2009 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 These are not peer reviewed proceedings.

Aguilar, Ananay (Royal Holloway, University of London)

LSO Live: Reassembling Classical Music

I would like to use the recording practices of classical music as a site for exploring the music's values. The current transformations of the music industry, with the shift from physical discs to digital formats, the reduction in production and distribution costs, and the subsequent change in consumption patterns and accompanying legislation, provide an exceptionally rich arena for discussing the current state of classical music. Within this situation, the success of the label owned by the London Symphony Orchestra, LSO Live, is of particular interest as it highlights the many features that intervene in music making and reception, shaping the practices and perception of music in unpredictable ways. Thus, recording practices are here broadly defined, including, but not limited to, musicianship and musicians' daily schedules and overall agendas, engineers' recording techniques, studios and concert halls, recording and playback technologies and formats, as well as current marketing strategies. As one of the main threads in shaping the values and discourses surrounding classical music, the role of musicology will be discussed in relation to these practices, reflecting upon the intervening factors in mediating, sanctioning and perpetuating the values of classical music in the material form of an album.

Based on a study with the LSO throughout the season 2007/2008, when the orchestra, under Valery Gergiev, performed and recorded all Mahler symphonies, I will seek to trace the spaces where the values of classical music are negotiated on a daily basis. Informed by current anthropological and sociological debates, the field material includes observations of and interviews with musicians, engineers and staff beyond the LSO and its label. The story of the creation of LSO Live from the perspective of its marketing strategies will be explored alongside interviews and discussions carried out with musicians explaining their experience of setting up the label and its impact on their practices as musicians. Recordists accounts will bring into the picture their idea of classical music, liveness and changing recording technologies. My own experience within academia will provide reflections on the role of musicology in shaping the idea of classical music.

Prof. Mike Alleyne (Department of Recording Industry, Middle Tennessee State University)

A Production Case Study of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.”

This examines Marvin Gaye’s innovative production style established in his 1970s releases, and the contrast and confluence of its culmination in the digital era of the early 1980s with the “Sexual Healing” hit single. The evolved synergy of his simultaneous roles as artist, songwriter, arranger and producer coincides with one of the most crucial technological junctures in popular music.

This production analysis of “Sexual Healing” makes reference to the song’s distinctive use of digital synthesizer and drum machine technology relative to the era’s black popular music. This presentation employs audio excerpts documenting key contexts of the song’s development and recording, from demo to completed work, providing valuable insight into its production construction. The  developmental process is especially important because of Gaye’s active participation in the creation and performance of most of the song’s instrumental elements and its final recording.

Arthurs, Andy (Queensland University of Technology)

Performance Blue Prints: Has The Recording Become The Blueprint For The Performance? Can A Recording Be In Itself A Performance?

 Until the start of the 19th Century paper was still a luxury. Consequently it was scarce and mass production was not possible. Similarly, 100 years later the barrier to entry to produce recorded music was limited to those with expensive resources. While it was not until the 1950s that producing a recording became more readily available (with access to tape recorders), the means of manufacture remained in the hands of a few.  However it was not until the 1990s, thanks to digital production and later distribution, that recorded product moved from an economy of  scarcity to very quickly becoming one of abundance. The ramifications of this revolution are still being felt. Today many recordings are little more than a brochure for the “original” performance.

 Every innovation spawns new uses, beyond what we imagine at the time of invention. Edison intended recording to be of primary use as a business dictating machine.

 Never has there been a more misnamed product in the 21st Century than “recording”. Far from recording being a record of events, it has become in itself a mode of creation. Since the 1960s recording has become a music-writing tool. Mitch Murray back in 1964 advised song writers in his book How to Write a Hit Song, “a tape recorder is one of the first investments you will have to make if you want to be a serious writer. Use your tape-recorder as often as you like.”

Now recordings are ubiquitous in the creation and realising of a musical performance:

As a creative composing tool

As a score for the performers to work from

As an artefact within a performance

As a record of the live event

Innovation is repurposing as well as inventing. New models will emerge. Deep Blue is one such model. The 21st Century orchestra Deep Blue utilise a hybrid live/recorded model at all stages in a 360 degree approach and are in the process of developing new multimedia interactive scores together with Australian music software company ITC  .   

The recording of the event is a form of recycling – an ecosystem where a sound is captured digitally, incorporated into a creative recording which then serves as a sound “score” for a live performance which is in turn the sound source for further digital capturing.

This paper will detail this process and evaluate the issues involved.

Ashworth, Eddie (Ohio University)

The Post-Millennium DIY Explosion And Its Effects On Record Production

Is the record producer obsolete?  While those of us in the profession would be quick to refute that question, an increasing number of albums—many of them enjoying effusive critical praise and commercial acceptance—are in fact produced and/or engineered by the artists themselves.  From Bon Iver to Dr Dog, from Caribou to Burial, from Juana Molina to Death Cab for Cutie, musicians are increasingly embracing the “do-it-yourself” ethic and eschewing the traditional artist/producer relationship in favor of more individual strategies that DIY practices afford. 

This development should come as no surprise to careful observers of the recording industry, since innovations in technology not only spawned our profession but have periodically altered it as well.  Once, the notion of artist-produced-and-engineered recordings was as inconceivable as astronauts designing and building their own rockets to deliver them to outer space.  Recording studios were expensive “temples of sound” filled with gear that required seasoned professionals to operate.  Over time, their work devolved into “product” that was deemed “technically and commercially satisfactory” by record companies that were the de facto gatekeepers of content during much of the 20th century. 

Today, many of those temples of sound have folded because the once-powerful labels that funded them are now desperately searching for new business models that cut costs and preserve their dwindling bottom lines. At the same time, recording and mixing gear that once cost hundreds of thousands of dollars is now accessible for a fraction of that by any musician with a credit card, and a willingness to crack open the most recent version of ProTools. 

Make no mistake: great producers are still working with great artists in great studios to create great records in the traditional manner.  However, it is clear that the tide is turning towards an industry where artist-produced recordings become increasingly more commonplace and vital, with music fans and tastemakers alike embracing the results.

This presents challenges to record producers and engineers, as well as to the professionals who teach and train future record makers, all striving to remain relevant in a marketplace where artists are empowered to self-produce and engineer their own recorded output.  In meeting these challenges it is important to understand the impact of DIY on our profession and the records we make.

To this end, the paper focuses on three key areas of analysis and discussion: new producer/artist paradigms that have emerged during the 21st century in response to DIY recording practices; DIY-influenced aesthetic and sonic shifts evident in selected records released during the same period (along with the production choices and methodology behind them); and lastly the creative and cultural forces at work that facilitate acceptance of DIY production methods and resultant recording projects.  Also discussed are the pedagogical ramifications to the art of teaching record production at the college level in the context of this quickly evolving production environment.

Bennett, Sam (University of Surrey)

No Way Computer! Risk Aversion As An Influence On Equipment Choice Among Record Producers Of The Late 1990s.

The UK popular music climate of the late 1990s was dominated by big beat, trip-hop and other dance sub-genres. The highly modern, computer-based sequencing platforms often used to create such music developed at an alarming rate, all the while giving the user increased options in terms of recording, editing and processing capability. Yet some late 1990s producers expressed a preference for earlier technology, the limitations of which significantly influenced their recording and production techniques. How did the limitations of technological precursors impact on the methodologies and working practices of some late 1990s producers?

This paper concentrates on the reasoning behind equipment choice and usage at the height of the late 1990s digital age, a decade on from the technological acceleration of the 1980s. Featuring examples by UK producers as varied as Fatboy Slim, William Orbit and Flood; factors for consideration will include equipment preference, producer knowledge, time constraints and the ‘learning curves’ of software sequencers.

Whilst avoiding the simplistic notions of nostalgia and pessimism, a detailed argument is offered for the complexities involved in the producer’s equipment choice; the extent of their accumulated knowledge of recording and production equipment, the creative application of technology and past successes were key factors influencing the producer’s decision making process surrounding equipment. This paper evaluates the extent to which the rejection of current computer platforms and software sequencers was ‘risk aversion’ on the part of some late 1990s record producers.

Richard James Burgess (Smithsonian Folkways Records)

From Folkways to Smithsonian Folkways: An Entrepreneurial Journey from Individual to Institution.

Richard James Burgess of Smithsonian Folkways, the record label of the National Museum of the United States, will give an overview of the Folkways and Smithsonian Folkways record labels. This will cover Moses Asch's early attempts at running labels, his thinking and methodologies, even bankruptcies that finally coalesced into the complexity of Folkways. Burgess will discuss Asch's relationships with artists both as a businessman and producer; why Asch was afraid of having a hit record and how he managed that concern. The transition from Folkways to Smithsonian Folkways will be examined including Asch's justifiable resistance to an acquisition by the Institution and the reasons why Smithsonian was the only entity that would meet Asch's requirements. Burgess will review the dialectic that occurred in Folkways' early days at the Smithsonian with regard to meeting Asch's unique requirements and fulfilling the spirit of his original mission. Attention will be paid to the twenty years post-acquisition and the balancing of Asch's requirements with Smithsonian's own mission objectives.  The present day Smithsonian Folkways philosophy and operation as a self-sustaining non-profit entity engaged in the documentation and dissemination of disparate niche sound recordings will be covered. Current and projected business models that maintain the mission amid unprecedented turmoil in the marketplace will be explained. Burgess will also speak to the oxymoron of institutional-entrepreneurship; how to maintain an attitude and perception of independence whilst operating within a large bureaucratic institutional environment.

Burlin, Toivo (University of Gothenburg)

The Imaginary Room: Recording Practice and Production of Art Music Phonograms in Sweden 1925–1983

Art music, like all other western musics, is fundamentally influenced by the media and technologies and primarily by the art of recording. But this is relatively undescribed and seldom contextualized in musicology. Since it is without a doubt a fact that art music has been strongly influenced by the media and recording technologies it is interesting to ask the question how, in the context of Sweden 1925–1983. This thesis discusses and contextualizes the idea of western art music as a separate and distinct musical genre, from different points of view. The question of the recording as a representation is examined. A model is developed for the analysis of representation in recordings, and the parallel development of art music and the music industry from the earliest electrical recordings to the release of the first CD in 1983 is discussed. The development of that part of the Swedish record industry which produced art music recordings is presented, and recording practice and production are examined. Editing and mixing, as well as the development of the professions of producer and engineer, are discussed, with the company Swedish Society Discofil serving as a case study. The philosophies of engineers and producers are discussed. Electronic music as a medialized music is examined, and unlike many discussions of electronic music the music of the phonograms are taken as the starting point of the examination. Ralph Lundstens career, especially Studio Andromeda, and recording practice are examined. Recorded works on phonograms are analyzed as Works of Phonography, Hyper notation and Multimedial Music Products, which means that they are analyzed primarily as recordings, not as interpretations of musical works.

Butler, Jan (University of Nottingham)

Authentic Independents: Myth or Reality? 

The view of the independent record company as a site of creativity and credibility is often discussed as part of a dichotomy between major and independent labels.  Rock mythology in particular often pits the majors and the independents against each other, portraying independents as motivated by passion for the music and an interest in fostering creative talent, whilst the majors are motivated by greed and will attempt to commercially exploit anything successful that the independents may uncover.  The time when independents valiantly fought for creative freedom against the majors is often considered to have started in the rock n roll era, a period when independent record labels dominated the record charts, and to have continued through to the early 70s by which time the independents are understood to have been co-opted by the majors to find and develop new acts.  It is often this era that is harked back to as a time when independents “treated the concepts of artistry, independence and audience as somehow shared”, an ideal that is still apparently aspired to by more recent independent labels (Lee, WaxTrax! Records, 1995).

This paper attempts to assess whether the independents in the 1950s and 60s did indeed have a greater claim to creativity and credibility than the majors at that time.  Through looking at the treatment of the record producer in both majors and independents, it appears that although the independents were the first to develop the role of the entrepreneur producer, allowing the emergent figure of the record producer huge creative freedom in the studio, this practice of allowing producers great levels of autonomy was soon taken on by the major labels who soon began allowing greater creative freedom not just to producers, but to artists as well as rock developed in the 1960s.  This suggests that although we now view early independents as sites of creativity and credibility, usually in contrast to the major labels, the picture in the 1960s was more complicated than this.  It is my contention that the relationship between the majors and independents in the 1960s, far from diluting the ability of the independents to be credible and creative, instead allowed the idea of creative freedom and beliefs about the conditions required to create art within a capitalist system to permeate the majors to a much greater extent than they had previously, causing the latter to restructure their organisation.  This has had the effect of increasing artistic freedom across the whole record industry.  To explore these issues, this paper will consider the development of and relationship between Elektra Records and Warner Brothers, both of whom were increasingly successful as the 1960s progressed.  The two labels ended the decade in a mutually beneficial merger forming the music division WEA as part of Warner Communications which by then had become a highly successful major label carrying several of the biggest and supposedly most credible rock stars of the time on its books, including the Doors, the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix.

Dr Paul Carr (University of Glamorgan)

The Big Note – The Ultimate Gesture: The Incorporation Of Time And Space In Performing, Composing, Arranging And Producing Frank Zappa’s Music

The Big Note – The Ultimate Gesture: The incorporation of time and space in performing, composing, arranging and producing Frank Zappa’s music

Widely regarded as one of the most prolific and versatile composers of the rock idiom, Frank Zappa’s ability to amalgamate numerous popular music styles alongside musique concrète, electronic, and serial techniques make him a fascinating case study on the interdisciplinary roles of performer, composer, arranger and producer. One of the earliest musicians to successfully and consistently experiment with fusing these skill bases, Zappa’s unique oeuvre is now gradually beginning to be recognized as one of the most prolific and original in the history of popular music. Using these factors as creative mediums, Zappa can be considered the only rock musician to consciously and consistently engage with both time and space throughout his entire career, having a compulsive fascination with ensuring his entire life’s work was considered part of his self titled Big Note, with many of his performances, compositions, arrangements and productions being part of an overarching and unifyingly premeditated organisational structure. Developing the terminology project/object to describe the difference between the completed work of art and the process of redefining it, Zappa made countless rearrangements of many of his compositions, and clearly considered individual works of art as being in a constant state of development, skilfully utilising available studio technology to create highly original ‘virtual performances’, always relocating the work into his current conceptual continuity practices. Examples range from the purely functional (For example re-recording all of the drum and bass tracks for Crusin’ With Ruben and the Jets (1967) to improve the aesthetic impact of the album), to the more experimental employment of Xenochonic and cut and paste techniques (For Example “Friendly Little Finger” from Zoot Allures (1976)) which brings together otherwise unrelated bass and drum parts), in effect synchronically fusing time and space environments. This paper proposes to examine how Zappa pushed the boundaries of available studio technology to develop compositions, (re)arrangements and performances/virtual performances of his work. After presenting an overview of his early career throughout the 1960’s, the discussion will progress to analyze albums such as Joe’s Garage Acts 1, 2 & 3 (1979), Sheik Yerbouti (1979) and the You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore (1988 - 1992) series, cumulating with his work on the synclavier during the late 1980’s – early 1990’s with albums such as Jazz From Hell (1986) and Civilization Phaze III (1993).

Per Dahl (University of Stavanger)

When the microphone enhances the intimacy in a German Lied

When Edvard Grieg wrote the song “Jeg elsker Dig!/Ich liebe dich” in 1864, his notation was based on a performance practice where the concert hall was the constituting arena for musical expressions. The song is in line with the German Lied tradition where intimacy, intensity and afterthought are important characteristics. Of these three, only intensity is indicated in the notation, while intimacy and afterthought has to be created by the performer.

Listening to 210 recordings of Grieg’s opus 5 no. 3 ”Jeg elsker Dig!” from 1899-2005 made me conscious, the impact of the microphone and other recording technologies in the interpretation of this song.

In my survey I split the overall impression of the recordings in two categories of soundscape; the concert hall sound and the studio sound. In addition I made a subdivision if the sound elements were unified (singer and accompaniment in one room/the same acoustics) or divided (the acoustics of the singer’s voice seems to be different from that of the accompaniment). While recordings with concert hall sound might be either unified or divided, the typical studio sound is always divided.  My choice opens up for a categorisation of singers in the classical concert hall tradition to produce recordings where the sound elements are unified or divided, and to detect when these singers started using the opportunities in the recording studio.

The recordings reveal a stable norm of tempo variations through the century, with an accelerando in the midsection. As the text “Jeg elsker Dig” is repeated three times, it is possible to divide the interpretations in two groups; accelerando (repeating the text with equal meta-structures) or parlando (unequal meta-structures by performing regular text rhythms in an irregular way).

The results show that the classical concert hall singer did not change his/her way of singing from the acoustical to the electrical era of recording technology. In 37 recordings I could find the combination of a concert hall soundscape and the use of divided sound, the first being from 1950, that is a delay of 20-25 years compared to the optimal use of the microphone. However with the microphone and electrical recordings from 1925 a new kind of singer emerged: the gramophone artist with a beautiful voice in the studio, but with no strength or radiance of the voice in a concert hall. One characteristic for these singers was the use of microphone as their main expression tool resulting in enhancing the intimacy, mostly by the use of parlando.

The relative amount of recordings using parlando among classical singers was very high in the acoustical era, and then began a decline as the more literate accelerando took over the market. However, in the three last decades, the parlando suddenly reappears as a very characteristic expression in recording this song among classical singers. But this time not as in the acoustical era, but as expressions developed by the studio based gramophone artist.

Davis, Robert (Huddersfield University)

We don’t write songs, we write dance tunes: production, performance and dance floor aesthetics

The evolution of record production from the 1960s established a model of production which privileged the creative role of the producer and established a model of production practice which was to serve as a model not only for the record industry, but for education in designing the many music production courses which developed during the 1990s. This model can be seen to be rapidly disintegrating as new paradigms are established in the production of dance music where the producer acts not only the arbiter of taste but also as the performer. 

Using ethnographic techniques, this paper explores the evolution of a new paradigm of production through the study of two emerging music producers working in the North of England. In particular, the study looks at the creative and entrepreneurial roles assumed by these producers and argues that they present a number of challenges to understanding production. In particular, the study looks at the changes in the creative decision making process where production aesthetics are informed by an intuitive understanding of dance floor aesthetics.

What emerges from this study is an understanding of the way that two producers work together not only in a creative way but in the extended network of individuals that sustain and inform their development as producers. The paper argues that the evolutionary process in record production and the development of the ‘cottage industry’ model has brought together the roles of performer, producer and promoter in a way that not only raises questions about our understanding of these roles but the way that we understand the changing nature of production.

Doyle, Peter (Macquarie University)

‘Working For The Man’: Representing The Artist-Producer (Or Artist-Agent, Artist-Manager, Artist-Entrepreneur, Artist-Hustler) Relationship.

It is a commonplace of popular music studies that records are manufactured things, that the sonic ‘production’ itself is worthy of attention, that producers matter, and that in the larger history of popular music recording, producers not infrequently matter more than artists.

But despite that, the stories of producers, managers, entrepreneurs, engineers (often overlapping categories in the pre-rock age) remains largely untold, and uncelebrated. Over the past couple of decades have appeared many quality biographies of musicians, most typically ‘unsung heroes’ from outside the pop mainstream. So too have numerous histories of fringe scenes and subcultures. Yet such hugely important figures as Jack Kapp, Ralph Peer, Milt Gabler, John Hammond – each of whom had decisive influence on the emergence of twentieth century pop ‘genres’, and each of whom worked in both the mainstream and on its hipper fringes – remain little known and written about.

In this paper I wish to identify some of the narrative default settings which have been used to characterise the relationship between the creative artist and his/her first point of contact with ‘the business’ – be it producer, engineer, manager, agent etc. Descriptions of the artist-producer relationship, I will argue, typically invoke a number of very deep and enduring narrative tropes — mythic, archetypal, folkloric, literary and pulp – and these mostly operate to the detriment of the producer.

One near constant has been the valorisation of the artist as romantic, often tragic, indeed, as sacrificial figure, and with it a concomitant tendency to typify the producer/mentor/facilitator/’suit’ figure as shadowy, venal, mendacious exploiter,  and as unrepentant corrupter of artistic purity. The pop biopic, itself closely aligned to such forms as the boxing film, has served to lock in those settings.

Other representational strands co-exist with these: with the coming in the 1950s of what Keir Keightley has called ‘record consciousness’, for example, the producer was cast, again largely by default, in the role of the scientist or technician (buttoned-up and colourless, in horn-rimmed glasses, white dust coat), which as corollary, cast the studio as a kind of laboratory (maybe like the ones in the newsreels, where they find cures for diseases, or handle radioactive isotopes, or make atom bombs, or experiment on human brains). It was only a short step from there to the trope of producer as mad-scientist, deranged megalomaniac.

I will go on to suggest a number of other narrative templates – drawn from film, television,  journalism and literature – which might better help us as writers and researchers to elucidate the artist-producer relationship, without having to resort to simplistic moral absolutes.

Field, Ambrose (University of York)

Performance Beyond Recording On Being Dufay (ECM Records 2071):  A Twenty-First Century Soundworld From Fifteenth Century Materials.

The production of ‘Being Dufay’ (Field and Potter, 2009) strikes a balance between the accurate presentation of recorded fifteenth century vocal music, and subsequently designed digital vocal treatments. Importantly, it is the combination of these approaches which work together to create the sense of performance on the record.  The album combines the sound worlds of early-Renaissance vocal music and contemporary electronica without attempting to ‘bend’ either style of music to fit the other.

This paper describes, with audio examples, some techniques used to extend the idea of ‘performance’ from beyond the initial recordings into being a keystone for the compositional processes of the whole album.  The chronological gap  in performance style featured on the record is bridged creatively through the use of digital modelling and production techniques, resulting in fluid boundaries between production, recording and composition.

A formant-based digital model of the singer John Potter was created to enable a continuity between original recording, and the subsequently composed electronic sound-world.  This model is performed and recorded live itself, generating sounds which sit half-way between the vocal and instrumental in timbre and behaviour.

An ‘organic’ approach to the vocals was taken within the composition and pre-mix stages of this production. The paper details how, instead of removing ‘unwanted’ breaths and other noises of the human vocal tract, these sounds (rather than the original performance itself) have been actively created through editing  to bring a sense of heightened-reality to the recorded presentation.

Conversely, techniques from film production, such as the recording of ‘room-tone’ and capture of Foley sounds are used within this music release to bring a sense of ‘human activity’ to abstract, synthesiser-based materials.

This paper documents how, as an artistic necessity, boundaries between composition, production, and performance can be un-necessary within contemporary record production.

Ted Fletcher (TFPro, AirSound, OrbitSound)

New Directions in Spatial Recognition

Ted Fletcher, designer of the JoeMeek range of audio processing equipment talks about the history of stereo and his new work on using mid-side speaker arrays to create a new form of spatial sound.

Maria Hanáček (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

The Making of Rock Performances: Studio Settings and Recording Realism

Although studio technology became part of musical practice, it is seldom part of our conception of "music". It has certainly always been a part of rock music and yet it doesn’t fit neatly into an established discourse of the authentic. In this paper I will argue that the idea of capturing creative moments by simply "rolling tape" is so appealing to us because this ties up with a traditional conception of music as artistic self-expression.

This is also the reason why medial representations of the recording process follow a rather conventional pattern in restoring a close relation of recorded sound and the gesture of a performing musician. In particular, I will explore where the creative subject is discursively situated in the process of record production by examining so-called "making of" videos. These videos may have a documentary character - not least due to their studio settings - but they are not innocent representations of a studio reality. I will argue that they fulfill the function to portray work in the recording studio as a creative process and to (re-)produce subject positions for musicians and producers, which fit into a genre ideology.

The videos I will examine represent instances of recording realism. This is such an important concept because it leaves the idea of "performance" untouched. Multi-tracking and close-mic'ing certainly changed performance practice and transformed musicians into recording artists. But our notion of rock music depends on the genuine expression and the integrity of the artist. Thus, even though the use of cut’n’paste is acknowledged, the ultimate goal is a coherent performance. While a certain amount of artifice is acceptable, the musician may never be wholly substituted, since he is the central point of the underlying conception of “music”. The videos studied make sure the creative subject takes centre stage in the recording process and they legitimate the use of technology by assigning it a merely supportive role.

Howlett, Mike (Queensland University of Technology)

The Producer Performing: An Investigation Of Production From The Artist’s Perspective

After many years producing musicians the author returned to the studio as a musician being produced. This paper investigates the experience of the performing artist when under the creative direction of a record producer from the perspective of an experienced and successful producer as artist.

As a performer in the studio an artist relies on the producer’s guidance, direction and encouragement. An unspoken relationship is formed of compliance and submission to external counsel. Questions of trust and confidence in the artistic authority of the producer are raised. Negotiations of critical evaluation take place that will inform the outcomes. The nature of the dialogues that take place reveal firstly, a unique language derived from prior musical experience, and secondly, perhaps more significantly, the intrinsically musical and artistic role of the record producer in such close engagement with the creative imagination and aspirations of the artist.

Performance in the studio is an intimate form of self-exposure—more so, this paper argues, than on the public stage, where the artist/audience relationship creates a structural differentiation, a distance. The studio is a kind of audio microscope that reveals subtle imperfections, and challenges the artist to find deeper levels of meaning in performance. What are the demands made of the producer by such a position of responsibility? How is performance practice affected by the studio context?

This investigation applies methodologies of reflective practice to propose ways of understanding musical performance in the studio and the producer/artist interaction.

Hudson, Gareth (Newcastle Conservatorium of Music, Australia)

The role of the producer as composer within a collaborative studio context and the influence  of new technology.

Since the advent of computers and dedicated recording software, the traditional roles of the composer and producer have merged in the context of the recording studio. Through the fusion of these positions a new category of composer has resulted, that of the ‘producer as composer’ or the ‘composer as producer’.  This paper will explore collaborative relationships and ways technology impacts the role of the producer/composer.

The collaborative nature of work encompassed by the ‘producer as composer’ will be defined by relating it to other models of collaboration in differing fields of work. A definition of collaboration will be given and used as reference to explain how collaboration works in an online studio context.  Through practical experiences working as a producer/composer, personal examples will be analysed to show how collaboration impacts upon the creative process.

Jarrett, Michael (Pennsylvania State University)

Against a Musicology of Record Production

To make a point, to correct a tendency motivating the study of record production, I shall be intentionally contentious.  Any attempt to institute a theory, history, or practice of record production grounded on what Professor Allan Moore calls the wide array of “musical decisions which go into the making of a track” is a mistake, as it establishes record production as a predictable, rationalized process. A musicology of record production would merely shift the control of music making from musicians to record producers.  (Phil Spector, not Darlene Love; Berry Gordy, not Mary Wilson.)  However suspect this emphasis on the musical decisions of autonomous, quasi-divine creators might be, it constitutes musicology as a discipline—and it could institutionalize a musicology of record production.  Musician, as a meaningful designation, is made possible when someone can claim authorship of a performance; producer is made possible when someone—not necessarily a musician—can claim authorship of a recording.  But we ought to be haunted by Walter Benjamin’s statement: in the age of mechanical reproduction, art acquires “entirely new functions, among which the one we are conscious of, the artistic function, later may be recognized as incidental.”  (Darwin, for example, showed us that design—an “artistic function”—is not dependent upon the intervention of mind; design needs no author.)  At the heart of the record-making process lies a fundamental automatism (analogous to photography and filmmaking).  If only in theory, the record producer can extract something of aesthetic value accidentally.  Or we might ask, what conscious qualities of a great recording are not implied from the outset by electrical reproduction technology?  To create a record, does a producer have to know music or make musical decisions?  Does the producer create a recording, or does the recording—its design—retroactively create a producer?  Benjamin suggested that a mechanistic process, not authorship (or divine intervention), best accounted for the work of art in the modern era. To understand record production, then, in terms of the “musical decisions which go into the making of a track” is to ignore the fundamental difference between previous ways of making music and new ways of recording music.  It retreats from the “entirely new functions” of art that would make the study of record production valuable. I want to suggest that, in its attempts to consider the human being and technology, film theory and not musicology has provided us with useful ways of theorizing record production: the dialectic of capturing environments (emphasizing automatism) vs. designing space (emphasizing authorial control).

Kromhout, Melle Jan (Independent Scholas, Amsterdam)

As Distant and Close As Can Be. Lo-Fi Recording: Site-Specificity And (In)Authenticity

In my paper I will elaborate on the music studio as a conceptual frame for the cultural, aesthetic and above all ideological meaning of popular music. I will do this by focussing on the phenomenon of lo-fi music production and the way it expresses ideas about the space and place in and of music and related questions regarding (musical) authenticity and inauthenticity.

While, as Philip Auslander writes in his book Liveness, it is indeed true that ‘the live performance is a recreation of the recording, which is [...] the original performance,’ the aesthetics of hi-fi recording are still attached to an ideal of unmediated authenticity.Whereas the actual recording almost always takes place in the specific, standardized space of the studio (somewhat equivalent to the famous ‘white cube’ – the white walls of a gallery or museum – in the visual arts), it aims for the eradication of specific place and the construction of idealized space and imagined authenticities, which are nevertheless accepted as real by the general audience.

Since the advances of digital technology made it possible to make relatively professional sounding recordings with the use of affordable consumer electronics, the studio became a conceptual place through the design and workings of audio hard-, and software: every place can be transformed into a studio – a tool for the eradication of that place and the construction of innumerable other ‘spaces.’

In a reaction to these developments, some artists stick with lo-fi production aesthetics while the means for making hi-fi recordings are at hand. On the one hand, through the use of inferior recording techniques and recording outside of a studio lo-fi presents a different, supposedly more sincere, authenticity related to place and physicality: the musical equivalent of site-specificity. On the other hand, it is just as well an explicit ‘represented performance,’ an attempt to consciously reflect on the representational nature of recording and its inherent inauthenticity.

            In the paper I elaborate on lo-fi recording and its relation towards its hi-fi counterpart, using literature on (the history of) audio recording, the concept of noise – one of lo-fi’s most distinctive features in opposition to hi-fi – and the conceptualization of spatiality and physicality in and of music. Since, as Stan Link points out (in “The Work of Reproduction in the Mechanical Aging of an Art: Listening to Noise.” Computer Music Journal, 25:1, 2001: 34–47), there now exist ‘some very high-tech means to achieve “lo-fi” ends,’ I focus on whether lo-fi is or isn’t moving away from the hi-fi aesthetics of the music studio, what meanings are actually performed through lo-fi aesthetics as a strategy for authenticity, relying on site specificity and physicality, and what this might mean for the construction of the music studio as a conceptual framework in the study of popular music.

Le Guern, Philippe (Université d’Angers and Laboratoire Georges Friedmann, Paris 1-CNRS)

Getting a home studio equipment : An illustration of the economic theory of uncertainty ?

The discourse on the home-studio - based on the idea of a significant decrease in the cost of equipment and of access to training and ease of use - contributed to the creation of an  ideology of the «democratic» art of recording production : the home studio as an emancipation in  respect to the industry (symbolized by the “big studios” and the figure of the producer dispossessing the artist of its subjectivity) and with regard to the technical and economic constraints. Described - undoubtedly rightly - as a central element of the change in the ways of recording and renewal of esthetics, its reality is however more complex. In fact, the home studio does not present a homogenous reality (the configurations can vary significantly in quality and in costs), from the audio-digital sound card equipping a room of an «amateur» musician to the studio offering professional results.  In addition, the home studio can be used as a sort of traditional multi track facility or alternatively offer truly innovative applications. Finally, with the multiplication of equipment (software, plug ins of sounds or effects...) and websites of online sales (of which Thomann is a good example in Europe) that allow reducing the cost of purchase of equipments, the “amateur’ consumer finds himself in a position well described by classic economic theories of uncertainty: that where supply is  is plentiful, where information on the quality of the goods is imperfect, where the experience of the goods is done a posteriori, where the prices are not symmetrically correlated with quality (slight differences of quality can produce big price differences, which is showed notably with microphones or the preamplis).  To compensate for this lack of information on the quality of goods purchased,  the consumers will deploy various strategies: use of informational signals (reading of specialised reviews, or websites which test equipment such as audiofanzine in France) or also mimetic behaviors (one buys what the others buy). It can also see, to take an example, that the reference to the “vintage” became a very effective marketing argument (one can take the example of préampli TG2 of Chandler who praises oneself to be a reproduction of a section of console EMI of Abbey Road Beatles time, or Audiopacifica which asserts filiation with the material formerly used by Pink Floyd).Within this framework, my purpose is to describe the acquisition strategies used by home studio users : from which sources of information and which criteria are refereed the choices in favor of this  or that equipment and of such or such a brand? What are the priorities of the home studio users (computer, software, microphones,speakers, etc)? How are finances invested in various equipment? Which criteria determines the choices of equipment (standard of practised musical esthetics? /position in the career: amateur or professional? etc…)My survey is based on data established with one of the more important suppliers of home studio equipment in France (physical and online sale) and in discussions with about twenty home studio users.

Thomas MacFarlane (New York University)

Revolution 1: Splitting The Definitive

The Beatles’ White Album (1968) contains a curious track entitled, Revolution 1, which functions as an alternate version of the B-side of the group’s 45rpm single release, Hey Jude. In addition to marked differences in both mix and performance, there is an intriguing disparity evident in the lyrics. While the single features the line “when you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out,” Revolution 1 contains the far more ambivalent phrase, “when you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out – in.”

During interviews from the period, John Lennon expressed uncertainty regarding the need for violent revolution, and could not decide whether brutality was a necessary aspect of social change.  Thus, in the version of Revolution that appears on The White Album he includes both possibilities. While the single release seems to resolve this paradox (“count me out”), the mix and performance are far more aggressive, perhaps suggesting that Lennon had found a way to couch his ambivalence within an elaborate interplay between music and text.

The following discussion will compare the album and single versions of Revolutionfrom the standpoint of production technique and performance. Particular attention will be paid to opposing sentiments within the works’ musical and lyrical structures. The intention is to explore the ways in which Lennon’s creative process challenged the visual bias inherent in Western philosophical discourse. The resulting data will then be examined in light of the epistemological shift that was taking place in the cultural mindset of the late 20th century.

Phillip McIntyre (University of Newcastle, NSW)

Songwriting and Studio Practice: The Systems Model of Creativity Applied to ‘Writing Records’.

 Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller claimed that ‘we don’t write songs, we write records’ (in Palmer, 1996: 35). This studio based approach to creating records has had, and continues to have, a number of implications for the role of songwriters. For example, at the more general level it can be seen that the move away from writing songs to writing records has contributed to the alteration, advent and development of a variety of musical styles. However, for those directly involved in studio practice, the reconfiguring of the traditional role of the songwriter in favour of the record writer has implications not only at the point of composition but also at the level of arrangement, production and, inevitably, copyright. Drawing on data from an extended ethnographic study of songwriting the author hopes that, by looking at these issues and changes through the lens of the systems model of creativity, a fresh perspective may not only be bought to the current understandings of creative studio practice but a contribution may be made to the musicological knowledge available to those engaged in researching the art of record production.

Kirk McNally (University of Victoria)

New tools for use in the musicology of record production

This paper introduces a stereo 3-D panning visualization tool based on methods borrowed from the field of Music Information Retrieval (MIR).  This tool will help to illustrate and quantify production decisions and recording practices used in record production.  The tool is also valuable for pedagogical purposes, providing students with a visual feedback of what they are (or are not) hearing in recordings as they develop their critical listening skills.

The stereo 3-D panning visualization tool allows users to visualize the panning of different elements in a recording, with panning graphed on the x-axis, frequency on the y-axis, and the real-time component creating a waterfall-type display.  The tool computes the panning index, a frequency-domain source identification system based on a cross-channel metric as described in Avendano [1].  This panning index allows for the mapping of the individual frequency components in different FFT (Fast Fourier Transfrom) or MFCC (Mel Frequency Cepstrum Coefficient) bins along the left-right panning dimension.  In order to generate the data required, we will be using the Marsyas, Music Information Retrieval framework (

 [1] Avendano, C. “Frequency-domain source identifica­tion and manipulation in stereo mixes for enhance­ment, suppression and re-panning applications. In Proceedings of IEEE Workshop on Applications of Signal Pro­cessing to Audio and Acoustics (WASPAA), pages 55– 58, 2003.

Professor Allan Moore (University of Surrey)

Aspects Of Embodied Meaning       

This paper comes out of an AHRC project on the development of a hermeneutic approach to spatialisation in recorded song. Through consideration of key details of Annie Lennox’s ‘Walking on broken glass’, I shall demonstrate the import of certain concepts drawn from the field of cognitive science, specifically cross-domain mapping, conceptual blends and image schemata, and will use them to elucidate aspects of both musical content and its spatial realisation.

Justin Morey (Leeds Metropolitan University)

“Breaking the Fourth Wall” – The Effect of Acknowledging the Studio on Staging and Perception.

The studio can be used to locate a recording in settings other than the actual recording space, either realistic or imagined. What is the effect on this staging of the inclusion of acknowledgements of the production process, such as verbal interaction between the musicians, or from one side of the glass to the other (such as David Bowie’s treated conversation with producer Ken Scott at the beginning of Andy Warhol), that can be found in finished recordings?

It will be argued that this practice is analogous to the cinematic device of “breaking the fourth wall”, where protagonists step out of the scene they are enacting, either by addressing the audience, or by acknowledging the presence of the production team, simultaneously making the viewer complicit in the events, and highlighting the artificiality of the medium delivering them. Given that much popular music, particularly rock music, is often appreciated with the assumption that the protagonists are addressing the listener directly, how does the inclusion of these interactions on the final master affect audience perceptions?

Using a range of examples from artists including Arctic Monkeys, David Bowie, The Libertines and Led Zeppelin, it will be proposed that these interactions serve to “break the fourth wall” by revealing the mediation involved in a recording to the audience. However, while these moments can draw the audience in and give them a sense of complicity in the production, as is often the intention in the cinematic device, the intention diverges from the use in cinema in that it reinforces rather than subverts the authenticity of the recording by locating it in a believable space, i.e the studio, and promotes a sense in the audience that the events around these interactions are more immediate or live as a result. As such, it will be suggested that the inclusion of such interactions in the final master can be viewed as an attempt by the producer(s) to inscribe a recording with authenticity.

Mynett, , Mark, Dr Jonathan P Wakefield, Dr Rupert Till (University of Huddersfield)

The Use Of Click Tracks For The Extreme And Modern Metal Genre

This paper explores the use of click-tracks and the benefits they enable for drum production within the extreme metal genre. The paper will focus on the drum production of ‘Sink’, the second album by French act Kaizen which was produced, engineered and mixed by the first author of this paper and released through Sony in 2005.

   This paper will reflect the first author’s eight years experience producing within the metal genre including releases through Sony and Universal. He has worked with the likes of Colin Richardson, Andy Sneap and Jens Bogren and contributions with these, as well as other producers will be included in this paper.

    For extreme metal acts, accuracy is more important than vibe, feel or groove in the drum performance. The kick drum work and the beats, patterns, subdivisions and syncopation involved demands the very highest standard of precision and accuracy to facilitate the tightest possible production. The use of a click track provides an essential central reference point in forcing a drummer to tighten up his beats and parts and allows the producer to accurately assess as such. This enables a precise standard of drum performance.

   However, to take advantage of these benefits, the use of a click needs to be a central aspect of pre-production. Here, a producer will often need to be involved, for example in the mapping out of the song’s tempos, and recording of the guide tracks for the drummer to rehearse to. The drummer’s rehearsal time to the clicks and guides is a vital element of pre-production and its importance cannot be overstated.   

    Additionally, due to the particularly fast kick drum patterns involved (whereby double kick drums/double kick pedals are a prerequisite) and the often rhythmically intricate and complex nature of the drum parts, it is normal for the drum tracks heard on a finished production to not entirely be as performed. Often a variety of kick-pattern building and drum editing/quantisation methods will have been employed to produce very tight, almost super-human drum performances. Creating this is one of the particular production challenges of the genre and ultimately the use of clicks when recording the drums facilitates these methods and the tools involved.

    This paper looks at these issues in the context of the drum production of the album ‘Sink’, by Kaizen and additionally covers challenges specific to that production. On commencing recording of the drum tracks it became obvious that the drummer was unable to perform the vast majority of the double-bass drum work for the often complex parts. Measures were therefore taken to minimise any bleed of the kick drums onto the other microphones, so that the entire performance of the footwork involved could be built with samples. In essence, this could not have been achieved without the use of a click-track during tracking.

Ribac, Francois (University Paul Verlaine of Metz)

What’s The Social Meaning Of Recording Devices?

Recording(s) play(s) a central role in popular music. On one hand, popular musicians view recording, less as a form of duplication, than as a fundamental stage of the creative process. On the other hand, recording technologies and sound reproduction devices, including domestic equipment, function as apprentice musicians’ instructors. In the domestic sphere, especially in their rooms, teenage musicians absorb and emulate the music they loveand, thus, acquire its stylistic vocabulary and simultaneously become familiar with the process through which records are made (Bennett 1980, Green 2001). The absorption and emulation of a musical repertoire, thus, lay the ground for a process of individuation. The advent of house music and scratch, in which musicians perform with turntables, small mix desks, and samples, has further demonstrated that listening/recording devices and the (often neglected) domestic sphere play a central role in the ways in which music is learned and created.

In order to examine these processes, I undertook a study, between 2005 and 2007, of the circulation and the uses of recordings in Île-de-France (Paris and its suburbs). I tried to trace the different stages in the learning process of thirty young rock, hip-hop and techno musicians (women and men) who are carrying out their work in the Internet age. I examined the repertoires that they imitated, loved, and shared, as well as the recording tools – including domestic equipment – they used and where these came from (i.e., I identified the sources – people and objects – of these tools). I also studied the processes through which musicians appropriated them, the objects they had recourse to, the places they went to, and how they recorded their own music (most of the time with other musicians). (see note)

In this paper, I would like to focus on the tools and/or interfaces the people of the panel used. The research I made showed that, first, the men and women of the panel didn’t use the objects and repertories in the same way nor in the learning process neither in the practise. Secondly, the interfaces and representations were strongly connected with the musical style(s). In particular, those differences were clearly expressed by the choice and use of the softwares (for instance : Guitar Pro, Cubase, Logic, Reason).

 While examining how sound is represented, manipulated and exchanged, one can therefore, firstly, contribute to a musicology of the recording practises, and, secondly, precise how musical technologies express social relations.

To represent these multiple spaces/places and itineraries, I relied on schemes and network mappings (with the software RéseauLu).

Note: This report, entitled “la circulation et l’usage des supports enregistrés en Île-de-France”, was commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture, the local council of the Department of the Seine-Saint-Denis and the programme “Cultures et Territoires [Cultures and Territories]” (jointly sponsored by various French ministries). The report may be downloaded here :

Luis Adam Sanchez (University of Edinburgh)

“Shiny and New”: Madonna and The Bearings of Pop Practice

The history of Madonna as a pop performer is often organized by the concept of re-invention. This has interesting implications in a larger discussion about creativity and the creative practices associated with pop as a genre category, where the distinction between performer and producer tends to be well-defined. Madonna’s work, in its emphasis on process and the self-reflexive aspects of creative practice, makes for a valuable study of pop as a category in which an ideology based on accessibility and standardization must contend with the unanticipated life trajectories of pop product and the irrationality of taste. Drawing from Jason Toynbee’s suggestive model of creativity as it operates in the world of popular music making and from Simon Frith’s writings on popular music aesthetics, this paper examines Madonna’s career as a pop performer by focusing on the dynamic between her creative and performing practices and what the relationship between the two suggests about the aesthetics of pop. The questions I am asking are: How do we make sense of the relationship between Madonna and the musical work that bears her name? What values and practices organize her approach to making pop records and performing? What do we hear when we hear a Madonna record? What do we encounter in a Madonna performance? What is it about Madonna that Madonna re-invents? In her case, taste in producers, interrogation of nostalgia and the politics of dance are applied to a creative process that, on one hand, clearly involves studio recording and a live performance imperative, but which, on the other hand, complicates the flow of cultural production. My simple argument is that an understanding of pop as a genre category needs to account for the way creative activity is indicated and valued in terms of pop’s own aesthetic logic.

Paul Sanden (University of Western Ontario)

Listening to Gould: Embodied Performances on Record

In this paper I will present the concept of corporeal liveness, and apply it to a discussion of Glenn Gould’s solo piano recordings. Thornton (1995) and Auslander (1999) argue that the concept of live musical performance emerged historically as an oppositional category to recorded performance. Since its emergence, the concept of liveness has been invoked repeatedly to connote a sense of human production different from that found in mediated music, or at the very least resistant to the transformative powers of mediatization. I propose that liveness is perceived from various perspectives: we experience spatial liveness when we are present in the same space as a performance, and temporal liveness when we witness a performance at the time of its utterance. The term corporeal liveness refers to a perception of the physical process of making music—of bodies moving to create sound—and is a particularly useful concept with which to confront notions of disembodied sound so often thought to be represented in recordings.

            Gould’s recordings, considered in light of Gould’s common image as an ‘intellectual’ musician—which often overshadows the role the rest of his body plays in making music—present a fascinating opportunity to address these issues. For despite the overwhelming discursive focus on Gould’s intellectual abilities, his records are as much evidence of his performing body as of his brilliant mind. In addition to Gould’s constant humming, we also hear evidence of Gould’s body in the act of performance. Due in large part to the close-microphone recording techniques favoured by Gould and his recording studio collaborators, one hears in many of Gould’s recordings the physical process of piano performance—the creaking of his chair as he moves, and the ‘non-musical’ sounds the piano makes as it responds to the motions of his hands and feet—all of which are far more difficult to discern in recordings for which a more resonant ‘room ambience’ was captured.

            This paper, then, employs a discussion of corporeal liveness for two main purposes. First, in joining with other recent scholars who call for a ‘carnal musicology’ (Le Guin 2006), I present a reading of Glenn Gould—the quintessential cerebral musician—that focuses on the role of his body in creating significance in his recorded performances. Second, I present a reading of recordings—those so-called agents of disembodiment—in which a body still sounds. Contrary to Phelan’s claim that once a performance enters the realm of reproduction it becomes ‘something other than performance’ (1993), I argue that these recordings present real performing moments.


Auslander, Philip. 1999. Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture. London: Routledge.

Le Guin, Elisabeth. 2006. Boccherini’s Body: An Essay in Carnal Musicology. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Phelan, Peggy. 1993. “The Ontology of Performance.” In Unmarked: The Politics of Performance. London: Routledge.

Thornton, Sarah. 1995. Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. London: Routledge.

Savage, Steve (San Francisco State University)

The Scrubber Tool: Analog Antecedents in the DAW

Virtually all music today is produced in the digital domain and the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) has brought a seismic shift in capabilities for the creation of music.  Yet, the working model in the DAW remains the analog interfaces that are now primarily obsolete. The basic tools of recording working environments, such as mixers and transport controls, have been ported almost directly from the analog model into graphic representations in the computer. These analog antecedents in current audio production technology hold considerable sway in structuring our musical activity.  In this paper I explore the reasons for this condition, questioning its value and relevance along the way.  Is it necessary for the mixing functions in the computer to be modeled on the analog mixer?  Have operators found ways to bypass the analog models to find more innovative ways to work?  Does anyone use the scrubber tool in Pro Tools?  Did the analog model support a smooth transition from analog to digital?  Does it enhance the working environment, supporting the creative renewal inherent in the expanded functionality of the digital domain; or is it a relic that has limited the explosive capabilities of digital audio production?

Simonsen, Tore (Norwegian Academy of Music)

The Classical Recording as a Work of Phonography

Through the development of audio recording techniques in the 20th century, classical recordings have gained a new position as analyzable works of art and given rise to a new interest in the interpretation itself, its historical development and its position within the concept of the musical work. At the same time, studio production practices have established a new kind of musical art, where interpretation in its original meaning has disappeared, establishing instead the studio production as both the artistic point of departure as well as the working method. Lee Brown names this kind of art a Work of Phonography, but reserves its use to the studio-based pop recordings (Rock Music in Theodore Gracyk’s parlance) and to studio recordings of jazz.

However, a classical recording is also a studio product, where manipulation of time (through highly specialized editing) and space (with frequent adjustments of internal balance as well as other acoustical qualities) have been part of the industry’s normal, but not always well-documented practice. Here John Culshaw’s productions from the seventies are more the exception than the rule, perhaps because an opera production needs to transcend a mere interpretation document to compensate for the missing visual element.

I would contend that any classical recording also may be understood as a Work of Phonography, linked to its studio practice. In this view, interpretation and production are combined into one unique work of art; becoming what Nelson Goodman has called an autographic work of art — it can never be duplicated in another recording. We are used to thinking about classical music as allographic — all kinds of performances (as long as they are regarded as authentic representations of the work in question) are equally genuine instances of the work.

One of the consequences of this view is that a studio production no longer may be regarded as a picture of a performance. The production is no longer a more or less transparent view of an acoustical event, but rather opaque, with great consequences for any discographic work. Like Philip Auslander, I would also claim that it becomes non-historical — during playback it will be experienced as present, not past, regardless of its actual recording date. In this way the historical dimension for classical recordings may be looked upon as being diminished or distorted: all recordings presents themselves as contemporary (to us), they are parallel representations of the samecomposition and at the same time different works of art.

Stobart, Henry (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Constructing Community In The Home Studio: Indigenous VCD (DVD) Production In The Bolivian Andes

This paper examines the processes and politics surrounding the production of low budget indigenous music VCDs by the Bolivian musician and cultural activist Gregorio Mamani. Brought up a in a rural community, Mamani’s career as a recording artist has led him to move to the city where in 1990 he pioneered the commercial recording of indigenous rural music. His recordings, which tend to be scorned by middle class Bolivians, are consumed by economically disadvantaged rural peasants and urban migrants. From around 2003 the digital video disc (VCD) began to be adopted by indigenous musicians, but high levels of piracy (around 95%) have led the retail price of discs to plummet; this means that Mamani works within immensely tight budgetary constraints.

Based on research in North America, Paul Théberge has argued that “the home studio is, above all private space”, where studios are usually tucked away in bedrooms, dens or basements, “separate from family life in almost every way”. In the Mamani household, by contrast, family life is in many respects dominated by and revolves around the spaces allocated to the studio and video editing; the production process also regularly spills out into the other areas of family space. Here, VCD production and distribution emerge as a form of cottage industry which involves most of the family, but also as one which often brings to light the challenges of musically and visually evoking community participation and specific indigenous rural knowledge, values and aesthetics. This paper considers some of the ways that Mamani, who now lives far from the rural community of his youth, exploits digital technology to face the challenges of cultural isolation, complex social relations, and economic constraints in producing his indigenous music videos.

Subramaniam, Divakar (University of Glamorgan)

Producing Kollywood Songs: Digital Technology And Creative Practice

This paper attempts to explore the role of creative music technology in Kollywood or South Indian Tamizh film songs to gain a deeper understanding of the Tamizh film music industry’s production aesthetics. The research strategy includes a study of past and present production practices, field interviews, a comparative study with Western counterparts and professional practice. The research methodology cuts across scientific and cultural platforms.

The South Indian Tamizh film industry caters to a Tamizh audience in the state of Tamizh Nadu and abroad, and is commonly known as “Kollywood”. The name is partly derived from “Kodambakkam”, a Chennai locality, which houses most of the popular cine production facilities and Kollywood’s popular Western counterpart “Hollywood”. Kollywood produces around 100 films every year and has earned a significant place in the Indian music industry, especially after the introduction of digital music technology in the early 1990s.

Thanks to its theatrical origin, Tamizh films contain songs that have become an integral part of the Tamizh musical tradition. These songs can be categorized into specific genres, which have evolved musical and technical guidelines that inform cultural aesthetics. These guidelines can be viewed as the creative boundaries that music producers strive to expand and thereby contribute to their redefinition.

Digital technology has played a critical role in the evolution of Kollywood songs.It introduced the Tamizh audience to increased musical “perfection”, in terms of quantization and pitch. Although this arguably lacked the complex nature of human performance, it enhanced clarity of sound and thereby, the listening experience. The multicultural world influences in Tamizh cinema necessitated the need for music producers to draw from varied musical, cultural and technical resources that have debatably altered the creative aesthetics of Tamizh film songs. Music producers now adopt a compartmentalized approach to production that facilitates synchronization from multiple musical resources. This change has resulted in a philosophically divergent traditionalist and modernist Tamizh audience.

This study aims to highlight the musicological components in a Tamizh film song; understand their significance; examine the role of digital music production tools such as sequencing, synthesis and sampling in the generative process; analyse the inter-dependency between musicological and technological aspects and identify specific aesthetics that apply to creative practice within the Tamizh film music industry.

The research method involved a comprehensive literature review, case studies, comparative studies, professional practice and personal field interviews with leading Kollywood music composers; lyricists; film directors; dance directors; actors and public, to document first hand information about past and present Kollywood music composition and production practices, audience expectations and cultural aesthetics.

Using audio examples, the presentation will scrutinize the significance of inter-dependency between musicological and technological aspects of producing Tamizh film music, debate the progressive nature of this relationship and its impact. The discussion will focus on the influence of digital production tools (such as sequencing, synthesis, sampling and looping) on Tamizh film songs; evolution of production roles (including music composers, music producers and musicians); and its impact on the target Tamizh demographic and the wider global community.

Supper, Alexandra (Maastricht University)

“Tape Hiss and Other Imperfections”

This paper will deal with practices of music recording from a perspective of science and technology studies (STS). While much of the work in this vein has centred on new innovation`fgv.,n,h  nm s in music and recording technologies, the focus here is on technologies that by many are considered outdated or obsolete, yet continue to be used by some musicians and recordists, often under the heading of 'lo-fi' approaches that deliberately set themselves off from state-of-the-art high-fidelity recording technologies. The paper investigates the rationale behind such lo-fi approaches, including issues of cost and sound quality, but also the particular notions of authenticity, spontaneity, and creativity that are entangled with these practices. It shows that lo-fi recording is often linked up to a distrust of notions of recording transparency (the belief that a recording can accurately capture sound, without altering it in any way) and an acknowledgment of the role of technology in shaping recorded results. In doing so, the recording technology is promoted from a mere machine to a musical instrument in its own right, adding a sonic character to the performance, or even to the role of a co-performer next to the human performers. Building upon work by Jonathan Sterne, the paper will argue that lo-fi aesthetics are not merely about the usage of certain technologies or the presence of certain artefacts in the recordings, but about 'audile techniques' and modes of listening: Lo-fi is an approach of recording that is intended not to let the listener indulge in the illusion of a transparent recording, a mode of listening in which one doesn't listen past, but for the hiss, distortions and imperfections present in a recording.

Empirically, the paper draws upon an analysis of liner-notes and existing interview material with musicians and recordists, as well as of articles published in TapeOP ('the creative music recording magazine'). Additionally, a few e-mail interviews with relevant musicians/recordists were conducted.

Thorley, Mark (Coventry University)

Performance And Recording In Uganda

The recorded product is now so established that a musician or performer is likely to view performance in the studio with equal importance as in a live environment. In some cases, musicians and performers have established careers based on performance in the studio primarily and have been found to have limited performance ability in the live environment.

In contrast to this situation in European, American and some Asian markets, the area of Busoga in Uganda has had little exposure to music recording. Live performance of music and dance is however crucial and plays a large part in most peoples’ lives particularly on special occasions. The lack of recording facilities and underdeveloped recorded music product distribution means that different areas have very disparate styles of music and tend to remain so.

This paper examines the establishment of a small recording facility in Iganga in the Busoga region of Uganda. It will firstly outline the styles of music and performance already in existence. It will also look at the existing music industry infrastructure such as distribution and radio, attitudes to copyright etc. Finally, it will look at the effects on musicians’ performances by being exposed to the recording process. For example, are they likely to move beyond the ‘capturing’ of a performance and include the recording process as part of creative decision making? Will the recording process help them preserve their unique styles of music or encourage homogenisation? Will owning their own recordings have the potential for them to derive economic benefit and raise the social standing of musicians?

Toulson , Rob & William Campbell (Anglia Ruskin University, UK)

The Life And Death Of Dynamic Range: Who Decides How Loud?

It is common practice for produced audio to be mastered with the aim of increasing the perceived loudness for the listener. This can allow one record to stand out from another, by delivering an immediate impact and intensity. But who actually decides how ‘loud’ a piece of reproduced music is or should be? The mastering engineer can control the level of dynamic range of a piece by manipulating the peak and RMS values of the audio stream. And record labels often dictate to the mastering engineer that recordings require an immediate impact for the listener in order to stand out above the competition. A general assumption is that the listener perceives loudness as the RMS value of the audio, with the actual peak levels adding transient quality, but with no major contribution to perceived loudness. So to achieve the greatest possible loudness within a given reproduction headroom, the RMS can be raised if first the peaks are reduced – i.e. through compression or limiting. So there is a trade off between loudness and quality. But who is the listener? Do they have a roll to play in this process? If the listener has a home reproduction system with suitable headroom, they can dictate the loudness by simply turning up the volume. This raises both the peak and RMS – the best of both worlds.

So, is compressed audio really needed? Recent commercial releases have seen passages of audio with a dynamic range (the peak-to-RMS ratio) of just 2 dB. And the methods of limiting to this extent generally result in the distortion and reduction of transients. Therefore, conversely, a loudness enhanced piece of music can actually lose impact by the fact that transient and percussive instruments are reduced and left weak in the mix. However, the battle for success in the commercial world, radio distribution methods and the use of poor quality and low headroom consumer reproduction systems make heavily compressed masters the current norm.

A recent initiative by The Pleasurize Music Foundation ( is to educate the music industry and music consumers in the values of higher dynamic range audio. A future goal is to define industry standards for the dynamic range levels of mastered music, in a similar manner to those associated with the film industry. The authors’ current research is in the gathering of evidence and data to quantify listeners’ response to different levels of dynamic range in reproduced music: How do listeners adjust the listening volume with respect to the dynamic range? What are the effects of listener fatigue with respect to over-compression and excessive distortion? What are the listener expectations of dynamic range for different music genres?

In this paper the history and changes in trends with respect to dynamic range are discussed and results of initial listening tests will be presented and evaluated. The roadmap and challenges for further and wider research will also be described and discussed.

Dan Turner (University of Glamorgan)

Outlining The Fundamental Production Aesthetics Of Commercial Heavy Metal Music Utilising Systematic Empirical Analysis

The research field of record production in academia is currently a relatively new field of study, spanning approximately the last fifteen years. Even a cursory glance at this area highlights a lack of any comprehensive study into the field of record production techniques and aesthetics in the genres of contemporary heavy metal. As a precursor to further research activity, this paper will demonstrate how the commercial production of this style requires higher levels of precision, in regard to both musical performance and engineering technique, when compared to other genres that fall under the broader umbrella of “rock music”.

Owsinski’s “The Mixing Engineers Handbook” categorizes a mix into having six key elements: Balance, frequency range, panorama, dimension, dynamics and interest (meaning the elements that make the mix “special”). From this basis, my research will examine the extreme usage of equalisation, sample replacement and strict tempo adherence often required for this genre in order to fulfil these criteria by analysing Pro Tools sessions used for the recent Cradle of Filth album “Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder” (kindly donated by Roadrunner/Warner Brothers). This album was produced, engineered and mixed by the acclaimed metal “studio sensei”, Andy Sneap and provides an excellent vehicle for research due to the extensive nature of the primary source material.

These multitrack masters are particularly comprehensive because Sneap records and mixes entirely within the Pro Tools environment. Therefore, all the plug-ins, their settings and instrumental balances remain intact and allow the researcher to perform comparative analysis of the original source recordings and their effected counterparts. Equally as salient is the existence of drum outtakes within these Pro Tools session files, which give a unique insight into the decision-making processes undertaken when compiling master takes, as well as indicating possible use of beat correction utilities, such as Digidesign’s Beat Detective.

The analytical processes will be both systematic and comparative, and will consist of the employment of FFT frequency analysis, sonograms, amplitude and panoramic analysis.  These will provide empirical data that will demonstrate the relationships between the sources that make up the final mix, highlighting the extreme uses of equalisation and compression utilised by the producer during the mix process. The master drum compilation will be compared to the outtakes, with the relationship of the performed drum hits to the songs strict metronomic tempo analysed. This will provide insight into the “feel” of each take, and go some way toward explaining why these particular takes were chosen for the final drum master compilation. Finally, a thorough comparison of the timing relationships between the guitar and bass performances will be undertaken; highlighting that heavy metal production requires extreme synchronicity between all the elements of the rhythm sections in order to achieve maximum sonic impact.

Walther-Hansen, Mads (University of Copenhagen)

The Influence of Music Technology on the Perception of the Performer in Phonographic Space

 This paper focuses on creative designs of phonographic spaces in modern popular music recordings and explores how spatial effects influences on the listener-performer relation. Spatial effects obviously alter the perceived acoustic space of recordings, but it seems that we know more about how these effects are applied to represent a given physical structure of space or create metaphorical meaning, than we know about the relation between the use of spatial effects and the changing perception of the performer. Various approaches in the realm of phenomenological philosophy describes how the ‘other’ in space is percieved visually, but it is still unclear how these philosophies of intersubjective encounters relate to the auditory perception of the performer in a mediated virtual space. This problem will be discussed by focusing on how the distinction between real spaces and virtual spaces corresponds to the idea of real bodies and virtual bodies, and further, how actual locations of humans in space corresponds to virtual locations of performers in phonographic space. Elaborating on Serge Lacasse’s notion of vocal staging, I will discuss different spatial staging techniques, to demonstrate how spatial effects shape the perception of the performer and the spatio-temporal relation between the performer and the listener. Creative designs of phonographic spaces and their effect will be exemplified in tracks from experimental rock and electronica, e.g. distorted spaces, ‘rotated’ spaces, and illusions of two diegetic spaces.

Alan Williams (University of Massachusetts Lowell)

Charged Encounters: The Mercurial Nature of Role Formation in the Recording Studio

The division of studio labor into particular roles developed with electrical recording technology in the mid- 1920s, and became further codified as multitrack recording became widely adopted in the late 1950s and early 1960s. As tasks in the recording process became allocated to these particular roles, a social hierarchy emerged. Shifts in the definitions of these roles also transform the social hierarchy in the studio.

The occupants of the roles of producer, engineer, musician, and artist each must develop particular skills related to the specific duties associated with each position. Mastery of these skill sets secures an individual's studio role and place within the social hierarchy. In many cases, individuals from one position not only master the skills of their respective role, but also begin to master skills associated with a different role. The acquisition of additional skill sets bestows a considerable measure of mobility within the studio environment – the roles are established, but the assignment of these roles can be fluid.

The economic hierarchy associated with popular music makers, with stars at the top of the mountain is not necessarily reflected in the hierarchy of recording session participants. This was especially true during the era of major label budgets and exclusive professional facilities. The star system that guaranteed substantial income to hit-makers via royalty payments, ironically contributed to the artists' low standing in the studio. Though artists stood to make the most money from a record's success, it was the other studio participants who were paid for their services regardless of how the end result fared in the marketplace. Artists might come and go, but session musicians, engineers, and producers were still making records day after day, year after year. Artists were interlopers in an ongoing process, tourists with limited visas.

By the 1970s, many performers were given the opportunity to produce themselves, and many of these artists endeavored to do so with middling success. Yet even now, most recording artists continued to employ producers and engineers to provide the necessary skills and direction in the studio. The roles and their "job descriptions" have been maintained, but the rigid divisions between them have been relaxed. Musicians sometimes sit at the mixing console, producers and engineers occasionally play instruments, and everyone is free to voice an opinion, as long as proper etiquette is observed. Yet, despite the congenial nature of these collaborative efforts, the divisions and role distinctions continue to exist, though in less visible ways. Based on extensive field observation and interviews with recording musicians, engineers, and producers, this paper examines how roles established in generations previous continue to govern recording practice, and questions whether power in the recording studio can truly be held or shared, but rather contested, taken, or lost.

Williams, Justin (University of Nottingham)

Music Production and the Automotive Environment: Dr. Dre’s ‘G-Funk’

The automobile represents one of the most important mobile technologies of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, transforming time, space, ‘the everyday,’ mass production, as well as urban and emotional geographies. While the automobile has been discussed and theorized as the “quintessential manufactured object” of the twentieth century (Urry 2005: 26), little has been written on the cross-influences among recorded music, technology, and automobility. This paper begins to outline the intersections between music and the automobile by investigating the role of the automobile in popular music production, namely, the hip-hop production style of Dr. Dre (Andre Young).

Dr. Dre’s creation of a style labelled ‘G-funk’ in the early 1990s, according to him, was created and mixed specifically for listening in car stereo systems. As borrowing, sampling, and other forms of intertextuality are central to hip-hop’s ethos, Dr. Dre’s production reflects how musical materials become re-used for a new space, updated and customized for the automotive listening experience.

The automobile sound system has been an important listening reference in many styles of music production since at least the 1960s, with the advent of Top-40 radio and the car’s role in youth cultures. As producers would tailor their mixes to the car stereo, the needs of automotive listening arguably helped to shape the timbre and volume of the music produced. For automobile-centric hip-hop producers such as Dr. Dre, Jermaine Dupri, and DJ Magic Mike, consideration of the relatively small space of  the car interior in production and mixing affects elements such as dynamic compression, how frequencies are equalized, and, in particular, the focus on low-end frequencies (both the aural and tactile sensations from subwoofer playback). While the opinions of music producers are far from homogeneous, testing music mixes in car audio systems has been a rarely acknowledged practice; and if we then consider both the playback spaces and speakers involved, we can better analyse the ecology of how a music recording interacts with the listener in particular environments.

Woolfe, Paula (Liverpool University)

"Face It Guys, She's A Genius" (Kitty Empire The Observer Review 2007) Production, Gender And The Independent Music Industry

I have argued elsewhere (Wolfe, 2005; Wolfe, 2008) that self production practices amongst female independent artists have opened up potential routes for women to enter the male dominated field of popular music production (Negus 1992; Theberge 1997; Whiteley, 2000; Mahew 2004). The ‘traditional’ route of tea boy to engineer to producer has long been acknowledged in academia (Porcello 2004) and lamented over anecdotally in production conferences but the manner in which such career building strategies have marginalized aspiring women producers has been overlooked.

New routes now established, however, this paper aims to address current practices of independent female producers in the UK. In order to assess what such practices tell us about music production and gender in the context of today’s industry, I will be drawing on interviews with a select number of female producers and the artists they work with as well as assessing the markets they target and the strategies they employ to market both their work and themselves,

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

Recording Technology and the Conceptualisation of Music

Nicholas Cook, in Music: A Very Short Introduction, points to the fact that the development of the western music notation system was instrumental in shaping the way that composers and musicians conceptualised music as well as being a key factor (pun intended) in its conservation and communication. All of the tools we use in making music also affect the way we think about it and, therefore, the ways in which we’re likely to produce it.

The move from linear, tape-based recording practice to non-linear, hard-disk systems had a powerful effect not just on recording practice but also on the way that artists and producers conceptualise a piece and envisage the creative process. Many of the historical developments that Zak mentions in The Poetics of Rock can be seen as creating music through what might be described as ‘organic development’ (in terms of progressive growth), whereas the ‘cut-and-paste’ methods of desktop systems have encouraged composers to work in a modular fashion. It is becoming less common for any musician to play their part from beginning to end during the recording process – especially in popular music. Non-linear practice often involves the producer or engineer aiming to record a ‘good chorus’ and a ‘good verse’ which is then copied and pasted to create the arrangement structure. Has this change in working practice led to many composer-producers conceptualising session musicians in the same way as they might envisage a sampler: as a sound source that generates modular units to be assembled and manipulated in the creative process? Sampling has to some extent altered the idea of composing to include collage and assemblage in ways that were previously perceived to be the domain of the DJ (the editor, the selector, and the impresario), driving changes in the way that non-linear recording is used. Indeed, the most successful software packages in this field have evolved out of MIDI sequencing software, thus further reinforcing the idea that non-linear recordings should be manipulated in the same way as MIDI sequences.

This paper will seek to identify the ways in which changing recording technology has affected the ways in which the creative process, performance practice and musical structure are conceptualised. As well as the musicological approaches taken by scholars such as Cook and Zak, theories of perception and cognition (such as those in Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By and Eric Clarke’s Ways of Listening) will also be employed.