2007 ARP Conference

Information         Call For Papers         Abstracts         Program


Some, but not all, papers are available in full by clicking on the title. These are not peer reviewed proceedings. 

Andy Arthurs (Queensland University of Technology)

More Risk – More Control: The evolution of the role of record producer

Richard Burgess in his book “The Art of Record Production”(1997)  listed different kinds of record producer, with degrees of involvement and control over the final product. Under the one word producer there are different types.
a)    The all-singing-all-dancing-king of-the-heap
b)    The humble servant
c)    Collaborator
e)    Merlin the magician
Another related question that must be asked is who calls the tune ultimately when finalising the product?  This will also determine the role the producer takes.  It seems there are four principal scenarios:
1.    The independent artist employs the producer
2.    A third party other than the artist employs the producer
3.    The producer finds and signs the artist
4.    The independent artist is the producer
This paper will trace the evolution of the record producer and his/her changing role in the recording process from record company staffer to the independent to the artist producer to the artist / producer / retailer on line. It will also make some informed predictions about future directions in this area. What is the record producer now helping to achieve, music sales to a public or an audience database for an online provider? Is the role of producer dying as the means of production is democratized through the ubiquity of digital creation tools, or is it valuable to have a semi-objective set of ears as a form of quality control?

Michael Bates (University of Sydney)

The Representation of Space in Audio and Audiovisual Works.

The practices of audio production and in turn sound design have developed into complex forms of constructing discourse, with their own poetics i.e. their own grammar, conceptual shorthand, and a multiplicity of genre structures and forms that are referenced albeit often tacitly and seemingly transparently.
Since the introduction of film sound in the late 1920’s, the mainstream aesthetics of representing space in audio production has followed two parallel paths- one in music and one in cinema.
This paper offers a brief discussion of some key concepts related to the aesthetics of spatially arranging audio in music recording and cinema audio production, citing a series of exemplars from a short history examining the evolution of  ‘staging’ sound in music and cinema audio production and sound design.
The paper further discusses the construction of space with sound and the arrangement of elements within that space, with reference to the shibbolethic promise of the reproduction of the ‘real’ that has pervaded the discourse regarding audiophile stereophonic recordings and cinema surround sound, and looks at the advent of new contexts for the representation of space in audio and audiovisual works.
It identifies and discusses the presence of an underlying aesthetic equivalent, in much of pop and rock music production, as well as in mainstream cinema, of a dynamic aural mis en scene that has, for the most part, particularly regarding music production, been left unremarked upon by the critical literature.

Hugh Brown and Phil Graham (Queensland University of Technology)

From Garage to Greatness? Reflections on home-studio production experience.

This paper reports on two experiences of producing music albums in a home-studio setting from two vastly different production backgrounds. In the past year, Hugh Brown used Pro Tools LE on a laptop to record his 11-track debut album in his garage. His collaboration was limited to some assistance in recording and mixing, and a few guest instrumental spots.
Phil Graham, who has 25 years' experience performing and producing music, used professional-standard equipment and a band including some of Australia's finest perfomers to record two albums using only Sure SM58 microphones.
Despite the vast differences in their background and equipment, when Hugh and Phil compared notes, they found many similarities in their experience. Three themes dominated their conversation:
1) The difficulty of trying to occupy two headspaces in the production process. The hype surrounding the digital revolution and home-recording technologies promises to enable single-person production from songwriting to distribution, but in reality this proved problematic.
2) The asynchronicity of the collaboration. Historically, music is the result of a collaboration of performers in a fixed space but new technology allows production by people who may never even meet face-to-face, much less perform at the same time. This produced some unexpected results.
3) The comparative quality/affordability aspects. Some media pundits are predicting the "death of the album" as a musical force, but this accounts only for the demand side of music production. The economics of production still heavily favour a musical package produced and distributed in a single process.
This auto-ethnogrpahic research has implications for anyone involved in the future of recorded music. Music educators and institutions who seek to encourage home production as the future for musical careers, their students, and the industry that services their needs.

Steve D’Agostino (London College of Music, TVU)

Surround Sound as a Compositional….Consideration

Traditionally the surround sound mixing of an album has been considered post composition.  Therefore, this has not been an influencing factor in the compositional or creative process; the stereo mix has been the predominant focus.  When an ‘additional’ surround sound mix has been agreed upon the focus has been on the mixing techniques applied using mostly predefined orthodox methods. The motivation has been to replicate a predetermined environmental and spatial surround sound mix which is aiming to be as faithful to the ‘sweet spot’, as is possible, mindful of the ‘logical’ placement of each instrument / performer.  The composition and surround mix are independent of each other and therefore the multi-tracks can be sent to a mix engineer without any need for them to have been involved in the compositional or performance process or, in fact, the stereo mix.   The mixing of the album will mostly follow a generic ‘template’ pathway; the aim being to achieve a polished, commercially acceptable mix.  This conventional approach has been adopted by multi-national record companies and mainstream recording artists; hence also the surround sound mix engineers servicing this industry.   Historically surround sound has not been viewed by the aforementioned as a significant, commercially, economically, viable venture and has remained the poor relation of the stereo mix.  
It is my contention that surround sound has been stunted by this limiting, narrow usage.   Its liberation from the confines of this restrictive and formulaic process will be found not necessarily in the general buying public’s adoption of surround sound playback systems (correctly placed and set-up; with a comfy chair appropriately placed in the ‘sweet spot’) but more importantly at the hands of the collaborative explorative composer, mix engineer, producer and performer - experimentalists.
The studio has become both a compositional and musical instrument, blurring the distinctions between the roles of composer and technician. This approach can also be applied to the way in which the environmental mix is approached merging the roles of the mix engineer, producer and composer.
The paper will explore this working philosophy and methodology in practice.  It will discuss the works of various composers / producers / sonic artists working in surround sound both in the studio and ‘space’.
Its aims are to invite dialogue and debate from traditionalists to experimentalists, mixing and mastering engineers alike.

Per Dahl (University of Stavanger)

When the performance perforates the idea of a musical work. The transformation of a song by Grieg from the podium to the groove.

The link between idea of a musical work and its performance was challenged by the recording technology. Traditionally a performance was seen as an optional manifestation of the composer’s idea of a musical work. Musicology made this concept/idea of a musical work as their ideological fundament and studied the composers score as the objective representation of the musical work.
In my thesis I have analysed 214 different recordings of Grieg’s opus (Jeg elsker Dig! /Ich liebe dich) from 1899-2005. The song was well established in the concert repertoire before recorded; i.e. Peters sold more than 60.000 copies of the song as sheet music in Europe (minus Scandinavia) in 1883-1906. The variety of performances/interpretations in the recordings goes far beyond the literacy of the score (and sometimes far from Grieg’s intentions). The recording technology adapted the use of expressive new sonorities in the performance that would not be noticed in a concert hall. From multitrack and mixing possibilities merged an aesthetic that segregated the identity of a musical work from the idea of a simple sound event. Recordings were also made for other groups of music lovers than those who went to concerts, often with references to other musical styles than Grieg’s.
In my presentation I will point out some elements that have been transformed in the process from the concert hall to the recording studio. I will also point at some elements of stability in the performances which are independent of style and score, elements that have not been focused in traditional music analysis, but might represent a possibility to develop a revised idea of a musical work based on the exemplar of performances.

John Dale (Adelaide University)

Messthetics Is All That We Know: DIY Production and Post-Punk

In their song 'Messthetics', Scritti Politti both address the 'messy aesthetics' of post-punk production and make a mockery of the 'idle chatter' of so many late 1970s post-punk groups. Obsessed with DIY production and recording, the vanguard artists of the post-punk era - Scritti Politti, This Heat, The Raincoats, The Red Krayola, among others - embraced fracture and collapse as 'natural', asking that the recording process proudly display its seams. This paper discusses the intrinsic nature of 'transparent documentation' via both the DIY/home-spun recording processes, means of production and the musical and meta-musical content of the finished artefact. It captures a rear- view snapshot of 'messthetics' before DIY became anathema to the developing 'entryist aesthetics' of groups like Scritti Politti in the early to mid 1980s.

Tim Dalton (Liverpool John Moore's University)

Everything Louder Than Everything Else: The hegemony of artificial compression in record production

Originally electronic compression was a technical necessity in analogue record production. Compression is often used in music production to make performances more consistent in dynamic range so that they "sit" in the mix of other instruments better and maintain consistent attention from the listener. By squashing the peaks and troughs together dynamic range is greatly reduced. Compression artistically interferes with the sonic integrity of popular music, yet nobody appears to be concerned by this. It’s as if we have all succumbed to the hegemony of fifty years of artificial compression.  In this paper I will examine the social, cultural and technological effect that compression has on popular music. In order to express and elucidate my argument I will be playing many examples of popular music. With modern digital technology there is no real need for compression and its subsequent lack of dynamics but still the production industry overuses compression. I intend to argue the case that artificial compression is a site of technological hegemony that has instituted itself by stealth. Could artificial compression could be viewed as another symptom of commerce corrupting creativity.

Peter Doyle (Macquarie University)

Technologies of capture: the field recording, the mug shot and the early 20th century global mediascape

In the 1920s and 1930s, US record companies conducted a program of field trips to city bars, juke joints and to the rural south, seeking hitherto unrecorded talent to release on budget-priced records for local distribution. At about the same time, across the globe, police in Sydney, Australia painstakingly compiled a photographic record of certain of the city’s everyday thieves, con artists, pickpockets, thugs and cocaine sniffers. Surprisingly similar power imbalances prevailed in these very different ‘vital’ recording enterprises: in both, declasse outsiders either placed themselves or were placed before apparati manned by the representatives of generally uncaring or hostile remote agencies. Yet these sound recordings and photographic images often convey an idiosyncratic, vigorously-asserted and surprisingly modern-seeming selfhood.
Are the rhymes between these disparate bodies of work merely accidental? Both types of artefact, I will argue, might be understood as instances of a broad global demoticism, expressed across a variety of then new media (including Hollywood cinema, broadcast radio, Soviet agit-prop, Kino-Pravda, John Grierson documentary films, pulp publishing) in which vernacular subjectivities were ‘amplified’ into a kind of everyday extraordinary.
The field recording and the mug shot might be further likened to one another for the ways in which they acoustically and visually register (and almost unavoidably aestheticise) the dispositions of troubled, restless bodies in space, and thus simultaneously record both the broader politics and the most intimate micro-dramas surrounding their manufacture. In particular this paper will consider the ambiguities of agency in relation to the apparati used in these projects.

Donna Hewitt (Queensland University of Technology)

Women at the Controls: Women producers and the Democratisation of Media

This paper will investigate how the democratisation of recording media may have influenced the participation rates of females in production roles in the music industry. At the top end of the popular music recording industry, women are significant by their absence as authorial figures, in particular as producers. As discussed by Mayhew in her 2004 paper "Positioning Gender: Divisions in Creative Labour and Value", producers happen to occupy one of the most powerful areas of the music business and receive a great deal of artistic and authorial credit for the music created. According to Mayhew (2004), “very few women, unless economically independent, have the chance to position themselves as producer”. Mayhew focuses on the high-budget, major label studio model, however some consideration needs to be given to more recent and emerging production models and their impact on women working in production areas. This paper aims to explore these ideas and examine the effect of the democratisation of media on the participation rates of women working in music production roles.

Matt Hitchcock (Queensland Conservatorium)

The changing face of record production – does good practice ever change?

Research currently being undertaken by this author in conjunction with London’s Royal College of Music has shown some unexpected trends with respect aspiring music technologists and their acceptance of the term “producer”. In a recent entry survey, 100% of entering Music Technology students at the Queensland Conservatorium rejected the role of producer as a top-five career prospect from a list of 12 potential career pathways. In the same survey however, their descriptions of preferred career pathways eloquently depict ethical musical and business roles historically associated with many record producers. Have the increasingly visible successes of independent artists, along with a growing global commentary on the poor ethics of big record labels and record producers caused a shift in the perceptions of the role of “producer” amongst young and emerging musical technologists? Does it matter?
This paper will investigate these questions whilst looking at the reality of blended creative roles with 26 young ‘producers’ as they participate in a large-scale collaborative performance + album project called iOrpheus. The blended roles include those of producer, sound designer, artist, songwriter and performer.  The iOrpheus project calls for 26 original compositions based on the re-use and recontextualisation of audio and visual material with multiple-context outcomes: 1] a collection of audio works (album);
2] the same audio works combined with moving image to create a vodcast series; and
3] the injection of new web technologies to create low-bandwidth audio files with synchronised slide-shows and embedded hypertext information for free distribution and viral marketing.

Mike Howlett (London College of Music, TVU)

Fixing the Volatile -  studio vocal performance techniques.

The process of compiling a studio vocal performance from many takes can often result in the performer producing a new complete performance once this new "best of" assemblage is heard back. This paper investigates the ways that the physical process of recording can alter vocal performance techniques, and in particular, the establishing of a definitive melodic and rhythmic structure.
Drawing on his many years of experience as a commercially successful producer, including the attainment of a Grammy award, the author will analyse the process of producing a “credible” vocal performance in depth, with specific case studies and examples.  The question of authenticity in rock and pop will also be discussed and, in this context, the uniqueness of the producer’s role as critical arbiter – what gives the producer the authority to make such performance evaluations?
Techniques for creating conditions in the studio that are conducive to vocal performances, in many ways a very unnatural performance environment, will be discussed, touching on areas such as the psycho-acoustic properties of headphone mixes, the avoidance of intimidatory practices, and a methodology for inducing the perception of a “familiar” acoustic environment.
Further consideration will be applied to mixdown processes that engender the impression of vocal competence, atmosphere and spatial context.

Katia Isakoff (London College of Music, TVU)

What's going on?  Linda Perry former 4 Non Blondes Singer/Songwriter turned Record Producer wants to “Bring Back the 'Queen Of Rock And Roll' Courtney Love”

Historically there have been very few female Record Producers within the music industry – and even less producing records for female recording artists. Why is this?  Could it be that the ‘old’ model was simply not an attractive one?  Therefore, is the new one?
Linda Perry is one of the most sought-after Record Producer/Songwriters; requested by iconic female pop artists Gwen Stefanie, Pink, Christina Aguilera and now Courtney Love. In describing how the song “Get the Party Started” came to be, Perry is quoted as having gone through this weird phase where she just wanted to learn how to program drums.  Therefore, after programming her first beat, she added live bass, and then proceeded as she puts it “to put every wrong instrument” in the song; utilising the use of samples.  This resulted in her first dance song, which later went on to become a hit for Pink.  Perry has also been credited with bringing out the real artist in vocalists.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, record producer Sylvia Massy’s career started out as a recording engineer, and followed one of the more traditional routes into record production.  Having produced the band Tool in the 90’s, Massy went on to work with veteran producer Rick Rubin whom she would engineer and mix several projects for, including Johnny Cash.  Massy’s production credits include The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sevendust, and Powerman 5000.
Drawing on the author’s own professional experience as singer/ songwriter/producer and research, this paper aims to explore the multi-faceted role of the Record Producer and Music Producer; both ‘old’ and ‘new’ models. The symbiosis which exists between songwriter and studio, and how access & ownership of one’s own studio equipment has led to a blurring of these roles.

Anne Lorentzen (Telemark University College)

Recording as a compositional process among male and female musical creators in Norway.

This paper will focus on the question of recording as a compositional process, a question that will be addressed in relation to a series of interviews conducted in the field of popular music production in Norway. Interviews about music production and gender have been made with around 30 musicians, male and female, all of them using digital recording equipment when producing their own music.
In this paper I suggest is that male and female writers in this particular sample of informants, approach the recording studio and recording equipment in quite different ways. Whereas male musical creators approach the tools themselves to get ideas for a song, and let the ideas that arise in this process drive the writing process, the female creators tends to start by writing a more or less finished song, then turning to the equipment in order to make a demo or a full scale production of it.
These different approaches must be understood, I suggest, by reference to the specific history and route by which male and female musicians have made their way into popular music and the recording studio, but also by reference to author politics.
As the female author/subject still seem to be facing obstacles as to make themselves seen as fullfledged author/subjects in the world of music production, many find the song-writing approach fruitful in combination with a more sound oriented approach in order to make themselves visible as the author of the work, especially when cooperating with other (male) musicians. This is however also somehow a ‘risky’ strategy, considering the status of sound in music production, which I in this paper suggest has come to replace authenticity as a marker of authorship. The master of sound, is eventually also the master of the finished Work, it seems.

Phillip McIntyre (University of Newcastle)

Rethinking Creativity: Record Production and the Systems Model.

The romantic and inspirationist understandings of creativity appear to be cemented into place in the music industry appearing regularly in articles and conversations about the studio and its practices (e.g. Olsen et. al. 1999, Massey 2000). However there is too much research at the rational level (e.g. Negus & Pickering 2004, Pope 2005) to indicate that these are not supportable positions to hold. In fact they have been described as myths (Boden, 2004). If this is the case what is available to describe the phenomena of creativity in studio practice? Historically, most rational research into creativity has focused at the level of the individual neglecting the broader social and cultural structures that shape and enable creativity (Sawyer, 2006) and cultural production (Bourdieu, 1993). Nonetheless, recent research has been moving toward what have been described as confluence models (Sternberg, 1999) one of which is the so-called systems model (Csikszentmihalyi, 1988, 1997 & 1999). According to this approach creativity comes about through the ongoing operation of ‘a system composed of three elements: a culture that contains symbolic rules, a person who brings novelty into the domain, and a field of experts who recognise and validate the innovation’ (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996:6). By taking this model and applying it ethnographically to what record producers do a greater understanding of the creative process, one that goes beyond common sense assumptions, may be forthcoming.
Boden, M. (2004). The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms. London: Routledge.
Bourdieu, P. (1993). Field of Cultural Production [R. Johnson ed]. New York: Columbia University Press.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1988). Society, Culture and Person: A Systems View of Creativity. In R. Sternberg (Ed.) The Nature of Creativity: Contemporary Psychological Perspectives (pp. 325-339). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: HarperPerrenial.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). Implications of a Systems Perspective for the Study of Creativity. In R.Sternberg (Ed.) Handbook of Creativity (pp. 313- 335). Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.
Massey, H. (2000). Behind the Glass: Top Record Producers Tell How They Craft the Hits. San Francisco: Backbeat Books.
Negus, K. & Pickering, M. (2004). Communication Creativity and Cultural Value. London: Sage.
Olsen E. (1999). The Encyclopedia of Record Producers. New York: Billboard Books.
Pope, R. (2005). Creativity: Theory, History, Practice. New York: Routledge
Sawyer, K. (2006). Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sternberg, R. (ed) (1999). Handbook of Creativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Justin Morey (Leeds Metropolitan University)

The Death of Sampling – Has litigation destroyed an art form?

The availability of affordable sampling technology in the late 1980’s saw an explosion of records that showcased a new art form, where substantial elements or sometimes entire tracks were created from a collage of recordings by existing artists. More recently, software packages such as Ableton Live have enabled anyone with a home computer and the inclination to produce there own mash-ups.
Over the same period of time, increasingly strict policing of musical copyright has made the cost of releasing sample-based music prohibitive. With reference to artists including Public Enemy, DJ Shadow, Beck, Dangermouse and Kanye West, I will show how copyright enforcement has taken an exciting production method that can create new meaning from the juxtaposition of existing recordings, and replaced it with unimaginative (but legal) use of samples.  I will also discuss whether the doctrine of fair use, and movements such as Creative Commons give producers enough scope to express themselves legally through sampling.

Peter O’Hare (Forth Valley College)

Steve Albini “In Utero’s” Ultra-sound Guy

This paper explores the recording philosophy of Steve Albini, focusing on his recording of Nirvana’s “In Utero” album. Albini’s unique contribution to the discourse surrounding record production centres on his rejection of the producer’s title and objection to the role itself. Albini favours the album credit ‘recorded by’ and refuses to creatively influence the recording process, preferring to capture the sound of the artist playing live. In doing so he repudiates the notion of the studio as a compositional force and further rejects the traditional practice of the producer by insisting on a flat fee, refusing royalty points on recordings.
Albini’s recording philosophy and ethical stance is highlighted within an examination of his role during the recording of Nirvana’s “In Utero” album. This will cover the context in which Nirvana employed Albini, as a means of recovering the Lo-Fi sound of their First album “Bleach” and as a rejection of the Hi-Fi production values of their commercially successful “Nevermind” album.
In order to investigate the conflict surrounding the “In Utero” recordings it has been necessary to devise a new approach titled Sonicology. This will be used to explain sonic elements of the recording process, from the commodification of “Nevermind” to the raw recording of “In Utero” and its subsequent radio friendly remix. As it was the actual sound and not the musical or lyrical content that was at the centre of this debate, a traditional musicological or textual analysis would be insufficient at uncovering the sonic nuances central to this investigation. Therefore Albini’s unique recording philosophy and the introduction of a Sonicological investigation should both serve as a valuable contribution to the examination of the Art Of Record Production.

Andrew Pleffer (Macquarie University)

“I Put a Spell On You”: “Standards” as a product of recorded music culture

A “standard” is a musical number that has achieved immense popularity over an extended period of time.  This occurs when a song, or some portion of it, has been repeatedly subjected to the versioning process (or “covered”).  The “standard” is most commonly associated with African-American musical innovations (i.e. jazz and blues). However, “standards” are applicable to all genres and may even become synonymous with a particular genre, performer or both.  Some may even “crossover” into different genres and take on a life of their own—as in the case of Screaming Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell On You”.
This paper will examine the role of recorded “standards” as a modern score by discussing the varied functions that they serve, such as a tribute or as a framework for improvisation. While some artists record “standards” by mimicking or copying a previous version—especially one that was successful—others use these familiar musical numbers as a starting point from which they can differentiate themselves as performers.  For the latter, “standards” are often performed with a detailed understanding of their history and come to represent benchmarks against which the artists’ skills and imagination are measured.
In order to demonstrate the significance of “standards” to the history of recorded popular music, “I Put a Spell On You” will be analysed as a case study.  The path to “standard” status will be examined by tracing the recorded lineage and history of this track in its various versioned forms.  Discussion will also focus on the evolution of “standards” in the recording industry—particularly in relation to the “crossover” phenomenon that developed between blues and rock-and-roll in the 1950s and subsequently gave birth to the term “covers”.
Shara Rambarran, Universities of Leeds and Salford, UK
“Who is Gnarls Barkley?”—The identity of DJ Danger Mouse and the “art within art” of his music.
In autumn 2005, a television advertisement promoted a show for the BBC Radio One DJ, Zane Lowe.  The featured track “Crazy” attracted many listeners and demanded the identity of the artist and the release of the song.  Months of radio-play followed and in April 2006, this song became the first number one to enter the UK Official Charts through the sales of downloads a week before the actual physical release of the single.  The “artist” responsible turned out to be Gnarls Barkley, who were eventually revealed as Cee-Lo Green (Thomas Callaway) of Goodie Mob and DJ Danger Mouse (Brian Burton)—who was already making a sensation in the music industry of his turbulent virtual success of the Grey Album and the hyperreal band Gorillaz.
This paper will discuss the event which made the audience, consumers and UK music industry “Crazy” in summer 2006.  This will be verified through the visual, technological and performance aspects of the band and the music.  For example, the different versions of the music video “Crazy” ranged from promoting the playful and graphical images of Gnarls Barkley to lifting the lyrical intention of the song.  The song was also downloadable as a mobile ring tone and other formats, and Gnarls Barkley (and their record labels) closely interacted with their audience through the Web site ‘My Space’.
The music will also be explored as DJ Danger Mouse artistically turned the original piece of spaghetti western music into a classic neo soul record which included the blending timbre of Green’s affectionate vocals.  More significantly, the live and studio performances of “Crazy” are also demonstrated by the multiple roles of Cee-Lo Green and DJ Danger Mouse, therefore the identity of the band is always questioned—who is Gnarls Barkley?

Becky Shepherd (Macquarie University)

Production on the Edge of Nostalgia

Discussion and analysis surrounding popular music and the art of record production has begun to de-mystify of the role of the producer in the recording studio, and similarly begun to deconstruct the intricacies and subtleties of record production in relation to recorded sound as artistic text. This paper aims to continue discussion within this domain, by acknowledging the integral role of record production in relation to the construction of popular rock music forms. Analysis will focus on rock music of the 21st century, in particular the production of vintage/retro sounds in the context of contemporary rock music, including the popularity of analogue recording techniques, lo-fi production, the popularity and use of ‘vintage’ equipment and the aesthetics of rock music authenticity.
This research, which also forms an integral component of my doctorate study, aims to introduce a method whereby sonic soundscapes are examined as three- dimensional texts, incorporating an x, y and z axis. This method aims to illustrate the temporal and spatial characteristics of a recorded text, while similarly examining the arrangement of such characteristics in the crafting of a studio mix.
Discussion will also necessarily address difficulties and challenges involved in approaching an analysis of record production within an academic framework, while simultaneously positing a method whereby analysis can begin to highlight the intricacies and subtleties involved in the process of production, the studio as a creative tool and the producer as a conduit between the artistic use of technology and recorded sound as musical text.

Sarah Van Doel (Tufts University)

Music Meaning and Music Making:The Changing Face of Music-Culture in the Digital Age

The digital age forces us to reevaluate fundamental assumptions about musical products and processes.  More and more, the dominant stage for musical performance is not the amphitheater but the iPod, and digital distribution has eclipsed the brick-and-mortar model to the point that the singular physical link between performer and audience—the album itself—has become a relic.  Music is also shared more directly over the internet, as users can express themselves through music by hosting songs or videos on their MySpace profiles and elsewhere, so that visitors can participate in and create new musical experiences.  But as music making has become increasingly diffuse, has techno-culture diluted musical meaning and its cultural import?
In an age in which many argue that the digital world has taken the person out of the music, I argue that music is more a social process today than ever before. Music has shifted from a temporal, fleeting experience to a socially-enacted, phenomenologically iterative experience. Traditional performers themselves no longer have a monopoly on artistic expression in musical settings, as audiences have become active participants in selecting personal venues and choosing their own repertoire. In the digital world, listeners and performers alike are artists, shaping music in culture by listening to and communicating through music.
My examination of the changes the digital world has wrought on music culture begins at the front end, as I relate first hand the struggles of one independent classical label as it chose to “go digital.”  I then broaden the perspective to consider how digitalization shapes performance itself.  The digital world provides the context for new kinds of performers and performances, including what I call the “listener-performer,” who simultaneously experiences and enacts musical performances.  Ultimately, the proliferation of musical contexts has only increased the social significance of music-culture.

Mat Wall-Smith, Ross Rudesch Harley, and Andrew Murphie  (University of New South Wales)

“LAST FM and the Music Multiverse”

The last two years have seen an explosion of online music services that challenge the dominant models of digital music publishing and distribution "pioneered" by Apple iTunes. While the rise in popularity and success of web-based music communities such as Last.FM might be seen as being part of the same technological framework, this paper seeks to situate the rapid rise of multi-user music communities in a different set of histories. How has Last.FM plugged into a variety of conceptions of listernship and audience, and how has it amplified and warped the ways people engage with music? How is music and the community of listeners/fans/participants being developed in the buzz of Web2.0, and how/why is Last.FM any different? This paper will trace a path through the development of a number of forgotten precursors to participatory music cultures, including the improvisational client/server music software DASE Team 5000, and other music metadata systems that inform the Web2.0 experience (usch as CDDB, GraceNote, and MusicBrainz.)

Pip Williams (London College of Music, TVU)

“Lo- Fi vs Hi-Fi: A Symphony In The Potting Shed!?”

I have been a successful record producer since 1972. When I started, there were sacrosanct procedures. The producer was teamed with a particular artist. Budgets were prepared, songs chosen. With solo artists, musicians were discussed, a particular studio was chosen, based on criteria such as musical genre, budget, equipment, acoustics etc. In the case of a band, other factors came into play- available mics, size of the recording room, instrument separation, accommodation etc.
We had many studios to choose from. We knew these would be within certain price ranges and chose accordingly.
The birth of software programmes such as Pro Tools and Logic, now means that the requirement of that studio environment is under threat. One could feasibly use software to record anywhere there is a suitable recording space!
However, are we missing the point somewhere?
Surely, studios such as Abbey Road, Olympic and Nassau’s Compass Point attracted clients wishing to utilise their unique qualities?
More seriously, are we destined for a future where engineers are missing out on the value of learning their craft in such revered surroundings? I’ve recently discovered first hand, the benefits of working with a veteran, highly trained engineer using a modern software package.
The knowledge of signal path, mic technique, frequency masking is priceless. Are we destined for a world where the genius of Geoff Emerick and George Massenburg is forgotten?
This paper discusses whether or not we must protect at all costs, the traditions and skills that have gone before, and how we can ensure that modern techniques can preserve these to the benefit of our industry.

Alex Yabsley (Griffith University)

Creative Consumers: The rise of the gamer musician

Throughout history, music composers have been influenced by their artistic surroundings, often incorporating elements of other influential art forms into their own work. Just as it is commonplace for composers to be influenced by books, poetry, theatre, art and films, so too many Generation X and Y artists are influenced by videogames, because games were the most prominent art form of their childhood (Curran, 2007). In recent years this has included people creating their own hardware and software applications to compose music based on the use of videogame technology.
The videogame community has always promoted user created content in the form of modifying and interacting with consumer products. The creation of music using commercially available videogame technology is an obvious by-product of such creative consumerism. Also with the supposed democratisation of culture gained through the use of mass media sharing websites such as Myspace and Youtube, which have been embraced by both the videogame and musical communities, this form of creation is accessible to almost everybody. Chiptunes is a form of this music, described by Malcolm McLaren (2003) as being “The new sound of the underground”. Chiptunes are generally created with outdated videogame machines with homemade software purchased from the Internet. The audio quality of this music is often very poor, however the semiotics and musical quality makes it a captivating genre for creative consumers.
This paper aims to explore the effect of the creative consumer and technologies democratisation of culture on the current music industry. It will do this through the use of Chiptunes as a case study of a musical genre born out of these areas and yet to make the leap into the mainstream industry. This will include discussions about lo-fi, underground and amateur music and its place in the modern music industry.
Curran, R. (Producer). (2007). I, videogame [Television series]. Silver Spring: Discovery Channel.
McClaren, M. (2003). 8-bit punk. Wired magazine, 11 (11). Retrieved February 1, 2007, from

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

Gesturing Producers and Scratching Musicians

How have the editing, manipulation, processing and mixing of tracks been transformed into performance throughout the history of record production? Through examining techniques used in dub reggae, EDM and hip hop this paper will explore the changing nature of ‘performed’ music production and the broad influence it is having on music creation.
Turning technological mediation into performance was a process that began very early in the history of recording but which started to take off in the 1960s. Joe Meek’s experimentation with the techniques of record production in the early and mid ‘60s involved performed mixes and the live manipulation of effects. In Jamaica Lee Perry, King Tubby and others were developing the techniques that would blossom into dub reggae in the 1970s.
As the number of tracks involved in the mix process increased during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s we find more and more accounts of the mix process that involved several people manipulating faders, panning and other controls in real time during complex mixes. This led to the creation of automated desks that allowed fader movements and other controls to be recorded and played back.
In dance music and hip hop from the ‘80s onwards, DJs start to integrate the technology of record production (drum machines, samplers, mixers and effects units) into their ‘live’ sets. At the same time, studio production techniques themselves are seeing performed manipulation increasingly incorporated into the process. Sample triggering became a performance art as soon as the technology was introduced and rhythmic triggering, the manipulation of loop lengths and other techniques have become a staple source of musical material. Scratching, performed mixes and live treatments and effects are further examples of how this trend is progressing. By stamping the imprint of human gesture onto electronic music, perhaps these techniques represent a substantive shift in the type of performance entailed in the creation of certain forms of contemporary music rather than the more commonly expressed (and lamented) abandonment of performance.
This paper will use a brief historical survey of how these techniques have developed to discuss the question of why this has happened and what it means for both record production and performance.
As dramatic a development in its way as the separation of composer from performer in western art music, this integration of producer/engineer with composer/DJ will be discussed in relation to the development of new types of performance and music creation.