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The 11th Art of Record Production Conference

The Spaces in Between

December 2 - 4, 2016

Hosted by the Music and Sound Knowledge group (MaSK), Aalborg University, Denmark

Agencies in the Production of a Classical Record: A Case Study on the Finnish Producer Seppo Siirala and the Orchestra Tapiola Sinfonietta recording Erkki-Sven Tüür's 8th Symphony 

By Tuomas Auvinen

Studies on recorded classical music have often concentrated on ontological questions of the "work" due to the idea that record production and technological development in the 20th century in general have not had a major aesthetic influence on classical music. This orientation has resulted in neglect of the creative process of production in classical records and the role of the producer in that process. In this presentation, I will share results from a case study I conducted on the production of a recording of Erkki-Sven Tüür's 8th symphony recorded by the Finnish Tapiola Sinfonietta orchestra and produced by Seppo Siirala. In my study, I have taken an ethnographic and cultural critical approach by interviewing the producer, the engineer, the conductor and the composer, conducting field observations, taking photos, shooting video footage and making field recordings during the various stages of the production process, which took place in spring 2016. Furthermore, by examining the recorded music by reading the producer's version of the score and listening to the end product I have examined the relationship between the process and the recorded work. Based on my findings, I will address the questions: What kind of a creative and social agent is the classical record producer? What kinds of cultural spaces facilitate the production process. And, what kind of a technological process is the production of classical recordings?

Aiming for (Im)Perfection?: Approaches to recording jazz and improvised performance, and measures of success and failure

By Jonathan Stockdale

Jazz and improvised music (JIM) present particular challenges when it comes to recording. By embodying spontaneous musical gesture set within or without a preconceived framework JIM is substantially, and essentially unrepeatable. Furthermore, the framework within which much performance takes place is designed to afford unpredictable and spontaneous interaction between performers and an audience. Risk in such performance is inherently high, and so therefore is the prospect of unrealized ambition or failure; yet few recordings aim to capture and represent this through commercial release. Using a combination of multiple ‘takes’ in the studio, and/or manipulative processes in ‘post-production’ that seek to mitigate perceived imperfection, studio collaborators contribute to both a cumulative (un)conscious misrepresentation of individual and collective performance. For a music rooted in the pursuit of technical and artistic excellence through live performance, such recordings can distort perceptions of the art form amongst both practitioners and consumers. The recording of JIM therefore provokes production challenges, behaviours and aesthetic considerations that can problematize the resulting artefact. To what extent should such recordings aim to preserve, unaltered, the performance as it occurred with all natural flaws (liveness)? What are the production values and aesthetic considerations that result in the use of directional microphones, studio baffling, and the mitigation of natural ambience in the making of such records? Should restraint be exercised when applying technological and manipulative process to minimize alteration of the performance, or should there be an acceptance of this as a false pursuit, exploiting production techniques and processes to create artefacts that transcend live performance (otherness)? Drawing on on-going research around the making of Kind of Blue (Columbia CS8163, 1959), and recent experimental recordings by the author, this paper will question practices and conventions to consider releative levels of success or failure in representing imperfect live performance on record.

Amateur Recordings and The Ghost Producer : Beyond the Technical Interventions of the Sound Engineer

By Marzin Florian

Phil Spector's « Wall of Sound », George Martin as the « Fifth Beatle », Teo Macero and the bonding of solo takes. The years go and the myths remain the same. Largely borne by a wind of romanticism, the record producer is often described as this « mixing hero » who could transform any uninspired composition into a classic that will be sung by a whole generation. If this paradigm of the record producer makes the amateur musicians who want to reify their creations dream, this utopian representation of the recording process quickly encounters a more pragmatic reality. Generally prohibitively expensive, the services of such producers are most of the time inaccessible for artists who aren't financially helped by record labels. Consequently, a majority of amateur recordings are made in the context of the home studio, or within professional studios where the personal is a priori exclusively employed to be responsible for technical tasks.

Focusing on this latter situation, I will base my presentation on an ethnographic study to explain how the « function » of the record producer stays omnipresent in an amateur session despite the fact that the « profession » of the record producer is neither explicitly neither contractually embodied by the studio personal. Linking audio takes with oral exchanges that occured during the session, I will show that the amateur studio experience and its common one-personal-team organization incite the sound engineer to constantly overstep his initial technical functions, being thus a new mediation in which the ghost of the record producer will express.

On the basis of this specific study case, I'll more globally try to highlight the increasing porosity between the producer and the sound engineer that, blurring all the past rigorous conceptual boundaries, is being to generate a new paradigm of music production.


Around the world in eighty mixers: The influence of background on practices and perception in music production 

By Brecht De man & Josh Reiss

Mixing a multitrack recording is a complex and critical task involving many creative decisions, which means two engineers can produce wildly different results from the same source material. Many studies have been concerned with the role of the mix engineer, the design of new tools, the automation of some of the key processes, impact of various signal manipulations on perception, and the associated vocabulary. However, little is known about the effect of background on differences in mixing practices and on perception of the various types of signal processing encompassed by mixing.

In this work, we collect a large body of mixes of a range of songs, by mix engineers from different continents near the end of their training. Through statistical analysis of mixes, we investigate the extent to which differences in approach are likely to be influenced by the mixer's background. This covers questions such as whether Canadian subjects are no more different from their Portuguese counterparts than from their compatriots.

Perceptual evaluation experiments where skilled subjects rank mixes according to preference and describe the salient features of the different mixes are translated, annotated and analysed. Furthermore, surveys help understand various factors related to the participants' backgrounds such as education, musical instrument experience and genre preferences.

The mixes are each produced in the environment that is most natural to the study's participants, with a representative set of professional tools, to ensure the results are maximally representative to real life music production.

Of particular interest are the differences in parameters of certain common signal manipulations such as balancing and applying reverb; the focus on certain instruments or aspects in the subjective assessments; and preferred ranges for audio features extracted from the total mix as well as individual tracks.

Artificial Reverberation in Music Mixing: The good, the bad and the ugly.

By Kirk McNally

This paper deals with the question of how sound engineers conceptualize sound in the mixing process. How are choices made in the mixing process governed by the listener? Is there a so-called “right” mix? What are the factors that make a “mistake” – an unexpected mix feature which maybe surprising, or unexpected – accepted by the listener? There is a feedback loop present in the field of record production, with audience reception creating a demand for defined creative decisions, including the presentation or the staging of recordings [1-4]. On the macro level there are genre- specific expectations, and era specific sonic features that can be used to reliably predict or categorize a collection of sound recordings [5]. A sound engineer must be conscious of these considerations, while on a micro level impart their own creative voice [6]. One place where the sound engineer has a great deal of creative agency is in the application of artificial reverberation in the mixing process. In a previous study, this is shown to be highly important, and with clearly defined parameters for the acceptable usage - length and relative loudness [7]. This paper extends this work and looks at audio mixes that sit outside of the statistical boundaries of right versus wrong, good versus bad. We explore these “mistakes” and look to identify secondary features

affecting the perceptual evaluation of the audio mixes. Significant examples from popular music are discussed and used for comparison, highlighting the features and characteristics that define when a “mistake” becomes “good” to the ears of the listener.

[1] Ross, Philippe. "Were producers and audiences ever separate? Conceptualizing media production as social situation." Television & New Media (2012). 

[2] Zagorski-Thomas, Simon. "The stadium in your bedroom: functional staging, authenticity and the audience-led aesthetic in record production." Popular Music 29.02 (2010): 251-266.

[3] Moore, Allan F. Song means: Analysing and interpreting recorded popular song. Ashgate

Publishing, Ltd., 2013.

[4] Brøvig-Hanssen, Ragnhild, and Anne Danielsen. "The Naturalised and the Surreal: changes in the perception of popular music sound." Organised Sound 18.01 (2013): 71-80.

[5] Bertin-Mahieux, Thierry, et al. "The million song dataset." ISMIR 2011: Proceedings of the 12th International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference, October 24-28, 2011, Miami, Florida. University of Miami, 2011.

[6] Hennion, Antoine. "An intermediary between production and consumption: the producer of popular music." Science, Technology & Human Values 14.4 (1989): 400-424.

[7] De Man, Brecht, McNally, Kirk, Reiss, Joshua D. “Perceptual evaluation and analysis of reverberation in multitrack music production.” Submitted for Journal of the Audio Engineering: Special issue on Dereverberation and Reverberation of Audio Music and Speech.

Between “Beauty and the Beast”: the unique case of Cantigas do Maio in the sphere of Portuguese recording industry in the 1970s.

By Isabel Campelo

Cantigas do Maio, Portuguese singer-songwriter Zeca Afonsos fifth album recorded in 1971, has been considered “the best Portuguese record ever”. It is, undoubtedly even today, a reference of recording sonic quality.

The relevance of these facts lie on a possible number of situations: Zeca Afonso was a politically engagé composer, commonly associated to the canção de protesto (protest song), whose compositions were not focused on sonic recorded production quality, but rather on lyrical content. The records nine songs, with overtly political lyrics, managed to pass the censorship and songs like “Grândola Vila Morena”, later one the 25th of April revolutions password, were recorded. Lastly, the choice of the recording studio - Strawberry Studios, in Chateaux D’ Hérouville, France, where pop-rock artists like Elton John and Pink Floyd would later record, - represented an unusual option in the context of the small Portuguese recording industry, particularly considering a musical genre which, unlike fado, had no expected internationalization.

I wish to describe the historical circumstances of the emergence of this record, highlighting the role of two of its main actors: the labels editor, Arnaldo Trindade, a unique personality who wished “to make beautiful things”, in a “beastly” historical context of a conservative, provincial dictatorship, and José Mário Branco, Portuguese musician, composer and producer of this record. Through critical audition of the record, as well as ethnographic interviews with the referred actors, I will examine the following aspects: whose idea was it to record in such high-end studios and why? What were the studios technical added values? How did the studios technical possibilities eventually potentialized, enlarged and/or transformed the songs and the concept of the record? How was the relationship with the French sound-engineer and French musicians who collaborated? Was the record a total non- return investment, after all?

Between isolation and integration: Creating the Jazz Aesthetic in Acoustic-Electronica recordings

By Brendan Williams

This paper discusses the practices and techniques of recording acoustic-electronica trio Gogo Penguin for their 2016 release ‘Man Made Object’ on the Bluenote label, produced and engineered by Joe Reiser and the presenter, Brendan Williams. These practices aimed to recreate the jazz aesthetic already achieved in Williams’ recordings for the Gondwana label, with various releases nominated for MOBO awards, the Mercury Music Prize and winning the 2015 iTunes jazz album of the year award. As Philip McIntire (2015) shows, older technologies often overlap with the new . Williams’ work for Gondwana demonstrated that the choice of technology - in particular the perceived division between digital and analogue – was not the main factor in creating the warm ‘signature sound’ (Zagorski-Thomas 2014), reminiscent of 1950s Columbia recordings. Those recordings made use of large recording spaces and clear sightlines to create a jazz aesthetic in the recorded sound, which Williams showed could be captured even with contemporary digital equipment. However, genre-crossing Gogo Penguins aesthetic, which incorporates ideas from electronic artists such as Aphex Twin, and their rock-influenced performance style, meant that a simple application of these established recording methods was not possible. The paper describes the practice-led research methods which allowed the “large-space” signature sound to be created even while utilising isolation methods appropriate to other commercial genres.

Black Magic: Shaping Audience Conceptions of Recording Practice

By Alan Williams

Recording practices were once closely guarded secrets – rarely remarked upon, barely acknowledged. But as public curiosity developed about the ever evolving sounds embodied in recordings, explanations and representations emerged that simultaneously served to reveal and obscure the processes that shaped the music that caught the ear of the listener. This presentation examines the formation of three distinct mythologies – technology as magical wizardry; technology as musical sham; and technology as marker of nostalgic value. In the first thread, audio technology is harnessed by creative geniuses, working in a realm far removed from the normative listener and/ or musician. In the second thread, audio technology is seen as bestowing talent where none exists, manufacturing inherently inauthentic product, and implanting the uncomfortable notion that all musical performance is potentially a sham. The third thread exhibits a selective memory that praises some forms of technology, while rejecting others, often posited as past versus present.

Building upon the work of Barthes, Théberge, Taylor, Keightley, and others, I will analyze media representations of recording practice from literature, film, television, and Internet memes to illustrate how each mythology is constructed and disseminated, and in turn how these mythologies inform the listeners experience of recorded audio, and musical creation in general.

Borrowed Space and (Re)Construction in #Blues-Hop: Capturing the Blues in pursuit of vintage spatial signatures in sample-based Hip-Hop

By Michail Exarchos

In what appears as a reversal of the conventional notion of authorship in Hip-Hop record production, purists swear by the authentic effect that ‘sampling’ - the process of using and manipulating segments from phonographic records - lends to the style. Yet, in response to ever- tightening copyright law, a growing number of practitioners have been incorporating original music and performance into their process, with end results often receiving criticism in terms of sonic impact, perceived authenticity and stylistic relevance. But if to some degree sampling, and the recording of newly composed music, feature live instrumentation, what are the aesthetic factors that differentiate these historic sonic imprints from new recordings? The paper considers the ‘space’ between live performance and the phonographic sample arguing that Hip-Hops methodological preference is borne out of a quest for vintage sonic signatures that infuse current practices, initiating textural interaction across multiple eras, methods and styles. The emerging hypothesis is that space as a sonic attribute, and its complex function within sample-based composition, renders it an essential textural variable in defining stylistic authenticity. The research looks at how sampling ‘borrows’ space from a wide range of locations and eras, and re-contextualises it through juxtaposition and additive practices, acting as a sonic time-capsule that blends the old and the new; the ‘real’ and the virtual. Furthermore, it examines our relationship with this multidimensional aural representation, as well as the spatial factors that afford a sample its ‘aura’. Informed by primary investigation of classic recording spaces, (auto)ethnography and intertextual analysis, a reverse- engineering process is applied to the (re-)creation of authentic Blues content, serving as an inter- stylistic case-study for the construction of historically-informed spatial paradigms.

Bruce Springsteen and the Wave Model of Musical Development

By Nick Braae

The idea of artistic progress is under-theorised in an academic context, despite being central to general critical discourse on popular music (e.g. Riley 1988, Macan 1997). This paper forms part of a wider study of Bruce Springsteens career output in terms of musical development; this quality is often ascribed to Springsteens work, but with little consideration as to the nature of his evolution (Masur 2012). Rather than examine compositional and stylistic attributes, I focus on the studio elements of Springsteens songs and his use of technology. I suggest that one cannot observe a linear model of progress, so much as increments of change within identifiable frameworks.

Springsteens career can be divided into segments of two to four albums, each of which presents a distinct textural layout—thus, between from Born to Run (1975) to The River (1980), there is the ‘classic’ E Street Band sound, defined primarily by the high register piano lines of Roy Bittan and the glockenspiel of Danny Federici; between Born in the USA (1984) and Human Touch (1992), ringing guitars or padded synthesizers dominate Springsteens sound-world.

Through to the present day, I argue that Springsteens career can be understood in terms of a ‘wave’ model (Moore 2001), whereby an initial crest is succeeded by a short period of continuity, before the cycle restarts. Furthermore, just as waves are never discrete entities, there remain fluid connections across Springsteens career, namely, the persisting elements of the E Street Band sound in the 2000s. Finally, one can identify a number of albums (Nebraska, The Ghost of Tom Joad, Devils and Dust) that appear between successive waves; these albums are notable for their ‘stripped back’ textures and lo-fi production values. Somewhat paradoxically, then, it is these moments of apparent technological regression that prompt the next wave of evolution. 

The complexity of formal and informal learning in art and in music production

By Jan Olof Gullö & Per Henrik Holgersson

Works of art are produced by cooperation and can be described as complex by its nature. Becker discusses the complexity to create a work of art and that skills in many different levels are needed, e.g. to compose a piece of music and to get it performed. In such cases different experts work together to create the artwork even if there in general often are few persons who gets the full credit for a particular piece of art.

Works of music are, often but not always, produced by cooperation. And in music production it can also be discussed in the way people learn how to be musicians and music producers. In this project we study spaces in between formal and informal learning in music and music production.

  Our previous research shows a variety of competences that are used and needed among musicians and others active in music production and in many ways such competences can cooperate in a similar way as Becker describes in his theory. In the learning processes connected to education we can study formal and informal learning among musicians as discussed by Folkestad. This is particularly interesting according to the music production in the Nordic countries and export of music around the world. Several of the Nordic international successful musicians and music producer have more of an informal background than a scholastic formal education. But our previous research also shows that the spaces in between formal and informal learning in music, in the formal educational situation can be understood, in its most positive interpretation, as indifference by the students, a learning strategy that enables the learner to explore new and innovative ways of artistic expression. In this paper we present and discuss data collected in the area of formal and informal learning in music production.

The Creative Facilitator: Creativity Techniques – An Insight in a Music Producers Creative Process

By Adam Sundqvist & Nyssim Lefford

The contemporary music producer plays an important role in facilitating creativity in the studio recording environment. This research investigated how the producer works in this capacity to further understanding of different working methods for practicing producers. Young producers

starting out professionally, as well as, young audio engineers who might work as or with a producer. This study involved an extensive review of the literature and interviews with four producers working in Sweden. The results include a list of techniques that professional contemporary music producers use in order to facilitate creativity. The literature review compared romantic and sociocultural perspectives on creativity, and also tracked developments in the history of the music industry that impacted producing practices. Since the history shows that for a long time producers have been employed to facilitate and oversee creativity, it seems that few in practice adopt a romantic perspective. Next, an ethnographic study using structured interviews was conducted to find commonalities among producers in their working methods and ideas about facilitating creativity in the studio. In the interviewee responses, thirteen themes related to facilitating creativity were identified. These could be categorized, roughly as Behavioral and Practical concepts. After this analysis, these concepts were described as techniques in the a music producers toolbox which may be applied when deemed necessary. Finally, this list of 6 techniques is considered in light of the sociocultural explanations of creativity that formed the basis of the study.

Cultivating a Sound: The Local Culture of Content Mediators

By Toby Seay

Many legends of sonic signatures proliferate the discourse of music production. The Sound of Philadelphia, the Nashville Sound, and the Motown Sound are a few examples of music production communities whose output is commonly cited as identifiable. Even technological signatures, such as the sound of analog tape or the lo-fi sound, have become commonplace within the narrative of music production. This paper dispels some of these legends by removing music from the conversation and looking exclusively at sound by focusing on studio technicians as content mediators and their relationship with recording technology, studio workflows, and, most significantly, the transfer of knowledge within the studio.

This paper describes how the local culture found in the recording studio contributes to the creation of identifiable sonic signatures by using specific examples from Sigma Sound Studios and its influence on the Sound of Philadelphia. Additionally, an auto-ethnographic glimpse to the authors local culture will be compared to answer the overarching research question: Is a signature sound more probable within an isolated local culture, where the transfer of knowledge is more homogeneous, than in a more diverse culture, where the transfer of knowledge is less formal and multipolar?

Deciding How to Decide: The Record Producers Creative Decisions in the Recording Studio

By Nyssim Lefford & Paul Thompson

To each decision inside the recording studio, producers bring their personal experience, expertise and skills. They fold in information about the immediate context, sometimes receiving input from collaborators and adapting to changing information, influences and expectations; and they also apply their knowledge of the expectations of the field, domain and social context in which they work. Every new decision in a session requires the producer to engage in a re-weighing or re- prioritizing of factors, a re-evaluating of risk and an adjustment of means for validation. Each decision requires a producer to consider how to approach decision making as well as deciding.

  This paper investigates how the cognitive, meta-cognitive and socio-cultural processes governing the kinds of decisions that are taken during a recording session can be studied. We have drawn upon our respective disciplines of sociology and cognitive psychology in order to consider how producers respond and adapt to events, changes, the behaviors of others as a session progresses and how the producers approach to decision making are reflected in these patterns. We have drawn upon current literature, interviews, articles and data gathered during an extended ethnographic study inside the recording studio. Video and audio recordings, fieldnotes and responses from a number of semi- structured interviews with the projects record producer have been used to explore decision-making in the recording studio.

The Eco Hybrid Model: An analysis of contemporary recording studio practice

By Alex Stevenson

Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) have become a central element within the recording studio and, as a result, have introduced new studio practices alongside traditional analogue recording techniques. For example, virtual mixers and digital plugins have impacted signal processing, signal routing and conventional workflows in music production. Consequently, many professional recording facilities have adopted hybrid systems that include digital recording, mixing and automation alongside analogue consoles and outboard FX processors and effects.

The demise of music recording and production budgets, alongside the closure of a significant number of professional recording studios, has led to shifts in the working methods of engineers and producers, with many now undertaking some of their work in smaller or home recording facilities, using larger studios only where it is required (such as recording drums or an orchestra). Although analogue processors, effects and summing, are still favoured by many producers and engineers, it is now more common for the use of outboard devices to be routed into, and out of, the DAW rather than through an analogue console. Coupled with the common requirement for mix ‘tweaks’, alternative mix versions and mix stems, working ‘in the box’ has become an integral part of the work flow for many in the recording industry.

Through analysis of semi-structured interviews with a number of commercially successful record producers and mixing and mastering engineers, this paper takes a snapshot of contemporary recording studio practice. It identifies how these practitioners have developed strategies to address the changing needs and requirements of the recording industry and spotlights the adaptation and hybridisation of analogue recording studio practices within the digital domain. It also points towards areas for future research and highlights how some of these strategies could be usefully integrated into educational courses and training programmes that relate to audio production and sound recording.

Examining the Creation of ‘Paperback Writer’: The Flow of Ideas and Knowledge Between Contributing Creative Systems.

By Phillip McIntyre & Paul Thompson

From a creative systems view nothing exists in isolation (McIntyre, Fulton & Paton 2016). Consequently, a system such as a system of recording can sometimes appear to operate independently with well-defined boundaries, but it still depends upon other systems (Skyttner 2006, p. 38). There are then multilayered systems within systems in which: ‘a system in one perspective is a subsystem in another. But the system view always treats systems as integrated wholes of their subsidiary components’ (Laszlo 1972, p. 14). This interconnectedness of systems has been illustrated by Arthur Koestler (1975) using the terms ‘holon’ and ‘holarchy’ in which a holon is an aspect of systems that is both a part of something at one scale and, at the same time and at another scale, is itself a whole system. A holarchy is the multilayered heirachy of these holons. Inside this nested world, system within system, one system is no more or less important than the others operating above or below it. Not only are systems part of these vertically arranged holarchies but they are also often connected horizontally through complex networks of many other similar systems. For example, the system of audio engineering has deep connections horizontally to the system of producing and the system of musicianship. These holons are linked vertically to the broader system of popular record production and at a different scale to the system of western music. This paper explores the scalabilty of creative systems by examining the recording and production of the Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer (1966). It examines Paperback Writers production at the various scales of creative action, exposing some of the creative processes on an individual level and the sharing of ideas and knowledge between the creative group within Studio Three of EMIs Abbey Road studio. The flow of ideas back and forth between the various contributing vertically and horizontally interconnected systems is also studied to gain a more comprehensive perspective on the creative systems that contribute to the songs production.


Koestler, A. (1975) The Ghost in the Machine (London: Pan Books).

Laszlo, E. (1972) The Systems View of the World: The Natural Philosophy of the New

Developments in the Sciences (New York: George Braziller).

Lennon, J., & McCartney, P. (1966). Paperback Writer. EMI. [Audio CD].

McIntyre, P. Fulton, J. & Paton, E. (eds) (2016) The Creative System in Action: Understanding

Cultural Production and Practice (Basingstoke UK: Palgrave MacMillan).

Skyttner, L. (2006) General Systems Theory: Problems, Perspectives, Practice, 2nd ed., River Edge, NJ: World Scientific.

Finding Originality Through Reference Mixes

By Wellington Gordon

How do sound engineers and sound designers conceptualize sound and sound creation?

What are the processes through which ideas about sound and music are translated into an audio output? What is the relationship between trial and error approaches and conscious choices in record production? How does one theorize the flow of ideas and knowledge in the recording studio? What are the limitations of language when communicating about sound? 

“Finding Originality Through Reference Mixes”

Recording original music is a multifaceted event that requires many skills. An engineers knowledge of music history, communication strategies or skills and production techniques becomes an asset to the artist and ultimately helps shape the final product we will call “original” music. Reference tracks provide information that helps us make important production decisions including songwriting techniques for form and structure and influences approaches in mixing elements including compression, equalization, reverb and constructing sound stages. In order to assess these elements, trained engineers use isomorphic mapping to deconstruct mixes (Cory). In addition, communication strategies and interpreting verbal feedback are also important skills that the engineer must possess. (Porcello)


I will be recording and mixing two songs from a singer songwriter. The first song will be recorded and mixed using only verbal and written directions from the artist. During the production of the second song and in addition to the verbal and written directions, the artist will choose references mixes to aid in the production and mixing process.

I would like to explore and document the production process as it is shaped/influenced by directions both verbal and written and reference mixes. How will these directions shape the final mix? What communication strategies will both the engineer and the artists use to convey ideas about the production of the song? What processes will be applied to achieve the desired sounds? 

Gamifying Sonic Interfaces: an Interactive Music Engine as a Music Production Tool

By Maria Kallionpää & Hans Peter Gasselseder

Augmented- and virtual reality environments (and instruments) are playing an increasingly important role in the classical music culture of today. Even the music genres leaning on a fixed performance tradition have been affected by them. For example, the art of contemporary opera has been influenced by composers´ and stage directors´ search for new modes of expression. The use of augmented reality technologies in a stage performance is part of this development. An illustrative example is Van der Aa´s opera “Sunken Garden”, in which the live action on stage is combined with a 3D projection. Moreover, human-computer interaction has become a vital part of composing: various composers design their own music systems. For example, Karlheinz Essl has created “Sequitur Generator” which he uses in a whole series of interactive compositions. Moreover, his “Lexicon Sonate” is an independent system that can generate music by itself almost infinitely. The purpose of this paper is to provide information on how the interactive music techniques usually associated with computer game music could benefit various music professionals, such as, for example, composers, performers and music producers. We will focus on techniques and technologies used in procedural music. Certain computer game scores and sound installations represent this genre, as well as electronic real-time-based compositions that may or may not require a human performer. In the context of interactive computer games, dynamic music systems directly react to the gamers´ actions. Automatisation challenges the form, rhythm, and harmony in a musical work. Instead of a closed entity, a dynamic music composition is a never-ending story with an infinite number of alternatives; it gets created again in every performance.

Gennett Records: A Case Study of Early Recording Techniques

By Shane Hoose

Based in rural Richmond, Indiana, Gennett Records was one of many successful recording studios that flourished during the period following World War I. Established in 1917 as the sister enterprise of the Starr Piano Company, Gennett was among the earliest independent labels to record Americas indigenous music genres: jazz, blues, and old-time country music. The Starr Piano Companys improbable 1921 victory against the Victor Talking Machine Company in a patent infringement lawsuit allowed the widespread industry adoption of lateral-cut direct-to-disc recording methods and the subsequent proliferation of numerous record labels that were crucial to the development of Americas musical grassroots.

The Gennett studio was a rudimentary facility active during a period of record industry litigation and technical transition. Operating in relative secrecy, Gennetts engineers confronted changing social and economic contexts, emerging technologies, and an eventual overhaul of the existing acoustic recording methods with the studios 1927 adoption of electrical recording technology. By offering artists greater freedom for musical expression than competitors, the limited technical means of the Gennett studio imparted a raw quality to its recordings that set artists as diverse as King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Hoagy Carmichael, and Gene Autry on their way to musical immortality.

This paper will analyze the equipment, process, and recording techniques that shaped Gennetts recordings as utilized by the companys primary staff engineer—Ezra C.A. Wickemeyer. Using materials from the Indiana Historical Societys John K. Mackenzie Collection, Wayne County, Indiana Historical Museum, and the Rutgers University Institute of Jazz Studies, I will provide a detailed account of the technical operations of the Gennett studio and its role in furthering Americas recorded heritage.

I Hate These Blurred Lines: The Intrinsic Test In Music Copyright Disputes

By Joe Bennett & Wendy Gordon

In US federal copyright cases, it is necessary for the complainants to prove both the fact of copying, and that the defendants took ‘too much’ of the prior work – ‘substantial similarity’. When comparing the works, many courts invoke a two-step comparison. The ‘extrinsic’ inquiry measures objective similarities between the works, and is normally assisted by music expert witnesses (‘forensic musicologists’). The second step – the ‘intrinsic’ inquiry – addresses whether an ordinary person (or ‘lay listener’) would view the copying as ‘too much’.

When listening to audio, it is possible that a jury may be influenced by non-copyrighted elements such as tempo, instrumentation, groove, production style or key. Courts try to minimize the influence of these elements in various ways. For example in the 2014-15 ‘Blurred Lines’ case, the judge did not allow the original recordings to be played. Such restrictions mean that juries may rely heavily on the expert opinions of musicologists for both extrinsic and intrinsic inquiries.

Not only is this practice legally questionable, but it also can be impractical. It often happens that each sides musicologists find in favour of their clients, despite a remit to provide objective analysis, suggesting that selective use of methodology may allow each side to infer different levels of copying. In the case of The Isley Brothers / Michael Bolton (2000), the plaintiffs musicologist suggested that a combination of hook, cadence, instrumental riff type, verse/chorus form and fade- out was copied, and the jury “found infringement based on a unique compilation of [unprotected] elements”. This raises the question of what the criteria should be for applying copyright to such combinations, and whether juries can understand instructions of the necessary complexity.

This paper discusses the challenges of methodology in forensic musicology, and the musical and psychological difficulties of applying the intrinsic test fairly and objectively (Bonadio, 2016; Gordon, 2015). It includes an analysis of three disputes, with comparative audio examples from actual cases.

Bonadio, E., 2016. Led Zeppelin, plagiarism claims, and why we should be worried about the future of music. The Conversation. we-should-be-worried-about-the-future-of-music-57832 (accessed 5.13.16).

Gordon, W., 2015. How the jury in the “Blurred Lines” case was misled. The Conversation. http:// (accessed 5.13.16). Lund, J., 2012. An Empirical Examination of the Lay Listener Test in Music Composition Copyright Infringement. Available SSRN 2030509.

Three Boys Music v. Michael Bolton 212 F.3d 477 (9th Cir.2000)

Historical Sound Reconstruction: the listeners perspective

By Zaida Hernández Úrculo & Javier Suárez Quirós

The aim of this paper is to propose a possible methodological solutions framework in terms of historical sound reconstruction which arises as a result of the thesis project The Soundscape in Santander (Cantabria, Spain) (1810-1936): New Musicological Approaches. 

The research into past sonic spaces has a wide breadth of parameters. The amplitude of the parameters related to music and sound, within an audible humans spectrum are those which define the study of the urban context of the Santander soundscape; this also implies the soundscape surrounding a sea port and the activities ascribed to it, in addition to its economic and social context belonging to that environment. 

The methodological proposal approach which is currently being developed is based on a methodological pluralism: the analysis of written documentary, phonographic, cartographic, graphic and literary sources; the creation/development of ortophotomaps and the reconstruction of urban sonic spaces through sound and audio-visual engineering programs.

The main parameters for this sound and audio-visual reconstruction proposal are:

- Climatology.- Which will be a major factor influencing the whole process of human aural perception and sound emission parameters.

  - Aural perception parameters from the listeners perspective: tone pitch; source; sound intensity and the direction of sound.

  - Sonic changes produced through time parameters and within a particular place or space: changes brought about by seasons, for instance. Climatology, biophony, geophony and anthropophony changes of external context.

Industrial Sound Design that Tells Stories About Data

By Nyssim Lefford

Song lyrics, films and games generally tell stories. Musical accompaniment, audio production and sound design, in shaping how stories are conveyed, contribute much to storytelling. Verbal and non- verbal sounds can influence what is understood about leading figures, situations, events and transformations, and affect emotions. Thereby, sound contributes to listener interpretations. Audio and music production and sound design help to steer interpretations— in entertainment and potentially elsewhere. Listeners in industrial settings similarly find themselves in situations that require interpreting information about events, developments and transformations, though here, information is typically communicated through interactive auditory displays and sonifications. Our project applies lessons learned in music production, sound mixing, and film and game scoring and design to industrial sound design. Utilizing sonic techniques meant to enhance storytelling, we are developing sound designs that tell stories about complex data and industrial processes.

Our stories are set in a sawmill where real-time sensors and scanners collect vast quantities of multivariate data. This data feeds an automated system that sorts boards. The procedure requires regular human monitoring, troubleshooting and occasional redirecting to ensure desirable outcomes. Sometimes system problems are immediately apparent, and standard alerts or alarms suffice. Other times, issues arise over hours, days or months or result from the confluence of varied factors over time. To illustrate this complexity, our design solution uses dramatic scenes or sonic vignettes, presented at intervals, to create narrative threads. The sounds used are meant to trigger associations and encourage the anticipation of future events, just as in music production and film sound. Our goal is to tell meaningful tales about the board sorting process by turning real-time data and statistical analyses into simple, comprehendible patterns that users can interpret quickly and act on effectively. This paper reports on the design strategy, a pilot study, and preliminary expert user feedback.

Innovation and Professional Practice by Female Audio Practitioners in the Current UK Commercial Music Industry

By Helen Reddington

  The focus of the paper will be on recent practice and the professional strategies developed by a cross-section of interview subjects to keep their skills and their approaches relevant and productive. Job descriptions of what a producer or an engineer does constantly change with the introduction of new technologies and working practices.

In this paper, the author will use primary interview material culled from 30 specially conducted interviews with a range of UK-based audio professionals in the field of popular music in order to interrogate aspects of this change, including the importance of niche markets, cultural diversity, access to employment and the development of new entrepreneurial working practices, and DIY recording culture and portfolio working.

Using scholarly sources such as collections edited by Bernardo Attias, Anna Gavanas and Hillegonda Rietveld (2013), Anna Gavanas and Rosa Reitsamer (2013), plus Jeremy Gilbert and Ewan Pearson (1999), Tami Gadir (forthcoming) Marion Leonard (forthcoming), Tara Rodgers (2010), Paul Théberge (1997), and Paula Woolfe (2010) combined with examples from current electronic and print media discussion and issues discussed through internet forums such as female:pressure and Women Produce Music, I will contextualize a perceived contemporary window of opportunity for female practitioners across different established genres of music from rock to rap, exploring new potential clients and markets.

The paper will create a snapshot of changes that have come about since 2010, particularly in the British music industry, and demonstrate the application of creative thinking that is an essential aspect of professional survival in the current commercial music industry.

Introducing the Phonographic Format of the 21st Century

By Martin Knakkergaard

Although digitization generally tends to mimic past analog formats – not the least within music production – petrifying conservative concepts of music and music production and dissemination (Knakkergaard 1992), it doesn't necessarily have to be that way; and even though it might be true that music is always perceived as a stereophonic sensation, given that humans primarily sense sound with two ears, it surely isn't conceived and executed as a two-channel phenomenon.

With the introduction of the concept of Tangible Music – relying to a certain extent on the principles of the Tangible Mix (Gelinek and Walther-Hansen 2016) – the power of digitization is finally unleashed when it comes to phonographic formats. Music can be distributed in a format that allows for the number of streams or channels the composer and the producer wish, securing the musical artifact an unprecedented plasticity, and thus giving the audience and the consumers the power to organize and mould the artifact randomly or just to get incredibly close to the sonorous manifestation of musical ideas. 

This paper primarily discusses Tangible Music in a historical and educational perspective.

An investigation into the motivation behind the use of Dynamic Range Compression (DRC) in Popular Music Production

By Austin Moore, Rupert Till & Jonathan Wakefield

Dynamic range compression (DRC) is a much-used process in music production. Traditionally it was implemented to control the dynamic range of program material to minimize the risk of overloading recording devices. However, over time DRC started to be used as a creative effect in addition to its traditional role as a preventative measure. In a professional recording environment, it is common for engineers to have access to several different types of DRC unit, each with their own purportedly unique sonic signature.

This paper sets out to investigate the following:

Which are the most commonly used types of DRC in popular music production?

Which are the most common music sources to process using these DRC units?

How do music producers describe the sonic signature of DRC?

What are the most common reasons to apply DRC in productions? Is it for dynamic range control or something else?

The research used a mixed methodology of grounded theory and content analysis to extract qualitative and quantitative data from a sample of 100 interviews spanning 14 years. The data came from a series of articles by mix engineers and producers in the magazine Sound on Sound. Content analysis was used to extract data relating to the popularity of compressor types and specific DRC units. Grounded theory was utilized to generate an overarching theory that would help to explain the motivation behind the use of DRC and also to gain insight into how producers described the sonic signature of the DRC process.

This study is part of a larger research project that investigates non-linear processing in music production with a focus on DRC and the 1176 FET compressor.


Jamming in The 3rd Room: Experiences of remote ‘virtual’ real-time performance and recording.

By Zack Moir, Paul Ferguson & Gareth Dylan Smith

Increasingly, many of our daily tasks are carried out ‘virtually’ via digital networks, including Skype-calls, video tutorials, and collaborative editing of documents via the ‘cloud’. While these tasks can be undertaken using normal domestic internet connections, issues of latency and poor internet connection make meaningful, real-time musical collaboration problematic and impractical to the point of impossible. However, using Gigabit connections onto National Research and Education Networks such as JANET and GEANT engineers are able to establish extremely high bandwidth and low latency links. This, coupled with LOLA (a low-latency, videoconferencing system) means that engineers and musicians are beginning to find ways to facilitate real-time live performances with remote performers, across long distances. While this has been achieved successfully in a number of cases, the process is still nascent and more research is required to understand the implications, functionality, and limits of such a workflow. This is particularly important, given that companies such as AVID are leading us towards cloud-based music production.

The authors, in their capacities as musicians (Moir and Smith) and sound-engineer/producer (Ferguson) are currently conducting research into the the experience of collaborating musically using LOLA. Our research investigates the impact of this means of working on the musical experiences of collaborators, in a variety of musical contexts. We are exploring the potential for live performance, audio/video realism, integration into future workflow for record production, and teaching/education applications. Additionally, we are interested in exploring the limits of this

system by way of understanding how it may be better deployed and developed for future use. This paper will report on a qualitative study in which the authors present accounts of their musical experiences of remote rehearsal (in Edinburgh, London, and mainland Europe), pre-production, and recording using LOLA, and will discuss implications for future use in remote, real-time, collaborative record production.

Jarrett vs Molvær: Developments in jazz music production

By Jon Marius Aareskjold

The creation of jazz recordings has a long history dating back to 1917, and has been through an extensive development, as described by Damon J. Phillips in Shaping Jazz (Phillips 2013). However, although the expression and sound of contemporary jazz has changed radically, much of the recording process remains very similar to that of early jazz recordings. 

Based on comparative analysis between the classic Keith Jarrett album Belonging (ECM, 1974) and a current recording with internationally acclaimed trumpet player Nils Petter Molvær, this paper seeks to determine the development of music production in jazz over the last decades, and relate

this to the aesthetic ideal of the artists. Through interviews with legendary recording engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug of Rainbow Studio, who recorded Belonging, the acclaimed ECM “tonmeister” Manfred Eicher, who produced it, and the musicians who played on it, the process is analysed and compared to that of the new Nils Petter Molvær album, released in the autumn of 2016. The analysis of the Molvær album is based on extensive documentation, interviews with the musicians and observations from a researcher-practitioner taking part in the recording process as sound engineer and co-producer.

The paper will analyse and discuss the production process of the two albums including the recording techniques and methods for arrangement and composition and discuss similarities and differences in the light of parameters such as “technostalgia” (Holland et al 2015) and Bourdieus establishment of a “field of works” that the recording process relates to (McIntyre 2015). Based on the collected data the paper attempts to make an interpolation based on the observations of the participants to draw some lines into the future of music production from a contemporary jazz viewpoint.

Let the Track Mix itself: Creativity and Intuition inside the Recording Studio

By Paul Thompson & Ryan Schwabe

The creative process has been described as a four-stage process: ‘preparation, incubation, illumination and verification’ (Wallas, 1976: 69-73). However, this is often a distortion of what actually happens (Csikszentmilahyi, 1997). The creative process is frequently interrupted by insights, which lead to further insight into the original idea and some of Wallas’ creative stages can appear as a single stage. Tony Bastick labels this ‘intuition’ (Bastick, 1982), which he describes as the: ‘non-linear parallel processing of global multicategorised information’ (1982: 215). He argues that Wallas’ first three stages (preparation, incubation and illumination) can be integrated into the term intuition and that the creative process can therefore: ‘be thought of as just two stages… intuition, as a form of global processing of multicategorised information, followed by verification’ (1982:310-311).

Intuition in this context is a useful term in helping to explain how more experienced individuals can appear to make an imperceptible leap from preparation to illumination almost instantaneously. It also helps to explain how practitioners in record production often describe the song writing itself or the track mixing itself. Using video and audio data gathered during a number of commercial mixing sessions, this paper explores intuition as it applies to the creative process of mixing a record.

Critical moments during each of the sessions have been selected and amplified in order to highlight the creative decisions of the mix engineer. The study also considers intuition in relation to the knowledge and experience of the mixing engineer and further highlights preparation as a necessary element in the intuitive creative process.

Listening to Recordings: Ecological Constraints and the Tuning of the Ear

By Ragnhild Brøvig Hanssen & Anne Danielsen

In current literature, acousmatic sound is often compared to actual spatial environments (Doyle 2005, Lacasse 2000 and Moylan 2002), which demonstrates an awareness of the fact that listeners often conceptualize recorded sound by comparing it to previous experiences with sound. Such comparisons can produce a discrepancy between the sound people hear and their expectations, which are formed by various ecological constraints. In this paper, we will present one particular form of such perceptual discrepancies, namely those linked to the bonding of sound to existing acoustical spaces. Using the methodology of interpretive musical analysis, we will first discuss the ways in which recording technologies can be used artistically to generate such perceptual discrepancies. Drawing on sound theories from the fields of popular music-, electroacoustic music-, film- and perception studies (Benjamin 1968, Brøvig-Hanssen and Danielsen 2013, Doyle 2005, Gibson 1986, Schafer 1969, Smalley 1997, 2007 and Williams 1980, among others), we will then discuss the fact that this ecological orientation often pushes back against the perceptual tendency to gradually naturalize new sonic expression. As people adjust to new musical expressions brought about by new technologies, they come to hear them as appropriate—even “natural”—and then judge the next round of innovations against what came immediately before. However, although music that evokes a sense of surreality generally becomes naturalized over the course of time, the human mind persists in meeting music not only on its own terms but also in the context of the real world in which people live and accumulate experience. The listeners comparison of recorded music to both a spatiotemporally coherent performance that follows strict acoustical laws, and to the compiled “illusionary” naturalized musical environment of recordings, generates a perceptual friction. It is this particular friction we will address in this paper—a friction that remains a perceptual conundrum.


Benjamin, W. (1968 [1936]). The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. In H. Arendt (ed.), Illuminations: Essays and reflections (pp. 217–42). New York, NY: Schocken Books. Brøvig-Hanssen, R. & Danielsen, A. (2013). The naturalised and the surreal: Changes in the perception of popular music sound. Organised Sound, 18(1), 72–81.

Doyle, P. (2005). Echo and reverb: Fabricating space in popular music recording, 1900–1960. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

Gibson, J. J. (1986 [1979]). The ecological approach to visual perception. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence

Erlbaum Associates.

Lacasse, S. (2000). “Listen to my voice”: The evocative power of vocal staging in recorded rock music and other forms of vocal expression (Doctoral dissertation, University of Liverpool, Liverpool). Retrieved from Error! Hyperlink reference not [11.22.12]. Moylan, W. (2002). The art of recording:Understanding and crafting the mix. Boston: Focal Press. Schafer, R. M. (1974 [1977]). The soundscape: Our sonic environment and the tuning of the world. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.

Smalley, D. (1997). Spectromorphology: Explaining sound-shapes. Organised Sound 12(1), 35–58. Smalley, D. (2007). Space-form and the acousmatic image. Organised Sound 2(2), 107–26. Williams, A. (1980). Is sound recording like a language?. Yale French Studies, (60), 51–66.

Listen to the sound of this room (emulation)

By Toby Seay

The sound of the recording space is often attributed as an identifiable characteristic in well known music productions. However, it has been shown that the sound of the room is rarely the identifiable signature in the recording, rather how the room was used during the recording (instruments placed, stacked vs. live performance, microphone placement, etc.) that creates the signature (Paruolo, Porcello, Seay, et al.). Additionally, with most modern productions implementing close microphone techniques, the acoustic space heard on recordings is often a construct of artificial reverberation devices that give the illusion of a characteristic space. This construct, however, is worthy of exploration as to its own identifiable signature.

This presentation explores the reverberation characteristics of Philadelphia Soul implemented at Sigma Sound Studios. Using multi-track recordings, reference mixes, the original EMT plate reverb units from Sigma, and procedures gleaned from Sigma engineers, the author seeks to determine how the use of artificial ambience helped create the lush signature of Sigma Sound Studios recordings. Recordings by the Delfonics, Sound Experience, The Moods, and others will be examined.

Make it yourself: new models in the production and consumption of audio recording equipment 

By Daniel Pratt & Gavin Carfoot

The production of audio recording equipment has usually existed somewhere between boutique, cottage industries and large-scale manufacturing. Following recent changes in post- industrial economies, specialist knowledge about equipment design and construction has become more accessible through the Internet, allowing artists, engineers, and producers to participate in the making of studio recording equipment in two main ways: firstly, through contribution to and investment in product development via online communities; and secondly, through the valuing and exercising of personal labour in the material production of physical recording equipment. In this paper, we investigate the implications of these changes and their relationship to the art of record production. Drawing on data from semi-structured interviews, participant observation and online communities, we examine the discourses of materiality that emerge as engineers and producers interact directly with and as product developers. We position these practices within broader social and cultural models of materiality, as a way of critically understanding the role that material objects play in digital and post-digital societies.

Daniel Pratt (speaker) is a PhD student at Queensland University of Technology. His research positions the record producer as an organisational communicator. Daniel is a performer, producer, and educator. He has performed around the world with his group Drawn from Bees and has recorded a variety of musical acts as an independent producer. As an educator Daniel has set up a youth rock band platform for high school students to write, record, and release their own music. He is an avid DIY recording enthusiast, addicted to building his own recording equipment.

Dr Gavin Carfoot is a Lecturer in Music at the Queensland University of Technology. His research has been published in journals including Popular Music, Popular Communication and Leonardo Music Journal. He has co-written upcoming chapters in the Oxford Handbook on Artist Citizenship and Arts-Based Service Learning with First Peoples. His PhD research examined music and material culture. As a songwriter and producer Gavin has an extensive catalogue of songs, and his musical career has seen him work with touring swing bands, dessert reggae groups and pop artists from television shows such as Australian Idol and X Factor.

Making music for an imaginary film using found sound as the only audio source

By Jose Manuel Cubides Gutierrez

“The arrival of magnetic tape allowed filmmakers to enrich the auditory field, to make noises audible and create ambiences through superimposing layers of sound” (Chion 2009, 100) Additionally, magnetic tape encouraged filmmakers to implement compositional techniques from electronic music such as Musique Concrète, Elektronische Musik, and the techniques used by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Since then, music composers and sound designers have been employing these methodologies in films, also influencing many contemporary popular music composers and record producers.

This presentation will show how my doctoral research in electroacoustic composition incorporates the aforementioned techniques to create soundtracks for imaginary films. Additionally, this presentation will show how this project includes other techniques used for the creation of film music and sound design such as Field and Binaural recording.

The presentation will be divided into two main sections. The first one will introduce the theoretical foundations of the research. Studies by: Chion (1994 and 2009), Attali (1985), Clarke (2012), Toop (2001), Niebur (2010), Nyre (2009), LaBelle (2006 and 2010) will be used as reference as well as previous works such as Walter Ruttmanns Weekend (1930), a film without images.

The second section will cover the practical side of the research. This will be based on the ideas of Demers (2010), who suggests three different ways of composing electronic music; Construction, Reproduction, and Destruction. These three will be analyzed showing short videos of the process as well as the final result of the experiment. In addition, theories of practice as a research by Ingold (2013) will be included, supporting all the compositional development from the decision-making process regarding the selection of the news stories to the analysis of the final result.

The presentation will conclude with a discussion about how to improve this process incorporating new techniques and theories into this particular project.


Making "Progress" in The Art of (Hyper-embodied) Record Production

By Aaron Liu Rosenbaum

Over the past few ARP conferences, I've been looking at the art of record production through social theories of technology, notably, Posthumanist theory. A central concern of mine has been locating agency within the creative human-machine collaboration. More recently, it appears the binary "human-machine" paradigm is becoming obsolete, as the lines between the two are irrevocably blurred in the current media landscape. Notwithstanding the above, I believe it is a valuable human endeavour to explore our own bounds within this technologized landscape—especially with regard to our creative selves. I would like to explore the following question in the call for papers: "What is the nature of progress in the art of record production?" (in stream E: Music production – past, present and future).

Discourses on progress abound in our field, from the finely-tuned marketing language describing our tools to the promises of self-improvement upon using them. Ideas of progress are likewise bound to notions of the real and the virtual, for they push us toward a conception of ourselves other than the current one, typically more intertwined with our tools, and it is here that the idea of hyper- embodiment becomes useful. Borrowed from the fields of health and disability studies, hyper- embodiment explores the self through its technological connectedness. In the field of record production, Stan Hawkins has discussed hyper-embodiment with regard to music videos. I will translate this concept into a general practice of music production constructed through discourses of progress by first looking at the language, then at the technological tools, and finally at creative practices in order to chart an initial terrain of progress within hyper-embodied record production.

MOOCs, online learning and the disruption of traditional education

By Hans T. Zeiner Henriksen

Many large global industries have the last decade experienced major challenges in their way of operating caused by various forms of digitalization. Uber, Instagram, YouTube, iTunes and Spotify are all distributors of products and services that provide easy and inexpensive access to products and services without really producing anything themselves. In higher education business as usual is the general tendency, but the concern of new developments is starting to spread. Coursera, Udacity, edX and many others provide courses of high quality that reaches many students across the globe.

Music production courses are popular and are provided by several of these distributors (ex.: Introduction to Music Production from Berklee at Coursera). The Department of Musicology, in cooperation with the Department of Educational Technology, launched the first self-made MOOC at the University of Oslo via the virtual learning platform at FutureLearn for the first time in Febraury-March this year. It will be launched again in September- October, then in connection with an on-campus Bachelor course. In this presentation the future of traditional education will be discussed on the basis of our experience from producing and running a MOOC.

More unheard sounds – technique, creativity and application of transposed ultrasound

By Andreas Bergsland & Trond Engum

In this paper we will present a study of recording and processing of ultrasound transposed to the human audible range. The study has an emphasis on sound-design and record production. This study both extends and complements our own earlier explorations of the same topic (Bergsland & Engum 2015).

The study reports of improvements in recording techniques for capturing sound comprising the audible and supra-audible range from different sound sources compared to our previous study.[1] Furthermore it demonstrates the application of such recordings in artistic and design contexts and discusses other possible applications. We have focused on the following:

a) During studio sessions we let performers audition transposed ultrasonic content through the use of a custom made plug-in for real-time transposition. How did this affect their performances and the recording situation as a whole?

b) How did performance parameters as pitch, playing technique and effort on violin, flute and drums/percussion affect ultrasonic content and the experienced sound quality when this content was transposed downwards?

c) In post production we have applied a number of processing techniques such as convolution, transposition without time-stretching and granular processing with transposition. In what ways can such processing techniques of sound material with ultrasonic content give interesting results?

d) In what areas of record production, real-time performance and sound design can the discussed techniques be of interest?

The presentation will include an improvised performance using the discussed material and processing techniques. The paper will be rounded off with a discussion of shortcomings in our current approach and future developments of the project.

[1] The recordings were made in stereo with two Brüel & Kjær 4939 ¼-inch free-field microphones (4 Hz-100 kHz) connected to a Norsonic 1201 preamplifier. It was recorded with 192 kHz/24-bit sampling rate thus covering a range between 4 Hz - 96kHz.

Phonographic Worldmaking and Transportation in Recorded Popular Song

By Alexander Harden

Metaphors of motion pervade accounts of musical listening as well as experiences with various narrative media, especially to describe being drawn away from ones present surroundings or situation. I propose as some explanation that music, like novels and cinema, affords to the listener ways of imagining and accommodating him/herself within an alternative, possible world. In recorded popular song, this is effected through record production, musical details, and the recorded voice.

Within cognitive narratology, the capacity for texts to transport or accommodate its interpreter within what David Herman refers to as ‘storyworlds’ has been the topic of significant discussion. However, comparably little has been done to investigate this in relation to recorded music. In this paper, I address this gap and focus especially on the role of music production in affording ways of imaging a storyworld. I shall begin by briefly applying theories surrounding worldmaking to the example of Andrew Sachs’ radio drama ‘The Revenge’, known for its use of sound to relay a narrative without dialogue. Thereafter, I examine the use of similar strategies within popular song to afford ways of imaging a storyworld with reference to the soundbox (after Allan Moore) and landscape (after Trevor Wishart), which address the construction of a phonographic acoustical space and the imagined sound sources within it, respectively. I shall argue that recorded popular song not only invites significant further narratological study but additionally, that it introduces ways of affording the construction of a storyworld that is not possible within literary narrative media.

Producing the liminal: record production as research in contemporary listening

By Iain Findlay Walsh

This presentation explores the creative practice of record production as a consequence of and response to everyday auditory experience. Through a discussion of recent works (records) by the author, and of other related works in the field, record production is proposed as a research practice through which relationships between aspects of everyday listening may be presented and explored.

These include relationships between real and virtual aural environments, sonic production and reception, self-narrative and subjecthood. My work, which draws on record production, phonography and autoethnography, can be understood as the production of records which foreground and re-present the activities and subject-positions of listeners. Layered self-narratives are developed through reflexive approaches to recording, producing and releasing, and these generate productive ambiguities between recording, producing and listening roles. These ambiguities and the wider enquiry are left open for the consideration and engagement of subsequent listeners. Through the discussion of this work, this presentation reflects on listening as a mode of perception which ‘grants me insight into the process of my place’ (Voegelin, 2010). The practice and works considered here are proposed and explored as embodied research into the liminal spaces of contemporary listening and of present-day music reception.


Voegelin, S. (2010) Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art. London: Bloomsbury.

Questioning progress narratives in contemporary studio production

By Joe Watson

In our headlong rush to embrace all thing digital as synonymous with ‘the future’ perhaps we run the risk of forgetting important insights from the past. As contemporary cultures come increasingly under the rubric of ‘the digital’ might there be traction to be gained from a current, practical investigation of ‘the analogue’?

This paper presents ongoing practice-based research into recording and production using analogue multi-track tape. The author has many years of experience engineering and/or producing using digital technologies (including Stereolab, High Llamas) and now turns his attention to the DAWs analogue ‘forebears’ in self-production of his third Junior Electronics solo pop album. Given the skeuomorphic nature of the DAW, and its indebtedness to the legacy of traditional analogue engineering, what insights can be gleaned by engaging with the actual analogue equipment itself? As the DAW increasingly swallows up the whole studio (recorder, mixer, outboard, instruments, personnel) within the ‘square horizon’ (Virilio) of the screen, what can be learn by the digitally literate producer/composer from the extreme constraints of a fully analogue production process?

The constraints placed on the making of this album are simple – there shall be no digital audio, or digitisation of audio, at any point in the production of the finished record – the album will be tracked to ½ inch 8 track, mixed to ¼ inch stereo tape and mastered to vinyl. Digital processes and media may be employed for purposes of documentation and demoing.

What are the practical effects on the music produced if an artist used to ‘unlimited’ tracks is forced to work with only 8?

What are the effects on the production process when editing is restricted to what one can achieve with a razor blade?

Given the healthy currency of analogue technologies (vinyl, modular synthesis, cassette labels, traditional tape-based studios (such as Albinis Electrical Audio)) why is ‘the analogue’ consistently periodised as digitals early/obsolete ‘other’? 

This research forms part of the authors PhD in Musical Composition. Methodology is practice- based, performative and diffractive (Haraway, Barad).

Real Instruments, Real Sounds: Discourses of Fidelity and Authenticity in the Design and Use of Digital Technologies

By Paul Harkins

This paper explores how an ideology of realism was central to the designers of early digital synthesizer/sampling technologies and how discourses of authenticity remain important to the contemporary users of digital technologies in the production of recorded music. With a conceptual framework based around what Nelly Oudshoorn and Trevor Pinch call ‘the co-construction’ or ‘mutual shaping’ of music technologies, I follow the designers of digital synthesizers at Fairlight Instruments, E-mu Systems, and New England Digital whose aim was to replicate the sounds of acoustic instruments. However, users of instruments like the Fairlight CMI were more excited about recording the ‘real sounds’ of everyday life. In the second half of the paper, I follow the contemporary users of digital synthesizer/sampling technologies and show how discourses of authenticity continue to be employed among users of hardware and software instruments. Using data from interviews, I present three short case studies: (i) Marc Leclair (aka Akufen) uses software synthesizers but is critical of the way they are unable to faithfully reproduce the sounds of hardware synthesizers; (ii) Found use software samplers to imitate the sounds of acoustic instruments but prefer to use the ‘real’ instrument where possible as part of a more authentic live performance; (iii) Matthew Herbert avoids sampling pre-existing recordings and uses field recordings to record the sounds of the ‘real world’. This paper argues that as digital technologies become increasingly entangled in the social practices of musicians, an ideology of transparency and realism remains and there is an even greater desire to use ‘real instruments’ and ‘real sounds’ in the production of music.

Record Production and Narrative Meaning: Two Recordings of Camels The Snow Goose (1975, 2013)

By Ryan Blakeley

British progressive rock band Camels third studio record, Music Inspired by the Snow Goose (1975), is an instrumental narrative concept album that musically mirrors the story of author Paul Gallicos novella The Snow Goose (1941). Despite the absence of lyrics, the band implement a number of strategies throughout the album to effectively convey a cohesive narrative; these include the use of paratexts, recurring musical material, the musical representation of events and emotions, as well as segues between the tracks. In 2013, nearly forty years after the albums original release, Camel re-recorded The Snow Goose from scratch; while relatively faithful to the original record, this version features changes to orchestration, extensions to certain tracks, and a vast difference in production values.

In this paper, adopting a hermeneutic approach and drawing upon the work of Simon Zagorski- Thomas (2014) on meaning in record production, I interpret how certain aspects of the The Snow Gooses production afford meaning to the music and investigate how these meanings may differ between the two recordings. Further, I conduct a comparative analysis of these two recordings of The Snow Goose in order to explore differences in production that largely arise due to technological advancements. Ultimately this paper seeks to not only indicate some significant changes in the record production process over a nearly forty-year timespan, but also to demonstrate how the production process itself can play a key role in providing narrative meaning to – and ultimately enriching – an instrumental popular music album.

Zagorski-Thomas, Simon. The Musicology of Record Production. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

The “Resort” Studio: Negotiating Work, Leisure, and Capitalism at the Residential Recording Studio

By Gabrielle Kielich

Residential recording studios were popular alternatives to urban studios during the 1970s and 80s. These studios, including Rockfield Studios and AIR Studios Montserrat, were distinguished by their remote or exotic locations and onsite living accommodations. They offered musicians a reprieve from the pace of touring and the “institutional” studios located in cities. By combining a temporary home with a temporary workplace, residential studios were flexible spaces that blurred the distinction between work and leisure. However, in placing the studio in a relaxed atmosphere away from distractions, the owners of residential studios created concentrated work environments that were custom-designed to musicians’ needs, largely informed by their own backgrounds as musicians, but with the dual purpose of selling a reliable space for cultural production to record labels. The flexible conditions of residential studios therefore situated them within the practices and economic contexts that marked what Boltanski and Chiapello (2005) call the “third spirit of capitalism.” This position demonstrates Mengers (2006) argument that though musicians are mythologized for nonconformity and as working against “commercial utilitarianism” they continuously develop within capitalist systems. The “resort” studio is a concept that theorizes these studios as alternative workspaces and their relationship with work and leisure. In addition, by their specific design and features, they represent a “space in between” the brick-and-mortar studio and the home studio, and reconfigure the concept of isolated recording studio space (Hennion 1989). As production sites marked by tourism and an “art worlds” approach (Becker 1982) resort studios merge issues of capitalism, leisure, and creativity that shape the musicians workplace, provide new perspectives on cultural production both within and beyond its industrial context (Negus 2006), and demonstrate the shifting configurations that co-exist on the recording studios historical continuum (Théberge 2012).

Becker, H.S. 1982. Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Boltanski, L. and E. Chiapello. 2005. The New Spirit of Capitalism. London: Verso

Hennion, A. 1989. “An Intermediary between Production and Consumption: The Producer of Popular Music. Science, Technology, & Human Values 14(4): 400–424.

Menger, P.M. 2006. “Artistic Labour Markets: Contingent Work, Excess Supply and Occupational Risk Management.” In Handbook of the Economics of Art and Culture, eds. V.A. Ginsburgh and D. Throsby, 765–811. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Negus, K. 2006. “Rethinking Creative Production Away From the Cultural Industries.” In Media and Cultural Theory, eds. J. Curran and D. Morley, 197–208. London: Routledge.

  Théberge, P. 2012. “The End of the World as We Know It: The Changing Role of the Studio in the Age of the Internet” In The Art of Record Production: An Introductory Reader for a New Academic Field, eds. S. Frith and S. Zagorski-Thomas, 77–90. Burlington: Ashgate.

Sonic Cartoons: re-drawing ‘reality’ in live sound

By Simon Zagorski Thomas

Our perceptual system is designed to simplify and distort: to imagine discrete boundaries where there are none, to ignore noise and background detail, and to focus on and exaggerate particular features at the expense of others. This paper will expand the notion of ‘sonic cartoons’ to explore how approaches to live sound re-enforcement can shed light on our understanding of the human perceptual system.

The developments in live sound at the end of the 20th century will be examined through the ecological approach to perception and embodied cognition to explore how various techniques have aimed at simplification and exaggeration rather than enhanced realism. Our perception of loudness will be considered through the use of dynamic compression, the comparative balance of frequencies in the overall amplitude and the distribution of acoustic energy through large spaces via multiple, delay-adjusted speaker systems. These techniques take advantage of the ways in which our perceptual system works in order increase perceived loudness without actually increasing the sound pressure levels that reach our ears.

The paper will also look at how auditory scene analysis can be affected by a range of techniques, most of which were pioneered in the field of recording and transferred to live sound. This will include how the reduction of ‘noise’ and the exaggeration of certain features – the creation of sonic cartoons – can improve ‘object’ recognition. It will also involve looking at how electronically managed spatialisation in the stereo array can also aid auditory scene analysis. Finally, the question of how the large-scale projection of close-up visual images of performances aids audio perception through inter-modal reinforcement. The theory underpinning this will be elucidated mostly through the use of examples.

The discussion at the end will focus on what this can tell us about the nature of perception in general.

So Empty Without Me? Heritage and Memory in Tupac Shakurs Posthumous Records

Alessandro Bratus

In rap music, looping and sampling foreground a constant play that involves memory and technology in the creation of recorded artifacts where different performative utterances, originally realized in a plurality of spaces and times, are auratically composed in a meaningful way. At the same time, especially in gangsta rap, the mythologizing narratives of past performers create an intertwined set of connotations and values whose effect is to build a sense of belonging between musicians, MCs and producers. A case in point of these relationships is the posthumous legacy of Tupac Shakur, as one of the foundational figures in this peculiar style of hip hop music and one of the first victims of his own dangerous lifestyle.

"The Don Killuminati: The 7 Days Theory" (1996), the album released a few weeks after his death under the pseudonym Makaveli and recorded a few days before his assassination, begins with the sonic representation of his shootout, giving rise to many claims about the alleged “prophetic” quality of Tupacs last tracks. In this album, the image of the rapper is strictly defined by his self-representation as a “thug”, as emerges from both the lyrics and the sonic world evoked by the sound production. On the other side of the spectrum, "Loyal to the Game" – produced by Eminem in 2004 –, overturns the figure of the rapper completely, both in its sound and its resulting persona, presenting a more peaceful and non-menacing image of the dead performer. This is also the result of the studio techniques used to fit Tupacs voice to the newly released tracks, whose analysis will be used in this chapter to underline how deep technology could be used to change the communicative values of a recorded utterance.

The Sound In and Out Your Head. The Implications of Virtualising Studio Acoustics on Headphones for Producer and Consumer Markets.

By Hans Peter Gasselseder

Recent developments on the headphone market have seen an upsurge in research on immersive audio technologies. By relying on principles derived from binaural recording techniques, most of these products intend to replicate physical spaces in a virtual domain. While binaural virtualisation has gained on relevance amongst HiFi enthusiasts and later entered mass markets channeled by immersive media offerings, its potential use for critical listening in studio applications has been widely neglected partially due to the involved alterations of frequency and phase characteristics. 

This discrepancy between professional and consumer formats suggests several challenges for adapting the current production workflow to allow for binaural content going beyond room simulations associated with typical upmixing approaches at the user end [i.e. generic, averaged HRTF models vs. driver array as found in OSSIC X]. Another concern may be raised with regards to sound preferences during music listening. Some may find distortion, such as those introduced by non-matching head-related transfer functions [HRTF], target curves or the spatialisation of music [i.e. in-head localisation] as desirable, others may find those alterations as unpleasant.

Accordingly, the envisaged paper looks at the implications of the aforementioned discrepancies for the purposes of music production, but extends its potential impact on the acoustic experience of music in live settings. The latter aspect is reflected by the intersection of technologies associated with binaural virtualisation and augmented reality, which allow to alter acoustic characteristics in a live situation. The crux of this paper may be seen in the observation that while efforts are being made to transform recorded sound to the lifelike qualities of perceptual realism [as in the case of

binaural virtualisation], the arrival of technologies allowing for augmented reality has led to a desire to control live sound in a way that reflects the mixing process in studios [i.e. Doppler Labs Here]. In other words: When do we feel motivated to move sound out of the head and when do we want to experience sound inside the head?

Spaces and agents of the Spanish record production process in the 60s: identifying features of "Torrelaguna Sound”.

By Marco Antonio Juan de Dios Cuartas

Record production, understood "as a way of creative expression" (Zak, 2007), is not limited to the simple capture of sound, but it is transformed according to a set of decisions that are carried out within the space represented by the recording studio, and torn between artistic intuition and technical expertise. The "tactility" of sound (Moore, 2012) in a recording depends on multiple factors that combine both musical and technical parameters, personalized in the action of the engineer and/or music producer. As Theberge (1997) points out, since the 60s the notion of a "sound" is part of the vocabulary of urban popular music. The recognition of this distinctive and recognizable sound is determined by changes in the technology of music production, acquiring its historical context a significant importance.

In Spain, the adaptation of common standards which establish the sonic categorization of a certain musical producer or the discographic works created in a particular company, as it happens in the Anglo-Saxon environment (Spector Sound, Motown Sound, etc.), brings us to the case of "Torrelaguna Sound".

The tandem of the producer Rafael Trabucchelli and arranger Waldo de los Ríos managed to give their productions a personal signature that has been called "Torrelaguna Sound", referring to the street where the recording studios of Hispavox record company were located.

The study of the "watermark" (Hepworth-Sawyer and Golding, 2011) of a given music producer involves methodological proposals capable to address the recording as the subject of musicological study. Instrumentation and its location within the sound space represented through the soundbox (Moore, 2012), along with other analysis tools such as the spectral representation of the audio signal, constitute the starting point to the description of the sound atmosphere which is part of the aesthetic discourse generated in the work developed by this producer.


Subjectivities of Realism and the Representation of Performance

By Phil Begg

The paradigm shift away from the perception of record production as merely the documentation of live performance, towards an artform in itself has been covered widely and extensively. The degree to which 'liveness' is evoked, however, remains a central mechanic within this artform, relating to notions of realism, fidelity and authenticity.

This presentation will discuss the subjectivities of 'realism' and 'authenticity' in sound recordings, and how interpretations of these terms can vary across different musical contexts, e.g. traditional folk, DIY punk, classical music. Focussing on the implication of these subjectivities to the creative decision-making of producers, I will question how the representation (or stylistic abandonment) of realism can significantly contribute towards a piece of recorded music's overall aesthetic, and either reinforce, distort or undermine the music's emotional, social and political meanings.

I will expand upon literature directly concerning realism and representation of performance in record production (e.g. Turino, Nyre, Frith, Evens) by looking to the study of cinema sound design (Filimowicz, Chion, Sonnenschein, Altman). As a craft more overtly concerned with both the representation and idealistic distortion of reality, sound design can offer a great deal of insight. My approach is specifically inspired by the hermeneutic modalities conceptualised by Filimowicz- particulary his categories of the Real, the Ideal and the Abstract.

I am a composer/producer and occasional sound-designer undertaking a creative practice PhD at ICMuS, Newcastle University. At the heart of my research is the investigation of sound recording aesthetics, and the consideration of production decision-making as core elements of the studio- compositional process.

Talking space - Towards a more detailed discourse on spatiality 

By Claus Sohn Andersen

Whenever I am discussing spatial aspects of sound and music, be it with fellow musicians, technicians, scholars or students, I am struck by the lack of a unified vocabulary that bears in it the possibility to describe in detail both technical qualities, artistic intent and effect (such as spatial gestures as metaphor, formbuilding aspects of space and so on) and be an analytic tool or aid. Based on Francis Rumseys scene-based paradigm for evaluating spatial aspects of sound and music (later refined by Kendal and Ardilla), and Denis Smalley's spatiomorphology, this paper aims to present a framework for such a vocabulary. Firstly, I will outline the two different existing directions (Rumsey and Smalley) and attempt to point out where they converge and where they differ, before suggesting a more unified set of terms. Throughout the presentation I will be using musical examples to illustrate the spatial characteristics in question.

Tangible Mix as a Learning Tool for Music Production

By Steven Gelineck & Mads Walther Hansen

In this presentation we consider how Tangible Mix – a mixing interface for iPad developed by Gelineck et al. (2013) – can be used in music production and sound analysis courses as an active learning tool for critical reflection that more closely supports the mental models of its users. Tangible Mix is modelled on the sound stage (Moylan 1992) and it provides an intuitive way to combine analysis (graphically representing a recordings spatiality) with practical recording techniques (actively distributing sounds in the virtual space of the recording). This combination allows the interface to both support the forming of embodied cognitive structures (learning concepts) and to exploit the users cognitive competencies in a meaningful way when mixing music (activation of concepts).

Building on recent developments from cognitive theory – holding that intuitive action is based on both previous sensory-motor experience and learned concepts (Beilock 2009, Slepian 2014) – we discuss some of the key challenges related to the design of a constructive learning environment for music production analysis: How is meaning constructed for the student through interaction with Tangible Mix? What is the role of different modes of feedback (auditory, visual and haptic)? How does Tangible Mix encourage reflection on both the learning process and the auditory product? How can we enhance the focus on sound production rather than sound engineering in the class room? Finally, we will outline how these questions are explored in concrete learning situations with students at Aalborg University.

Three studies on creativity in record production

By Jan Olof Gullö, Mika Pohjola, Mattias Viklund & Haukur Hannes Reynisson

This research project investigates how creativity in music production is expressed and understood by young active music producers in contemporary society and is linked to an ongoing artistic research project: Capturing creativity in music production. The aim is to analyze trends in contemporary music production and how young music producers understand and discuss different aspects of music production. The first sub-study: Tapping Into Desolation: An Artistic Study of Contemporary Icelandic Black Metal, investigates the third wave of Black Metal in Iceland. The purpose is to understand important factors that have made Iceland a hotbed for modern Black Metal. Furthermore, the purpose is to gather knowledge about how the proponents of the scene approach the music in terms of inspiration, composition and music production. In the project, new compositions within musical style of third wave Black Metal are composed and produced by using selected musical expressions discovered in the collected empirical material. The second sub-study: Controlled adaptive randomization in music production, explores different methods of composing and programming adaptive music with a focus on controlled randomization by using specially developed software for this purpose. By using music that is loop-based and is built of musical phrases, the listeners interactive actions are used to guide the order in which the different phrases are reproduced. The project aims to find methods for control and progression in randomly generated pieces of music.

The third sub study: Quality in Classic piano recordings, examines how the sound quality of the recording and instrument quality affects experienced listener's assessment of recordings of classical piano music. Different versions of a well-known piano piece by Debussy were used as stimuli and the participants rated the interpretation, piano-quality, sound quality and overall impression. The results show comprehensive variation between different listeners judgment of the individual qualities that make music valuable

Turning the Tables: Engineering the Vinyl Revival

By Shane Hoose

With all forms of media in the world seemingly destined to become digital, a growing segment of the music industry is pushing to ensure analog is not forgotten through a recent revival of vinyl records. As compact disc sales continue to decline and digital downloads and on-demand streaming services struggle to compensate for former profits, vinyl is experiencing a surprising revival. The resurgence of vinyl has been well documented, and sales have increased annually by at least 20 percent since 2006.

While vinyl has long been a mature medium, technical knowledge related to vinyl production has become more and more obsolete. Vinyl records are comparatively expensive and time-consuming to produce, and a number of factors must be considered before pursuing a vinyl project. Though recording engineers have largely been freed from format-specific restrictions, preparing a recording for vinyl requires an intimate knowledge of the format, its capabilities, and its limitations. The sound quality of a vinyl record relies simultaneously upon a recordings quality and the manufacturing process, and special efforts must be made in order to deliver music that will transfer successfully to vinyl. This poster will present the innate qualities of the vinyl format and its corresponding manufacturing process and will summarize the practices utilized in the current era of DAW-based digital recording.

“If two record producers are in the same room, one of them must be the wrong place”

By Stephen Johns

“If two record producers are in the same room, one of them must be the wrong place” Using documentary evidence from practitioners in the classical recording business, the paper investigates how studio practices and techniques are transmitted across generations, particularly within recording companies with a notable or historic house style. Changes in technology, from analogue to digital, the move from in-house to freelance recording teams, and the development of dedicated recording technique studies at higher education level, have all had an impact on how classical recordings are made, and on how techniques are learnt and transmitted. The impact has been the dilution of house-styles across record companies, and a distance and change in relationship between the record company, the technicians, and the musicians in the studio.

As technology becomes ever cheaper, sales of physical records continue to drop, and as musicians take their media recordings into their own hands (e.g. own-labels, digital only releases etc.) the role of the record producer and their relationship to the style of the companies that hire them becomes diminished. The cultural change within record companies and the devolution of training for their technicians have meant that patterns of working are no longer exclusive to individual companies. The evidence from record producers who have worked both within a major record company and then in the freelance world is presented to investigate how the relationship change affects the methods and outcomes of modern recordings.

[Stephen Johns has spent over twenty-five years in the classical recording business. Trained at Abbey Road Studios, he has worked both as an in-house producer for EMI Classics and also extensively as a freelance producer for companies around the world. He has worked with artists including Sir Simon Rattle, Bernard Haitink, Msitslav Rostropovich, Sir Antonio Pappano, Jonas Kaufmann, Kyung Wha Chung, and ensembles including the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras. Recordings he has made have won four Grammy Awards, four Gramophone awards, Diapason d’Or d’Année, and many other international awards. He is the Artistic Director of the Royal College of Music, London.]

Under The Influence: How craft union practice affected 1960s record production

By Anthony Meynell

Technological advancements and experimentation in recording studio practice during the 1960s signaled the emergence of multitracking and the autonomy of the rock musician. However, labour agreements dating back to WW2 between the broadcast and recording industries and the Musicians Union in UK and American Federation of Musicians in USA established modes of working for musicians that continued to favour live performance. These unions sought to protect their members from a post war music industry based on selling records rather than on live music (Schmitt- Horning).

  These oppressive regulations compelled record makers to concoct ever-elaborate stratagems to circumvent Union regulations and avoid detection. Producer Gus Dudgeon recalls:

  “If you wanted to do overdubbing of any sort, you had to seek permission from the MU … we would only get permission to do a vocal overdub if we produced a doctors certificate to prove that the singer was too ill at the original session”.

  In addition, engineering staff employed at the large American studios; RCA, Columbia, Decca and Capitol, all Union closed shops, “controlled access to the technology of recording by forbidding collaborators, such as musicians, composers and record company personnel to even touch the studio equipment at recording sessions” (Keely 1979).

  This paper argues that a deeper analysis of social structures, using Latours Actor Network Theory, is necessary to reveal the range of negotiations that influenced studio power relationships and constrained the new generation of record makers demanding creative freedom. It will also use the Social Construction of Technology (Bijker et al.) to describe how these existing working practices controlled the scope of sessions, demarcation of roles, and use of technology, creating tensions by denying access to advanced features, which lead to novel ways of doing things, and a difference between British and American recordings of the era.

‘When the screen disappears, and even though you’re looking at it you’re only hearing and listening to music, only then I know that I may have something good’ (Juana Molina, 2016): music production, creativity, genre and gender

By Paula Wolfe

This paper draws on current research from my forthcoming book (Routledge) and from my contribution to a further forthcoming edited volume (Bloomsbury Academic Press). It examines the space between production and self-production through two case studies: French producer Johnny Hostile who produces UK Mercury Prize shortlisted post-punk band Savages (see: http:// and Argentinian artist-producer Juana Molina working in folktronica (see: http://

Having worked with Savages since their inception, Hostiles early work with the band may challenge the traditional view of the producer (see Burgess et al). He states how, ‘We started to experiment altogether recording-wise very early on…so I was able to tell what they need[ed] by [making] mistakes with them and we all made mistakes in terms of recording’ (personal communication, 25 February, 2016). Similarly Molina sits uncomfortably with the title of songwriter to describe her work in which ‘the production, the composing and the mixing, the three of them come at the same time’ (personal communication, 20 April 2016). Employing a metaphor of embroidery to explain how this triplicate intertwining determines her creative process, she describes how, ‘you [make] a flower here, you cant move it there because its already here and everything that comes later, comes later because that flower was there’ (ibid.).

In offering two distinctly contrasting approaches, these two case studies demonstrate that the hybridisation of the role music production plays in the creative process of popular music becomes ever more nuanced and the lines between that which distinguishes the producer and that which defines the artist ever more blurred.


Why Innovate When You Can Emulate? Exploring Contemporary Plugin

Development And Potential Innovation

By Andrew Bourbon

As software driven approaches to mixing audio have become increasingly prevalent there has been a continuous improvement in quality in these digital mixing tools. Mix workflow in the box has developed through the established workflow presented by a traditional mixer, with the DAW offering a combination of the tape machine and the routing and processing matrix to the end user. One of the most common categories of plugin is represented by emulation, with classic hardware modeled often to component level by developers looking to create devices as measurably close as possible to a hardware reference.

The second category of contemporary plug-in development is based around tools, which rather than focusing on copying an established tool instead are targeting specific mix elements or sonic signatures. Some companies such as Waves have built on the reputations of mix engineers, offering users an insight into their sounds through named plugins. The CLA Signature Series and the Tony Maserati Signature Series are two such collections based around element specific processors. The CLA collection offers processing around commonly understood mix processes, with the Maserati drums instead featuring more descriptive parameters such as thump and snap. 

The third category of plugin development incorporates plugins which rather than basing their approach on existing hardware tools or established mix practice are looking to incorporate new approaches to mix processing.

In this paper I am looking to analyse current developments, looking at these categories and how innovation can be incorporated into new mix tools. Emulation of tools leads to a mix economy based around knowledge of the tools and the re-creation of existing mix practice. New tools offer a unique opportunity, with direct access to the characteristics of sound. Through analyzing existing tools it is possible to understand the important characteristics, incorporating these into new contemporary mix processors.

You Should Be Dancing – Analyzing Elements of Black Music Performance in the Bee Gees' Disco

By Gittit Pearlmutter

Saturday Night Fever release in 1977 led to new heights the flowering of both the disco genre and the stardom of the Bee Gees.

While You Should Be Dancing had already gained success a year earlier, along with other mega-hits of the soundtrack it presented the audience with elements that stem from black music aesthetics of funk. In her article on Michael Jackson's crossover as presented by the single Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough' Anne Danielsen (2012) analyses how certain attributes of black music that are 'funky' and rough are polished by Jackson and producer Quincy Jones in a manner that assists the audience of mainstream white America to digest the song and its performer. The commercial success following the single has lead Michal Jackson to an unprecedented stardom by any black artist.

I shall present a short analysis of You Should Be Dancing and argue that some musical attributes that stem from funk and black music aesthetic that Jackson has tamed, are the ones that the Gibb brothers are utilizing; heavy use of percussion, percussive brass parts, short melodic lines of singing, accents on 16th notes in the bass guitar, a performance of brother-based triad which resembles the family and tribal relations of funk, and an accumulating energy that implies that of a drum circle.

I shall ask how the production team of the song, Karl Richardson, Alby Galuten and Barry Gibb may have contributed to that and shall relate to this aspect in reference to Daft Punk and Nile Rogers' Get Lucky; Has their production method tended toward a more clean approach rather than a

'funky' one? Is it possible that this case of contemporary disco has unraveled some of the threads between disco and funk?

I shall also contextualize the above in light of Zagorski-Thomas' (2007) writing on methodology for studying the groove. In particular his view of the challenges that studio practices are posing to our perception of group activity that generate groove based music.


Culture, artistic practice and the making of self-produced metal and dub music

By Doug Heath

In idiosyncratic music drawn from Invercargill, New Zealand, one of the southern most cities in the world, what significant cultural contributors can be identified in regards to the recording and production of different genres (heavy metal music and dub reggae) in the modern reality of self-produced artists?

Through cultural contexts of influences, interpretation and appropriation of genre, this paper investigates how musicians incorporate these concepts into their artistic practice and musical creativity within the art of record production. These cultural contributors and ideas of sonic psyschogeography (Mitchell, 2009) will be disseminated into objective audio production concepts.  These concepts include sonic visualization (Gibson, 1997,2005) genre specific stylistic elements, sonic signifiers and production techniques and musicality (Hawkins, 2002; Moore, 2007; Scott, 2009).  The ideas of the phonographic container (Walther-Hansen, 2014), and genre specific staging (Zagorski-Thomas, 2008) are also informers to this practice.

The paper explores the current reality of popular music production in practice, and applies a practice-led participant-observation approach grounded in auto-ethnography addressing the Œmissing musician¹ concept which is a perspective absent in the literature of popular music studies (Tagg, 2011; Frabbri, 2013) and metal music studies (Pillipov, 2012)

This paper represents a component of investigation for a thesis on metal music and production as part of a PhD study entitled ŒMurihiku Metal and Dub ­ Culture, artistic practice and music in the making¹ through the Queensland Conservatory Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.



Documenting the History and Activities of Women in Music and Production

By Katia Isakoff, Helen Reddington, Susan Schmidt & Paula Wolfe

A discussion with authors, practitioners, scholars and documentarians followed by a preview clip of Stories from the She Punks (Helen Reddington & Gina Birch). A documentary featuring the stories of women musicians from the punk-inspired bands of the 70s.

Susan Schmidt - The history of womens involvement in studio work and production through the 1960s, early 1970s

Helen Reddington - Stories from the She Punks (1970s and early 1980s) to include a short video clip.

Paula Wolfe - Women in the Studio: Creation, Control and Gender in Popular Music Sound Production (research/forthcoming book)

Katia Isakoff - Women Produce Music (WPM) and documentary project.

A group discussion about documenting the history and activities of women making and producing music, followed by a Q&A (20/10 mins)

The Oxford Handbook of Music and Virtuality

By Shara Rambarran, Mark Thorley, Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen, Benjamin O’Brien, Paul Draper & Frank Millward 

In 2016, The Oxford Handbook of Music and Virtuality was published. Edited by the late Sheila Whiteley and Shara Rambarran, this magnum opus is a unique collection of articles that discusses the relationship between virtuality and music. Written by a variety of scholars, musicians, and experts, the book explores how the virtual and digital technology facilitates the ‘dissemination, acquisition, performances, creation, and reimagining of music’ (2016). Various areas on how we create and connect music with virtuality are offered such as: musicians (re)presented as virtual artists; performing/recording in virtual worlds/online; social networking; crowdfunding projects; consuming/distributing music; and, remixing pre-recorded sounds into transformative works. The influence that these topics have on the musicians, consumers, and creative industries are explored, and the role of the audience/communities, media, society, and culture are questioned.

To coincide with ‘The Spaces in Between,’ there are topics in the book that crossovers the themes of music production and sound design, imagination and creativity, production and consumption, and, the real and the virtual, and will be explored in this panel session. Shara Rambarran will lead the session and introduce the books concept, and will be joined by the following book contributors who will offer a taster of their chapters:

  Mark Thorley (author of ‘Virtual Music, Virtual Money: The impact of crowdfunding models on creativity, authorship and identity’) will investigate the models of crowdfunding in the virtual environment, where music creators connect directly with their audience in order to gain support for creations. Thorley will offer suggestions on how crowdfunding affects creativity, authorship and identity in relation to producer, product and fan.

  Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen (author of ‘Justin Bieber featuring Slipknot: Consumption as mode of production’) will explore ways of theorizing the musical mashup and its aesthetics and will argue that it is necessary to rethink authorship in the context of its production, and notions of creativity and copyright ownership. She will question on whether pop will eat itself: mash-ups move forward by reinventing the past, finding the new in the old and announcing it with both gusto and irony.

  Benjamin O’Brien (author of ‘Sample Sharing: Virtual laptop ensemble communities’) investigates the different types of interactions between laptop ensembles and virtual performances. O’Brien will focus on the technical aspects of composing/performing over networks, and parallel relationships between the virtual/real and the composer's imagined/actual sounds.

  Paul Draper and Frank Millward (authors of ‘Music in Perpetual Beta: Composition, remediation, and ‘closure’) will interrogate the processes underpinning the co-creation of musical works that they conducted virtually in Australia and the UK, by using asynchronous online file exchange both as a research tool and as a creative device. They will reflect on their project and discuss the contemporary environment in terms of possible futures for online music-making technologies.

  These topics offer insights in music and virtuality, and will inspire researchers and producers who are thinking about conducting similar work in the field. This session invites the audience to interact with the panelists and to engage in the enlightening discussion by sharing their thoughts on this emerging subject.


Whiteley, Sheila and Shara Rambarran (2016). The Oxford Handbook of Music and Virtuality. New

York: Oxford University Press.

Looking Forward, Looking Back: Realism, Hyper-Production, History, and the Stakes of Classical Music Recording

By Gregory Weinstein, Amy Blier-Carruthers, Simon Zagorski-Thomas, David Gleeson, Andrew Lang & Andrew Bourbon

The scholarly discourse surrounding classical music recording can be seen to operate on a spectrum between two opposing arguments: on one side is the view that classical recording is influenced by a comparatively conservative aesthetic that values concert-hall realism over artistic and technological innovation (a concept most recently tested by the AHRC ‘Hyper-Production’ project), while the other side proposes that the work of making classical records has often been technologically and artistically progressive, albeit in contrast to an often conservative discourse about classical music.

Much of the scholarship and debate takes nuanced views of these extremes (Zagorski-Thomas 2014, Weinstein 2013, Blier-Carruthers 2013, Blake 2009, Freeman-Attwood 2009, Haas 2009, Philip 2004, Auslander 1999, Gould 1966).

This panel will represent and debate a variety of stances towards the practices and critical discourses of classical music recording, looking to propose both a reassessment of classical recording history and to lay out (or revive) some prospects for future generations of musicians and recordists. We take as a starting point a discussion of the Hyper-Production project: by drawing on a range of production techniques not typically found in the realm of classical recording, the project explored the creative sonic possibilities for re-imagining recorded classical music. Among the questions we will address are:

·      How does hyper-production (and similar work) engage with more traditional classical music recording practices, and how does it depart from them?

·      What conditions in the recording industry have necessitated a reconsideration of recording practices?

·      To what extent should we characterize classical recording (contemporary and historical) as aesthetically conservative?

·      How can we find commercially and artistically viable paths forward for classical recording?

The format of this roundtable will maximize opportunity for discussion amongst the panellists and with the audience. Each panellist will be afforded 5–6 minutes to lay out an issue of interest, and these short presentations will be followed by discussion among the group, while also opening to questions and contributions from the audience. It is anticipated that this roundtable discussion can occupy a 90-minute slot in the conference program (just like a panel of individual papers), although the format allows for flexibility in timing.