2008 ARP Conference

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Abstracts ARP08


Some full papers are published in the Peer Reviewed Proceedings of the 4th Art of Record production Conference


Eliot Bates    (University of California Berkeley)   

Ron's right arm: tactility, visualization, and the synesthesia of audio engineering

The bulk of scholarship on audio engineering and studio musicianship generally considers the practices and practitioners in terms of musical and technical knowledges. When a reference is made to sensory perception, it is typically to listening and hearing practices: audiophilia, critical listening (golden ears), and technologies of audition. However, particularly in light of computer-based workflows, audio engineering has come to be a practice defined by a carefully developed synesthesia of critical listening, visualization of digital audio, and tactile manipulations of interfaces.
In this paper I draw on literature in the emerging field of sensory scholarship, in particular Brian Massumi’s theorization of synesthesia and affect, in order to understand how changing and emergent practices of audio engineering are necessarily theorized as a strategic retraining of the senses. I draw diverse examples from field research conducted in the US and Turkey. One example – Ron’s right arm – explores how one audio engineer uses his right arm to “feel” when the bass is right in a rock mix. Another example explores how the creation of “büyük ses” (big sound) in Anatolian ethnic music is dependent upon millisecond-level visualizations and manipulations in the Protools edit window. Various bass frequency sound sources are deliberately moved out of sync so as to create the effect of a single huge bass drum sound while avoiding the use of compression. Turkish engineers know what this bass sound will sound like by seeing precisely staggered attacks of the individual parts that make up this composite sound.
In both cases, bass is something that is felt or seen, but not immediately audible. Yet, audition is still important in these practices as a confirmation of other-sensory knowledge. Through an attention to synesthesia, we can better understand how audio engineers perform their craft.

Samantha Bennett        (Surrey University)  

Revolution sacrilege! Examining the technological divide among record producers in the late 1980s

The mid to late 1980s was a pivotal time in recording and production technology. As the use of MIDI, samplers, computers and digital tape recording crept into the professional studio, this technology was hailed as revolutionary by some and met with a barrage of technological pessimism by others.
This paper examines how technology divided record producers, splitting them essentially into two camps towards the end of the 1980s – the traditionalist and the technophiliac. How did the use of traditional and modern recording and production methods impact on the music of the late 1980s? This paper will consider the influence on record producers of the time of manufacturers, audio industry periodicals and peer pressure, and will analyse producers’ attitudes towards a changing technological landscape. The presentation will include examples and quotes from figures as varied as Mutt Lange, Daniel Lanois, Steve Levine and Stock, Aitken & Waterman.

Ragnhild Brøvig-Andersen        (University of Oslo)  

Opaque Mediation: the use of the cut and paste tool

In my paper I will present my concept of ‘opaque and transparent mediation’, and discuss the aesthetic ideal of ‘opaque mediation’. ‘Opaque mediation’ means an exposure of mediating technology. In music where the mediation is opaque, the listeners’ focus is not only directed at what is mediated, but also at the mediation itself. The opposite of opaque mediation is ‘transparent mediation’, where the mediating technology captures a minimum of the listeners’ attention. In music where the production-ideal is transparent mediation, the function of the medium is to convey and embellish what is already there, rather than creating something new. The production-ideal in music where the mediation is opaque is on the contrary that the mediation leaves pronounced impressions on the sound. There are many forms of opaque mediation in music. It may for instance be editing tools or processing effects that are being exposed, technological glitches or bi-effects that are used as musical elements, or an exposure of the use of samples. In my paper I will mainly focus on opaque mediation in terms of an exposure of the use of the digital cut-and-paste tool. Different ways of using this tool as an important compositional instrument will be discussed, and demonstrated with musical examples from the electronica genre. Opaque mediation emphasizes the problematics of the established terms “composer”, “musician” and “musical instrument”, which subject I also will discuss in my paper.

Mark Butler        (University of Pensylvania)   

Playing with “Something that Runs”: Listener Orientation in Performances of Electronic Dance Music

In electronic dance music (EDM), conceptions of sound as recorded object are immediately apparent, not only in production but also in performance. Indeed, recordings—whether the twelve-inch vinyl of the DJ set or the digital loops and samples of the laptop performance—are the principal formative elements of EDM performance. Artists present these raw materials to audiences through an array of technologies associated with recording as well as through many of its techniques.
My paper explores how the introduction of recording practices and technologies into live performance fosters distinctive attitudes and responses toward sound among EDM musicians. Drawing upon field research with Berlin-based performers in 2005–07, I discuss musicians’ numerous epistemologically oriented descriptions of sound. Whereas most sources on technology in EDM have emphasized its accessibility and low cost, my approach highlights the experiential possibilities afforded by EDM’s technologically mediated performance practices.
Laptop musicians, for instance, frequently use the language of discovery to characterize their performances: they “find” a perfect combination between two loops; they “realize” a new way in which a track might be arranged; they “hit upon” previously unknown sonic possibilities. They projected a serendipitous, externally oriented attitude onto music they themselves wrote, hearing and evaluating it during performance as if they were listening to a recording by someone else. I describe this perspective on sound as “listener orientation.” A DJ or laptop set characterized by listener orientation is simultaneously performative and interpretive; it encompasses both the production and consumption of sound. Whereas conventional musicians must continuously devote their attention to producing notes, EDM performers initiate technological processes that, once set in motion, generate sound without ceasing. By sharing sound-production responsibility with machines in this way, they are able to actively create and experience a musical event at the same time.

David Carter            (Griffith University)   

Bor Pen Nyang - 12 Months in the Lao Music Industry

Between March 2007 and March 2008 I lived and worked in Lao as an Australian Youth Ambassador in a music industry development role with Lao  record label, Indee Records.  This paper relates my experiences of working in the Lao music industry examines the ways in which the democratisation of audio recording production and distribution are effecting the developing Lao music industry and the divergent ways in which the decade old music industry has dealt with the issues of music piracy and digitisation.  This paper also explores the relationship of digital distribution and music 2.0 buzzwords such as 'long tail', 'flat earth' and 'niche market' to the practical realities faced by developing music industries where english is not the dominant language and the cost of reliable internet access is prohibitive.

Alexander Case    (University of Massachusetts Lowell)   

Studio timbre – sound fx and close microphones.

Recording engineers -- particularly in pop and rock genres -- regularly make aggressive use of signal processing and have a long tradition of placing
microphones exceptionally close to the sound sources they wish to record. Not a gesture towards realism, heavy-handed effects and close microphone techniques are born, in part, of the passionate need to refine and redefine timbre. Instrumental timbre is a starting point; microphone selection, microphone
placement, EQ, compression, distortion, delay, and reverb follow. Each offers opportunities to modify source timbres track by track, and fabricate entirely new net timbres in the mix. The tools of the recording studio empower the artist to create a loudspeaker performance unburdened by the timbral constraints of the individual multitrack pieces that make-up the arrangement so they may better connect what they imagine in their mind with what they create in the recorded work of art.

Anne Danielsen        (University of Oslo)   

Beats and bytes – the role of digital media for the rhythmic design of contemporary popular music

The overall topic of this paper is how the concrete sound of and recording process behind a pop tune relate to the possibilities and constraints of its production tools. Focusing in particular on quantization of rhythm tracks and other forms of temporal manipulation of events at the micro-rhythmic level, I seek a more nuanced understanding of the specific role of digital media used for music production the last 10-15 years. After a brief presentation of some theoretical issues related to the question of music and media, I will investigate how digital music technology has influenced the sound and rhythm of some selected music productions from the fields of pop and contemporary R&B. The discussion will concentrate on the following questions: what are the characteristic features of computer-generated designs of micro-rhythmic events, and in what ways and to what extent have the digital tools for music production changed our understanding of rhythmic well-formedness?

Bob Davis    (Leeds Metropolitan University)   

Creative ownership and the case of the sonic signature or, I’m listening to this record and wondering whodunit?

Listening to recordings can be something akin to reading a detective story; you know what happened but you don’t know whodunit. Moreover, the recorded sounds not only invite you to consider who did what but how it was done. The approach to any whodunit differs from person to person. Sherlock Holmes relied on his seemingly infallible logic whereas Columbo seemed clueless right until the end. But what of the academic detectives - what would they make of the clues embedded in the recording especially one where, you can be assured, the evidence has been tampered with in some way? Over the past few years a number of academic detectives have begun to develop frameworks for approaching recordings as a musical or performative text. The recording therefore stands as an object and embedded in this object are the multifarious processes that went into its construction which we, as academics, would wish to reveal.
This paper looks at the current work of academic detectives in the field of the sonic arts to consider if the current frameworks hold up to close scrutiny. A key consideration in this paper will be to investigate the ways that these frameworks help us understand the how the creative power is distributed between musicians, producers, record companies and technicians. In addition, we consider how the text reveals, retrospectively, the processes behind this creative power and in particular, the role of the artist-producer who seems to be the leading suspect in the creation of an identifiable sound or sonic signature. The investigation looks in particular at working practice in the studio of a particular generation of producers from the mid 1970s until the 1990s to see if any of the frameworks offer a real insight into the creative processes of the studio. In conclusion, the paper argues that in developing systematic frameworks, we may undervalue the power of the hermeneutic hunch in solving the problem of creative ownership in the case of the sonic signature.

Paul Draper        (Griffith University)   

On disintermediated culture, education, and craft

The recording industry became the canary in the coalmine for copyright law when digitization unwittingly liberated the intellectual property in sound recordings, firstly via CD then later in the MP3, a container technology perfectly designed for promiscuity. Music wars now wage around massive shift in the relationships between musicians and audiences. However, the notion of a career musician remains ambiguous in a bifurcated debate which on the one hand assumes high-level skill as embedded within the camp of ‘industry’, and on the other, that technology-empowered consumption includes new elements of interactivity and ‘prod-usage’. Disintermediation literature examines corporate entities and audiences, yet makes little reference to the disintegrating Fordist production chain that once existed in the former’s power structures.
This article examines the effects of such compression on the education of those seeking to become artistic leaders in this new future. As shop-floor labour becomes crowd-sourced and consumers ever-engaged, corporate pathology remains fascinated with the distribution and ownership of intellectual property yet decreasingly caring for its nurturing and invention. Universities now take a central role in the development of craft, creativity and the independent innovation attributes of its graduates.
While consumer technologies and web 2 may bring liberating potentials, opportunities to develop important generic skills and admirable citizenship ideals, there remains the prospect that DIY culture lacks depth, that expanded access to production and exhibition is only one in a set of necessary conditions that include a critique, a goal, a community, and a context. There are matters of technique, excellence and differentiation which apply to preparing and sustaining a career. There are aspects of definition where success may not be measured by simplistic stardom-or-bust sound-bytes propagated by mass media hyperbole. If web 2 is part of the answer, then we need to be asking the right questions.

Joshua Duchan    (Kalamazoo College)

Whose Voice?: Discourse and Practice in Collegiate A Cappella Recording

In collegiate a cappella, self-directed groups of student singers on college campuses perform popular songs, recreating and rerecording them without instrumentation. Stylistically, the genre balances an emulative imperative—a song should sound like its original artist’s recording—with a desire for originality. Each year, certain recordings are selected for the annual Best of College A Cappella (“BOCA”) compilation album. But in recent years, BOCA has come under fire for the kinds of production techniques its tracks use to achieve this emulative goal, raising the issue of authenticity within the musical practice. As voices are increasingly treated like instruments, one critic asked, “has the spirit of a cappella been lost?”
This paper examines the stylistic changes evident in thirteen editions of BOCA (1995–
2007). Analyses of the lively discourse surrounding collegiate a cappella recording practices and several representative examples reveal three issues of concern to this musical community: the way the recording process mediates ideas of authorship, the essentially human quality of the voice, and the (inter)national competitive field of a cappella recordings. Digital technologies that affect pitch and timbre, add distortion, and create patterns of sounds that were never actually performed raise critical issues and incite passionate debate, while the BOCA competition annually reinvigorates an economy of prestige in which collegiate a cappella musicians earnestly participate.
As a genre and practice, collegiate a cappella has received scant attention from scholars.
Yet the music is thriving, with over 1200 scholastic groups nationwide (many of which engage in recording projects regularly), an emerging professional scene, and a growing international presence. By looking at the ways musical practice, studio technology, and discourse intersect in this context, we can better understand larger issues in popular, youth, and amateur music, and in musical technoculture.

Kirstin Ek        (University of Virginia)   

The Cowboy Bluesman: Voice and the Expression of Musical Identity in Leadbelly’s Recorded Music

Leadbelly – as Huddie Ledbetter was more commonly known – was an early twentieth-century folk collector’s dream: he had a vast repertoire of songs, played the guitar with the utmost folk virtuosity, and could be promoted to Northern audiences as an African American murderer from the rural South. Much has been written on how Leadbelly was discovered in the prison and collected by John Lomax, as well as how Lomax went on to exploit his talents, and helped construct this strange persona. Yet, what has become of Leadbelly’s greatest legacy? I am referring, of course, to his sizable and incredibly diverse body of recorded music.
This paper examines how, in the case of Leadbelly, scrutiny of his recorded sound can shine light through his historical persona as John Lomax’s utterly uncommercial folkster to other, vitally important facets of his musical identity. Dissecting Leadbelly’s vocal style – including his use of Jimmie Rodgers’ blue yodel, and other melodic-timbral inflections – over several versions of his song, “Western Cowboy”, I suggest that Leadbelly’s musical expressions were, in fact, influenced by commercially popular styles and artists of the first half of the twentieth century. He was not the isolated, rural folkster, but was rather a musical chameleon, and a professional, to boot.
Furthermore, the example of “Western Cowboy” illustrates the possibilities of studying Leadbelly’s body of recorded work as more than a result of the folk revival, or even more specifically, as more than the mere machinations of a domineering John Lomax. Rather, Leadbelly’s music could be studied as a frame through which to study the folk movement, or as an example of cross-genrefication between folk and commercial styles.

Rob Finder            (Sydney)


“Until I die there will be sounds. And they will continue following my death. One need not fear about the future of music.”
John Cage, 1957
Noisician looks at the relationship between art and the machine throughout the 20th century. This changing relationship affects the definition and aesthetic of music. No longer is music a formal medium written on staves and performed by trained musicians. Sounds have been developed rhythmically and melodically to create a musical form. It has become a hybrid of notation and noise.
Noisician’s theory draws from the methods and ideologies of Futurism, Musique Concrete and contemporary music forms such as industrial, glitch and electronic. It embodies the post-digital climate, where artists are no longer restricted to formal notation and composition.
“At what point does noise lose its noiseness and become meaning, music, signification?” (Hegarty, 2001). Questions that Noisician raise include “How do noises affect the listener?” and “Why do these noises affect the listener in a negative way?” It goes beyond the literal interpretation of the lyrics, examining dissonance, harmonics and intervals as methods of
expression within the audio realm.
The ‘musician’ draws notions of the classically trained individual, expressing his or herself through carefully notated movements and pieces. Kim Cascone argues that “the technical requirements for being a musician in the information age may be more rigorous than ever before” (Cascone, 2000) and we are now in a stage where the ‘musician’ is a hybrid of computer user and music maker.
As a result of my research, I see that “the art form has been given such wide scope as to render its capabilities limitless” (Novak, 2001). There are infinite ways in which musicians are able to interact with their instruments and electronic systems, and I do not doubt that this will further enrich music. Artists will create new sounds, new forms and new methods, and we can only guess where the future of music will lead us.

Shana Goldin-Perschbacher    (University of Yale)

“For Today I am a Boy”: Antony’s Negotiations of Whiteness, Transgender, Gay Sexuality, and Cross-Nationality via “Black” Vocality

Antony confounds identity categorization. In some interviews he calls himself gay, in one
transgendered, but many times he evades these questions altogether. He’s white but sounds to some fans and critics like an African American singer. Lou Reed used to bring friends to
Antony’s New York concerts with the playful promise of hearing a black transsexual. Instead, audiences find a white, six-foot tall man singing poignant and earnest songs in first person narration about characters in transformation, people who want to be someone or something else. He sings, “Someday I’ll grow up, I’ll be a beautiful woman… but for today I am a boy.” To complicate matters, British-born Antony has lived since age eight in America. Antony winning the Mercury Prize, an honor bestowed upon the best album of the year in the UK, was controversial to those who didn’t consider him truly British. Seemingly in response to this cross- Atlantic tension, Hegarty considers his singing voice to be “home,” rather than his speaking voice, which changes accent when he’s worried about fitting in. But what does it mean for this “home” to sound “black”? And what does it mean for listeners to be attracted mainly to the sound of his voice?
I analyze the sound of Antony’s voice as physically and technically produced (by Antony himself as producer) on his albums, Antony and the Johnsons (1999) and I Am A Bird Now (2005), as well as his appearance as a vocalist in the new queer post-disco band Hercules and Love Affair’s debut self-titled album (2008), to discuss his complex negotiation of identity in relation to his musical inspirations: the gay avant-rock of downtown New York in the 1980s, disco music of the 1970s (especially Sylvester), gender-transgressive emotional British pop of the 1980s, and African American female gospel and soul vocality.

Eliot Grasso        (University of Oregon)

Paradox in the Clash of Traditional Music and Consumer Expectations: Recording the Uilleann Pipes

This paper deals with recording Irish Traditional music on Ireland’s native bagpipe, the uilleann pipes. It will contrast the paradox of norms and expectations in Traditional music culture with those of the record-consuming public. The ethos of the Irish Traditional music community stresses a lively, vibrant, spontaneous, and gritty performance. Audiences laud unintentional moves if the performer can gracefully save himself from his own errors. Such a performance would typically occur in a formal concert setting, in a pub, or at a céilí. However, recording situations are typically dissimilar to these settings acoustically, socially, and culturally.
To be specific, the uilleann pipes have a small resonating body: the wind cap of the chanter. In light of this acoustical limitation, the sound-absorbing qualities of a studio space have a marked effect on the way a piper approaches both instrument and technique. With a dry studio space, the uilleann piper may be apt to play more double grace notes to simulate the reverberation of a standard performance venue. The use of headphones likewise creates similar issues in terms of how a take can be misrepresentative of an actual performance. Other important considerations relevant to the instrument’s morphology are the three components of the uilleann pipes that can be activated independently of one another: chanter, drones, and regulators. Is it economical to record these three parts of the instrument separately given the challenges of studio climate and acoustics and the technical ability to do so? The consumer market does not expect or wish to hear mistakes or grit characteristic of the Traditional paradigm in a commercial recording because consumers have been conditioned over time to unquestioningly accept the highly-processed quality of style and performance facilitated by modern recording equipment. Based on my extensive experience as a recording artist in Irish Traditional music, I propose here a close examination of the ideals and preconceptions that can and perhaps should be considered when approaching a recording project.

Andrew Gwilliam        (University of Glamorgan)

The “Perfect” Performance

Perceptions of ‘perfection’ in recorded music are dependent on a complex set of factors.  This paper will investigate the influence of real life and strict tempo regulation on the reception of a recorded rock performance.
A rock track will be recorded with a band of a high performance standard in free time (no click track). This performance will then be mixed. The track will then be edited and the performance timings put into a strict time grid.
The two versions will then be played to listeners and their reactions analysed. The listeners will be divided into various categories by musical experience, age, preferred listening etc.
This paper will form part of an ongoing investigation which will be looking at the reactions listeners to the editing of performances in different musical styles from rock to jazz to pop to classical.
This paper will be a step to finding out the way that listener’s react to performances in recording and whether the reactions are dependant on age and musical experience and should provide valuable information for producer’s in the development of recordings for commercial release. 

Thomas Haines    (University of Cincinnati)

Opening Your Ears: A Creative Listening Skills Web Site

Opening Your Ears is a web site designed to train the emerging audio recording students to open their ears by having them develop skillful listening through a set of guided experiences. Hearing is largely taken for granted and skillful listening nearly a forgotten art. Skillful listening expands brain activity by focusing mental energy on the task at hand. And being “on task” is a vitally important attribute of all successful college students. The guided experiences are designed to create at immersive environment for the student through the exploration of diverse “listening languages”, “scientific cultures” and shared experiences. This web site celebrates the young persons passion for music by leveraging this affinity it into new critical ways of listening.
This paper presentation will outline some the underlying pedagogical framework of the 15 listening experiences that have been created to guide the student through a mind expanding journey. Beginning with common experiences that prepare for the student for the journey ahead, the path seamlessly progresses into the nature of sound - surveying the expansive terrain of the ear-brain relationship and the musical universe. Connecting these diverse relationships prepares the student to integrate them into more evolved listening skills. The journey concludes at the gate of transcendent knowledge – extending their world view and the immediate rewards of skillful listening.
Some of the guided listening experiences include:
• Listening Outside-In by experiencing “classical” logic
• Opening Your Ears by quieting the mind
• Sound Words used to investigate language
• Mind Games using sound to create mental images
• Opening Envelopes as a discovery path into the nature of sound
• Listening in Layers opens the ear to a “functional” level of music understanding
• Building Bridges as a mind expanding devise similar to those used in meditation
The eye takes a person into the world but the ear brings the world into a person.

Paul Harkins        (Edinburgh / Napier University)

The Sampler as Compositional Tool

Brian Eno describes the studio as a compositional tool which has enabled composers to enjoy a more direct relationship with sound. My paper will explore the use of the digital sampler as one of the studio tools that forms part of this creative process and the research focuses on interviews with a group of local Edinburgh musicians called Found who successfully combine the writing of pop songs with the sampling of found sounds. The core song-writing partnership share an art school background and I’m keen to discover if they use the sampler and other tools to sculpt sound in a similar way to how they paint. What does the artists’ studio look like (if indeed it is a single place) and how important is the sampler in the song-writing process and studio work? What do they prepare beforehand in terms of melody, lyrics and song structure or is the whole piece constructed in the studio? Does the sampler form part of what Eno describes as ‘an additive approach to recording’ which enables musicians ‘to chop and change, to paint a bit out, add a piece…’? The literature on digital sampling has been skewed towards its disruptive consequences for copyright law and, while legal questions will not be ignored, I am keen to focus as much on the music making process and the aesthetic choices made by composers in the studio. Recent ethnographic work by Joseph Schloss has centred on these questions in relation to Hip-Hop and it’s important to examine and understand how the sampler continues to be used by musicians in a wide variety of genres.

Jay Hodgson   (University of Western Ontario)

The Time-Lag Accumulator As A Technical Basis For Brian Eno's Large-Scale Ambient Repertoire, 1973-1978

Commentators typically exaggerate the influence Erik Satie had on Brian Eno while he developed his large-scale ambient repertoire throughout the 1970s (i.e., No Pussyfooting (1973), Discreet Music (1975) and Ambient One: Music For Airports (1978)).  Though Satie's concept of a musique d'ameublement ("furniture music") was important enough to warrant mention in Eno's notes for Discreet Music (1975), the first record he produced expressly for interior design, and while Satie's influence is easily discernible on Eno's later collaborations with Harold Budd, Cluster, Roger Eno, Laarji and Daniel Lanois  — i.e., Cluster & Eno (1977), After The Heat (1978), Ambient Two: The Plateaux of Mirrors (1980), Ambient Three: Day of Radiance (1980), Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (1983), The Pearl (1984) and Thursday Afternoon (1985) — by far the more crucial contributions came from American Minimalist composers Steve Reich and Terry Riley.  In fact, Riley's so-called "time-lag accumulator" was a particularly important influence; were it not for the device, Eno's large-scale ambient repertoire simply could not exist.  Developed by Riley in the early 1960s for "tape experiments" such as Mescalin Mix (1961), She Moves She (1963) and Music For 'The Gift' (1963)  — and taken up by guitarist Robert Fripp throughout the 1970s, his girlfriend, Joanna Walton, famously renaming the device "frippertronics" — the time-lag accumulator is actually a rudimentary analog delay processor, and it comprises the technical basis of every large-scale ambient record that Eno produced from 1973 to 1978.  In this paper I survey the development of the time-lag accumulator, from its origins as an avant-garde compositional device to a preeminent technique in Eno's ambient repertoire.  In so doing, I position an often overlooked processing technique at the very heart of Brian Eno's ambient recording practice.

Dennis Howard        (University of the West Indies)

Dub Production Techniques

Reggae and dub has brought about many changes in production practices internationally. The studio Innovations pioneered by Osbourne “King Tubby” Ruddock and Lee “Scratch” Perry, have revolutionized production techniques in reggae, dancehall and major popular international genres.  The Ruddock and Perry production techniques have had a significant influence on the development of genres such as hip hop house drum and bases, trip hop, trance and techno. Despite this major contribution to pop music production techniques there has been insufficient recognition for these “Dub Masters” role in pioneering these production styles.
This paper will examine the role these pioneer in the development of these distinctive techniques and juxtapose them along techniques of Anglo-America,  namely Phil Spector’s  Wall of Sound, the Beach Boys’  Pet Sounds and the Beatles Sgt Pepper Lonely Heart Club band  which have been valorized as landmark signposts in the history of pop music production.  By exploring the production techniques involved in creating the 1980s pop hit Genius of Love By Tom Tom Club  I will show how the techniques of Ruddock and Perry have been appropriated by mainstream culture and how these techniques have influenced pop music production globally. In the process making a claim for the equal recognition of the work of Perry and Osbourne placing them in the same hallowed space occupied by their Anglo-American counterparts.

Katia Isakoff           (London College of Music)

What’s my Motivation? Song Catchers to Song Manufacturers….and everything in the middle.

Capturing the ‘essence’ of a performance, being ‘faithful’ to the song, ensuring that the recording medium is as transparent as possible, are sentiments one could rightfully identify with: the motivation to produce what is often referred to as an ‘organic’ sounding recording.   Comparatively, the motivation to produce a modern sounding hit record, could very well invite images of producers and production writing teams capitalising on the ‘sound’ of new technology and synthetic catchy hook-lines, with the artist(s) input considered nominal, thereby attracting labels such as ‘manufactured’.
Yet [in the middle], both ‘new’ and ‘old’ technology is found to be intrinsic to the ‘sound’ of artists such as Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, NIN and now Radiohead.  These artists’ body of work for the most part, has been well received by fans, and highly regarded by critics; deemed to be seminal groundbreaking recordings.  Their use of technology and ‘studio’ are regarded as a natural extension of their instrument and creative process. How is the creative control of this technology negotiated between artist, recording engineer and producer?
This paper investigates the ways in which artists balance their individual and collective creative motivations, with their commercial aspirations and how this transforms and influences the compositional and recording process. Interviews with producers and engineers will be used to explore the management and distribution of creative power between themselves, the artists and technology.
Through these interviews and case studies, the working methods, roles, communication and technology employed within various fields and musical genres will be explored, alongside comparative playback sessions.

Mike Howlett        (London College of Music / Glamorgan)

Making Music the Business – the Creative Entrepreneur as Producer.

Much of the analysis of record production and the associated musicology is concerned with the creative process in the studio. But what is often overlooked is the creative process involved in both facilitating the recording, and bringing the result to an audience.  This paper is a consideration of the role of record company "creatives" from John , Sam Phillips and Ahmet Ertegun to Chris Blackwell, Clive Calder, Dave Robinson and Richard Branson, and the extent to which their activities can be considered creative record production.  From the personal experience of close working relationships with many of them, the author will argue that these individuals participated actively in enabling, inspiring and facilitating the actual recordings, as well as having the capabilities to bring the outcomes to the market - to a greater audience, and should be considered as record producers.

Sean Keegan    (University of Limerick)

The influence of Music Technology in the Development of Traditional Irish Music

This paper examines the role of music technology, in particular sound recording, in the development of performance practices within Traditional Irish Music. As an indigenous music passed on primarily by oral tradition, recorded sound has played a major part in maintaining the tradition and bringing Irish music into the commercial sphere. Multiple recording practices have played a role in the development of the music internally, in the form of regional stylisation, and externally through cross-polinisation with other genres, with several instances of large-scale commercial success. By interviewing key figures within the tradition; sound engineers, recording musicians and scholars, this paper gives a perspective on the role of aspects of popular recording processes in Ireland and abroad over the past century. Most notably: the role of the studio in the music’s development; the hardware and software utilised by sound engineers while working in this music form; the editing and mixing techniques common to this genre and the performance techniques and arrangements used by recording musicians that differ from live performance. There will be a particular focus on how many recordings by members of the community characterised as being ‘purists’ or ‘traditionalists’ have moved away from the studio environment in favour of location recording and the subsequent implications for sound quality/separation and comfort for performers.

Julian Knowles        (Queensland University of Technology)

Sonic Experimentation and Improvisation in Record Production: Some Case Studies

The shift from the idea of the recording studio as a site to document and enhance music towards a site for experimentation and composition has a significant history in both popular and art music domains. From classic analogue tape manipulation to sampling, editing and digital workstation tools, the studio ‘instrument’ has played a key role in shaping a number of highly influential albums, extending the musical language of popular music. Through a series of case studies from the early 1980s to the current day, this paper will examine the some key examples of improvisatory composition and experimental production processes in a range of technological contexts. The paper will illuminate a tradition of experimental sound and composition processes, rarely subjected to critical examination within the context of popular music traditions.

Justin Kurtz        (University of Hartford)

Incorporating Recording Production Techniques within Traditional Musical Analysis

Traditional music theory analysis attempts to document and account for the notes, rhythms, and forms of music. The tools used in the study of music theory have been developed over many years and as music has changed, analysis techniques have changed as well. Many have already documented the fact that in order to accurately examine contemporary popular music, we have needed to develop new tools. This includes ways to identify recording production techniques in the analysis of the music. If we accept that the popular music producer/engineer is an inseparable part of the composing team, as proposed by Virgil Moorefield, our modern music theory needs to be able to incorporate recording production techniques into any analysis of a piece of recorded music.
Music production theory is extremely important for the training of music producers. It is widely accepted that the production techniques of different producers and recording engineers are integral to the musical “message” conveyed by a song or piece. In this context, teaching music production is at least in part teaching music composition. My aim is to provide a way of incorporating core recording production decisions into the traditional formal analysis of a piece of music. Just as Roman numeral harmonic analysis provides a framework within which to teach the harmonic techniques used by composers, a similar standard is needed to account for the production techniques used by producers. This would allow for the juxtaposition of the music analysis with the production analysis, which are intimately related.   Developing a language of music production theory would augment current teaching methods and improve students’ ability to learn the art of music production.   

Philippe Le Guern        (Universitee d'Angers)
Marc Touché        (Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique)

British sound vs French sound? A recording engineer linking two traditions : Dominique Blanc Francart

As part of a research project we are undertaking into the social history of popular music in France, we are investigating the interaction between technological changes in the production of music and the aesthetic innovations that these changes enable or bring about. Whereas there have been many studies of the electrification of music and of changes in the technology of guitars, for instance, it seems clear that in the case of France, the history of recording techniques has been less throughly investigated.
Our paper proposal concerns a study of one of the most famous figures of studio recording in France in the person of the sound engineer Dominique Blanc Francart – whose father was also a sound engineer before him – and who commenced his career in the 1960s. Based on a series of interviews conducted with Blanc Francart, we propose to analyse three aspects in particular of his contribution to technological change and musical aesthetics :
Firstly we will consider the evolution of the economic and technological model underlying the work of French recording studios through a discussion of the four main studios which were set up by Blanc Francart or in which he worked (Hérouville in the 1960s ; Aquarium between 1975 and 1980 ; Continental Studios from 1981-1984, and Labomatic from 1996). The examples of these studios demonstrate a change in this model which evolves from the need for greater standardisation in recording technologies during the 1960s to a rejection of the hyper-standardisation of recording techniques in the 1990s.
Secondly, we will discuss developmental trends within the profession, with particular attention to working practices and the professional identities which they can contribute to defining. For example : were French studios in the 1960s and 1970s marked by hierarchies of personnel such as those described – for EMI - by Geoff Emerick in Britain at the same time ? Also : what determines whether and how a sound engineer can become a music producer, and how do the patterns of cooperation obtaining between different agents in the production of records evolve over time ?
Thirdly, we will consider how the notions of British and French « sounds » have been invented and represented (the idea of « pop » sound, for instance, appeared in France only at the end of the 1960s). One of the characteristically interesting features of the work of Blanc Francart is that he is a link between two diametrically-opposed recording traditions, having worked with British artists such as Bowie and Elton John, as well as for French musicians of « chanson » such as Alain Souchon, Etienne Daho and Chagrin d’Amour.

Thomas MacFarlane    (New York University)   

Magical Mystery Tour: Mono Or Stereo?

In December 1967, the Beatles released Magical Mystery Tour, an EP that contained six new songs written as the score for an original Beatle film. Author Mark Lewisohn has pointed out that until Abbey Road, all Beatle albums were released in mono and stereo. The Beatles themselves were only directly involved in the mono mix, while George Martin and EMI engineers would typically create the stereo version at a later date. However, it seems that as early as Magical Mystery Tour, the Beatles and their collaborators were actively exploring the aesthetic potential of stereo sound.
Individual tracks from the stereo version of Magical Mystery Tour such as FLYING, BLUE JAY WAY, and YOUR MOTHER SHOULD KNOW each exhibit remarkable sonic qualities when one listens alternately to the right and left channels. In particular, the instruments that appear on the right channel of FLYING do not even enter until 0:13 into the track. Remarkably, Lennon’s I AM THE WALRUS manages to combine mono and stereo mixing techniques within the same song.
In the following discussion, I will examine key tracks from the stereo version of Magical Mystery Tour in order to highlight the peculiar aesthetic qualities created by stereo mixing. I will pay particular attention to the ways in which the stereo versions create a context in which the listener has the option of choosing from various musical elements in the mix. The implications of my findings will then be examined with regard to the Beatles’ ongoing engagement of recording technology as an important part of the compositional process.

Doug McDonald        (University of Chicago)

The Internet and the Recording: Or the Loss of Materiality

There has been a lot of interest in the conceptualization of the musical recording as form of material culture. In Jonathan Sterne’s extensive study of the cultural history of early recording “The Audible Past: The Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction”, he explains how early recording technology was intimately intertwined with the emerging perception of American society as being a product of Modernity. In another direction Theodore Grazyck’s “Rhythm and Noise: An Aesthetics of Rock” argues that the true ontological value of a rock song can only be found in its recorded form. Both of these turns echo the movement from the live stage into the studio in the late 1960’s by The Beatles or the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould (is it any wonder that The Beatles last full album was named after their famed recording studio Abbey Road?).  These musicians felt, as did many at the time, that the studio was a unique site of creativity which was not akin to the type of performance done live on stage.
Through out the 1970’s the studio became an expressive force where its many means of electronic mediation of a performance elevated the producer, engineer, and sound mixer to the same creative level as the musicians themselves. Their work created discrete musical pieces (from Pink Floyd’s technical masterpiece “Wish You Were Here” to the clever overdubbing and mixing that made the Sex Pistols sound so raw on “Nevermind the Bollocks: Here’s the Sex Pistols”) that could never be reproduced in a live venue.
My Paper will contrast this body of research with the new phenomena of music being released straight to the web (IMEEM, Buzznet, MySpace, Facebook, etc).  My argument being that while bands in the past would tour as means of promoting sales of their in-studio albums, now, with the commodity status of a recording irreversibly under-minded by pirate downloads, the studio creation has come to serve the function of simply promoting a live performance itself, as this becomes the primary source for a musician and the music industry to generate income.  Evidence of this might be demonstrated by the fact that as the New York Times (03/15/08) recently reported that at the last South by Southwest Music Festival the industry side of things was represented more by Talent Bookers and Agents looking to fill the empty stages of the country then with Producers or A&R workers looking to sign new acts to take into the studio. What happens then to the idea of the studio as unique site of creativity when the music that is being created is aimed at a representation of what Philip Auslander so brilliantly theorizes in his book “Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized  Culture” as simply, the live?

Phillip McIntyre        (University of Newcastle, Australia)

The Systems Model of Creativity: Analysing the Distribution of Creative Power in the Studio.

It has been proposed that creativity comes about as result of a system in operation rather than, as a Romantic ethos would have it, being the result of the action of single individuals alone. Furthermore, Pierre Bourdieu has argued that the field in which cultural production occurs can be described as an arena of social contestation. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi suggests, as well, that conflict within a field may also have an effect on that creative field’s output. If these statements are true then questions of power relationships become important in any analysis of creativity. In particular, analysing the systems approach to creativity and what this model has to say about the distribution of creative power in the studio may reveal important truths about creativity itself. It may also shed some light on the nature of the collaboration that occurs within creative groups; in this case those that consist of musicians, producers, record companies and technicians.

Alexei Michailowsky    (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brasil)

‘ Who’s Film is it Anyway?’ or ‘Hearing the Picture, Seeing the Sound’.

According to the ‘An Open Letter from your Sound Department’, written by John Coffey, with the help and support from Randy Thom , Jeff Wexler and number of other distinguished film audio professionals suggests that ‘Not All is Well at the Western Front’. The current state of affairs puts in question the recognition of the level of audio contribution to the artistic and the creative vision of the film, by other film practitioners, and requires further examination of relationship between the Foley artist/ sound designer/ composer/ editor/ director/ producer.
The tension, misunderstanding and at times the atmosphere of mistrust is also apparent in education environment, between students from audio production and film courses. The paper questions if there is the role for educators to play, in not only bridging this gap, but also in improving the mutual understanding of two fractions, influencing change and possibly pointing to the new, alternative approaches to the collaborative efforts and the continuity in creation of the sound for film. Some of the questions and issues paper discusses are: Back to the Future. Revisiting of the film masters ‘forgotten’ manifestos, relating to the role of audio on film, (Lang, Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Vertov). Who’s film is it anyway? The AV production: frustration, mistrust and issues of ownership. Crossing the barricades, concurring fears? The new technologies, audiences, expectations and the opportunities. The role of education in nurturing the audio-visual film collaborators of the future.

Justin Morey        (Leeds Metropolitan University)

Arctic Monkeys - The Demos vs. The Album

When Arctic Monkeys released “Whatever You Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”, in the UK in 2006, the overwhelming success of the record had been insured through the buzz created about the band by fans on MySpace and other social networking sites. Central to this was the circulation and wide availability of demos originally given away by the band at live performances. As a result, a significant part of the audience for the first studio album was already familiar with alternate versions of the majority of its tracks prior to release. There seems to be a consistency of opinion that certain songs are better in their demo version, so what is it that makes them better, and how far does the recording environment and practice have a bearing?
In this paper it is proposed to investigate the qualitative differences between the demo and the commercial releases, from the point of view of both the listener and the producer, along with a comparative technical study of some of the recordings. The paper will also explore how the technical and creative process and environment of the demo studio differ from that of a larger commercial facility, and how this impacts on the finished record.
The methodology will include interviewing individuals involved in the production of the original demos and the studio album, and investigation of the response of both fans and critics to both sets of recordings. The issues addressed by this research include the extent that different recording environments can be seen to have had an impact on the finished records, either in terms of the band's response to these environments, time constraints, creative approach or quality of equipment. In addition, the research questions whether the audience’s responses to the songs are governed by notions of romanticism, exclusivity and discovery (or a tendency to prefer the one you heard first), or whether there is a certain spontaneity to performance and/or production attitudes that enlivens a demo, which is lost in the process of creating a product that is acceptable for commercial release. This raises further questions on how far notions of low fidelity and authenticity are linked by listeners.

William Moylan    (University of Massachusetts Lowell)

Considering Space in Music

This paper will examine ways in which spatial elements appear in music recordings and consider how they impact the music itself.  It will examine several recent and historically significant recordings to explore broad concepts, and will then focus on a single recording and its use of space to enhance its musical materials and relationships.
We know that music coming to us through loudspeakers (or ear buds) will have spatial qualities that differ from live, acoustic performance.  Even recordings that most accurately capture and reproduce the spatial qualities of a performance/ensemble will impart some change to spatial qualities that are inherent to the medium.  In practice, mixing, microphone and signal processing techniques have become tools to capture, transform and create spatial qualities and dimensions of recorded music that cause it differ from live, acoustic sound.  Sound stage dimensions, perceived performance environment, location and width of individual sounds, along with their distance location and environmental characteristics, are the qualities (or elements) of recording/reproduced sound shaped in the process.
These spatial qualities in turn shape recordings in many ways, from the overall qualities of the recording to subtle characteristics of individual sounds.  They can be controlled with great precision to craft the qualities of the music and the recording.  The impacts can be subtle or profound, as spatial elements can complement the music or add special dimensions to the sounds—and with less attention perhaps detract from the music or diminish the quality of the recording.  These spatial elements can become an integral part of the composition or add important ornamental character.  They can transform musical materials and relationships; provide added dimensions to instruments and voices; enhance the overall musicality of the recording; give added meaning and character to a song’s musical parts; contribute to a convincing presentation of the song; enliven and enhance the delivery of the message or the emotive expression the song/music is communicating; provide a context or point of reference for the recording/music, and much more.

Pete O'Hare        (University of Abertay, Dundee)

Undervalued Stock: Britain’s most successful chart producer and his economy of production.

This paper explores the production practices of Mike Stock, the most successful producer/songwriter in British chart history. He is perhaps more familiar when addressed within the context of his two business partners Pete Waterman and Matt Aitken. Under the SAW (Stock, Aitken and Waterman) partnership the three men dominated the British charts during the mid 1980’s and early 1990’s.
The contribution of Stock’s production style, to the overall commercial success of SAW’s operation, will be examined. From the direct targeting of the Gay club scene, Stocks mix of HI-NRG and Tamela Motown, to his no-demo’s policy of recording.
Technological developments in recording at this time also had an influence on the production practices employed by Stock. The introduction of MIDI instruments, sampling and advances in multitrack recording allowed Stock and his Partner Matt Aitken to assume the role of the band. The artist was left to supply only the vocal, all of which had a direct impact on the length of time spent in the recording studio. The paper explorers the effect this had on his relationship with the artists he recorded, including debates surrounding notions of creative control and Authenticity within the production process.
Stocks achievements as a producer have been greatly undermined by industry and press accounts, which tend to devalue his success as a direct result of his production practice. Therefore the paper examines the relationship between Stock and the record industry at a time when SAW had 27% of the pop chart market with records released through their own PWL label, the most successful independent record label in British chart history.

Justin Paterson    (London College of Music)

Cutting Tracks, Making CDs: A comparative study of audio time-correction techniques in the desktop age

Producers have long sought to “tighten” studio performances. In the early days of tape editing, the razor blade and ears were the only solution. The advent of digital audio emancipated this practice: early approaches to increasing rhythmic accuracy involved cutting up samples of loops and playing back quantized sequences of the resultant sample segments, standalone DAW’s allowed more complex cut and paste functions, and with the advent of Propellerheads “Recycle”, the transient detection became semi-automated although MIDI was still used to replay segments. Contemporary samplers offer built-in beat slicing. Software-based DAW’s now come with proprietary functions to emulate this and dedicated “beat-slicing” plug-ins exist, but only the latest generation of platforms allow relative ease of use on longer takes. Each method has advantages and disadvantages in terms of ease/speed of use, transient preservation, implied subsequent workflow and (usually) unwanted artefacts. The impact on the music we take for granted is profound: the “tightness”, the groove, and the stylistic derivations- the list goes on, and continues to shape modern genres.
Whilst rhythmically consistent material with clear transients is readily automatable with contemporary tools, working with complex mixtures of note-values still presents a challenge and requires much user intervention.
 This paper performs a comparative study of different audio quantize techniques, often on rhythmically complex performances. It will seek to identify necessary methodologies and implied workflows through the use of Recycle, Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, Live, Melodyne, Kontakt and more. It will examine potential creativity and lateral uses, and the current level of man-machine interaction will be explored.
This will be set in a historical perspective, and the impact of such producer-mediated performances upon the development of certain popular genres will be considered. By understanding how we got to the state-of-the-art, the future of rhythmic manipulation will be considered and speculated upon.

Hannu Puttonen    (University of Lapland)

Amen Break:  remix as a form of folk culture

In the acoustic folk music tradition, artists trade licks and melodies. It developed without the commodification of musical creation that has fueled the copyright law debate. Unlike modern-day electronic folk music tradition, where artists sample each other sampling, and which necessitates the use of the actual sound recorded by the ‘original’ artist, the folk tradition merely involved the appropriation of musical themes and songwriting trends. As the Internet and new folk forms make traditional copyright look increasingly irrelevant, we´ve made the transition from a culture which was all about the ownership of physical property to a culture which is more about temporary experiences and spectacle. Remixing is a way of exploring your own musical history, and presenting it to someone else. In the turntable culture, seizing that opportunity is the only sensible response. Curation becomes more important than origination. Transformation more viable than origination. Recontextualization more functional than production. A new form of folk process in the making.
    Another thread in the presentation is the story of the most famous break apart from Funky Drummer: ‘Amen’, a hard driving snare-and-symbal sequence from the B-side Amen My Brother by the soul group The Winstons. Chopped up, processed through effects, re-sequenced, Amen Break has been used in thousands of tracks, and is still being reworked. To trace the history of the Amen Break is to trace the history of a brief period of time when it seemed digital tools offered potentially an unlimited amount of new forms of expression, where cultural production, at least musically, was full of possibilities by virtue of being able to freely appropriate from the musical past – to make new combinations, and thus, new meanings.

Chris Russell        (University of Wisconsin - Madison)

OCremix - a video game remixing community

The video game music remixing community is a privately run organization which hosts fan-made mixes of video game themes. The site currently hosts over 1,500 remixes and boasts over 20,000 forum members. Each mix submitted to the site is reviewed first by the site owner (David Lloyd) before being forwarded to a separate panel of judges selected from the community. The standards for acceptance are high – the mix must have some percieved musical “value”, and must “show significant attention to sound quality, mixing, mastering, and utilization of effects”1. Less than 5% of submissions are accepted. What inspires a submitter to create a mix with little chance of acceptance, and no chance of income? Why does Lloyd shoulder the considerable financial burden of server and bandwidth costs?
With the advent of commercially available mixing software (Cubase, etc), one only requires a PC with a powerful sound card to produce one's own music. This paper will focus on the ways in which the shift from hardware to software has allowed production to move from the professional to the amateur level, using the OCremix community as an example. My working methodology, then, will be primarily ethnographic in nature, relying on the now commonplace media of internet forums and e-mail to conduct interviews and distribute questionnaires. Through these techniques, I hope to tease out the constructions of identity behind amateur music production and consider the impact of these burgeoning communities on the industry as a whole.

Steve Savage    (San Francisco State University)

“It could have happened” – the evolution of music construction.

One of the favorite parts for me of being a recordist is applying the “it could have happened” aesthetic in making recordings.  This is the process whereby musical performances are constructed using the wide-ranging capabilities of a digital audio workstation, and one of the standards used to judge the acceptability of the final recorded “performance” is whether or not it could have happened—whether the musician might reasonably have played or sung what has been constructed.  The implication behind “it could have happened” is, of course, that it didn’t happen.  That is, the recording presents a musical performance that did not happen on the specific time line that the listener hears. 
Such activities expand the creative partnership of music making to include recordists—not just in the advisory role (traditional for the producer) but also in the construction of the content used in the final recorded performance.  “It could have happened” performances are a key element in the transformation of music-making—in which the new paradigm of construction is replacing the old linear progression from composition through performance to master recording.  Of course audio editing has allowed for all kinds of “impossible” music as well—all the way back to musique concrète and before.  The DAW has significantly changed our ability to make music that could never have been played as presented —and I love that stuff too—but for me, it’s the hugely expanded palette of “it could have happened” music that I enjoy the most. 
    This paper explores the “it could have happened” ethic of popular music construction, using clips culled from recent recordings that I have made.  It will include screen shots that follow the specific musical constructions.

Susan Schmidt Horning    (St. John's University, New York)

“When High Fidelity Was New: How the Recording Studio Became a Musical Instrument”

Long before Eno’s 1983 description of the recording studio as his musical instrument, recording engineers, producers, and musicians had begun to exploit the creative use of recording technology.  As early as the 1940s, Sidney Bechet’s “one man band” experiment and Les Paul’s disc-to-disc recordings portended the future of multi-track recording.  But the 1940s also saw the first declarations of the studio as an instrument in its own right, an acoustical space with identifiable characteristics that became integral to the music of that era.
When we think of instruments, musical or technological, we think of objects manipulated by human hands.  The recording studio is also an architectural space which captures the sounds to be recorded, but the nature and significance of that space has changed over time.  Early recordings could not capture room tone because of the weaknesses of acoustical recording, and today the space is inconsequential since it can be artificially created.  But for a time in the mid-twentieth century, the studio was considered “the final instrument that is recorded.”
This paper uses technical literature, oral interviews, memoirs and recordings, to document the development of the recording studio during that critical juncture in its evolution, when the introduction of high fidelity sound made it possible for the first time to exploit studio acoustics.  As dead studios gave way to live rooms—from Masonic temples to dance halls—the music of the era had airy dynamics, space for invention, and an audible sense of the room in which it was recorded.  That space was also occupied by groups of musicians, technicians, arrangers and producers who collectively contributed to the recording as the room lent its acoustical stamp.  As studios have diminished in both size and number, so it seems has the aural space and the social and musical dynamics that were once integral to the process of making records.

Christopher Tabron        (New York University)

Crosstalk: Meta-Temporality in TV on the Radio’s Young Liars EP

The work of composers like John Cage, the tape loop experiments of Les Paul, the studio manipulations of George Martin, and Pierre Schaeffer’s musique concrète demonstrate how the 20th century bore new meaning into what the delineations between creative artist and sound engineer could embody. Using these relationships as a point of departure, this paper traces the seminal work of TV on the Radio’s, Young Liars EP (2003), to understand the ways in which the artist/engineer hybrid engages a relationship between practical and theoretical realms.
A noisy opus, Young Liars is of particular interest because of the recording
techniques and technology employed in its composition. Recording their first record entirely in a Brooklyn apartment, the band’s aesthetic and compositional work is examined in conversation with the prevailing recording techniques and aesthetics of popular music, as well as the way in which it complicates traditional performance paradigms. Through interviews with the band’s producer and engineer, David Sitek, this work reflects upon how his unconventional method of recording gestures towards a theoretical paradigm. Among many such gestures lies meta-temporality; the rethinking of time outside of that which is relegated to chronology. At its crux, this work engages the contributions of the artist/engineer hybrid as a corollary to thinking about the traditional sound engineer as both a performer and a theorist. These moments of overlap and of sonic crosstalk are used as a basis for understanding what generative ethnomusicological work can be created through considering the confluence of technological and theoretical realms.

Paul Theberge    (Carleton University, Ottowa)

"The End of the World as We Know It:  The Changing Role of the Studio in the Age of the Internet" 

In June of 2007, Sony-BMG announced that it would be closing its Manhattan recording facility, and by August, Sony Music Studios, a multi-studio recording, mastering, and sound stage complex had ceased operations.  One engineer, more than a little dismayed by the news, remarked in an on line forum that "the world is coming to an end." 
On the surface, the closure of Sony Music Studios was the latest in an ongoing history of such closures: the studio had fallen victim to a combination of changes in record industry fortunes and the voracious New York real estate market.  At a deeper level, however, such closures need to be put into a larger historical context, one that takes into account the changing nature of the recording studio and its role in the recording industry. 
In this paper, I want to briefly revisit the history of the recording studio, paying attention to the varying industrial and technological changes that have given rise to a number of different studio configurations – the diverse "world's" of the recording studio as we have known them.  This diversity, I want to argue, is not just historical in nature but also a contemporary fact: in many ways, we are now confronted with as diverse a range of options as at any time in the history of the recording studio, although the distribution of those options has changed radically. 
In the new industrial context of shrinking profits, the imminent demise of the CD as a commodity form, and the Internet as a primary medium of music distribution, the present range of studio options poses both challenges and opportunities for musicians, engineers, and producers.  This paper will discuss a number of recent attempts at adapting the economics and technology of sound recording to the demands of an emerging industrial organization. 

Mark Thorley        (Coventry University)

The gatekeeper’s dead – should we dance on the grave?

The means for composing, performing, recording and distributing sound recordings is now available to all artists. The only real requirement is that they have the economic means to buy into the technologies and services necessary to engage with the processes. This ‘democratisation’ which has changed the recording process and now the distribution process is in distinct contrast to previous situations which involved a ‘gatekeeper’.  Typically, in any number of roles (manager, producer, engineer, A&R person), the gatekeeper would control the economic means which ultimately lead to artists success both creatively and artistically.  Many of the criticisms of recorded music (such as homogenisation, short-term development of artists etc.) have been attributed to the presence of the gatekeeper. For these reasons, the democratisation which technological development has brought about has generally been welcomed by artists and consumers of music. This is because artists are being freed from the control of the gatekeeper, allowed to express themselves more freely and engage with global markets.  Consumers are also welcoming of the facilitation of browsing and experiencing music which is new to them, without any need to commit immediately to a financial transaction.
It could be presumed therefore (as the title suggests), that now the gatekeeper is dead, we should dance on the grave. However, this paper seeks to demonstrate that this is not necessarily the right reaction. Whilst the decline in influence is explained, and the perceived improvement to the recorded music environment outlined, it is shown that there are some disadvantages to the shift. In looking at the actual role of the gatekeeper, the positive effect is examined as is the detrimental effect on the recorded music environment associated with its loss. As way of conclusion, strategies are suggested to replicate the positive influence of the gatekeeper.

Robert Toft        (University of Western Ontario)

Hits and Misses: Crafting a Pop Single for the Adult Contemporary Market in the 1960s

The art of crafting successful pop singles can be a hit and miss affair, and this paper addresses the notion of hits and misses through a consideration of ‘(They Long to Be) Close to You’ by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. In September 1963, Bacharach produced the first version of the song with Richard Chamberlain, but the recording was, and still is, considered an artistic failure, as was the version Bacharach produced with Dionne Warwick a year later. It was not until Richard and Karen Carpenter recorded the song in 1970, without input from Bacharach, that the full potential of ‘Close to You’ was realized.
But what made the two Bacharach versions miss the mark, while the Carpenters, to use Bacharach’s words, ‘nailed it’? Musicologists have struggled to find ways of discussing the aural landscape of songs without becoming fixated on the harmonic procedures that underpin vocal melodies, but if one identifies the elements of a recording’s sonic surface that contribute to its success (that is, the distribution of musical ideas and instruments in mix, as well as performance style and narrative flow [by this I mean the creation and release of emotional/musical tension]), the scholarly discourse on recordings may be reconfigured to address those features of a recording which shape, and ultimately determine, its sonic vitality. Through this approach, the deficiencies of Bacharach’s misses become as readily apparent as the strategies The Carpenters employed not only to maximize the emotional impact of the song but also to score a hit.
Specifically, this essay considers how groove (particularly the rhythmic interest generated in the instrumental backdrop), instrumentation, melodic style in the orchestral parts, tempo, manner of performance (both vocal and instrumental), and the disposition of the song’s sections (verses and bridge) generate a narrative flow that either enhances (The Carpenters) or diminishes (Bacharach) the emotional impact of the story told in the lyrics.

Rob Toulson, Charles Cuny-Crigny, Philip Robinson and Phillip Richardson    (Anglia Ruskin University)

The perception and importance of drum tuning in live performance and music production.

Intricate setup and tuning of acoustic drums can have a great and valuable impact on the quality and contextuality of the instrument when played alone or as part of a music group performing live or in the recording studio. Indeed, many record producers will spend a number of hours achieving the preferred drum sound at the start of a studio project. Similarly, live performances may require an exact drum sound every night, so knowledge and repeatability of drum setups can be a valuable asset. Drum tuning, however, is a rather subjective matter. There is no correct benchmark for ‘in-tune’ like there is for most other musical instruments, it is therefore very difficult to define why a particular drum setup might sound good when another does not.
A research study has been conducted to assess how performers and producers interpret and value the importance of drum tuning in their specific field or music genre. Research has been conducted by a combination of one-to-one interview, focus group discussion, questionnaire, and through the authors’ own experiences of drum performance and recording. This paper presents and discusses the results of the study.
Conclusions of the research show that advanced musicians do have the ability to tune drums by ear, and do greatly value the differences that can be made. Less advanced musicians are aware of the benefits that can be made by knowledgeable drum tuning, but many do not possess the skills to achieve the desired results. Unfortunately, owing to the subjective nature of drum tuning, there is currently no qualified method for educating novice practitioners. Of the music producers interviewed, the importance of drum tuning was high on their agenda, and there is evidence that any technical methods for standardising or benchmarking particular drum setups would be embraced. This paper therefore discusses drum tuning, with particular reference to analysed waveform data, in an attempt to demystify the methods used and provide a first step towards advancing knowledge and further educating performers and producers alike.

Zachary Wallmark   (University of California, Los Angeles)

The MP3 Revolution and Its Effects on Consumption and Listening Patterns

In the late 1990s, the compact disc began losing its preeminence in the music market as the more flexible, cheaper, and downloadable MP3 format took its place. Since the MP3 began its rise in popularity, CD sales have fallen precipitously to record lows, and online music downloading – both legally and illegally – has become the most prevalent method of music acquisition for young people in the United States.
This paper will address two facets of this musico-technological transformation. First, drawing from data generated through survey research on over 240 high school and college students, I will explore contemporary trends in the way young people acquire their music. The data reveal many fascinating new realities about contemporary music consumption. But more than just examine the shifting nature of the music market, I will address how this format change has altered a more fundamental characteristic of our musical culture: indeed, I contend that online music has affected the way people listen.
The digital music revolution has affected listening habits through two interrelated factors: inferior audio quality and diminished monetary value. MP3 files lack the sonic clarity of the CD format. In addition, unlike CDs, MP3s lack physical embodiment, a precursor to the perception of monetary value by consumers. Combined with the fact that a majority of listeners download music for free, MP3s represent a significantly diminished investment compared to the purchase of CDs. Without a high level of sonic fidelity and financial investment attached to them, does the MP3 format therefore encourage “shallow listening”? Drawing from the survey results and Riddell’s concept of “dataesthetics” (2001), I will demonstrate that values are changing as we transition ever more fully into the MP3 age: where once audio quality and physical ownership drove the music market, today consumers are more interested in fluidity, speed, portability, and convenience. This paradigm shift has affected the way people listen to their music in profound and novel ways.

Alan Williams    (University of Massachusetts Lowell)

“I’m Not Hearing What You’re Hearing”: The Conflict and Connection of Headphone Mixes and Multiple Audioscapes

The mediated experience of making music under headphones places musicians outside the sonic landscape of the immediate physical environment. But headphones also create alternative audioscapes for performers, malleable alternatives to a static, singular experience. Recording studio participants exercise a great measure of agency in shaping and controlling their auditory experience. Of course, just who is allowed to exert this control is a more complicated matter. In many cases, that power lies in the domain of the technician. The engineer's ability to construct the monitoring signal that is sent to musicians in the performance space via headphones reinforces a hierarchy that places musicians in a subservient position to those who inhabit the control room. Musicians are only allowed to hear what the technicians let them hear.
Technologically imposed division inherently sets up oppositional binaries between recording studio participants. The performance space/control room divide pits musician against technician, and isolation places musicians in conflict with one another, whether physically imposed by baffles and booths, or psychologically imposed in the form of multiple headphone mix audioscapes. This paper, based on field research, will address how technological mediation creates these oppositional binaries, as well as the potential for a collectively experienced and heightened performance made possible by the enhanced connection provided by headphones in recording studio practice.

Paula Wolfe        (Sib Records / Liverpool University)  

Self Producing and the Home Studio

The distance between 'capability' and 'ability' is a given. Although it has been well documented that developments in digital technology continue to facilitate both the production and promotion of music, such access, of course, does not necessarily guarantee that either will be done well or that the art will not suffer in the face of the pressures of placing it in the marketplace.
As Mercury Prize nominee Kathryn Williams points out with reference to myspace: "...there is so much out there because anyone can do it and get heard but that does not mean it is any easier to break into a market. You still have to have people  wanting to buy your records, you have to be making good music. Just because there is an outlet for everyone, doesn't mean that everyone can get a career...or indeed should ! " ( Interview April 2007)
DIY is no longer unusual and given the rise in numbers in the last year of AIM (Association of Independent Music) members who are artists running their own labels, the indications are that increasing numbers of individuals are embracing the opportunities that technology affords, learning how the industry works and following the  advice of Jeremy Lascelle (CEO Chrysalis Music) at London City Showcase 2006 to create their own careers.
In interviewing Jane Pollard (Head of Creative Strategy Beggars Group) last year on how far she thought an artist could go without a label, her response was, "If they can find new ways, they can go as far as they want. It really is a simple as that." (Interview May 2007)
Rather than a subjective matching of 'ability' to 'capability', then, perhaps a more pertinent question to ask here is what constitutes a career in today's digital age? If an artist is producing her/his own work and it is 'good enough' to appeal to an audience, what realistic and feasible objectives can an individual artist hope to gain from that fan base?
In the light of these questions, this paper will consider the experiences of a selection of self producing and self releasing artists at different stages in their careers in order to examine the impact of such career choices as part of a wider industry context and to consider the role that the home studio continues to play for those artists working on its peripheries.

Alexa Woloshyn    (University of Toronto)

Imogen Heap as Musical Cyborg: Renegotiations of Power, Gender and Sound

Imogen Heap became a widespread name in popular music after the popularity of “Let Go,” the first song off Frou Frou’s Details (2002).  She followed that album with a solo electronica album Speak for Yourself (2005), written and produced on her own. Heap’s current status as artist-producer corresponds to both the nature of the electronica genre and the history of the artist-producer in general. We can observe an increasing role of the producer since the development of multi-track recording in the 60s. With MIDI sequencing developed in the 80s, the home studio became a commerically viable and useable space.  Heap recognizes her dependency on technology in this latest album:
    I couldn’t have made my first record or this record ten years ago with the technology that existed.  I can make any single sound on the planet; I can just download a sound.  I can make any record I want.  There’s no limitations now.

Heap believes that what she has done as an artist and as a woman is part of a larger trend facilitated by an increased access to technology.  Trial downloads and packages such as iLife allow amateur composers and producers to make their own music.  Imogen offers her forecast for the future:
    And I think we’ll see a lot of young ladies in the future, because in the past it was quite difficult for a girl to get into a studio, to be a tea girl or anything, to help around the studio.  And that won’t be a problem anymore because you can employ yourself to work in your bedroom!

In this paper, I analyze Heap’s artist output, first in Frou Frou, and then in her solo work to demonstrate the increasing nature of her cyborg musical identity – an identity that demonstrates renegotiations of power, gender and sound. 

Simon Zagorski-Thomas        (London College of Music)
The Medium In The Message: Phonographic Staging Techniques That Utilise The Sonic Characteristics Of Reproduction Media.

A recurrent theme is emerging in scholarly activity relating to record production: the description and analysis of mediation techniques used in the recording process that produce sonic characteristics with culturally constructed, associative meaning. This paper examines how the aural ‘footprint’ of particular forms of mediation associated with audio reproduction media have been used to generate meaning within the production process. The postmodernist slogan ‘The Medium Is The Message’ is stretched a little further to accommodate the fact that the medium is continually referenced within the message itself and becomes part of the creative palette of meaning creation.
Recorded examples and recent scholarly analyses will be used to illustrate three proposed categories of these media based staging techniques:
1.    Historical meaning – the evocation of period or nostalgia based resonances.
2.    Authority based meaning – authenticity that stems from mediation that is technologically appropriate and suggests culturally appropriate expertise.
3.    Dilettante based meaning – deliberate amateurism, low audio quality or distortion.
These will be examined with reference to contemporary cultural theory such as Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital and discussions of authenticity, subcultures and identity within popular music studies.
I will conclude with a brief survey of how this type of mediation relates to other forms of phonographic staging.

Albin Zak    (State University of New York at Albany)

“Mitch the Goose Man”

In a Metronome editorial of July 1950 entitled “Mitch the Goose Man,” Barry Ulanov likened Mitch Miller’s production style to camouflage: “Borrowing a trick or two from the army engineers, Mitch applied camouflage to the efforts of singers willing to lose their identity to the sound-effects man.” Miller was the hottest producer of the day, and he was changing the sound of pop records. His choices of song, arrangement, and sonic treatment were aimed at creating what he called a sense of “excitement,” some kind of sonic thrill that might cut through the din of the crowded pop marketplace. The conventions of musical form, melody, and harmony manipulated with deftness and  subtlety by the masters of Tin Pan Alley were increasingly replaced by a simpler, more straightforward kind of song—unambiguous and instantly hummable. In the place of the big bands that had accompanied so many pop singers of the 1930s and 40s, he invented ad hoc groups, one-off ensembles put together in a recording studio for a particular session, or even a single song. His records increasingly sounded like novel sound worlds, with exaggerated reverb, overdubbing, odd sound effects, and instrumental balances entirely dependent on recording engineers’ intervention at the mixing console. The storied A&R man, John Hammond, called it “phony effects” and “electronic fakery.” But popular music has followed Miller’s example ever since. This paper examines many of Miller’s innovative tracks of 1949-1955 as a contribution to the historical dimension of the Art of Record Production project.