fit for purpose'? Does supply really meet the demand?

This paper will consider the reported elements of the definitive music production course reporting from research extracted from interviews and surveys from industry, students (clients), the academics and the wider higher education community. This ongoing research aims to identify the true needs of the industry, the individual and the now international market to which music production serves.

Gottlieb, Gary            (Webster University, St, Louis, Missouri)

How does it sound now? What students need to learn from audio history to survive in the future

When we consider the future of the audio industry, we look to audio students and other young audio professionals. What are the lessons they need to draw from history? Let’s take a look at history ourselves in an attempt to understand the lessons that are available.

One day Chet Atkins was playing guitar when a woman approached him. She said, "That guitar sounds beautiful". Chet immediately quit playing. He asked, "How does it sound now?"

The quality of sound in Chet’s case clearly rested with the player, not the instrument, and the technical and aesthetic quality of our product lies with our engineers and producers, not with the equipment. The dual significance of this question, “How does it sound now”, informed my research from 2007 - 2010 and will inform our discussion, since it addresses both the engineer as the driver and the changes we have seen and heard as our methodology evolved through the decades. The book that resulted from this research, “How Does It Sound Now?” received the 2010 ARSC Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research for the Best Research in General History of Recorded Sound.

One of the most interesting facets of the research, comprised of interviews with top engineers and producers, was the way the conversation kept returning to the thread of quality. They loved to talk about how they strived for quality then, and still do.

Let’s talk about how engineers and producers retain quality and create a product that conforms to their own high standards. This may lead to other conversations about musicians, consumers, and the differences and similarities between their standards and our own. It will certainly lead to a discussion of methods to empower young engineers to challenge their clients to strive to create the highest quality product possible.

It will also touch on internships and mentorship, and what young engineers need to know to survive in the changing job market. We will discuss classroom-based teaching methods that emerged from the interviews and, through the lens of these interviews, we will assess the future of audio education.

Gullö, Jan-Olof; Holgersson, Per-Henrik & Johansson, Sören  (Södertörns University; Royal College of Music in Stockholm; Dalarna University)

The Future of Education in Music Production in a European Perspective: from Sophia to EQF

The purpose of this paper is to discuss important aspects of future higher education in music production, this based on three different music educational research projects relevant to education in music production.

As a result of the Bologna Process, the European Parliament and the Council in 2008 adopted the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). The EQF has eight reference levels and the learning outcomes on these levels are depicted in three categories: Knowledge; Skills and Competence. To describe knowledge in categories is not a new idea. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (1999) describes five aspects of knowledge: Techne: Art; Episteme: Theoretical knowledge; Phronesis: Practical judgement (includes inquiry and reasoning); Sophia: Wisdom (a combination of intellect and knowledge); Nous: Intellect or intelligence (a form of perception like intuition).

From three different studies (Gullö 2010; Holgersson 2011; Johansson, in progress) we present some of the results relevant to the purpose of this paper. In the first study (Gullö 2010) eleven professionals were interviewed, all music production teachers or active music producers. The main result was that the skills required for both music producers and music production teachers are varied and extensive. Psychology and leadership, music, technology, ethics, law and copyright, entrepreneurship and cultural timing are particularly relevant to music production. In the second study (Holgersson 2011) eight students were observed in one-to-one tuition on violin, classical guitar, saxophone and electric guitar. The results show that the students use three main approaches: adaptation, reflected navigation and indifference. These approaches vary and overlap. The different strategies used by the students are discussed in relation to apprenticeship in higher music education, and in relation to the consequences for students’ musical learning and knowledge development. The third study (Johansson in progress) is a case study of two ambitious and talented young musicians, one classical guitarist and one singer-songwriter, and their work to establish themselves in the music world. The results show that they both use media and information technologies to promote themselves, and that higher education not is enough for them to succeed in their careers.

These three studies show that today's students need a different education than that traditionally is offered. Teaching strategies based on the master-apprentice model (the Sophia category) has historically been successful but the master-apprentice model is no longer an obvious choice in today’s education with the criteria’s set out in the EQF. In conclusion, we question teaching methods where students, perhaps more or less without reflection, follow their master's advice. Instead, we want to see new teaching methods developed, methods that well meets the needs of today's students. Such methods should in our perspective focus on developing the students’ knowledge, skills and competence, including Phronesis, a form of knowledge we think is very important for those who want to be successful in the future music industry.

Hajimichael, Mike            (University of Nicosia)

Convergence and Studios - Manwel T meets King Tubby!

The studio as a business, as a unit of production and commerce, has experienced a dramatic change. The ‘survivors’ have undergone a process of commercial re-adjustment (Albini, 2010) largely due to the rise in home and or virtual recording environments. The main objective in terms of recorded output in these settings is to share songs and projects through the internet for free. This has redefined the industry as we knew it, hence the paying to consume via major music labels formula (Dobie, 2004) has become for many people, history.

Traditional studios still exist however, albeit in reduced numbers and they will carry on existing in my opinion just like vinyl records will carry on spinning on some (but fewer) turntables around the world. What remains is a process of re-adjustment and convergence (McQuail, 2005).

This occurs whenever any new media/format/methodology emerges.  Conventionally however we assume the worlds of large and expensive studios and home based PC/Mac/Laptop set ups are set against each other and that eventually the minions of smaller fish will eat the bigger sharks. Something else is happening however which largely goes unnoticed. Home based and big studios are encountering each other in a kind of production symbiosis, a co-existence of sorts where the two mix and interact.

The Dub PC  Remixer and net label creator Manwel T from Malta and his encounters with works from a diverse group of people, including  Paul Simon, Alpha & Omega and Dubmatix is an active example of this.  Manwel T began his encounters with reggae music on a radio show called ‘Reggae Club’ which was aired on Radio Malta (1989-2005). After the show was axed he became a regular sound engineer on Radio – TV until he turned to experimental remix dub versions on a PC of other people’s music.

The reason for focusing on Manwel T is to highlight studio convergence and to inquire on the motivations behind it. Is this process deliberate, spontaneous, even accidental or out of necessity? Does the remixer do it for the money or for sharing the music? What have been the responses from people in the more traditional studio set ups to his remixes – how for example do dub purists respond to this idea of remixing in this manner. In an interview with the Mad Professor in 1991 it was abhorrent back then that people tried to mix dub in their bedrooms (HipHop Connection UK)

Issues of commerciality and ‘freeness’ will also be considered as well as more challenging ideas such as ‘freeconomics’ (Anderson). Additionally, the concept of ‘making is connecting’ (Gauntlett) and the idea of an active, fully engaged creative audience. This has made production online more accessible to people throughout the world to engage in blurring even further the lines audience, industry and text. The ‘culture of production’ (Negus) redefines itself through convergence processes, from the grass roots backwards, uploaded and shared, remixed, re-versioned and out there.

Hanáček, Maria            (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Recording Studios as Iconic Places and the Sites of Creative Music Production

It took a while until musicians embraced the idea of records being able to capture their performances, as Fred Gaisberg outlines in his autobiography, let alone until record production was thought of as a creative endeavour or even an art form. Over the last decades, however, we became used to the idea of music being a studio product. Indeed, since the release of Sgt. Pepper at the latest, the studio became the place of creative music production in public consciousness, and this idea didn't vanish in the 21st century - in the contrary, it seems to become even more attractive in the age of home recording: Not only do many CDs already come with some sort of   "making of" documentary filmed in a studio setting, studios like Abbey Road also see a steady pilgrimage of fans, and some, like Hansa Studios in Berlin, even offer guided tours.

There is also a growing number of books published on this subject matter, Heather Johnson's book about San Francisco's recording studios being a case in point. They tell the stories of regional studios and local music scenes, of the legendary places where a characteristic “sound” developed and where hit records have been produced. They evoke a strong sense of nostalgia in the age of digital studio environments and they are, above all, personal histories. They thus feature narrative patterns and tropes, which tie in with other strands of popular music history. Though much of this writing is based on anecdotes, the aim of this paper is not to question the truth content of these stories, but to investigate how and why they emerge.

First I will look into how such rooms acquire a history, e.g. through interviews with musicians and producers, or even through the walls of fame the studios feature in their entrance halls, since it is important to notice that through such things popular music history is constantly recited and actively constructed or reconstructed.

Then I will ask why the idea of the studio as a place of creative music production seems so attractive, despite the tendency of studios actually rather becoming non-places and non-spaces through standardized recording technologies, as outlined by Paul Théberge in his article on the network studio, for it seems that this distant yet physically existing place leaves room for some sort of studio magic to happen, providing a setting in which we may picture our own version of that history.

Haseleu, Christian                        (Mid Tennessee State University)

The Middle Path: Specialized Courses on Top of a Base of Generalized Instruction, a Curriculum Model for a Bachelor’s Level Degree in Audio Production

Preparing students for a world of changing technology and uncertain business models would seem to favor generalized instruction.  But specialization in the audio production field, the skill set requirements of the entry level job market, and student interest seem to demand specialized instruction.  Is it possible to provide both within the context of a Bachelor’s level university curriculum? 

This paper will present a model curriculum that provides generalized instruction in the science, art, cultural implications, business, and technology of audio production, and still allows for the opportunity for instruction in various specialized fields of audio.  The model will address the problems of course prerequisite stacking, course content overlap, and technology choices.  Learning outcomes and outcome evaluation techniques will be discussed.  The model will use a four year, semester based, curriculum structure consistent with most North American universities but with application to other systems.

In the industry musical, dramatic, and visual arts are integrated with various sciences and technologies, within the confines of a business structure, to produce culturally significant communication content.  In academia the various arts, and sciences, business education, cultural and communication studies are usually found in mutually exclusive and often competitive institutional and curriculum structures.  This paper will address the following questions: What content can be taken from within the existing structure and when is it better to create new courses and programs necessary to achieve the learning outcomes for a general audio production education?  What constitutes generalized instruction in audio production? 

A wise academic leader once suggested that “you can’t teach everyone, everything.”  Yet it is clear that many academic programs try to achieve this goal.  The model will suggest an alternative approach with common technology platforms and instructional approaches across the curriculum leading to a limited number of highly specialized skills based courses focusing on specific job markets.

Hewitt, Donna & Knowles, Julian            (Queensland University of Technology)

Performance Recordivity: Studio Music in a Live Context

A broad range of positions is articulated in the academic literature around the relationship between recordings and live performance. Auslander (2008) argues that “live performance ceased long ago to be the primary experience of popular music, with the result that most live performances of popular music now seek to replicate the music on the recording”. Elliott (1995) suggests that “hit songs are often conceived and produced as unambiguous and meticulously recorded performances that their originators often duplicate exactly in live performances”.  Wurtzler (1992) argues that “as socially and historically produced, the categories of the live and the recorded are defined in a mutually exclusive relationship, in that the notion of the live is premised on the absence of recording and the defining fact of the recorded is the absence of the live”. Yet many artists perform in ways that fundamentally challenge such positions.

Whilst it is common practice for musicians across many musical genres to compose and construct their musical works in the studio such that the recording is, in Auslander’s words, the ‘original performance’, the live version is not simply an attempt to replicate the recorded version. Indeed in some cases, such replication is impossible. There are well known historical examples. Queen, for example, never performed the a cappella sections of Bohemian Rhapsody because it they were too complex to perform live. A 1966 recording of the Beach Boys studio creation Good Vibrations shows them struggling through the song prior to its release.

This paper argues that as technology develops, the lines between the recording studio and live performance change and become more blurred. New models for performance emerge. In a 2010 live performance given by Grammy Award winning artist Imogen Heap in New York, the artist undertakes a live, improvised construction of a piece as a performative act. She invites the audience to choose the key for the track and proceeds to layer up the various parts in front of the audience as a live performance act. Her recording process is thus revealed on stage in real time and she performs a process that what would have once been confined to the recording studio.

So how do artists bring studio production processes into the live context? What aspects of studio production are now performable and what consistent models can be identified amongst the various approaches now seen?

This paper will present an overview of approaches to performative realisations of studio produced tracks and will illuminate some emerging relationships between recorded music and performance across a range of contexts.

House, Billy & ZuWallack, Becky            (Audio Studio Share.com)

Audio.StudioShare.org: A New Business Model for Recording Studios

The traditional recording studio has three things that most amateur recordists do not: an acoustically-tuned space, an array of specialized equipment, and a staff of experienced personnel.  The traditional recording studio business model lumps them all together- for the most part only offering them as a total package at high cost.  In previous years, the traditional customer for studios under this business model was the record label, who paid high hourly rates for recording services for their successful artists.

With the rise of independent artists- most never achieving success- and computer technology becoming ubiquitous, more recording studio clients self-fund their recording projects and do different aspects of their production at home.  The traditional recording studio business model is not geared to compete in this new marketplace of amateur home recording.

One way to capture the new business is to become more flexible.  What if studios were able to separate their space, equipment, and personnel, and think of them as three separate profit centers instead of just one?  By offering a range of services that can be tailored to the demands of clients, studios can access the new marketplace of independent musicians and take advantage of the explosion in amateur, self-funded, do-it-yourself recording.

Our team has recently launched a web-based platform, audio.StudioShare.org, to give studio operators the ability to modularize their existing studio space, equipment, and personnel in order to meet the varying needs of today’s recording clients.  Studios can still offer their studio in the traditional manner, that is, as a complete package, but now they have an additional, flexible option for marketing the multiple components of their studio operation.  With audio.StudioShare.org, studios can fill un-booked time, earn income from idle equipment, offer audio production and music-related services inside or outside of their studio, foster relationships with industry professionals, and reach out to potential clients.

The traditional recording studio business model was based on an “all-or-nothing” approach that catered to record labels.  A new business model, facilitated by the centralized web-based platform audio.StudioShare.org, encourages recording studios to earn supplemental income by expanding their services to accommodate the growing population of home-recordists and independent musicians.

Howard, Denis            (University of the West Indies)

The jukebox in reggae distribution

A much-overlooked tool in the development of the Jamaican music business is the once ubiquitous Jukebox. The literature available on the development of Jamaican music (Bradley 2000, O’Brien and Chen, 98) have all canonized the role of the sound systems, live shows, and talent extravaganza such as Vere Johns Opportunity hour. However very little has been documented on the role of the Jukebox in promoting Jamaican music and also its significance as a site of resistance and identity affirmation. No serious scholastic efforts have been attempted to interrogate the jukebox as a serious cultural phenomenon within the Jamaican pop cultural space.

This paper aims to establish the centrality of the jukebox as major element in the development of Kingston unique techno aural aesthetic and production signature. Highlighting the importance of the jukebox to music production in Kingston as it predates most sound technology and makes possible all the later developments in that particular Jamaican nexus of technology/music/pleasure and sound. This identification of the jukebox is critical because it establishes those "conditions of possibility" that make Jamaican sound culture possible which has  reshape the world and its ears.  This is the beginning of a specific Jamaican/Caribbean techno-sphere: a distinct space of "dislocation" and of transcending space.

Howlett, Mike            (Queensland University of Technology)

Producer As Nexus

What is a record producer? There is a degree of mystery and uncertainty about just what goes on behind the studio door. Some producers are seen as Svengali-like figures manipulating artists into mass consumer product. Producers are sometimes seen as mere technicians whose job is simply to set up a few microphones and press the record button. Close examination of the recording process shows how far this is from a complete picture. Artists are special—they come with an inspiration, and a talent, but also with a variety of complications, and in many ways a recording studio can seem the least likely place for creative expression and for an affective performance to happen. The task of the record producer is to engage with these artists and their songs and turn these potentials into form through the technology of the recording studio. The purpose of the exercise is to disseminate this fixed form to an imagined audience—generally in the hope that this audience will prove to be real.

This paper considers three fields of interest in the recording process: the performer and the song; the technology of the recording context; and the commercial ambitions of the record company, and positions the record producer as a nexus at the interface of all three. The author reports his structured recollection of several recordings that all achieved substantial commercial success. The processes are considered from the author’s perspective as the record producer, and from inception of the project to completion of the recorded work. What were the processes of engagement? Do the actions reported conform to the template of nexus? This paper proposes that in all recordings the function of producer/nexus is present and necessary—it exists in the interaction of the artistry and the technology­––and is a useful paradigm for analysis of the recording process.

Isakoff, Katia & Burgess, Richard James (Glamorgan University & Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)

Women in Music Production: Education, Representation and Practice

When discussing the traditional role of the Record Producer and Recording Engineer most struggle to name more than a handful of female producers and/or engineers. Searching the rosters of producer/engineer management companies and the staff listings for commercial recording studios, it soon becomes evident that few, if any, are represented or listed.  Searching the membership database of trade organisations reveals a similar picture.

The reasons for the lack of women in music/audio productionhas been hypothesised over the years and, in 1980 a paper was delivered by Pamela W. Paterson at the AES 66th Convention in which some of the issues highlighted were summarised as “an historical separation from the practice and theory of technology combined with a gruesome lack of entry-level positions for women in audio is primarily responsible for the current undersupply of women in this field.”

31 years on we have witnessed an evolution of technology rendering a personal studio both feasible and reasonably cost-effective.   Since there is now a plethora of Music Technology/Production courses on offer should we expect to see a significant increase in the number of women entering the profession?

According to the UCAS (University & Colleges Admissions Service) website there are 233 undergraduate Music Technology courses in the UK offering 2012 entry.  In 2011 that figure was 229, in 2010 275 and in 2003 166.  

In theory, there should now be a level playing field with equal access to technology, knowledge, training, mentorship and entry-level positions?  Is this happening in practice?

This paperwill examinethe first stage findings of a data gathering exercise which is underway in the UK and U.S. in which higher education course providers have been asked to provide statistical data to help identify how many female applicants and acceptances there have been over the past 6 years on Music Technology/Production courses. Course models and modes of delivery will be considered and case study research conducted.   Industry professionals, representative orgainisations,practitioners, tutors and graduatesare also being interviewed.

This presentation forms part of a much largerresearch project documenting the evolution of women in music production education and practice.

Jarrett, Michael            (Pennsylvania State University)

Toward a Grammatology of Record Production

I want to historicize the basic observation that organizes this conference.  What Evan Eisenberg has called the paradox of recording—the absence of the listener to the performer and the absence of the performer to the listener—sounds a long echo.  It repeats observations made by Socrates in Plato’s Phaedrus.  In brief, Socrates explains that he is most concerned with the implications of phonetic writing, artificial memory.  To the writer, the reader is absent; to the reader, the writer is absent.  Socrates is fearful of the epistemic changes—the ensuing paradigm shift—suggested by this newly emerging technology of recording.  He refuses to write—to record.  Hence Plato serves a role somewhat resembling that of recording producer/engineer. 

(Recall Freddie Keppard’s now-mythic, 1915 refusal to “cut a side” for the Victor Talking Machine Company and become the first recorded jazz musician.  “They’ll steal my stuff,” he purportedly said.) 

The paradox of recording—Socrates’ complaint—repeats itself in time.  I’m tempted to say, it repeats like a broken record.  But that’s not accurate.  The paradox of recording returns as a specific response to particular emergent technologies.  It’s a refrain sung to machines.  The formulation at hand—Eisenberg’s—summarizes the condition of sound after the advent of recording.  In theory, the paradox is operative from the invention of the phonograph (1877) to the present, but it became more radically realizable with the availability of magnetic tape in the early 1950s.  Recording could now use sound in a manner analogous to cinematography’s use of images.  Witness the musique concrète of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry.  Record production, as that designation is typically understood, was made possible when sound could be “written” (much as cinematography wrote “light”).  Phonography, then, meant that sound could function with the radical absence of any subject. 

In general the study of record production has functioned to rein in the implications of the paradox of recording, to control the logic of writing with sound (in the broadest sense of the word “writing”).  Most obviously, this has been done by an insistence on the figure of the producer (analogous to the author in literature and the director in film studies).  I want to issue a challenge.  Consider record production as a particularly vivid instance of what Jacques Derrida called grammatology (“the science of writing”), as an emerging way of thinking “that is faithful and attentive to the ineluctable world of the future which proclaims itself at present” (Of Grammatology: 4).

Lacasse, Serge & Côté, Gérald            (Université Laval, Québec)

Revisiting La Bolduc: Remixing as Phonographic Performance

In the spring of 2009, I heard a remarkable remix of Nat King Cole’s “Lush Life” (originally recorded in 1949) by hip hop producer Cee-Lo Green featured in the compilation album Re:Generations (2009). The idea of building a contemporary phonographic discourse out of historical recordings was inspiring: that summer I produced a remix of La Bolduc’s “Ça va venir découragez-vous pas” (originally recorded in December 1930), one of the biggest hits in French Canada before the 1950s. Not only did the remix enjoy rather successful airplay throughout the province, but it also initiated a 4-year long research project funded by le Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC, 2010-2014).

The paper will start with a presentation of the research project entitled “Remixer la chanson québécoise,” whose main objective is the launch of an album in 2014 featuring remixes of popular Quebec songs recorded prior to 1950. Rather than consisting in an exclusively “solo” approach, the project aims to gather a team of 10-12 remixers, as well as a group of musicologists and an ethnographers. Indeed, the project will explore a number of possible creative processes. The participants will be subjected to ethnographic observations (video, interviews, meetings, etc.) during the project. The aim of this approach is to draw relations between the creative process, the musical material produced by the remixers, as well as the ideological issues and motivations. Morevoer, musicological research will allow us to enrich the project with a detailed booklet describing the making of the album as well as the historical grounds on which the project was based.

MacFarlane, Thomas            (The Steinhardt School, NYU)

A Mosaic Approach to Multi-track Recordings,

In the analysis of multi-track recordings tradition dictates the use of conventional methods dependent on the printed score. Developed in the wake of alphabetic writing and print, these methods provide a high degree of empirical verifiability. However, as with alphabetic writing and print, which abstract from human speech, a printed score abstracts from musical sound. The structural elements in a score are not sounds, but symbols for sounds. Thus, a conventional analysis of a printed score is not an analysis of musical sound; rather, it is an analysis of the abstract symbols for musical sound.

Multi-track recordings have created a unique experience for the modern composer in that they facilitate the perception and manipulation of musical sound without the use of intermediary symbols. They also allow for the manipulation of sound-space, which William Moylan describes as the “Perceived Performance Environment.” Thus, they facilitate an engagement of sound (figure) and space (ground), as well as their dynamic interplay. Since conventional methods of musical analysis are incapable of accessing this interplay, an alternate approach is needed.

The following discussion proposes a mosaic approach that is intended to meet the recorded work on its own terms. This approach will consist of three levels: 1) Organization of Recorded Sound, 2) Phenomenology of Recorded Sound, and 3) Interpretation of Recorded Sound. Guided by the ideas of Marshall McLuhan and William Moylan, the mosaic approach is intended as a possible starting point for inquiry into the poetics of recorded sound.

Marino, Alexandre & Iazzetta, Fernando            (Universidade de São Paulo)

Circuit Bending and the DIY Culture

The present article intends to inscribe Circuit Bending in the Do it Yourself (DIY) Culture and analyze the anti-consumerism, rebelliousness, and creativity aspect of this kind of culture.

DIY stands for any assemblage, modification, creation and/or repair of objects without recurring to professionals. This type of culture is seen in the radio amateurs of the 1920´s, afterwards, in the pirate radios of 1960’s, in the punk aesthetics of the 1970’s, getting stronger in the 1980’s with lo-cost electronic equipments, in the 1990’s with therave culture and the beginning of the netlabel movement, getting to the XXI century with the Internet becoming a vast net of interchange of information, amplifying the amount of adepts in a variety of fields: from the indoor cultivation of herbs, to textile products, craft such as knitting and crocheting, to electronic projects of many kinds, as seen on the article Rise of the Expert Amateur: DIY Projects, Communities, and Cultures by Stacey Kuznetsov and Eric Paulos.

Circuit Bending is a type of artistic creation based on two different strategies: (1) hardware hacking, which stands for opening electronic apparatus and short-circuiting them in order to extract sounds or images not intended to exist; (2) the creation of simple electronic circuits to generate sounds or images in a lo-fi aesthetics and with a great amount of interactivity. Both practices are clearly inscribed in the DIY culture. In the first case, the Bender is invited - even not understanding what is going on in the circuit - to explore, experiment, and try to extract something interesting in that. In the second case, the circuit is assembled by the Bender in his own fashion (for instance the famous Atari Punk Console).

The main goal of this article is to show the subversive status of this kind of culture, using the specific Circuit Bending case. As seen on Juan Ignácio Gallego Perez: “Briefly, DIY stands for three states: one ideological/political, a rebellion against the hierarchic order; other industrial, searching for new ways of distribution outside the mass culture, creating autonomous nets of production and distribution; and the other aesthetical, in a search for the sounds that interests me as individual and as subcultural group”. (2009, pg. 281) Seen by this prism, the DIY subverts the hegemonic “distribution of the sensible” (RANCIÈRE, 2009), achieving what Jacques Attali, in the late 1970’s, called the “age of composition”, where creators are enticed to produce their own aesthetics.

McIntyre, Phillip & Morey, Justin (Newcastle (NSW) & Leeds Metropolitan Universities)

Using the Tools and Techniques of Sampling in the Creative Practice of Record Producers in Australia and Britain

Sampling in music production occurs in many genres of popular music, although what literature there is tends to concentrate on US hip-hop (e.g. Schloss 2004, McLeod 2005, Chang 2009). In an endeavour to contribute to a comprehensive understanding of sampling practice this paper will investigate how record producers working in Australia and Britain use the tools and techniques of sampling in their daily creative practice in the studio, what these samples mean to them and what they intend to communicate by their use. The analysis will be theoretically framed using the systems model of creativity, as developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1988, 1997 & 1999), to locate sampling practice and through which to indicate how different pressures within the system have led to different modes of creative practice. It will give consideration to the relationship between the development of sampling tools and sampling practice, the influence of copyright on creative choices and the extent to which the idea of the recording studio has been redefined by digital sampling technology. In doing this it will consider the extent to which questions of authorship and authenticity can be seen to operate differently within sample-based (or sample-using) music production compared to more traditional forms of popular music composition.

McIntyre, Phillip & Thompson, Paul (Newcastle (NSW) & Leeds Metropolitan Universities)

Performing Creativity: Paul McCartney's Practice in the Recording Studio

Motivation and inspiration are critical aspects of creative practice in the recording studio, however, this practice is often confused with a romantic process that is considered both mystical and metaphysical. This case study considers Paul McCartney, a figure often viewed romantically as a ‘genius’ in the recording studio.

Evidence is presented to show that the process of record production, as exemplified by this performer, can be seen as a more considered judicious set of procedures that stem from a dynamic system of interactions of personnel in the recording studio (artists and engineers) involving the social dynamics and power relationships that function on a larger scale than that of the single individual. This view moves well beyond conceptualising aspects of the creative process in the recording studio as inexplicable.

 McCartney’s experiences of music listening, collaborative performance and composition and how they all contributed to his outstanding works in the studio, his musical direction and in particular his little recognised role as a record producer are considered through the application of the systems model of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988, 1997 & 1999). Evidence gathered from current literature, case studies, interviews, biographies and autobiographies are used to illustrate how McCartney’s collaborative and creative endeavours in the recording studio can be seen to stand in opposition to the inspirationalist, Romantic view of creativity.

McNally, Kirk            (University of Victoria)

Vancouver Rocks (and Rolls with it) An insider’s look at how Vancouver’s Warehouse Studios has kept up with the changing tides of popular music recording

In 1972 Geoff Turner masterminded the opening of Little Mountain Sound Studios in Vancouver, Canada.  This studio would put Vancouver firmly on the rock ‘n’ roll map, recording albums for artists such as Aerosmith, Bon Jovi and Mötley Crue.  The studio would also factor prominently in the careers of music producers Bob Rock and Bruce Fairbairn.  A homegrown artist by the name of Bryan Adams also recorded at Little Mountain Sound Studios.  It was here that he met Ron “Obvious” Vermeulen, a house engineer who would eventually design and build what is now the premiere recording studio in Canada, the Warehouse Studios. 

Warehouse Studios officially opened in 1997 (having previously been housed in the basement of a West Vancouver home) at about the same time Pro-Tools became available in 24bit, 48-track systems.  Coincidentally, the launch of the studios pre-dates the arrival of Napster by one year.  Designed as a traditional “big” room studio with start-up costs in the millions of dollars, the Warehouse Studios provides a unique case study for analyzing the legitimacy and/or necessity of such a studio given the contemporary world of audio recording.  The “pro-audio” world has never been more accessible to newcomers with equipment of increasingly high quality and relatively cheap entry fees.  A historical analysis of recording studios in Vancouver shows how market factors and the shifting business model of record production parallels the growth or decay of studios and how they have evolved to stay relevant as a resource to producers, engineers and artists.

Using interviews with the owner, designer, management and staff of the Warehouse Studios, this paper will illustrate how a “big” studio was conceptualized and built and how that same studio has negotiated the past fourteen years of the music business.  What changes, and at what cost (equipment, staffing, alternate revenue streams) have been made to keep in step with the changing world of music recording?  Is the studio still a viable business model?  Do all “big” room studios need a “big” pocket to stay in business?  Will this studio (and by extraction many other large studios around the world) be working in the next five, ten or fifteen years?

Michailowsky, Alexei            (UNIRIO, Rio De Janeiro)

Ponte das Estrelas (1987): the making of the first Brazilian digitally recorded live synthesizer album

Following the big commercial success of the studio album Prisma (1985), Brazilian keyboardist Cesar Camargo Mariano and his collective of musicians and technicians carried on with the Prisma project preparing a live album named Ponte das estrelas where the initial proposition of a jazzy-flavored Brazilian electronic music would be taken to a stage where the arrangements and the sound itself would be the same both on record and stage. In a big qualitative leap forwards, a temporary mobile studio has been set up specifically for the project including two 24-track mixing boards and a PCM adaptor connected to video cassette recorders for digital audio. On the stage, there was a new keyboard rig with some fresh items like the Emulator II sampling keyboard and a MIDI system centered on an IBM-compatible computer running the Octave Plateau Voyetra II software sequencer. Recordings took place in São Paulo in July 1986, and the album has been released by CBS in LP, cassette and CD the following year.

From the reading of technical articles, the interviewing of musicians and technicians involved and the reading of studies of electronic music and place (for a better contextualization of the music as Brazilian electronic music), this paper provides a historiography of the Ponte das Estrelas recording sessions and discusses the approaches of technological mediation for performance and recording, as well as focusing on the studio usage.

Miller, Frances            (York University, Toronto)

21st Century Digital Girl: Reshaping a gendered recording culture

If you were to create a list of influential producers and engineers active in today’s music industry the chances are that women would be notably absent.  There are certainly some exceptions: Missy Elliot, Linda Perry and Imogen Heap to name a few.  Aside from these anomalies not much has changed since the1950’s when Moon Record’s Cordell Jackson started work as the first female producer and engineer of commercial music in America. 

It is easy, albeit a bit simplistic, to argue that women are not producing and engineering in recording studios because they do not want to be.  The question is, why not?  Using primary interview-based research, I argue that a woman interested in pursuing a career in the audio arts has a far more difficult journey than her male counterpart.  She will likely face obstacles in her schooling, family life, and in the studio environment itself that could discourage her from pursuing music production as a career.   Additionally, this paper incorporates feminist theory as a means of better understanding the underlying reasons for gender inequality in this field.  In particular, it seems that the under-representation of women in music production curricula perpetuates the appearance that a career in the audio arts is largely unavailable to her. 

As the music industry changes so too can the role of women.  Advances in technology have not only altered the way music is consumed, but the way it is made.  The complicated outboard equipment once needed to craft the sounds of a commercial recording can now be almost entirely contained in a home computer.  As a result, recording has become far more accessible to amateurs and professionals alike.

In Producing Pop: Culture and Conflict in the Popular Music Industry (1992) Keith Negus argues that this shift out of the male-dominated studio space into a home space has the potential to change the way the production of music has been gendered.  Even with these technological advancements much can still be done to encourage women to enter this traditionally male-dominated field; so that they can more easily leave their creative mark on record, bringing a new perspective to a currently gendered part of music’s indelible history.

Mooney, James            (University of Leeds)

Frameworks and Affordances: Understanding the Tools of Record Production

In this paper I will present the ‘frameworks and affordances’ model, a simple ‘all-purpose’ model that conceptualizes the mechanisms underlying the relationship between the tools of record production and the production outcomes.

The tools used to produce music have a direct and tangible influence upon the resulting music. Whatever those tools might be—software or hardware; recording, editing and synthesis technologies; analog and digital signal processing devices; even acoustic instruments—they will, unavoidably, make themselves known in the musical output.

Building upon existing theory (see references), the essence of the frameworks and affordances model is that the tools of record production—the ‘frameworks’—are viewed in terms of what they allow us to do—their ‘affordances’. Consider magnetic tape—the physical tape itself: it is linear; it can be cut up into sections and joined together again; it can be moved past playback heads at different speeds, forwards or backwards. Those are the affordances. When we hear the tape loops in The Beatles’ ‘Revolution No. 9’, or the reversed piano note with the attack cut off in a piece of early electronic music, we can effectively ‘hear’ the affordances of the tape medium. The tape—as one of the frameworks of production—has made itself audible in the music.

So it is, I will argue, will all of the tools of music production, though the obviousness of the results varies dramatically from case to case. I will present a number of contemporary and historical musical examples encompassing both software and hardware scenarios, including:

·      The influence user interface paradigms such as the mixing-desk fader on music production in hardware and (since it tends to be emulated there) software platforms; how this is related to the ubiquitous computer mouse;

·      The interaction of multiple frameworks in ensemble performance and the influence of the studio itself, with its constituent frameworks;

·      The carrying over of ‘redundant’ affordances in new frameworks through the mechanism of cultural inertia (‘Why does a digital mixer have faders?’, ‘Why does software have pretend faders?!’);

I will conclude by summarizing how the frameworks and affordances model can be usefully employed in the practice, education and analysis of recorded sound.

Moore, Austin            (University of Huddersfield)

All Buttons In-The 1176 as a Production Tool in Electronic Dance Music

This paper investigates the creative use of compression in Popular music , with a particular focus on Electronic Dance Music (EDM.)

The compressor, originally developed, as a means to automatically control fluctuations in level, was designed to react and work as transparently as possible. However when abused and pushed into over-compression the compressor can “pump” and “slam” the source audio in a sonically pleasing way.

Many different compressor designs exist but the Urei/Universal Audio 1176 with its FET circuit has been the most revered and creatively manipulated compressor to date.  Bill Putnman introduced this classic design in 1968 and it was the first peak limiter based around a transistor circuit. Many engineers attribute its famous sound to the FET circuit and also to the input and output transformers. Since its release the 1176 has been through many revisions and is a studio stable today. 

The first part of this paper will seek to measure why exactly this compressor is so widely used. What is it about its sonic signature that producers like? When does it work well? Why? When does it not work so well? Why?

Despite the attractive convenience of digital software plugins, analogue recording retains an adherence amongst engineers and producers because of so-called indefinable elements added to the audio signal by the characteristics and artefacts of particular equipment. The 1176 is one unit that is claimed to function better in its hardware form. Producers and engineers often claim that the saturation from driving the input and output transformers and quick attack and release times are the most difficult to accurately emulate in software.

Given that the significant majority of EDM producers work inside the box a comparative analysis will be undertaken between software UAD 1176, Waves CLA 1176 blackface edition and a modern hardware UA 1176. This testing will involve hard analysis of the devices using audio and test tones along with relevant audio samples to measure the response of the detection units and the harmonic distortion create. A series of critical listening tests will also be conducted to ascertain whether the end user can hear (or feel) the difference between the software and hardware version.

Morrow, Guy                        (Macquarie University, NSW)

Creative Conflict in a Nashville Studio: A Case Study of Boy & Bear

This paper will use Sawyer’s (2007) notion of group flow in a case study concerning Australian band Boy & Bear’s debut album recording sessions at Blackbird studios in Nashville, USA that took place in April 2011. This album was produced by 10 time Grammy award winner Joe Chiccarelli (My Morning Jacket, The Shins, Elton John, U2, Beck, Frank Zappa, The White Stripes, Young the Giant, The Strokes). Boy & Bear is signed to Universal Motown US (Island AU, Mercury UK). This case study will explore the social dynamics and power relationships of the studio environment and how these dynamics and relationships affect levels of motivation and inspiration in the studio.

I co-manage Boy & Bear and therefore this paper uses a participant-observer method of research, a tradition that is well established in qualitative research practices. Such an auto-ethnography will be used in conjunction with ethnographic researchinterviews that I conducted (Greene and Porcello, 2005). In assuming a participant non autonomous (Titon, 1997: 99) role in the processes of record production, this paper will use an interaction model (Shelemay, 1997: 197). In this context, my own immersion in the project is required and therefore my‘shadow’ will be cast here (Macionis and Plummer, 2005: Rice, 1997).

This paper will specifically explore the issue of conflict in the studio. Before the people participating in a recording session can move into group flow, the members have to share tacit knowledge and demonstrate comparable skill levels. However according to Sawyer (2007), if the group members are too familiar with each other, interaction is no longer challenging and group flow fades away (71). For Sawyer, only by introducing diversity can we avoid the groupthink that results from too much conformity; diversity makes teams more creative because the friction that results from multiple opinions drives the team to more original and more complex work. Conflict keeps the group from falling into the groupthink trap, though conflict is difficult to manage productively because it can easily spiral into destructive interpersonal attacks that interfere with creativity.

Before Boy & Bear went into the studio to record with Joe Chiccarelli, numerous press articles were published stating that while The Strokes had started working with Chiccarelli atAvatar Studiosin New York in 2010, there was so much conflict and frustration in the studio that the band and producer parted ways and The Strokes recorded the rest of their album with engineer Gus Oberg at a converted farmhouse inUpstate New York 1 This led to anxiety regarding the Boy & Bear sessions at Blackbird studios in Nashville concerning whether there would be conflict between the band and Chiccarelli, and if there was, whether this conflict would be creative or destructive. Through this case study, this paper will argue that diversity enhances performance only when group flow factors are present, including some degree of shared knowledge; a culture of close listening and open communications; a focus on well-defined goals; autonomy, fairness and equal participation (Sawyer, 2007: 71).

1. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-return-of-the-strokes-inside-the-fractious-sessions-for-their-fourth-album-20110118 Accessed 28.4.11.

Mynett, Mark            (University of Huddersfield)

Achieving Intelligibility whilst maintaining Heaviness when mixing the Contemporary Metal Music genre

Characteristics of the contemporary metal genre are the complexity, intensity and energy of performance, combined with the depth and density of the tones involved. These characteristics present numerous problems when striving to achieve intelligibility and heaviness, which are principal mixing objectives required for this genres production.

Definition and intelligibility are often considered to be similar in meaning, but can be distinguished from each other. The term definition refers to what it is about a single sound that makes it easy to perceive and understand. In other words, what are the characteristics that a sound source contains that will allow it to be distinct and decipherable? Whilst definition contributes to intelligibility, intelligibility refers to the ease of perception and understanding of a particular instrument or sound source within the context of the mix as a whole. As Izhaki (2008, p.5) states “Intelligibility is the most elementary requirement of sonic quality” and this statement has particular relevance to the contemporary metal genre. Here, it is essential that the clarity and high level of precision of the often-intense performances, for example fast double-kick drum patterns, be retained. An additional challenge to retaining intelligibility for the genre is the density of the tones used, typically involving down-tuning and layered rhythm guitars.

Heaviness is a term frequently used to describe the sonic quality and power generally associated with the low and low-mid frequencies required of the metal genre’s production. It mostly relates to the timbre, frequency content and frequency balance of the kick drum, bass and rhythm guitars both in isolation and when combined in the context of the overall mix. Additionally, heaviness can relate to the performance attributes of these instruments, as well as their dynamic range. In striving for a ‘heavy’ mix, many producers will excessively amplify incorrect low-end frequencies, resulting in an uncontrolled, boomy and poorly defined mix. Alternatively, a mix with a deficiency of the correct bass frequencies will sound thin and lack impact. The foundation to getting the heaviness of a contemporary metal mix right is by creating a very specific place and space for each sound source to sit and breathe.

This paper focuses on the production of intelligibility and heaviness through the use of equalisation and dynamic processing when mixing the contemporary metal genre. Techniques for achieving these aims will be presented, they include; essential corrective and creative EQ principles, approaches to avoid frequency accumulation and intelligent EQ techniques to minimise frequency masking between instruments, such as mirrored EQ; series and parallel compression techniques to control volume fluctuations to maximize instrument mix levels, and side-chain gating and side-chain compression techniques to increase intelligibility of essential elements of the mix.

This paper will investigate these techniques by analysing several professional productions from the contemporary metal music genre. The analysis will be facilitated by full access to the multi-track recordings and their final mix settings.

This paper will reflect the first author’s ten years experience producing within the metal genre, including releases through Sony and Universal. He has worked with the likes of Colin Richardson, Andy Sneap and recently collaborated on a number of projects with Swedish producer Jens Bogren.

Orose, Jonathan            (The Art Institute of Philadelphia)

The Perception of Reality of Unreal Performances: An Experiment in Dynamics

Discussions of “Feel” and “Groove” pervade the recording industry in both acoustic and electronic mediums, with often very little hard evidence as to of what creates these “realities” in music performance. A recent study discounted the effects of tempo on perceived emotion in music, 1 suggesting that musical dynamics played a more important role in the listener’s determination of emotion. This provides the impetus for a line of inquiry into how the dynamic process of human music-making can sway a listener’s perception of reality in unreal mediums. While it is often suggested that slight tempo variations, and “Playing behind the beat,” are a characteristic and hallmark of a human performance, this experiment attempts to show that temporal characteristics might not play as significant a role in the perception of “Feel” and Groove” as thought in the electronic medium. The fact that music-making, even the production of speech for that matter, is a dynamic process in which the performers, or orators, do not hit a single snare drum, or speak the same word, exactly the same way every time (let alone when using two hands) demands that an inquiry be opened into the role of the moment-to-moment dynamic changes of music-making and how they affect perceived reality. Being that so much record production is wholly dependent on the electronic medium, this paper seeks to determine what role dynamics play in the human perception of reality as relates to purely rhythmic stimuli in this medium. This research will provide insight as to how subtle dynamic variations within simple and complex rhythmic stimuli, created using a general MIDI drum patch, effect a listener’s perception of reality. The stimuli include standard rock, Afro-Cuban, and linear drum beats, as well as complex multi-layered percussion beats drawn from African, Persian, and Latin American sources. Four sequences for each stimulus have been created with varying degrees of MIDI note velocity variations for presentation to experimental subjects—one with all velocities equal, one with random velocity variation of +/- 10, one with velocity randomization of +/- 20, and one with velocity randomization of +/- 30. Each sequence will be judged subjectively on the basis of realism (i.e.-which sounds closest to being performed by a “real” performer). It is hypothesized that the results should show what degree of velocity/dynamic randomization in electronic drum beats is necessary to create the perception of real performance in the listener. The collected data will serve as the basis for future research in this emergent area of record production.

1. Kamenetsky, Stuart B., David B. Hill, and Sandra E. Trehaub, “Effect of Tempo and Dynamics on the Perception of Emotion in Music,” Psychology of Music, October 1997, 25: pp. 149-160.

Peoples, Curtis            (Texas Tech University)

Cornerstone of the Crossroads: Preserving the History of Don Caldwell Studios

This paper is a case study that will discuss the history of Don Caldwell Studios in Lubbock, Texas, and the efforts made to preserve the collection at the Crossroads Music Archive at Texas Tech University.

The Crossroads Music Archive began in December 1999 when Brazos Studios closed its doors at 1214 Avenue Q—the original Don Caldwell Studios location.  At the location was a thirty-year collection of Caldwell Studio masters.  When the studio closed, I was working in another archive at Texas Tech and learned that all of the original master tapes were moved to various locations that were not conducive to long term, or short-term storage for audio materials.  As a former employee of Caldwell Studios, I was familiar with the tape collection and knew the importance of preserving this invaluable anthology of West Texas music.  Thus, I conceived an idea of a music archive in the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech.  After several meetings between the interested parties, they agreed to move the tape collection to the Southwest Collection for protection.  About a year later, I joined the Southwest Collection as a music archivist and initiated the Crossroads Music Archive, with the Caldwell Collection serving as the cornerstone. 

The Don Caldwell collection is comprised of many genres.  The collection contains primarily analog tape, numbering approximately 4650.  The analog collection consists of two-inch multi-track tapes, one-inch multi-track tapes, and quarter-inch master tapes.  The tapes are in danger of being lost and the goal is to transfer and preserve the master recordings.  Many of the tapes exhibit hydrolysis—also known as sticky shed syndrome—a problem inherent in much of the magnetic tape from the 1970s and 1980s, when most of Caldwell recordings were made. 

The Crossroads Music Archive considered outsourcing the tape transfers, but decided instead to conduct the transfers in-house.  The main reason for the decision is that we can work closely with Don Caldwell and other engineers who worked on many of the projects to gather as much metadata about the tapes as possible.  In order to transfer the tapes, the Crossroads Music Archive received grants to purchase some of the needed equipment to preserve the recordings.  Soon, the transfer process of the quarter-inch masters will begin.  Further, there are plans to bring the studio’s business records to the Crossroads Music Archive for processing and long-term storage.  Don Caldwell Studios is an important regional studio whose history will be preserved in totality.

Roy, Sobroto            (Pune University, India)

The Recording Process of Raga Singing

Recording of singing raga involves at least four sets of physical entities; the music-musician-musical instrument set, a listener-singer set, a set of machine-operator, a space-time set with variedly controlled set of conditions depending upon the technology being used. The phenomenal perceptive entity here, regulates machines. This will largely decide the quality of recording.  But this will happen when an abstract set of interactions between all these physical and phenomenal sets is active and efficient.  The efficiency of this set depends upon skills and experience; experience in handling equipment and the manner in which quality of singing for recording is experienced with respect to the ultimate user’s taste. Therefore, the second type of experience is that of the listener-performer set upon which the quality of music produced will be heavily dependent, given that there is no manipulation in sound. The paper sees this process in the context of raga vocal music recording. Here, the abstract set gets more abstract because while raga is easily recognisable, there is no way one can predict audience response because of the high dependence on extempore improvisation. To reduce this uncertainty more and more formulaic singing is happening at the cost of extempore improvisation.  Recording of raga music in a performance platform is also ridden with the same problem, albeit in lesser proportion. In fact, we today are used to highly predictable raga performances. This is against the grain of raga music. I first collect relevant data through validated questionnaires and analyse through qualitative research of raga singing. I propose that analysis be informed by humanistic psychology because in the case of raga, certain meta-needs are more significant than acoustic needs. The theory behind the research will be presented at the conference.

Schaefer, Peter            (Marymount Manhatten College)

Studio Master Quality,' Lossless Audio, and Changing Notions of Fidelity

This theoretical paper addresses the conference theme of "Hardware versus Software" by examining a consequence of the introduction of computers into the recording process.  The paper argues that music stored on certain audio file formats are marketed in ways that reflect a changing notion of fidelity.  Online retailers use terms such as “studio master quality” to refer to software formats that preserve large amounts of data from the studio sessions. The current format of choice for online music distribution is a lossy audio file, such as the mp3 or Apple’s proprietary codec called AAC. However, lossless audio formats, those that compress sound files without discarding data, are increasing in availability.  Lossless audio files allow music to be essentially the same as the music created in the studio.  This essential similarity results from the ability to download the same data as it exists on the studio computer. Rather than positioning a product as closer to an original “live” event, the fidelity of these lossless files with studio master quality are marketed as being identical to the studio master. In this regard, the marketing aligns with some of the claims made in relation to Super Audio CDs or DVD-Audio formats. Now that the vast majority of recording studios dispense with analog recording technology entirely, what the consumer can now download is a perfect copy of what results from the studio sessions. The original, cast in terms of the studio tapes, reflects a change in the way recording occurs. In an era marked by postproduction effects like Auto-Tune, fidelity to a live event no longer has the same marketing pull. The components of the sign have therefore shifted. The marketing for “studio quality” lossless files no longer refers to a live performance but rather the original data as it might appear as a waveform in a ProTools window, for example. Whether the added value provided by a lack of data loss has as its referent an original live recording or the original studio master, the aesthetic claims reflect an ideology of sound quality that the discerning fan would naturally want to purchase the best quality available.

Seay, Toby                        (Drexel University)

Capturing That Philadelphia Sound: A Technical Exploration of Sigma Sound Studios

Sigma Sound Studios was founded in 1968 by Joe Tarsia and was the site of most major record production originating from Philadelphia, PA during the 1970’s and 1980’s. As a creative environment, Sigma was instrumental in the production of “Philadelphia Soul” music.  While larger markets such as London, New York or Los Angeles have a plethora of recording facilities influencing music production, the recording facilities in smaller markets such as Philadelphia, Detroit and Muscle Shoals can have a greater influence in developing an identifiable sonic character. The musical output from these cities are often associated with their pool of musicians, such as M.F.S.B., The Funk Brothers and The Swampers. However, the creative and technical environment provides it’s own impact on each city’s identifiable sonic character. Such is the influence of Sigma Sound Studios on record production in Philadelphia.

Using materials from the Sigma Collection in the Drexel University Audio Archives and exclusive interviews with Joe Tarsia, this paper will describe the technical design that shaped Sigma’s environment, recording and mixing techniques used and developed by Joe Tarsia and how this environment and these techniques supported the creative musical community.  This presentation will use selected recordings to represent the technical aspects of the Sigma Sound Studio’s creative environment.

Slater, Mark & Martin, Adam            (University of Hull)

Reconceptualising the studio: the social, spatial and temporal effects of miniaturization, mobilization and democratization of music technologies

The studio is a mythical place. Paul Clarke invokes the magical and mysterious in his descriptions of Hendrix’s creativity: ‘The studio became “Jimi’s workshop. The endless timeless space”’ where he would ‘mediate between order and disorder’ in an ancient and alchemistic sense. 1 Chris Gibsongrounds the studio as an ‘iconic [space] of music in the city’ and acknowledges that ‘recording studios are mythologized more than other stages and spaces of production’. 2 The fabric of the studio symbolises toil, art, inspiration, luring artists in search of the perfect reification of their ideas. But just as the cost, size, availability and functionality of technology reaches a stage that significantly expands the scope for experiencing and unravelling the materials and practices of music production, the very proliferation of this technology undermines any stable notion of what the studio might be and challenges established ideas of the where, when and who of studio creativity. The processing power needed to facilitate sonic creativity can be held in the palm of the hand, so the idea of ‘the studio’ is (once again) in flux – ways of exploring the effects of this shift need to be established.

Based on the social anthropology of Bruno Latour 3 and the relational aesthetics espoused by Georgina Born, 4 we reconfigure the studio as a ‘locus of creative activity’. The model we propose, derived from realist experimentalism, plots the position and relations of all necessary actors (human and non-human) required for a locus of creative activity to coalesce. The contemporary recording studio can no longer be safely defined as a particular room, nor by the presence of particular technologies.Instead, it must be understood as a more dynamic place, potentially occupying a position somewhere between the ‘traditional’ physical/architectural form and a transient/temporary moment (in the hotel room 5, or on the train 6) that points to the possibility of an increasingly dispersed, distributed mode of creativity. The idea of creativity as a unitary process is seriously challenged by the possibility of any space functioning as a studio with the right configuration of technologies, actions and intentions.We discuss the implications of miniaturized and mobilized technologies via an exploration of the changes in the temporal and spatial dimensions of creativity: temporal in terms of the proliferation of music ‘rendered liquid as code’ 7 and spatial in terms of the emancipation of geographic (and therefore sonic) place that digital technology allows.

The means of enacting musical creativity will continue to diversify, fragment, fracture, proliferate and reconfigure. In this paper, we propose a critical framework and explore some of its effects and implications as a step towards applying the model in future empirical studies of emerging approaches to creativity.

1. Clarke, P. (1983). ‘“A magic science”: rock music as a recording art’, in Popular Music, vol. 3.

2. Gibson, C. (2005). ‘Recording studios: relational spaces of creativity in the city’, in Built Environment, vol. 31 no. 3.

3. Latour, B. (1987). Science in action: how to follow scientists and engineers through society. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

4. Born, G. (2005). ‘On musical mediation: ontology, technology and creativity’, in Twentieth-Century Music, vol. 2 no. 1.

5. Albarn, D. (2010). Gorillaz give away their new album made on an iPad Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/dec/25/damon-albarn-fall-gorillaz-ipad [last accessed 23/04/2011]

6. Wahlforss, E. (2005). Soulhack, seehttp://www.sonarkollektiv.com/releases/SK006CD [last accessed 26/04/2011]

7. Born, G. Ibid., pp. 14-16.

Stevenson, Alex            (Leeds Metropolitan University)

Apprenticeship learning models in university education

The relatively recent amalgamation of recording technology into home computer systems has broadened the access of music recording to the masses. Unlike in the recent past, where music production students arrival at University would likely introduce them to the recording studio environment for the first time, students are arriving at University with a wealth of ‘self taught’ knowledge and experience of recording and production based on ‘virtual’ studios on their personal computers. With the design of Digital Audio Workstations allowing unlimited flexibility, track counts and routing options, students are learning techniques that may not transfer to the ‘real’ recording studio where physical limitations of analogue signal paths need to be addressed.

With the evidence highlighting the current skills gap of graduates entering the music industry (Creative and Cultural Skills, 2011) in conjunction with the decline in recording studios, there is a strong argument for the responsibility of Higher Education to address the skills gap for the future of the music industry.

This paper aims to propose methodologies, which incorporate principles of apprenticeship learning models (Rudd et al, 2008) to the teaching of studio practice within University education to address the skills gaps identified through the utilisation of modern technology. These methodologies will aim to address the issue of false knowledge of current students through the incorporation of myth busting practices.

Strachan, Rob            (University of Liverpool)

Flow and the machine: creativity, technology and process amongst electronic producer/musicians

This paper examines the relationship between digital technologies and creativity amongst digital musicians/producers working across various types of electronic music. Using the work of Latour (2005) as a theoretical starting point it suggests that the creative process has to be understood within a techno/social network in which both human and non-human actors have agency. It argues that the affordances and interfaces of DAW technologies have served to reorder patterns of musical thought for a significant caucus of these practitioners, leading to distinct modalities of creativity. Nevertheless, these modalities are always mediated through the social, commercial and generic trajectories of the individual and their relationship to distinct institutional strictures. In order to draw out this intersection it uses interview material with prominent electronic musician/producers such as Matthew Herbert, Shackleton, Alva Noto and Chris Watson to examine how creativity is experienced by the individual.

Strauss, Konrad            (Indiana University Jacobs School of Music)

Building an Audio Curriculum for the 21st century

Traditionally audio engineers learned their craft through an apprenticeship system, learning on the job by observing and assisting skilled engineers. The time honored tradition of starting at the bottom and working your way up, learning as you go, has served several generations of engineers very well. But today the industry is vastly different than it was even 15 years ago. Production
budgets have been cut, major recording facilities are closing their doors, and recording engineers are losing their jobs right and left; yet at the same time the explosion of new media, the internet, and computer applications have created countless new opportunities in the audio production field. Additionally, the development of new technologies related to audio recording and media delivery has accelerated at a mind-boggling rate making it increasingly difficult to stay abreast of current trends in the industry. Today, engineers are looking to educational programs to learn their craft; indeed, while education used to be looked upon with suspicion by industry professionals, a degree in production is now considered to be an entry-level qualification. Even seasoned engineers are seeking education to enhance and update their production skills. The challenge for the educator of today, is to create a viable curriculum that will prepare students for the reality of the 21st century job market yet find a way to incorporate the best of the apprenticeship system: learning through hands-on practice and observing skilled practitioners.

This paper will explore the numerous challenges facing audio educators in building an effective curriculum. It will outline degree options, from simple certificates to PhD programs and discuss the challenges associated with teaching audio production in an academic environment: identifying core skills and competencies, finding qualified faculty, creating teachable production opportunities, integrating current and emerging technologies and production techniques, assessing student performance, creating a research agenda, the role of music, electronics, and acoustics; the importance of related media fields such as video and computer science, and the teaching of interpersonal skills necessary to work in the field of audio production.

Tabron, Chris            (New York University)

The Glass: Technology as Embodied Discourse in hip hop engineering

In the modern recording studio, “the glass” has typically been the structure and metaphor dividing technicians (in the control room) and musicians (in the live room).  However, during the mid-to-late 80’s, as the production of hip hop music moved into the studio, the relationships between bodies and spaces were renegotiated. Since most instrumentation was derived from pre-recorded sources or electronic drum machines, there was no longer a need to isolate “bleed” between musician and engineer. Hip hop musicians came into the control room from the start of the process, connecting their sequencers, turntables, and other electronic equipment directly into the recording console. This greatly changed the dynamic between the engineer and artist as well as blurred the lines between performer and technician. 

This relationship inside of the control room is exemplary of the discursive roles technology has had in popular culture. As collaborators, the engineer and producer changed the sonic spectrum of hip hop music, creating a deep low end and polished top end that is now emblematic of the genre.  This paper explores the creation of this signature sound for artists like A Tribe Called Quest and The Notorious B.I.G. as well as the tripartite manner in which it impacted black bodies: 1) through changing the structural stratification that previously existed in the recording studio that sequestered engineers from producers, unifying performing and technical bodies, 2) through changing the sonic imprint of hip hop music and thus how audiences moved to the music, and 3) through creating a sound that could allow for easy portability into various sonic and social spaces.

Taillander, Cyrille                        (Drexel University)

Teaching Production:  First science, then art

Careers are earned by consistently delivering the best work under any circumstance, faster than anyone, with a smile.  As technology expands in capability and shrinks in size, the modern producer faces endless options and submenus.  Today's audio professional needs to know the origins of recording techniques to be able to do the work, problem-solve, and eventually innovate.  By presenting two recent endeavors, an all-analog workshop and a Skype-facilitated production master class, this talk will explore how the disciplined, collaborative environment of the University can be well-suited to the teaching and learning of audio production.

Thorley, Mark            (Coventry University)

An audience in the studio – the effect of audience investment and participation on creation, performance, recording and production

Before the era of recorded music, the performer and audience had a direct connection principally because they sat in the same room. The Performer could respond to audience interaction either immediately, or in the development of new works to satisfy the audience. Similarly, the audience could show appreciation enthusiastically, be non-committal or even ignore a performance. As Eisenberg has stated, the advent of the phonograph meant “that [for the performer] the audience is not there…[is] the flip side of the fact that, for the listener, the performer is not there”. The era of Eisenberg's "Music as a commodity" has therefore meant isolation between the performer and their audience. The performer only gets the “delayed” response from the audience through record sales, reviews and career success. The audience becomes accustomed to waiting for new recordings, not quite knowing whether they will satisfy their expectations.

Just as the adoption of new technology starting with the Phonograph created this isolation, so too is new technology now breaking it down. Developments in technology and social media communications now allow a rejoining of the performer and their audience. Rather than waiting for a performer's next creation, the audience can communicate with the artist, invest financially in their projects and influence the composition, recording and production processes.

Based on empirical research with artists who have adopted the Artistshare model, this paper will examine the implications of this radical rejoining of artist and audience. Artistshare facilitates audience investment in artist projects, and in return, them being involved in some way (from being present at recording sessions through to being credited as Executive Producer). This change of relationship suggests a number of issues which warrant examination. For example, what do Artistshare artists anticipate to be the effect of involving audiences in their creative process? What has been the effect of audience intervention on the creative and technical processes? Is audience involvement motivational and inspirational or a necessary evil to fund projects? Do those who invest more money deserve more influence? How is the power balance between artist and audience managed - does it shift with time, and does a more successful artist automatically have more power in the relationship? Through the research findings, this paper aims to answer these questions to establish the effect of audience investment and participation on creation, performance, recording and production.

Vaccaro, Brandon                        (Kent State University)

Towards a Recording Production Canon

Despite the rapid growth in education of audio and recording production, little historical perspective is provided in many of these programs. In most disciplines, theoretical and technical knowledge is contrasted with history and aesthetic analysis. For example, a music student must study music theory, musicology and history in addition to their performance studies. One approach to this in audio and recording production would be through the establishment repertoire study and analysis within existing curricula. The practical considerations are examined in the example of the Bachelor of Science in Music Technology at Kent State University, Stark.

Issues that have been raised include the question of which works will be deemed worthy of study and inclusion in a repertoire, which proves challenging for a number of reasons. First, the matter of simply determining which works should be included is a significant task in itself. Is commercial success and popularity the key criteria, or are there other more important characteristics, like aesthetics, impact on the art of recording production, musical criteria, etc? Second, having selected the works for inclusion, there is a further question of how one might parse and arrange those items. Finally, after the material has been selected and ordered, the repertoire must be continually reexamined to challenge its merits. Issues such as stylistic diversity, national biases, technical challenges, and practical implementation are considered.

Walther-Hansen, Mads                        (University of Copenhagen)

Depth and distance – Staging sounds horizontally

The depth of phonographic recordings is most often defined in terms of the perceived distance to sound sources. We tend to speak about the location of sounds as if sounds ’belong’ to their sources. However, depth is not necessarily connected to physical distance in auditory experience. Sounds may seem nowhere or omnipresent still creating a sense of depth.

  This paper aims to explore the concept of ’depth’ in relation to spatial staging of sounds in phonographic recordings. How is depth perceived? What does sound engineers mean by depth? And how is depth created in the recording studio? In most popular music recordings we will find a complex combination of staging effects (Lacasse 2000) that often yields contradictory cues to the horizontal location of sound sources in phonographic space.

  Among scholars working with audio perception there are some disagreement as to which parameters of sound are the most essential to listeners’ estimation of the distance to sound sources. A decrease in intensity is often seen as the most obvious cue to an increase in distance. Thus, for many sound engineers the front-to-back placement of sounds is simply connected to the use of dynamic faders, while others consider ratio of direct to reverberant sound and change in spectral balance to be essential parameters. In discussing these issues I will consider work by John W. Philbeck and Donald H. Mershon (2002), who has shown that familiarity with the ’probable’ output power of a source has a significant influence on the listener’s perception of distance; Håkan Ekman and Jens Berg’s (2005) study on the concept of depth; and Ulrik Schmidt’s (2011) work on the experience of ambient sounds.

Walzer, Dan                        (Art Institutes International of Minnesota)

Teaching new media and audio production

As traditional media outlets converge towards a fully integrated digital platform on the Internet, the need to address these changes in an audio production curriculum is essential.  Capitalizing on the myriad of web-based portals to simulate broadcast environments is both cost effective and an excellent tool for building a comprehensive portfolio as students near graduation from the academy. 

By creating class projects that teach the essential aspects of simple web design, video blogging, podcasting and audio production, students are exposed to an eclectic set of course competencies that foster creative thinking, entrepreneurship, teamwork, and effective promotion at the same time.  These media competencies are reinforced with general education courses so as to maximize the cross pollination between departments in a university.  By incorporating this comprehensive approach, students are better served in keeping up with the demands of a changing media landscape.

This paper focuses on the effective integration of both Weebly and Go Daddy.com into an audio production portfolio course while addressing the changing paradigm of new media skills that are required to be successful in the job market today.   We have introduced these concepts in our portfolio courses at the Art Institutes International of Minnesota with a great deal of success.  The paper will also explore effective class projects that can be implemented earlier in the student’s matriculation as well and how faculty can better serve students in this fully integrated digital era.

Ward, Stephen                        (Mercy College, White Plains)

Teaching Production: Pedagogy for Digging Deeper

Trade school and baccalaureate audio arts programs typically focus on four areas:

  • Fundamental theory of audio signals and acoustics
  • How recording technology works
  • Specific hardware and software tools used
  • Practical techniques for using those tools. 

Because there is so much technical content to cover, many audio programs have little time left for teaching the creative aspects of record production. Even when the curriculum allows it, it is challenging to teach audio students creativity, especially when students lack a strong background in music.

But is a strong musical background necessary for teaching record production? While many successful producers are very strong musically, there are also many producers who have little musical training and yet possess an innate intuition about what makes a great record. Clearly, techniques of record production can be learned independently of musical training.

A second challenge to teaching record production is the passive way that many young adults hear music. In order for students get a deeper understanding of record production, they must learn focused listening and analysis techniques. In this workshop, I will present and demonstrate techniques I teach for narrative analysis and identifying a record’s production goals.

A thorough narrative analysis of the lyrics can reveal a great wealth of “backstory” that can be used to understand why certain production decisions were made. Using a set of ten targeted questions (adapted from Wayne Wadhams’s Inside the Hits), students gain a fuller understanding of the characters within a song and any changes that occur during the narrative. In turn, this understanding can drive students’ own production decisions, such as whether to employ a key change, double-tracking vocals, appropriate instrumentation, fadeouts, and so forth.

As students become proficient in understanding song narrative, they can move to higher-order thinking about the meaning of the record itself (as opposed to the meaning of the song’s lyrics). Records are made with certain goals in mind and those goals often reflect the strengths of the available materials and of the artist, as well as the arc of the artist’s career. Through focused listening and discussion, students learn to recognize common production goals, such as showcasing vocal or instrumental virtuosity, creating a strong and danceable groove, identifying with a cause or particular group of people, and focusing the attention on the narrative story.

Anotheruseful technique is to compare and contrast two or three hit versions of the same song, which allows an “apples-to-apples” comparison. While the original and cover versions of a song contain similar or even identical lyrical material (and therefore, similar narratives), the production goals of each record typically vary widely. The original record might focus on the story and conveying emotion, for example, while a cover version might focus on showcasing vocal technique and creating a solid groove. By eliminating the song as a variable, each record’s production goals are easier to see.

Watson, Erica             (Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, California State University, Long Beach)

Weinstein, Barak            (Audio Engineer, Los Angeles)

Listening Behind "Behind the Glass"

Recording studios are often represented in films, with varying degrees of inaccuracy, from artist and producer stereotypes, misrepresentation of technology and recording techniques of the time, and how the glamorization makes the hard work look easy.  This presentation will dissect how recording studios and their recorded tracks sound across three genres: biopic (e.g., Walk the Line and Ray), fictionalized band story (Rock Star and That Thing You Do!), and films not about music that include an incidental scene in a studio (Brüno and Boogie Nights).  Audio and video excerpts from these and other films will be presented.  Conclusions will be based on the differing academic and professional backgrounds of the authors, one a musicologist and one an audio engineer, and through a dialogue with the each other and the audience about the excerpts presented.

Weinstein, Gregory            (University of Chicago)

Mixing Messages: Performing Editions in the Classical Recording Studio

Recording a piece of classical music is a complicated process and requires the contributions of a number of individuals: the producer and engineer (recordists), the musicians, and administrative staff from a record label or performing organization.  While they represent different interests in the studio, they all want to make a record that is faithful to the composer’s intentions and that translates them accurately through the recording medium.  However, in some instances, the composer’s intentions are unclear or the work is problematic or incomplete.  When the musical work is not settled, the musicians and recordists assume responsibility for interpreting and completing it through the use of the recording studio and its technologies.

In this paper, I draw on my ethnographic experiences in Britain’s classical music recording studios.  I will examine two particular recording sessions in order to demonstrate the various ways that musicians and recordists use the studio to address problematic aspects of a musical work: first, a 2009 recording of Donizetti’s infrequently performed opera Maria di Rohan; and second, a 2010 recording of Mahler’s unfinished Tenth Symphony.  Performing these works in the studio posed unique challenges, because the recordists and musicians needed to negotiate the thorny questions of accuracy and authenticity in the scores while simultaneously addressing the many musical and social issues typically present at a recording session. 

In both of these cases, the musical scores were altered by consensus among those at the sessions.  I argue that the changes they made to the printed editions, while relatively minor in the context of these expansive works, represent a significant aspect of the creativity of the recording process.  Further, these interpretive alterations resemble the types of performance decisions made by musicians both today and in the past.  Indeed, although the changes to the scores at these sessions were always made with an eye towards realizing the composer’s intentions through performance—sometimes even in consultation with facsimiles of the autograph manuscripts—I also believe that the medium of recording enables particular interpretive choices that may not be viable in live performances.  I will demonstrate how the individuals in these two cases used the recording studio to solve perceived problems in the editions of the works, including unclear notes, unusual harmonies, and problematic orchestrations. As a result of the contingencies of the recording process, the ultimate versions of these studio performances come to resemble, and in many ways exceed, the standards and methods of musicology’s emphasis on musical veracity and authenticity.

Whelan, Larry            (London College of Music, UWL)

The gender gap in music technology courses in the United Kingdom

It is a well-known fact that courses combining music and technology tend to be male dominated in terms of their student profile, whereas in ordinary music degrees the gender balance is more equal; indeed on many music courses there is a higher proportion of female than male students. There has been much research and much written on broad issues of gender and technology: male and female students have broadly equal access to computers and the internet, with cultural stereotyping often cited as a significant reason for the gender bias in areas attracting greater male interest such computer games and music technology. However, in the modern age, there are clear reasons for technology to be of interest to everybody interested in song writing and production, regardless of gender, such is the ubiquity of laptops and sequencing software in contemporary music.

But how much do we know of the opinions, attitude, and outlook of students, and how they differ across the sexes? This paper will examine these issues through the findings of a qualitative survey of students in UK universities. The survey will consist of interviews with students on a variety of courses combining music and technology in three universities, on both BA and BSc undergraduate programmes, and master's degrees. A range of questions will be asked to both female and male students. What are their attitudes towards technology? How importantly are the technological aspects of music creation and production viewed as opposed to other angles, such as creativity, and traditional skills of musicianship, composition and songwriting? What of their self-assessment of their abilities? What are their career aspirations? And how well do they feel their courses are serving them towards their goals? The opinions of staff, both male and female will also be gathered.

From this survey I hope to better understand students’ aims and aspirations from a gender-based point of view, an understanding that should prove significant in an increasingly "client-focused" future in UK higher education.

Williams, Alan            (University of Massachusetts Lowell)

Putting It On Display: The impact of visual information on control room dynamics

Historically, control rooms were the domain of recording engineers and producers, and the technological operations conducted within those environments occurred in a mysterious realm beyond the comprehension of most performers and musicians. While much attention has been given to DAWs, specifically the radical transformation that non-linear editing and other sonic processing have wrought upon production and other recording practice, this paper examines the impact of visual information resulting from computer monitor displays upon the participants involved in the recording process.

Primarily using ethnographic research methodology, my work identifies several shifts in control room dynamics and studio hierarchies from the public broadcast of previously restricted information. Technological processes illustrated by visual representation serve to educate the inhabitants of the control room, giving musicians greater insight into engineering techniques, mechanical operation, and even the value of musical performances. Armed with this information, untrained musicians begin to assume the roles of engineers and producers, exercising a more technologically-informed agency. Furthermore, graphical representations of sonic events both form and validate the valuation of musical performance with critical assessments based on quantifiable measurements of musical quality, rather than ephemeral judgments issued from the producer on high.

Yet these changes are not simply more evidence of a democratization of the recording process. Visual representations of technological process require interpretation, and software programs that create metaphors for what are in essence computational operations, result in a varied level of "understanding" – a case of a little knowledge becoming a dangerous thing. This paper will document several instances of visually communicated information used as a tool for acquiring and consolidating social power in the recording studio, from the benign to the catastrophic.

Zagorski-Thomas, Simon                        (London College of Music, UWL)

Towards a Typology of Issues Affecting Performance in the Recording Studio

This paper proposes a typology of eight generic heading for categorising the issues that affect performance in the recording studio:

1.     The performer hearing them self

2.     The performer hearing other performers

3.     The performer seeing others

4.     The nature of the studio environment

5.     The nature of the recording technology

6.     Power relationships and decision making

7.     The alteration of a player’s normal performance practice

8.     The alteration of other aspects of the player’s working practice

As there are many areas of overlap between these headings – between the performer’s hearing of them self and others and the recording technology for example – the paper will begin with a justification of this list.

The author will then outline a larger research project leading to a proposed monograph that will combine practice-led research, interviews and field work with this typology to construct a theoretical and methodological framework for the study of these of these special, and yet widespread, forms of performance practice.

By the time of the conference this research project will be underway and the author will report on any initial findings. This will involve the study of one or more specially staged recording events where the recordists and performers will be filmed during the session and interviewed afterwards and will participate in the analysis of the filmed events. It is envisaged that this aspect of the project will expand in the future to include an international team of researchers. This pilot scheme will lay the ground work for that larger project.

Zeiner-Henriksen, Hans                        (University of Oslo)

Environments and space versus motion and energy

The creation of sonic environments is largely in focus for working producers and engineers. This approach is influenced by the notion of a listener being seated in (or at least close to) the sweet spot and builds heavily on ideas from the traditional concert situation where both a visual and aural attention is directed towards a stage. The extent to which this approach is consistent with actual listening habits is not often discussed. Listeners rarely behave as they would do in concert situations and do not often conform to the ideal listening practices regarding sonic environments. Motion in music and how it elicits energy and body movements is more in focus for dance music productions. But motion in music is probably a more significant topic in music production overall.

In this paper I will discuss the transference of musical motion and energy, and to what extent a focus on these aspects can be in conflict with the design of sonic environments. Connections between music and body movements builds mainly on three theoretical perspectives; (i) entrainment theory, combined with an ecological approach to perception and theories of attention and expectation in music, (ii) metaphor theory (mainly related to musical verticality), and (iii) theories of motor-mimetic processes (with a special emphasis on vocalization). These three perspectives relates to the rhythmic framework (or groove), the melodic intervals and vocal or instrumental performances and the discussion will focus on how these musical elements are captured and shaped through the production processes.