2010 ARP Conference

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Some full papers are published in the Peer Reviewed Proceedings of the 6th Art of Record production Conference

Simon Barber (Birmingham City University)

Soundstream: The Introduction of Commercial Digital Recording in the United States

The introduction of commercial digital recording technologies in the United States during the 1970s represents a pivotal, transformative era in the history of sound recording that helped to determine new methodologies for the capture, editing, playback and storage of audio. Drawing on primary interview research, this paper reflects on notions of change and continuity in music production by looking back at the history and innovative practices of a digital audio company. It examines the ways in which a group of computer scientists and electrical engineers from the University of Utah introduced new digital recording equipment for music production and developed a digital audio business in response to, and in collaboration with, the music industries.

Soundstream Inc. was a digital audio recording company founded in 1975 by Dr. Thomas G. Stockham Jr. Soundstream was the first commercial digital audio recording company in the United States, providing on-location recording services and computer based digital audio editing. Soundstream’s editing system was a direct precursor of the modern digital audio workstation. By continually developing its digital audio recorder, reconfiguring its business model, and competing with larger, more powerful organisations, Soundstream participated in a period of potent change in the music industries. In order to survive, Soundstream had to address, and act upon, ongoing tensions between technology, artistry, aesthetics and commerce.

Through close contact with engineers, producers and artists in the recording process, Soundstream was able to obtain feedback in the field and improve the sound quality of its equipment. By responding to demand for in-person recording services, rather than pursuing the sale of its hardware, Soundstream galvanised a client base of record labels that wanted digital recording, editing and mastering services. Although popular with labels producing classical music, Soundstream struggled to find equal success with the aesthetics of rock and pop production. As digital recording solutions began to emerge from larger, more powerful companies, Soundstream began to develop solutions for optical media storage and playback. This work was eventually outmoded by the arrival of the compact disc and the company ceased to operate in the mid 1980s.

This paper uses Soundstream as a case study from which to raise questions about the agency of the user, the aesthetic demands of record production and the commodification of technological innovation.

Jim Barrett (University of Glamorgan)

Music Technology Education: A Brief Taxonomy

This paper will consider how Music Technology has been constructed within education at various levels leading to conflicting paradigms both within education but also with music industry practice.

Two initial models within universities are the technology-based paradigm and the music-based paradigm, to which, perhaps, a media based paradigm has been added.  Within the technology-based paradigm would be craft-based courses as exemplified by London Guildhall University, electronics engineering-based awards such as York, and recording engineering-based awards at Surry, Salford and elsewhere.  Bangor, Goldsmith’s, Bath Spa and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama all provide examples of music technology as a means of creative composition within the music paradigm.

Meanwhile a plethora of courses have developed at sub-degree level which, although initially within the technology-based paradigm, have tended towards performing arts.  Subsequently Music Technology has been introduced in schools as a means of compensation for the flight of interest from the elective music curriculum, and, despite the new curriculum for the BTEC Music Technology ‘A’ Level, music technology within schools has remained restricted in scope.

The extent to which any of these awards and courses provides a preparation for work within the industry is open to debate.  Richard Burgess’ descriptions of music producer profiles or the biographies of successful producers within the Music Producers Guild indicate that there could never be a definitive training course for the music producer and many educationalists would resist any suggestion that their objectives were restricted to this sort of training, despite the efforts of their marketing departments.

What then is Music Technology and is there any purpose in providing an education in it?

This paper will draw on a recently completed PhD ‘Music Technology in School Education’, experience gained within the Music Producers Guild and its education arm (shared with the Association of Professional Recording Services) Join Audio Media Education Services, and experience as Head of Division of Music and Sound at a university.

Joe Bennett (Bath Spa University)

Collaborative songwriting – the ontology of negotiated creativity in popular music studio practice

The relationship between songwriting practice and song product is an under-explored one in popular musicology, still less so in a studio-based environment. Our research sources are accordingly limited, drawing mainly on first-hand retrospective interviews with artist-songwriters, who may have an incentive for self-mythologising, or at least romanticising their songwriting methods to preserve fan perceptions of authenticity. There are no available real-time observations of the collaborative processes involved in creating popular song, despite the huge economic and artistic successes of songwriting partnerships throughout the history of our field. Sloboda (1985) identifies the reluctance displayed by composers of any sort to participate in detailed analysis of their processes; these difficulties are exacerbated further by some songwriters’ apparently-deliberate mystification of their craft. Attempts to analyse processes of musical composition generally have generally focused on single-composer models (Nash 1955); even studies relating to collaboration remain concerned with instrumental art music (Hayden & Windsor 2007) or educational-based observation subjects (Burnard & Younker 2002).

This paper will build on the single-songwriter research of McIntyre (2009) and the theoretical definitions of creativity provided by Csikszentmihalyi (1996). It will explore, through analysis of ‘hits’ and examples of emerging practitioner-based research, the inferences that can be made by comparing historical and current songwriting practice with the finished product, and will attempt to identify commonly-used collaborative models, including artist with ‘ghost-writer’, artist with artist, band-based ensembles, ‘factories’ e.g. Brill Building and Stock/Aitken/Waterman’s Hit Factory, and collaborative distance-writing. Established and emerging musical practices will be identified and analysed, including top-line writing, ‘Nashville’ co-writes, loop-based improvisation, lyric-first and music-first approaches, together with a discussion of the effect of the presence (or absence) of studio technologies as mediator of the songwriting process.

Joe Bennett is Head of School of Music & Performing Arts at Bath Spa University and director of the UK Songwriting Festival. He is currently undertaking a PhD study into collaborative creative practices in popular songwriting at the University of Surrey.

Burnard, P. & Younker, B.A., 2002. Mapping Pathways: fostering creativity in composition. Music Education Research, 4(2), 245-261.Csikszentmihalyi, M., 1996. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, New York: HarperCollins.


Mcintyre, P., 2009. ‘I’m Looking Through You’: An Historical Case Study of Systemic Creativity in the Partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. In Collaborations: Creative Partnerships in Music.  The Performance and Social Aesthetics Research Unit (PASA), Monash Conference Centre, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Nash, D., 1955. Challenge and Response in the American Composer's Career. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 14(1), 116-122.

Sloboda, J., 1985. The musical mind : the cognitive psychology of music, Oxford [Oxfordshire]  ;New York: Clarendon Press ;;Oxford University Press.

Sam Bennett (University of Surrey)

Production Anti production

Summarising extensive research in a recently completed Doctoral thesis, this paper presents an argument for the existence of anti production as an identifiable and widely implemented methodology amongst popular music recordists. Here, uses of technological precursors used in tandem with unorthodox production practices are evaluated as the key characteristics of anti production.

The application of technological precursors in recording & production practice has been prone to accusations of ‘technophobia’, nostalgia [1] or even sentimentality on the part of the recordist. These simplistic notions not only ignore recordists’ intentions, but also the sonic characteristics of chosen technologies, musical aesthetics, storage capabilities as well as time and budget constraints associated with recording sessions. Additionally, many discussions of earlier technologies and their use in production practice have often taken place within narrow ‘analogue/ digital’ or ‘aesthetically perfect/ imperfect’ paradigms [2].

Also considered are recordists’ implementations of unorthodox recording techniques and/ or production processes. This notion of ‘pushing the boundaries’, ‘rule breaking’ or the ‘going against’ of standard practices has been noted [3], particularly in the practices of luminaries such as Joe Meek and Phil Spector. But such practices are certainly not exclusive to the pioneers of the 1960s.

In this paper, I examine contemporary instances where unorthodox production techniques have been used in conjunction with technological precursors on popular music recordings. I call this combination anti production; the resulting recording is often highly distinctive and sonically discernable. How prevalent is the technique in popular music production? And to what extent have purveyors of anti production (re)informed ‘standards’ of recording practice?

[1] An example being: Taylor (2001) ‘Technostalgia’ in Strange Sounds.

[2] Examples being: Barlindhaug (2007) Analogue sound in the Age of Digital Tools; Berk (2000) Analogue Fetishes and Digital Futures; Durant (1990) A New Day for Music? Digital Technologies and Contemporary Music Making; Supper (2009) Tape Hiss and Other Imperfections; Hamilton (2003) The Art of Recording and the Aesthetics of Perfection.

[3] Examples being: Cunningham (1998) Good Vibrations; Zak (2001) The Poetics of Rock; Moorefield (2005) The Producer as Composer.

Florent Bousson (ROMA Laboratory, Grenoble)

Abyssinia: analytical narrative of the production process for an alternative record”

In this paper, I'd like to analyse the artistic process of the creation of an alternative record entitled ‘Abyssinia, song for a lost shepherd’, which I produced in France and Spain between 2001 and 2003 with the work of various micro collectives and the collaboration of more than 40 musicians, 3 sound engineers, 8 production and recording spaces (recording studios, a church, several home-studios and rehearsal areas etc.) and 5 music producers with different backgrounds and musical styles (classical, rock, hip-hop, electronic or reggae).

In order to do so, I will start making a brief description of the main record production stages and the dissemination work this production meant.

In the second part of the paper, I will describe the technological resources used in the recording process:

-  a computerized system equipped with some professional musical softwares;

-  a home-studio designed for hip-hop music (samplers Akai, beat machine, synthesizer, musical instruments etc.);

-   some “vintage” and traditional recording methods (professional recording studio equipped with some AKG valve microphones, a multi-track reel-to-reel and an analogue mixing desk) used by the rock band.

So, I will describe how one of the sound engineers, just before the final mastering, had to create an acoustic order where chaos apparently reigned and had to give the record a sonic identity by fine retouching of the frequencies.

In the third part, I will use all the information to analyse the role of musical computing, Internet and ITCs in this international record production.

I will finish this communication expressing the idea that ‘Abyssinia, song for a lost shepherd’ has to be taken as a local example of the “digital revolution” [1] and of the global change that is taking place thanks to the democratization of the production and diffusion of knowledge in the new “intangible territories” and “virtual spaces” which are emerging with the ICT and Web 2.0. [2]

The record's artistic process

  1. ideasspace, Africa, desert, travels, origins, Arthur Rimbaud’s biography musicguitar chord, Erik Satie, DJ Cam, Pink Floyd, film scores  imageJean-Paul Poinsot’s photo, camera flying over a desert textoriginal poem, rap by Silvia Amal and MC S., copla by Celia Mur, poetry in Berber

Methods of focus notion of musical script notion of Interludes placed at the disposition of the tracks of the symphonic poetry collective creativity → project culture → disc seen as a “common commodity”→ convergence of the proposals devices of “guided creativity”1. proposals → 2. selection/refusal → 3. production phase  conceptualization of “types of listener”: travellers, lovers of open spaces and winter sports, curious music lovers

Giving form production:pre-mastering of the themes in each of the work spaces postproduction:→ working the sound: Ideas of “mellowness”·, of “sensation of spaciousness”→ details of structure: order of the tracks, linking between the themes

  1. concept disc “musical script” patchwork of languages: scat! vocals, phrases in Amharic, Berber, French, Spanish, English patchwork of musical styles: rap, World-Music, rock, electronic music, dub, classical music

[1] For an analysis of the "digital revolution", see the work of Marc Bourreau and Michel Gensollen (2006).

[2] About the implications of Web 2.0 and social networking sites for music, see the article of David Beer (2008).

Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen (University of Oslo) & Paul Harkins (Edinburgh Napier University)

The Strange Delights of 'The Whipped Cream Mixes': the aesthetics, humour and tradition of mash-ups

Several journalists and academics have celebrated mash-ups as a subversive and revolutionary art form that challenges copyright laws and blurs boundaries between composer and consumer. These types of discussion are often dominated by the music’s political consequences and do not leave much room for questions of aesthetics. We will therefore approach this musical style with an alternative perspective, focusing on the aesthetics of the music. The art of mash-up, we will argue, is to succeed in finding two tracks that fit together musically, resulting in aesthetically appealing songs in their own right, but we will also emphasise and explore the importance of humour to the aesthetic.

Some scholars trace the roots of mash-ups to the techniques of musique concréte and the avant-garde, and approach mash-ups like art forms such as montage and collage. We will argue that these are only roots of the mash-up form – a juxtaposition of diverse elements – and not the roots of its aesthetics in terms of the principle underlying them or their effect on listeners. It is striking how many people react with smiles and laughter when hearing a new mash-up for the first time, which implies that mash-ups are often intended and interpreted as musical jokes. We will look to early examples of incongruous musical juxtapositions such as the comedy records of Buchanan and Goodman, and George Martin and Peter Sellers, in order to understand the mash-up phenomenon in a slightly wider historical context. By making this connection, we will also emphasise the necessity of recognising the samples in question if one is to understand their new contexts as incongruous and humorous.

In order to give an account of important factors that contribute to making mash-ups aesthetically successful, we will analyse The Whipped Cream Mixes by The Evolution Control Committee (ECC), which blends the music of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass with the rap vocals of Public Enemy’s Chuck D. We will discuss how the form and content are constructed in terms of incongruity, and, building on theories of humour, try to explain why we consider the incongruity in question humorous. We will argue that musical communication is crucial if mash-ups are to function on a musical level and plays a major role in determining whether the mash-ups are good or bad. Similarly, contextual incongruity is crucial if the mash-ups are to succeed in creating a humorous effect.

Alice Clifford (Queen Mary University of London)

Reducing comb filtering on different musical instruments using time delay estimation

Comb filtering occurs when a signal and a delayed version of the same signal are mixed, for example when the signals from two microphones reproducing a single audio source are mixed. This effect can be reduced by applying a compensating delay so there is ultimately no delay between the audio signals. This can be made automatic by using time delay estimation. This paper explores the effect on the accuracy of the time delay estimation when using bandwidth limited source signals, such as a variety of musical instruments with different frequency content. It is found that the smaller the bandwidth of the source signal, the less accurate the time delay estimation and comb filter reduction.

Ian Cole (University of York)

Chaucer’s Lament – An Exploration Into Aleatory Music

This paper outlines the development of a piece of music written to be used on a 16 speaker ambisonic array. The composition uses aleatory musical incidents to help create improvisations and opportunities for unusual music production. Ambient and percussive recordings were conducted in an underground cavern, while spoken Middle English is used with synthesized improvised counter-melodies for dramatic effect.

Ambisonics was developed by Michael Gerson and a group of British researchers in the 1970’s [1]. It can be defined as a series of recording and replay techniques using multichannel mixing technologies and by encoding and decoding the sound on a number of channels, a 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional sound field can be presented to the listener [5]. A 16 speaker ambisonic array has 8 speakers on a vertical array (forming a cube with 4 speakers close to the ceiling and 4 speakers at floor level) and 8 speakers in a horizontal array with 1 speaker in front of the listener and all other 7 speakers of equal distance in a circular configuration.

Aleatoric music is derived from the Latin word for dice ‘alea’ and is where some element of the composition or performance is left to chance [2]. This piece of music was influenced by aleatoric methods with all of the musical incidents in this composition being generated by accidents, mistakes, improvisations or chance encounters. This is a slight deviation from other aleatory methods such as randomly generated numerical or textual interactions that have been used for example in John Cages ‘Music for Change’ where the arrangement was determined by systematic moves on a set of charts [3].

The central theme of the composition is based around the speaking of the first 18 lines of the general prologue from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffery Chaucer [4]. The Canterbury Tales is spoken in Middle-English, a form of English that was spoken between 1100AD and 1500AD [4]. This became an aleatorical incident when by chance a linguistics expert spoke some of the Middle-English Canterbury Tales prologue in the company of the composer. The Middle-English prologue is looped within the ambisonic soundscape and each loop would move around the horizontal speaker array, starting at the front and gradually moving clockwise to approximately 320 degrees  whereby the loops would start again at the centre of the soundfield.

The a musical piece of John Dunstable’s (1390-1453) ‘O rosa bella’(1420) [5] was use as the inspiration for the composition, improvisations of a synthesized harp and cello were made based the piece. This project has had two main themes firstly the use of aleatorical incidents to make music in a different and interesting way that explored the boundaries of conventional musical composition, and secondly to use ambisonic technology to bring that music to life in a way that stereo recording techniques can’t provide. This Paperpresentation will have a 5.1 demonstration of the composition.


[1]    Gerzon, Michael A. Periphony: With-Height Sound Reproduction. Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, 1973, 21(1):2–10.

[2]  Griffiths, Paul. ‘Aleatory’ in Oxford Music online. Accessed at Grove Music Online. <>  (on  3/05/2010).

[3]    Hamm, Charles. ‘Privileging the Moment: Cage, Jung, Synchronicity, Postmodernism’ The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 15, No. 2 Published by: University of California Press. Spring, (1997), pp. 278-289.

[4]    Librararius. (1997). ‘Geoffery Chaucer The Canterbury Tales , the General Prologue’ <> (accessed 23/04/2010).

[5]    Malham, Dave. .‘ SPATIAL HEARING MECHANISMS and SOUND REPRODUCTION’ The Music Technology Group University of York  <> (accessed 1/05/2010).

[6]  McComb,Todd M, ‘John Dunstaple (c.1390-1453) - A discography’ (Oct 2001). <> (accessed 23/04/2010).

Jason Corey (University of Michigan)

Technical Ear Training as an Essential Component of Audio Production Curricula

An engineer’s production choices made during the recording and mixing stages of a project can have a profound effect on the way the finished recording is perceived. Timbre is often a defining quality of a recording, especially in pop and rock, and timbre can be considered at least as important as melody and harmony in shaping the identity and originality of a recorded work. Balancing many layers of tracks and endless numbers of signal processing effects, engineers rely heavily on well-developed critical listening skills to shape and sculpt the timbral, dynamic, and spatial qualities of a recording.

Although educational programs in music performance require standardized courses that support the development of musical aural skills, there appear to be fewer formalized methodologies that focus on obtaining technical aural skills in audio production curricula. As educators and academic institutions augment and refine courses and methodologies focused on technical listening skills for audio production, it is important to discuss ways in which to address this fundamental curricular component.

To lead the discussion, the paper will consider questions about the nature of technical ear training courses, such as:

- What are the learning objectives?

- What topics and modules need to be covered in ear training courses?

- What methods should be employed in the teaching process?

- How should hands-on experience be structured and what should it entail?

- What roles do verbal discussion and written analyses have in the development of critical listening and how can they be integrated into the learning process effectively?

- How do educators and students develop a meaningful language to discuss and describe the innumerable timbres that can be created through the seemingly endless amount of processing available?

- How do educators help students understand and deal with the endless signal processing possibilities at an engineer’s disposal?

- What is “audio quality” and should it be taught?

Topics in technical ear training and critical listening can be integrated as part of sound recording and production classes but they can also be taught in highly focused class settings similar to the way musical aural skills are taught. In addition to linking the practice of sound recording to critical listening, educators can also draw from research in psychoacoustics to develop systematic ear training drills for specific signal processing artifacts.

This paper will discuss some of the challenges of teaching ear training in the classroom and offer some ideas on source material and teaching techniques that can be employed. In an effort to lead a broader discussion about teaching critical listening skills in an educational institution, the paper will also put forward questions about the nature of teaching the subject matter and how the skills gained in a classroom setting may compare to experience gained by professionals working in the industry.

Anne Danielsen & Ragnhild Brovig-Hanssen  (University of Oslo)

Sound as Environments: Toward a Framework For Analysing Sound in Popular Music Recordings

Sound, understood as sonic characteristics, has at all times had a crucial role within popular music discourse. Sound is in many cases the very identity of a tune, a band or a musician, sometimes overruling the quality of musicking, or lack thereof. Yet, sound as a musical quality has not been taken issue with in academic works until the last few decades. A sound’s sonic features are to a large extent shaped by the environment in which it occurs, or by a virtual environment created by using processing effects. Thus, the sounds of a recording might function as signs of actual physical environments, and when hearing a musical recording, we often (more or less unconsciously) compare the virtual environment to an experienced environment in the actual world. When this happens, a process similar to metaphorical projection is taking place: the structures and logic of previous experiences with a particular environment are used to make sense of the recorded sound.

In this paper, building on the theories of James J. Gibson, we will explain this process and link it to his concept of affordance. We will then draw attention to how similar strategies have been used also in analyses of sound, focusing on the way in which recorded virtual environments are often being compared to various actual enclosed and open environments. Finally, we will discuss how the virtual environment(s) of a recording may to a lesser or greater extent be constructed to seek to meet the conditions of an environment from the actual world. Here we aim at addressing some important issues raised by the artificial environments in contemporary popular music production practices facilitated by digital music technology. We argue that the inclination to comparing virtual environments with actual ones is equally strong when listening to recordings where the virtual environments do not seek to meet the acoustic conditions of an actual space. We also propose to use such comparisons as an analytical method in order to understand the particular character of such contemporary music production practices.

Bob Davis (Leeds Metropolitan University)

Modes of production, modes of listening: alternative realities and the sonic divide.

Bob Katz suggested that while the 20th century concentrated on the ‘medium’ our 21st century concerns should more profitably focus on the ‘message’.  Discourse around the medium and the message have focused and polarised debate on sound recording since the 1960s. This paper continues this debate in the context of the tensions that develop not in the processes of creating a recording, but in the reception of the recorded product.

The discussion draws on semiotic theory to explore the nature of the message and formulates ways of thinking about the codes involved not only in the production process but also in their reception.  In particular, the discussion looks at the tensions created in recent extensions to sonic bandwidth such as frequency, volume and timbre.

From a semiotic perspective, the paper asks if these tensions are representative of codal confusion, competence or indifference and draws on concepts of reality to provide a way of understanding our engagement with recorded music.

Robert Dow (University of Edinburgh)

Sounds real, sound unreal: the reflexive nature of sound recording

Our scientific understanding of the technologies which form the basis of various phonographic recording methods, may ensure prima facie, an easily comprehensible connection between the real sonic event (the recorded) and its reproduction (the recording). The more fidelious the recording/reproduction system is, the more potential there would seem to be, to derive the original sonic experience from its transformation into another domain.

However, the phonographic record is always received ex post facto: that is to say, it is always historical. The original event is absent, and the associations created between recording and recorded are contingent on human agency. The significance and ultimately the use of any recording is dependent on many things, such as personal and collective memory, social mores, and so on.

The recording, freed from its duty to attempt to reproduce or even necessarily mimic reality, has become a thoroughly creative medium with which to explore sound. Such creativity has led to the nascence of sonic experiences which themselves have become part of our collective sound world. Our knowledge of the constraints on real sound spaces, for example, are augmented by our familiarity with diverse attributes of virtual ones. Sound recording can thus be reflexive: not only mimetic in terms of the sonically real, but also in terms of sonically synthetic.

Paul Draper & Stephen Emmerson (Griffith University, Brisbane)

Remixing Modernism

This paper examines the recording and production of music dating from 1908, regarded as a landmark in the history of European Modernism with some of the 20th century’s most remarkable composers finding their distinctive voice around that time via seminal works for solo piano. These include Alban Berg’s Sonata Op.1, Arnold Schoenberg’s 3 Piano Pieces Op.11, and Béla Bartók’s Bagatelles Op.6. The project offers the premise that there are liberating and research-worthy possibilities for combining the two traditions of Western art music performance and contemporary sound manipulation as a compelling language to amplify certain artistic interpretations. This challenges a predominant approach to the recording of Classical music which promotes the illusion of capturing a concert experience and that the production decisions appear to be transparent. This paper therefore presents the final reporting stage of a two year project where interim research outputs have been published along the way as part of an overall action research methodology.

The music was tracked, edited, mixed and mastered during 2008/2009 and has recently been released as a double CD set and booklet entitled Remixing Modernism on Australian classical music label, Move Records.  Performances were tracked using multiple microphones variously spaced throughout a concert hall or above and below the piano. Some passes were recorded as complete takes, others according to specific bar numbers or overdubbed as left and right hand parts. What was termed ‘the horizontal album’ was produced as one of a two CD set, the final outcome based solely on the fidelity of a single microphone pair, the use of an artificial reverb, and artistic decisions made in the horizontal editing domain. A second ‘vertical album’ mix was produced drawing upon multiple microphone pairs and popular music production techniques including the detailed automation of equalisation, pitch, reverberation, stereo field, distortion and compression. This led to an approach described as ‘DSP orchestration’.

The paper concludes that the recordings offer a promising route for audiences to experience and reinterpret classical music recordings as virtual artworks in their own right, where the creators interrupt production conventions and otherwise spontaneous assumptions. By bringing such seminal works into the 21st century and reflecting on the past using contemporary techniques in explicit ways, these approaches offer insights into the music which have not been explored before. Moreover, in documenting these processes in an ongoing way, the authors seek to contribute to the understanding of artistic practice as research within the contemporary academic landscape.

Johan Englund  (Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, London)

Exploring The Use Of Online Collaboration As A Tool In Music And Music Production Education.

Ever since the first dial up modem was switched on Internet users have strived to connect with each other. From the early BBS servers to the now very quickly infamous Chatroulette, the human need for interaction is unmistakable. Music is all about exchange. Exchanging ideas, inspirations, knowledge and of course the simple joy of playing music with each other. Strangely what seems to be such a natural behavior in real life seems to be a very scarce phenomena in the virtual world. Almost all musical communication on the Internet is a one way affair. Be it music stores like Itunes or social networks like Myspace, the pattern of an active creator and a passive listener is almost always repeated. Compare this to how the Internet has in its lifespan time and time again shown its power in collecting people, unknown to each other, around ideas and common grounds.

The Game, Critical mass and Improv everywhere are just a few examples of how far the information can reach and how quickly it can spread without the aid of giant marketing budgets. In the commercial world computer games are increasingly being played over web based network and the participants in theses games and subsequent communities are in the hundreds of thousands. How surprising is it not then to realize that so far only a handful platforms for musical collaboration exists on the net. The Ohm Studio, Indaba and Kompoz are current examples of interactive platforms for music creation. The concept usually entails two parts. The first part is the DAW software (standalone or web based) for the creating and sharing of musical ideas. The second part is an online community for finding online collaboration partners.

It is my belief that we are only in the beginning of this movement and that making music this way will eventually be as common as coming together as group in a a music studio or rehearsal room. I will attempt to explore the use of online collaboration as a tool in music and music production education, its benefits and drawbacks as well as technical and logistical solutions and problems. I will also research the legal aspects of online collaboration. How copyright, music licenses, royalty splits can be dealt with when a musical work might mutate into a form unrecognizable from the original piece or creation is being shared by an entire community.

The author is also hoping to create an online experiment trying to establish how difficult or easy it is to track derivative work of a piece of work created for online collaboration.

Sources (Verified):

Improv everywhere:

Ohm Studio:



Sources (Unverified):

The Game:

Critical mass:

Michael Fletcher (University of Hull)

The Effect Of Spatial Treatment Of Recorded Music On Electro-Dermal Activity In Listeners

This paper reports the preliminary findings of a study designed to test the hypothesis that spatial treatment of recorded music can increase the frequency and/or magnitude of the chills/thrills response commonly reported during music listening. It also tests the efficacy of the methodology employed, being the use of measurements of changes in Electro-Dermal Activity (EDA), also commonly known as Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), to detect chills/thrills, in combination with continuous self-reporting of arousal.

Spatial properties in this paper refer to both the positioning of a recorded sound within a created or reproduced space, and the sense of the properties of that space. A number of papers (Berg and Rumsey 2000, Rumsey 2006) have shown preference among listeners for types of spatial treatment, and drawn some correlations between objective measures such as the level of early, lateral reflections, and subjective measures such as Apparent Source Width (ASW). Ratings of presence have also shown a statistical correlation to ratings of emotion induction (Vastfjall 2003), and presence, naturalness and envelopment have all been correlated with ‘positiveness’ in a cluster analysis (Berg and Rumsey 2000b).

It is difficult to assess objectively the emotional impact of music on a listener, though researchers are building various frameworks to do so (Scherer and Zentner 2001, Sloboda and Juslin 2001, Juslin 2009, Juslin and Vastfjall 2008). It may be that responses to music fit into a relatively simple valence/arousal model (Scherer 2004, Rickard 2004). Showing that spatial treatment can affect the level of arousal of the listener would help establish its importance as a factor in music’s affective properties.

Various studies have reported that the chills/thrills response is common amongst the physiological responses to music (Goldstein 1980, Hodges 2009). The chills/thrills response correlates well to increases in arousal of the autonomic nervous system (Rickard 2004). There is evidence that self-reports of these brief episodes correlate well with measurements of changes to EDA  during music listening (Guhn et. al. 2007, Grewe et. al. 2007, Panksepp 1995, Craig 2005) though Blood and Zatorre (2001) failed to find such evidence and Rickard (2004) doesn’t see a causal relationship between chills and EDA.

This experiment will use as its stimulus, music recorded in a dry acoustical environment in the studios at the University of Hull. This music will have two different treatments; one employing sophisticated spatial treatment, one minimally treated (the spatial treatment being the independent variable). Subjects in the experiment will listen to both versions of the recording in a cross-over study, with half receiving the spatially treated stimulus first. They will be attached to instruments that register changes in EDA (the dependant variable). Subjects will also indicate their own subjective level of arousal using a continuous response mechanism. Data will be subjected to statistical analysis to identify any significant differences in physiological and self-reported responses between the stimuli.

Should the hypothesis be supported by the data, a theoretical framework will be postulated to explain the phenomenon, and an experiment will be proposed to test this framework.


Berg, J., and F. Rumsey. 2000. Correlation between emotive, descriptive and naturalness attributes in subjective data relating to spatial sound reproduction. Paper presented at Presented at 109th AES Convention, Los Angeles.

Berg, J., and F. Rumsey. 2000b. In search of the spatial dimensions of reproduced sound: Verbal protocol analysis and cluster analysis of scaled verbal descriptors Audio Engineering Society.

Blood, A. J., and R. J. Zatorre. 2001. Intensely pleasurable responses to music correlate with activity in brain regions implicated in reward and emotion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 98, (20) (Sep 25): 11818-23.

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Will Fulton (Brooklyn College CUNY)

“Science-Fiction Rock and Roll”:  Sound Painting, Narrativeand Allegory in Jimi Hendrix

The 1960s were a time when myriad factors ranging from sound manipulation to utopian thinking and tumultuous social changes resulted in extraordinary music.  Rock and roll became “rock,” a catchall term for the electric music that freely mixed elements from American roots traditions with a wide range of “other” elements, ranging from exoticist uses of Indian raga to recording studio sound-paintings.  As Jimi Hendrix said: “Imagination and creation, that’s the key words to this whole era.” [1] Hendrix took advantage of advances in multi-track recording and electric guitar modulation to explore his fascination with science fiction narratives in rock songs. 

Hendrix described his music as “science-fiction rock and roll,” a style that used recorded sound to create sonic environments in a way previously unheard of in rock music. His interest in depicting images, stories, and scenes with sound, perhaps most famously displayed in the war imagery in his Woodstock performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” led to studio experimentation in which he would produce what he referred to as “sound painting[s].” [2] His interest in science fiction led to a series of transformative works, as well as statements like “I want to be the first man to write about the blues scene on Venus.” [3] This presentation will look at the use of studio technology and sound painting in two recordings by The Jimi Hendrix Experience: “Are You Experienced?” and “1983...(a Merman I should Turn To Be)” which are both representative of Hendrix’s “science fiction rock-and-roll” idea.

In the recording of “Are You Experienced?” in 1967, Hendrix used reversed sound to create the sound painting of two separate planes of existence.  I will explore the extraordinary use of this technology, as Hendrix and producer Chas Chandler created a recording that seamlessly integrates forward and reversed material to evoke alternate planes of consciousness.

Hendrix’s “science-fiction rock and roll” is exemplified in the epic sound-poem “1983… (A Merman I Should Turn To Be),” which tells the story of leaving dystopic earth’s surface for a better life in Atlantis.  I will discuss the development of this song from the acoustic Drake Hotel demo to its final Electric Ladyland recording in 1968.  Hendrix intended this work to be program music, and his creation of a sonic undersea environment and the allegorical story exemplify the inter-relationship between science fiction narratives, blues and sound experimentation that was present in much of music he recorded.

Although he is often described as a guitar virtuoso, Hendrix’s work as a sound composer is perhaps of greater importance. The use of programmatic elements in his music, to an extent previously unheard of in rock music, would help to pave the way for a generation of sonic exploration.

From Jimi Hendrix, Talking to Eric Clapton ‘67 (Bootleg tape, no pub. info. available), recorded 1967.

[1] Hendrix quoted in Charles R. Cross, Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix (New York: Hyperion, 2005), 205.

[2] Quoted in John McDermott with Billy Cox and Eddie Kramer, Jimi Hendrix Sessions:  The Complete Studio Recording Sessions, 1963-1970 (New York: Little Brown, 1995), 67.

[3] Quoted in Shapiro and Glebbeek, Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy, 134.

Leslie Gaston (University of Colorado Denver)

Music Video Vérité: The Use of Live Performance in a Music Video With Cuts Between Locations Using the Audio From Each Location.

Music videos typically feature a musician or music group lip-syncing pre-recorded songs in front of elaborate sets with lots of special effects and hundreds of edits.  Some incorporate footage of the band or artist performing in front of an audience, but the audio is still from the pre-recorded single.  Live concert videos use real-time audio and are taken from a single concert setting --  although some songs might “steal” sections from a different take in order to create a flawless performance!

The shortcoming of the lip-synced video is the disconnect between what the viewer sees and hears.  In order to achieve a realistic duplication of their performance on the pre-recorded single, the singer or emcee must take breaths in the same place, articulate consonants in the same place, and use facial expressions and gestures that let the viewer know they are really singing.  Guitarists and drummers must play their notes with exact timing, including complicated riffs, solos and fills.  This is difficult to do because even slight differences can be perceived.

The disadvantage of live music videos is that they are less flashy than lip-synced videos, and are presented less frequently. They are filmed with three or more cameras, but are still somewhat dull visually in comparison to the more predominant, lip-synced style.

Music Video Vérité is a term that I coined in 2003 as part of my thesis for the Master of Science in Recording Arts degree at the University of Colorado, Denver.  The term defines a style of incorporating an attention-getting style of video editing while maintaining the connection the viewer has to the musicians, who perform in real-time as the performance is captured to video.  The audio from each location can be recorded to a multi-track hard drive and then edited along with the final video, even as the locations change.  For my thesis, I recorded the group Future Jazz Project in a classroom, nightclub, and outdoor park, capturing the performance on video and multitrack tape.  I was able to cut together scenes from all three locations, using the audio from each location, and create a seamless performance. 

Further examples of Music Video Vérité could include the “Stand by Me” video produced by Playing for Change (engineered by Mark Johnson), in which performances from players around the world are juxtaposed; Nyle’s "Let the Beat Build" (engineered by Katie Buchanan and Alan Gordon and mixed by Mykael Alexander) in which the studio multitrack performance is captured live in one take with complex video choreography, and François Marcré’s cover of “Thriller”, for which he videotaped himself doing vocal samples and layered them together into a multi-tracked, multi-paneled video “take”.

In this paper, the growing phenomenon of Music Video Vérité will be discussed in terms of the desire to connect with the audience; also, the audio and video production process will be described, along with its unique set of challenges.

Heidi Gerber (John Hopkins University)

Adult MP3 Users’ Perspectives on Past and Present Consumer Audio Technology: Does It Still Sound the Same?

Many studies of MP3 technology have explored youthful users and their consumption habits and attitudes (LaRose, Lai, Lange, Love, & Wu, 2005; Shade, Porter, & Sanchez, 2005; Emanuel, Adams, Baker, Daufin, Ellington, Fitts, et al., 2008; Sinha, & Mandel, 2008).   However, none of these studies addressed questions of a more historical nature, such as, whether audio “sounds” the “same” or “better” now than in the past?  Does today’s consumer audio technology offer a completely new listening experience than older technology did? Does listening to audio still constitute the main event in audio consumer culture, or do other things related to the MP3 revolution possibly dilute or strengthen the listening experience as compared with audio consumer technology of the past?

            This paper argues that the MP3 audio consumption experience may differ from that of the past – particularly with regard to cultural elements of MP3 that have little or nothing to do with the actual act of listening to sound.  This study sought to discover whether experiential peripherals, as described above, play a more significant role in MP3 technology than in earlier music consumer technologies.  If peripherals indeed play a more significant role, the peripherals would also probably affect the core experience of listening in some way.  As a result, the audio consumer armed with MP3 technology could not listen to the recorded audio in the same manner as was done in the past, and the audio content, therefore, could not possibly “sound” the same.

            Qualitative interviews of adult MP3 users were conducted for this study, because adult MP3 users have often used older audio technologies (such as phonograph, 8-track, cassette, and compact disc) in addition to the new, and therefore stand at a unique technological crossroad.  To a large degree, existing literature does not address the adult MP3 user, and this gap in scholarly work justifies, in part, this study.  In addition, the cultural saturation of this consumer technology in our society merits rigorous scholarly investigation.  Finally, the audio consumer as well as the audio professional could potentially benefit from a study of this nature, because the successful future of the medium depends on our ability to understand the cultural implications of its past.

            Therefore, this study asked the following research questions:

RQ1:  How do adult MP3 users view their experience with the MP3 format in general?

RQ2:  How do adult MP3 users perceive this experience in relation to their experience with older consumer audio technology?

          A few themes emerged in the interview data, such as participants’ cars and the use of different consumer audio technologies in them, participants’ willingness to embrace new technology and abandon the old, and participants’ somewhat detached and unaffected view of MP3 and the buzz that surrounds it.  The paper’s findings suggested that among adult MP3 users, experiential peripherals possibly play a smaller role in audio consumption than among younger users, because, in part, of older consumers’ experiences with a range of consumer audio technologies.  Practical implications for the audio production professional were also discussed.

Jan-Olof Gullö (University of Stockholm)

A “key” model for education in Music Production

The development of modern information and communications technology has resulted in advanced options for those who create music with digital tools. There are several routes for young people who wish to work professionally with music production. Many students choose to study music production in higher education establishments.

The aim of this paper is to report some of the results from a recent research project in music production. The purpose of the study was to develop knowledge of music production and to identify key skills necessary for music producers and music production teachers. The specific research questions were: What characterizes music production, both in an educational context and as a professional activity? How do music producers and music production teachers describe the professional skills they need in their respective professions?

From a cultural psychological perspective (Bruner 1996) students learn differently depending on the culture where the learning takes place. The tools and symbol systems used in a culture have a central role in how a culture is experienced. With a cultural psychological perspective it is essential to view the world, in both everyday life and research, from different perspectives. In addition theories on development of self, voice and mind (Belenky 1986), teacher expectation and intellectual development (Rosenthal & Jacobson, 2003) as well as theories on skills and expertise development (Csíkszentmihályi, 1999; Dreyfus & Dreyfus, 2000; Hageskog, 2006; Kemp, 2005) were used to broaden the perspective and to reflect on the results.

Three sub-studies were carried out where questionnaires, interviews and observations were used to collect data. A knowledge-critical text analysis method (Hellspong, 2001) was used to analyse collected data.

In the first study a Desktop Music Production project in a municipal music school was investigated. Observations and interviews were used to collect data. In the second study students' views on important learning outcomes in music production were investigated. Questionnaires and group interviews were used to collect data. In the third study 11 professionals were interviewed, all music production teachers or active music producers.

The main result was that the skills required for both music producers and music production teachers are varied and extensive. Psychology and leadership, music, technology, ethics, law and copyright, entrepreneurship and cultural timing are particularly relevant to music production. Music production differs from traditional music education, as it requires a technical competence from teachers in addition to traditional musical and pedagogical skills. Men dominate music production teaching and the vast majority of professional music producers are also men. The students of today have often developed sophisticated musical abilities, due to their familiarity with information and communication technologies and their extensive media use.

Based on these results and “the key theory” (Hageskog 2006), a model for education in music production is presented that identifies various aspects of music production and the skills needed by music producers. The purpose of the model is to evaluate individual students' strengths and weaknesses in terms of what the students already know and what they need to work with in the future.


Belenky, Mary Field & et al. (1986). Women's ways of knowing: the development of self, voice, and mind. New York: Basic books.

Bruner, Jerome S. (1996). The culture of education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1999). Finna flow: den vardagliga entusiasmens psykologi. Stockholm: Natur och kultur.

Dreyfus, Hubert & Dreyfus, Stuart (2000). Mästarlära och experters lärande. In K. Nielsen & S. Kvale (ed.), Mästarlära: lärande som social praxis. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Hageskog, Carl-Axel (2006). Nyckeln till framgång. Lidingö: Idrott & Kunskap.

Hellspong, Lennart (2001). Metoder för brukstextanalys. Lund: Studentlitteratur.

Kemp, Peter (2005). Världsmedborgaren: politisk och pedagogisk filosofi för det 21 århundradet. Göteborg: Daidalos.

Rosenthal, Robert & Jacobson, Lenore (2003). Pygmalion in the classroom: teacher expectation and pupil's intellectual development. Carmarthen: Crown House.

Thomas Haines (University of Cincinnati)

Mediation of LIVE Electronica Artists and Rock Musicians

The creation of music using lopped audio materials has spawned a new generation of music creators, musical genre and business opportunities. The music industry has accepted if not promoted these efforts in a wide variety of recorded and live music fora. Copyright issues aside, loop based music has established itself as a legitimate force in the corporate music world. Technology has had a tremendous affect on the ability of aspiring music creators to construct musically satisfying expressions with little or no formal music training. But has it been accepted in the “real” world of music made by accomplished musicians as a legitimate form of musical performance? Moreover, can the two disparate factions join forces in a meaningful musically expression?

Closing the chasm that exists between musicians who perform on musical instruments and artists who choose to use manufactured loops seems implausible if not unnecessary - or so it seems. This paper examines the accepted definitions, practices, aesthetics and explores the potential mediation of combined LIVE electronica and rock ensemble through a series of questionnaires, interviews, focus groups and case study review.

The genesis of this research project was brought about by exploring the possibilities of blending rock musicians and electronica artists in a joint LIVE concert. Our MEISA chapter at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati has a collection of skilled rock musicians and electronica artists who share the same passion for live performance. From these forces, new ensemble was conceived and new music composed with the idea of combining forces and sharing resources in an effort to weave a sonic tapestry in, out and through to two worlds. Subsequently, in the fall of 2009 the aspiring ensemble named noTELba was created. The process concluded in a recorded live event on May 4th 2010. The presentation, in part, reports on our experience in the following:

·       constructing an environment that was open to experimentation

·       creating space for individual expression whilst establishing a sense solidarity

·       mediating interactions and processes

·       managing the technology - making the most of the possibilities

·       composing materials that were suitable for the ensemble

·       codifying our creative sessions - keeping track of the flow of ideas

·       organizing the forces needed to complete the vision

·       designing a suitable performance aesthetic to match to the ensembles vision

Mike Hajimichael (University of Nicosia)

Virtual Oasis – thoughts and experiences about online based music production and collaborative writing techniques

Over the last 10 years virtual studio collaborations, net based artists and music labels have emerged as a by-product of the “Web 2.0” revolution. While the early stages of the Internet can be characterised through Voltaire’s sentiment of ‘every one tending to their own garden’ Web 2.0 and particularly  social media web sites have in contrast  redefined relationships between users/audiences and creators/producers. These changes are prevalent in areas such as music/audio/sound, image/video/photo and text/narrative/writing. Traditional methods of production and communication in music, radio, TV and journalism have in a multitude of ways adjusted to these changes –leading to the creation of multi-media based online portals. Approaching these changes in relation to independent music production and song writing is a challenging task mainly due to the sheer volume of net based releases located on web sites such as MySpace, Reverb Nation and Soundclick. My paper will focus on a number of insights on qualitative transformations concerning commerce versus creativity and   the role play -dynamics of writing and producing collaborative songs and projects online. Reference will be made to practical collaborations based on observation and experience as an artist, participant and music producer. These will consider the glass both half full and half empty by raising a number of key questions. What happens when people collaborate in writing songs online, how do people approach each other? What can go right – what can go wrong? Is virtuality a substitute for more traditional methods of physical collaboration? Or is it just an emerging guerrilla production technique being embraced by independent musicians on very limited budgets with boundless creative enthusiasm and net access?  I will focus primarily on a case study of  a recent release  I completed entirely online with Dub Caravan called ‘Virtual Oasis’ (DubMed Music Label); as well as a song project produced by Steffen Franz called ‘Harmony4Humanity’ – written in two locations – San Francisco USA and Nicosia Cyprus over a time period of 48 hours from start to finish. I will also refer to a number of experiences, examples and contexts where things have not worked out with the intention of exploring some of the possible drawbacks and limitations of recording online. These negative elements of the process are just as significant as the positive dynamics as together they give a more holistic approach, one that is grounded in a wide range of dynamics embracing social relationships, technological capacities, understandings on musical genres, and the ethics of copyright/writing production credits.  Online production processes can be like an elusive virtual oasis, they can also be a burden, a bad ‘collab’ or a liberating creative experience.

My paper will refer to numerous online sites, which will be included in the presentation.

Maria Hanacek (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Songwriting in the Studio or: The Idea of What Went into its Making

This year's conference is concerned with change and continuity in the art of record production – I will argue that it is the rather old-fashioned idea of "songwriting" that creates coherence within the changing world of music production, and that this idea is indeed more important than ever for the success of large-scale commercial productions.

Thinking of record production as an art form or of the studio as a musical instrument already indicates that our models of thinking about music production stay pretty much the same, all debates about technological change or innovation aside. The idea of "songwriting" as a modern form of composition also correlates with a traditional notion of music as artistic self-expression, which still provides the conceptual framework for most records, and it is important to notice that apparent tensions between technology and artistry, between commerciality and authenticity result from this theoretical framework, not from the actual process of music production. In such instances we are ultimately dealing with the question what musicianship means in the age of studio production.

Authorship and intentionality are still such important concepts because it is the idea of what went into its making that gives meaning to a recording. The way popular music history works, songs need a history and an origin. According to this logic studio stories become part of a band's or artist's biography and discography, they contribute to the idea of an artist's oeuvre that crystallises into a series of records. This idea is also replicated by "best of" albums, box sets and reissues – in short, the marketing of records always relied on the star persona for coherence and to personalize its products.

I will use the DVD ‘U2 and 3 Songs, A Documentary’ to illustrate this point. This "documentary" provides a retrospective on the songwriting process of the album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, for which the band and producer Steve Lillywhite received six Grammies in 2005. The affiliated Vertigo tour made the band the top grossing act that year according to Billboard - the eight concerts held in New York's Madison Square garden alone sold 149,000 tickets. Although the purpose of promotional touring is to "authenticate" and personalize recorded performances in some way, attending one of these large-scale concerts wasn't much of an "unmediated" or "live" experience of these songs and their authors.

This video, though, which came with several editions of the CD, tells us about human beings writing songs, about the development of creative ideas within a studio environment.  It foregrounds the “raw material” of this record, whether by presenting a basic chord progression a song developed from or via an acoustic performance with slightly mistuned guitars. And this - in itself highly mediated - display of the unproduced or preproduced puts our picture of music making back in place.

Matthew Hiley (Independent Researcher (Australia))

[Re]presenting the soundscape in popular music.…an investigation of non-instrumental sounds in pop

Throughout the history of the recorded medium, the role of non-instrumental sound in popular music production has been ever changing. The sounds of the world around us have been making their way into popular music mixes since the Shangri-La’s pined for the leader of the pack. However, a theoretical analysis of such practice has been largely overlooked.

For the purposes of my Honours thesis undertaken in 2009 at the University of Western Sydney, I evaluated the practice of incorporating non-instrumental sounds into popular music.

The Soundscape…

The methodology of this investigation was based on a theoretical/empirical model. In the absence of a defined model for analyzing the use of non-instrumental sounds in popular music, the ability for sound to function as a communicative medium was established through drawing on relevant theoretical sources. This was done with specific reference to the work of Barry Truax and R. Murray Schafer. The benefit of such reference is twofold; both authors written extensively on the subject of sound and its communicative abilities, and both are active soundscape composers. This has great relevance to this study, as I sought to contextualize the use of non-instrumental sounds in popular music production based on the well-theorised practice of soundscape composition. Further to this, many issues relating to soundscape recording have relevance in our discussion of popular music, specifically in regard to the issue of context as outlined by Truax.

The Popular Music Landscape…

The next step in this investigation is a survey of popular music that contains non-instrumental sounds. A brief survey of 10 works was undertaken and then analysed with reference to Trevor Wisharts theory of sonic metaphor and Leigh Landy’s description of narrative. Jean-Jacques Nattiez’ ‘Semiological Tripartition’, was also valuable to this analysis. Two pieces that formed part of this analysis will be analysed in this manner as a part of the paper presentation.

What does this mean for the future of popular music production?

After establishing this basis of relevant theory, an original work of popular music was composed, and played to consumers of popular music who completed a listening survey based on what they heard. These results were then tabulated, with results supportive of the theory that non-instrumental sounds can assist in the communication and evocation of imagery in popular music.

In Summary…

Through contextualizing the practice of incorporating non-instrumental elements into popular music, we can understand it to have a history rich in musicality and documentation. Furthermore, we can see how such practice allows us to create striking and evocative productions that extend the possibilities of traditional instrumentation.


Landy, L 2007, Understanding the Art of Sound Organization, The MIT Press, Cambridge.

Nattiez, J 1990, Music and Discourse: Toward a Semiology of Music, Princeton University Press, New Jersey.

Schafer, R.M (2003). Open Ears. The Auditory Culture Reader 9pp. 25-490. Berg, Oxford. Retrieved from

Truax, B 2001, Acoustic Communication, Ablex Publishing, USA

Wishart, T 1996, On Sonic Art, Harwood Academic Publishers, The Netherlands

Jay Hodgson (University of Western Ontario)

Lateral Dynamics Processing in Experimental Hip Hop: Madlib, J-Dilla, Flying Lotus & Prefuse 73

This paper is part of a broader project aimed at identifying and elucidating the musical functions of common signal processing techniques in popular music productions.  In it, I examine the most common musical uses for what I call “lateral” dynamics processing in so-called “experimental hip hop” (ie., the kind of hip hop heard on records produced by the likes of Madlib, J-Dilla, Flying Lotus & Prefuse 73).  I call these techniques “lateral” techniques because they are produced by “side-chaining” or “keying” dynamics processors to laterally located tracks in a multi-track production.  Examples of what I call “lateral” dynamics processing techniques include: “side-chain pumping”; “ducking”; “trance gating”; “envelope following”; et cetera.  I will explain (i) how recordists who produce experimental hip hop achieve these effects (ie., what practical steps these techniques entail), and (ii) where they can be most easily heard in productions by the recordists cited in the title of this paper.

On a broader level, I intend to demonstrate that the “lateral” dynamics processing techniques I elucidate in this paper comprise a fundamental musical lexicon for experimental hip hop, that is, that these techniques are as common in experimental hip hop as “tapping” and “power chords” once were in heavy metal.  Moreover, I will argue that their musical functions remain largely unremarked in studies of record production in particular, and in studies of popular music practice and history in general.  To be clear, I will not suggest that insightful and challenging research on signal processing has yet to emerge.  Scholarship on signal processing is published fairly regularly now, but studies nevertheless typically only address the analytic priorities and concerns of disciplines which are not primarily interested in musical technique per se (ie., cultural studies, sociology, media studies, cultural anthropology and political-economy) and, as such, signal processing usually fails to register in them as a fundamentally musical concern.  Surprisingly, the musical functions of signal processing also fail to register in most audio-engineering textbooks, the vast majority of which seem happy to simply sketch the technical details of common processing practices without explicitly referencing the broader aesthetic programs that recordists deploy those practices to service.  Having established this, I will conclude with a brief consideration of: (i) why this lacuna has emerged in our young field (ie., what about the current institutional bases of research on record production creates ― or, at the very least, allows for ― this gap in knowledge); (ii) why it has been perpetuated in studies of record production in particular, and of popular music practice and history in general; and, finally, (iii) how so-inclined researchers might work to rectify it.

Sheena Hyndman (York University, Toronto)

The Aura of Records and Remixing: Situating Walter Benjamin in the study of recorded music.

This paper will problematize Walter Benjamin’s concept of “aura,” as it appears in his famous essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1935), with respect to the complex and fast-evolving relationship between music and technology. The aura, according to Benjamin, is the essence of originality and authenticity in the work of art, and is thought to deteriorate as art is replicated by means of mass-technological reproduction. While Benjamin’s contentious idea has been at the core of numerous critical debates (e.g., Gumbrecht 2003, Petersson and Steinskog 2005), there is a notable lack of comprehensive discussion around the relationship between the aura and recorded music.

My inquiry into the relationship between the aura and recorded music will address both social (e.g., the club DJ) and non-social (e.g., private listening) practices of recorded music consumption with an eye towards considering how the aura may be usefully applied to discussions about the compositional song form known as “remix.” In considering debates surrounding technology, performance and authenticity, I argue that, in contrast to Benjamin’s hypothesis, the aura of the recorded music is reinvigorated precisely because of the manner in which recorded music becomes interactive in both social and non-social listening contexts.  This paper will build upon previous research that surveys the relationship between electronic dance music and social media, with the goal of demonstrating that the remix functions as a form of cultural and media ecology.

Katia Isakoff (University of Glamorgan)

Interdependent Co-Evolution: Technology and the Studio Composer in Lebanon

Many Western composers and musicians have produced a body of work, which lends testament to their ‘songs’ being a manifestation of the symbiosis between composer/producer and studio/technology. In 1979 Brian Eno claimed, “I don't really have a musical identity outside of studios”. This paper investigates the influence that studio technology has had on the working practices, performances and musical scene of the Middle Eastern songwriter, musician and producer.

Drawing on established ethnographic techniques and research into studio practice adopted by Western studio composers, a first stage field trip in the summer of 2010 to Beirut, Lebanon, will explore and observe how studio technology is employed in the Middle East and whether such a symbiosis exists there. To what extent may parallels and differences with western practice be identified? How has this performance based musical culture absorbed and adapted to contemporary non-linear production techniques? How has the formation of the Lebanese Underground music scene been influenced by studio technology and what does Underground music represent and mean to the Middle-Eastern musician and consumer alike? 

This field trip will be the first in a series of visits feeding into a long-term practice-led research project, at the end of which a collaborative album will be produced and released accompanied by a film documenting the journey.

The presentation will consist of extracts of film footage, recorded interviews and musical works.

Sara Jansson (University of Gothenburg)

‘A Gate Towards the Recorded World’: Notions of High Fidelity in Sweden, 1970-2010

This paper aims to explore notions of ‘high fidelity’ (in the sense of ‘truth to the original’) in discourses around music technology in Sweden. The empirical material consists of interviews with hi-fi enthusiasts, as well as of the Swedish hi-fi magazine Hifi & Musik (1977-present; 1970-1976 under the name Stereo-Hifi).

In spite of innovations in recording technologies, resulting in the recorded performance not necessarily being a recording of a live performance set in a studio, high fidelity is still an important concept in discourses around music technology. Common ways of describing the high fidelity of sound-reproduction technology is that it creates an illusion of the recorded musicians being present in the listening room, and/or that it makes the speakers disappear. The metaphor of recorded musicians transcending space and time, moving from the studio and into the listening room, seems to suggest the belief among hi-fi enthusiasts in their sound-reproduction technology to a) recreate an original musical experience; and b) create an alternative, audible, reality. The same can be said of the metaphor of disappearing speakers, since it suggests a reproduction so transparent that the listener forgets about the technology.

Even though the meaning of high fidelity is relatively clear, ‘truth to the original’, it is far from clear what is meant by the ‘original’. Sterne (2003, p. 222) states that ‘after 1878, every age has its own perfect fidelity’, and this paper emphasizes questions concerning transparency and the original: what is perceived as the ‘original’ to which the sound-reproduction technologies are supposed to be true, and do technological changes in sound recording bring any changes to the meaning of the concept high fidelity?

Work cited:

Sterne, Jonathan 2003. The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound

Reproduction (Durham, London: Duke University Press)         

Philippe Le Guern (Université d’Avignon)

Digital technologies and the teaching of the art of recording in the french context.

The object of this communication is to study the teaching of the techniques of recording in the French context. Indeed, this teaching has become for a few years an important issue of the public policies of the culture. If the «art of recording» is, as it is the case in England, far from present in the universities, in France it is increasingly present in the music colleges and also in the «lieux de diffusion» of the popular musics labellized by the Ministry of culture. That is due in particular to the political will to accompany the amateurs and also at the entrance of these musics in the institutional places / academies which usually kept them away.

It is thus a sociology of the teaching of the numerical recording and home studio in which we will be interested. I will show first that the teaching of the digital recording concerns public stakes and causes many controversies: does one have to insert these musics in the cultural institutions? How to deliver a degree in recording similar to the degrees in classical musics ? Then, starting from fieldwork, I will show which pedagogies are implemented, near which public and with which equipment.

By this communication, I wish to show the specificity of the French case when it makes home studio a concerning stake public policies.

Amanda Lewis (University of Western Ontario)

Unconventional Microphone Practice on Bon Iver’s "Skinny Love" (2007)

“Record making is a recent art form,” writes Albin Zak (2001: 26), “and many of its artistic roles belong to no prior tradition – we know what songwriters do, but what about sound engineers?”  This paper will attempt to answer Zak’s question,  if only in part.  Specifically it will address microphone practice and the role it plays in the creation of records.  I will utilize the analytic model used in my Master's thesis, Towards a Model for Analyzing Microphone Practice on Rock Recordings, to outline and analyze a case study of the microphone techniques on the song "Skinny Love" from Bon Iver’s 2007 album, For Emma, Forever Ago.

Justin Vernon, the driving creative force behind Bon Iver, was found at the center of much attention from both critical and fan communities in the years following the independent release of For Emma.  As a result of this attention, his microphone practice is exceptionally well documented in print, electronic and video interviews. Knowledge such as the types of microphones (Shure SM57’s) and the type of audio interface (Digidesign M-Box) used on the album are rare commodities in a time when most recordists are notoriously silent about how they construct their signature sound. Though all of his tracking choices ultimately influence the overall sonic character of "Skinny Love," and , indeed all the tracks on For Emma Forever Ago,  Vernon’s unconventional use of a single dynamic microphone to transduce all of his vocal and acoustic guitar tracks is of particular importance.

Through the close study of Bon Iver's "Skinny Love," I will elucidate the importance of microphone practice in the construction of veridic recorded music. Perhaps more importantly, I will discuss how the creative misuse of microphones can influence the identifiable character of an album, as well as an artist.

Anne Lorentzen (University of Oslo)

Musical authorship in deterritorialized music production

How is authorship to be conceived when sound is held to be even more important than lyrics and melody in the general discourse on popular music? How is authorship related to gendered positions in the musical production process? This paper discusses the different patterns that musical authorship is being negotiated alongside in temporary Norwegian music production. That is; gendered patterns in terms of how musical authorship is organized and done in order to secure and legitimize claims of authorship, whether in terms of economical, aesthetical, technological and symbolical issues.

The discussion takes its departure in a recent phd-thesis termed as «From ‘songbird’ to producer – performativity and musical authorship in the personal project studio (2009) [1]. In the thesis the performativity of musical authorship is studied on the basis of interviews with professional or semi-professional musicians and artists who make what the thesis terms as «self-produced music» in and across musical genres such as pop, rock, jazz and electronic music.

The main research focus is on the relationship between 1) the female artist and the male producer, and 2) Norwegian «duo-relationships» with a similar division of musical labour as constellations such as Eurythmics and Goldfrapp. Both constellations have typically been organized according to a normalizing and naturalized code, where she sings and writes the lyrics and melody, and he plays the instruments and/or handles the production tools. Such relationships, which can be described as obligatory in the history of music production, could be undergoing change due to a democratization of recording tools, or, as the thesis also claims: due to the deterritorialization of the traditional recording studio.

The change, which the thesis investigates and problematizes, can be traced back to the late 1990s and early 2000s, when an increasing number of female musicians and artists started claiming that they were tired of being passive in the production process, or being «the syngedame» (”singing lady”/”songbird”: Norwegian chauvinistic term for a lady who sings popular songs for money). Instead they wanted a more active role in the production process, including the status of producer or co-producer of their own music.

The thesis investigates this change, taking its departure from interviews with 13 female and 17 male musicians, but also from academic texts, media texts and other research material and findings. More precisely, the thesis investigates what a «syngedame»/«songbird» is, how the transformation from «syngedame»/«songbird» to producer actually takes place, and what exactly is at stake when also female artists assume responsibility as producers of their own music.

The thesis traces the new tendency of self-production back to the deterritorializing force of the personal projects studio. The mythological connotations attached to «syngedame»/«songbird», indicating the female musician and artist as being a «puppet in the studio» rather than a responsible musical author in her own right, must, however, also be taken into consideration. The move towards self-production should also be seen as the result of a change in music itself, and in the discourse of music, where production credits have become more important as a sign of authorship, than the creation of text and melody. 

[1] Norwegian title: From «syngedame» to produsent. Performativitet og musikalsk forfatterskap i det personlige prosjektstudioet (2009).

Mark Marrington (Leeds College of Music)

'Experiencing musical composition in the DAW: the software interface as mediator of the musical idea'.

My paper, which discusses music technology’s impact upon the student composer in relation to more traditional paradigms of composition training, is intended to complement the ‘alternative realities’ strand of the conference. Its ideas are drawn from pedagogical research that I have conducted during the past year at Leeds College of Music into student attitudes to composition within the DAW environment. In particular I focus on the effect of the graphical interface of the typical DAW platform and its attendant plugin recreations of real world media, and consider whether such elements are fostering a progressive attitude towards composition unique to this environment or alternatively confining creativity. I also consider the musical concepts that users of the DAWs themselves bring a priori to their chosen software platform – i.e. before the technology makes its effect - and how these are modified by contact with the software.  Ultimately this produces a much more interesting question in regard to ideologies of composition teaching per se and the special challenge presented by new technologies to received ideas in this area.                                                                                                   

Arnt Maasø and Beathe Due (University of Oslo)

Patterns of Streaming During A Large Music Festival

This paper examines how the mobile phone is used by audiences before, during and after the Øya musical festival ( in Oslo, Norway, August 2010, and the mediation of a live event through mobile phones. Through this case we wish to shed light on the diffusion and use of music on social network sites, such as Facebook and, and streaming services such as WIMP and Spotify, as well as the relationship between mediated forms of sharing and non-mediated personal communication. We will focus especially on the role of mobile media in relation to the festival, through empirical data collected in cooperation with The Future Media project at the Norwegian mobile operator, Telenor ( The central question addressed by the paper is:

How do young people use the mobile phone in relation to the music festival, for instance in order to to find new music, prepare for a concert, and share music with friends?

Of particular interest is investigating the role of online friendships for the dissemination of music surrounding the live event (Nag). We suspect the role of ‘weak ties’ (Granovetter) and even ‘temporary ties’ (Adams) is growing in importance in musical culture, and wish to start exploring this this through a study of the Øya case.

         Quantitative data will be gathered by studying location based data on mobile devices, through our co-operation with Telenor, combined with interviews with users about how they are using their mobile phones (both music software like Spotify and WIMP and social media, such as Facebook) before, during and after the festival.

         We believe the paper connects to the general theme of the ARP conference in 2010 ‘Change and continuity: transformations, innovations and tensions in the art of record production’ – at least if one includes the processes of diffusion and listening to record productions, or the interaction between live acts and audiences (perhaps) becoming a new record.

The paper is part of a larger project called Music, Mediation and Mobility: THE Digital Turn IN CONTEMPORARY Music Culture, in co-operation with Professor Anne Danielsen at the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo.

References Adams, Paul (2010): “Designing for Social Interaction: Strong, Weak, and Temporary Ties”, [, visited 12.04.10]

Granovetter, Mark S. (1973): "The Strength of Weak Ties." The American Journal of Sociology 78(6), 1360-80.

Nag, Wenche (2010): ‘Musikkbruk og forretningsmodeller i en delingskultur’. In Norsk medietidsskrift, 17 (1), 46-66.

Alexei Michailowsky (Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro)

The Prisma recording sessions (1985): proposing a Brazilian live electronic music discourse

In 1985, Brazilian pianist and keyboardist Cesar Camargo Mariano recorded and released, through an independent label, the Prisma LP, a strong move towards the world of synthesizers and electronic instruments. A popular jazz pianist, well-known particularly because of his collaborations with singers Wilson Simonal and Elis Regina, Mariano signed a sponsorship deal with the local branch of the Sharp electronics conglomerate, initially for a “Brazilian live electronic instrumental music” concert series in São Paulo and one small-print record. Joined by two other keyboardists, a percussionist and a drummer, he collected 14 analog, digital and hybrid electronic keyboard instruments, in addition to digital sequencers, drum machines and a Sharp IBM-compatible computer connected to instruments through a Roland MIDI interface.

One of the project’s fundamental guidelines required that arrangements written for recording sessions would be replicated, as much as possible, onstage. Hence, all musical performances would necessarily involve a “live” character running in parallel with programmed sequences and routines. The use of brand new, state-of-the art pieces of equipment (like the Yamaha DX7 FM synthesizer, the E-mu Emulator II keyboard sampler and the Octave Plateau Voyetra software sequencer) and the music technology illiteracy of all musicians and technicians involved except one, keyboardist and synthesist Dino Vicente de Lucca Jr. — who had been studying and working with electronic musical instruments and practices for more than a decade —, required the employment of a distinct method founded on common and individual improvisation and adaptation.  

This paper focuses the unprecedented use of electronic music instruments at the studio during the Prisma recording sessions, exploring its connections with European and North American “live PAs” of the time and its influence on the record's sound result and proposition of a Brazilian live electronic music discourse.

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

‘Working out the Split’: Creative Collaboration and Assignation of Copyright across Differing Musical Worlds.

It has been theorised (e.g. Hennion 1990, Wicke 1990, Zak 2001), and there is mounting empirical evidence (e.g. Davis 2008, McIntyre 2008, Moorefield 2005, Howlett 2008), that record production is a highly collaborative process. When records are made producers, engineers, musicians, programmers and A&R personnel all cooperate in a creative process that can be characterised using a number of models (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997, Paulus and Nijstad, 2003). Songwriters, however, are an ever present but little mentioned presence in the studio, although their work is crucial to studio output.

It can be claimed that the development of technological possibilities within the studio has afforded collaborative song writers an increasing variety of creative methods, and this has led in turn to a range of views concerning the kind of contributions that can be considered to be song writing among music creators. Calculating the ‘split’ or financial remuneration for the work involved, then, depends upon a set of complex commercial, legal, moral, social, cultural, ideological and discursive factors coupled with certain common sense myths. This paper presents empirical evidence of how current practice compares to some of the older models of creativity that still appear to predominate in the promotion and consumption of recordings.

Guy Morrow (MacQuarie University, NSW)

Artist Management in the Global Economy: Faciliating the Relationship Between Song Writing and Production

The advent of recording technology began a process that continually brings not only the song, but also the sound of the artist within reach of international audiences. With the advent of high capacity music players (iPods for example) more music is being consumed now than in the past and a worldwide audience is available at substantially reduced marketing costs. The growth in credibility and acceptance of management organisations, such as the International Music Managers’ Forum (IMMF), by legislative, judicial and industry bodies means that the input of artist managers, as the representatives of songwriters on a global level, is increasingly being recognised. Many of the managers who are members of these organisations understand the impact that will stem from ‘speaking with one voice’, and the activities and advocacy of such an international managers’ forum facilitates this. Agreement concerning the establishment of an enforceable code of conduct for members of this organisation is arguably a crucial first step in the efforts to realise the potential of artist managers, who are traditionally a disparate collection of sole traders, speaking with one voice on a global level on behalf of songwriters.

This paper will work through findings from a research project that has used a qualitative research methodology to explore the problems that artist managers face when attempting to build global careers for their clients in a world in which international record labels no longer play the key role that they did in the past. The research data generated by this project suggests that artist managers’ workloads have vastly increased, necessitating much more overseas travel to deal with all of the participants in their client’s career; instead of being able to go to the international record label’s head office. The centralisation of industrial roles with the artist manager accompanies the decentralisation that has occurred in the recording business and it means that artist managers often have the sole responsibility of facilitating the relationship between song writing and production.

While the artist managers’ role is increasingly central, their attempts to work globally are hampered by a lack of consistency in relation to best practice and conduct across different territories. This research project therefore involves the IMMF, which is a voluntary body seeking to create new standards in relation to artist management practices and to the enforcement of international copyright law. Their aim is constrained by lack of empirical research and this project attempts to alleviate this through a comparative study of regulation (self regulation and/or governmental) and best practices in the UK, Canada, Australia and the US. The pragmatic benefit of this research for artist managers is that it will create knowledge of best practice and conduct in different territories and this will help them to utilise Skype and other new technologies to operate globally. This project is significant because it provides the first in-depth analysis of artist management practices in the current phase of recording industry decentralization (and the resulting post-monopolisation) and music business centralization with the artist manager.

Mark Mynett (University of Huddersfield)

Sound at source; the creative practice of drum tuning and recording for the contemporary metal genre

A review of academic literature on drum recording and production will reveal significant discussion of microphone choice and placement. However, there is little presented that specifically relates to the studio production of contemporary metal and even less concerning the concepts and techniques to achieve the genres drum sound at source.

The nature of drumheads and their tuning are at the core of the drum sound producers endeavour to capture. Drum tuning is an art in itself and its importance cannot be overlooked, as even the best‐quality drum kit is still going to sound poor unless properly tuned. This paper will firstly focus on tuning drums. It will explore broad principles that can be applied to the batter and resonator head so that they interact to achieve the optimum drum tone for the contemporary metal genre. Other key aspects usually considered part of drum tuning will also be discussed, including drumhead choice, stretching, bedding in and dampening, as well as certain areas of hardware specifics such as the use of click pads on the bass drum batter head.

There is a very specific weight, combined with clarity and definition generally required of the contemporary metal genres drum production. Often due to the density and complexity of the performances involved, these qualities can be a challenge to capture at the recording stage. This paper will focus on the specific microphone and recording techniques that enable the essential weight, attack and tonality of a well tuned drum kit to be most appropriately captured at the tracking stage.  Consideration as to how these signals will most likely be processed at the mixing stage will also be provided.

The research strategy includes field interviews and contributions concerning the present practices of prominent producers, as well as a comparative study of drum head tuning, type and design. Additionally, case studies will be presented.

This paper will reflect the first author’s nine years experience producing within contemporary metal production, including releases through Sony and Universal. The author has additionally worked alongside some of the most successful and respected producers from the genre including Colin Richardson, Andy Sneap and Jens Bogren.

Carlo Nardi (University of Northampton)

The cultural economy of sound. Reinventing technology in Bollywood

Invention or upgrading, patenting, planning, manufacturing, marketing and consumption not only embody important stages in the establishment of new technologies, but also entail each a certain extent of creativity and problem-solving strategies. If for a while critical and scholarly attention tended to emphasize scientific invention and industrial manufacturing, during the past decades more and more interest has been accorded towards user agency, remarkably in those instances in which a device is reinvented through imaginative and unforeseen practices. In particular, for what concerns music studies, we might distinguish at least two tendencies, which have grown in parallel with a discourse, often found also in marketing strategies, that grants the consumer of music gear an active role in the construction of the product: first of all, the acknowledgement of user agency in defining a device or technique, leading at times to arbitrary analogies between musical practices and social structure; secondly, the evaluation of innovation according to criteria belonging to hegemonic technocultural contexts, that is where technology is generally created, patented and manufactured.

In any case, little attention is generally paid to marginal aesthetics of sound, so that those practices, which are either too idiosyncratic or, more significantly, which never impacted on Western dominant musical cultures and markets, are interpreted instead as conceptual misunderstandings or naïve misuses of musical equipment. This paper thus aims at the inclusion of currently 'uncategorised’ practices within the main scholarship on the art of record production, by showing how different techniques make sense in equally different aesthetic and socioeconomic contexts. Examples will be drawn from music directors Kalyanji-Anandji’s early innovative use of synthesizers in Bollywood films.

Peter Odogbor (University of Benin, Nigeria)

The prevalence of recording studios within storey-buildings: implications on music production practice in Nigeria

The period between the 1920s and the 1930s marked the evolution of music production activities in Nigeria.  The production studios that were established then, which used analogue means to record music, had architectural designs suited for analogue music produciton.  Analogue studios, therefore, dominated the scene until around the 1980s when digital technology for music production was introduced.  The relatively lower cost  of setting up and running digital studios, among other considerations, resulted in their predominance over analogue studios.  Three cities -  Lagos, Benin City, and Onitsha – were more prominent as far as earlier production activities in Nigeria were concerned.  The dominant recording industries were established in these areas.  This initial status subsequently encouraged the emergence of more recording studios in these cities, and later other parts of the country.  While the first analogue studios were located in specialised buildings, evidence, however, indicates that most of the analogue and digital studios established since the 1980s are located in buildings that were not originally conceived for music production. Preliminary investigations undertaken in Benin City, for instance, reveal further that most of the studios are situated within storey-buildings.

Arising from the above, the aim of this work is to investigate the factors considered by owners of studios for siting their production outfits within storey-buildings.  In addition, the work seeks to examine the effects of the phenomenon on music production activities in the studios in particular, and the overall impact on music production.

There are numerous studios in Nigeria, which are owned by corporate organisations and private individuals.  However, for the purpose of this paper, select studios in Benin City shall be investigated.  In order to achieve the aims set out above, observations shall be carried out at the studios, and significant staff of the respective studios shall be interviewed.  In addition, relevant literature shall be examined critically and applied where necessary in the discourse.

There has been outstanding refinement of music production technology in terms of the features and performance capabilities of hardware and software facilities.  The physical structures where these facilities are installed could have some influence on the effective and satisfactory utilisation of the equipment vis-à-vis the quality of interactions amongst workers in the studios during production events.  The outcomes of this study, therefore, could have implications on the maximisation of studio space for enhanced production output.  It could also promote greater understanding, and healthy interrelationships amongst studio practitioners in the execution of their duties within the studio for optimal productivity.

Helen Reddington (University of East London)

Outside The Box

This paper seeks to address the issue that the increasing use of computer technology in the creation and recording of music reinforces the division between genders and results in a stereotype of 'man-as-producer' and 'woman-as-performer' that is constantly reiterated from the educational environment through the business environment to the 'street'.

Current and developing music genres incorporate a 'subcultural capital' (Thornton,1995) of technology use and ownership which, twinned with mediation aimed at entrenching traditional gender divisions in the music labour market, halts the development of women's progress in the empowered world of music technology and its potential income stream.

With such divisions appearing 'natural', the opportunities to engage in the technologies of music production for women are, as Sally Potter would say, '…circumscribed in such a way that the more women achieve in a given area they are forced to compete with each other for the same space rather than the space itself expanding' (Potter,1987)

The debate about whether there is such a thing as 'women's music' (Bayton, 1993) pales into insignificance given the shift of music recording into the white box on the desk; the status quo and the innate conservatism of the music industry is challenged all too rarely in the academic environment.

At given 'moments' in the history of rock and pop, it appears that women, through engagement with music-making technology, are about to break out of the parameters dictated for them by industrial and social pressures, only to be thwarted.

Using a combination of primary research and academic theory the author will examine current and historical practice to determine whether further developments in the music industry could ever change it, and whether the willingness is there to develop a more inclusive and balanced environment for the production of music.

Josh Reiss (Queen Mary University of London)

Intelligent software tools for record production

Multichannel audio content is often manipulated ‘by hand,’ using no computerised signal analysis. This is a time consuming process, and prone to errors. Much of the initial work is challenging and technical, but follows established rules and best practices. Only if time and resources permit, does the sound engineer refine his choices to produce an aesthetically pleasing mix which best captures the intended sound.

In this paper, we describe new tools for sound engineers which simplify the mixing and editing of audio for record production. We begin by describing the framework and workflow in which intelligent tools may be utilized. We discuss the theory and enabling technologies for such tools, including the concepts of (cross-)adaptive digital audio effects, side chain processing, feature extraction, reverse engineering and automatic mixing.

Digital audio effects usually have their parameters controlled by the user, whereas adaptive digital audio effects have some parameters that are automatically driven by sound descriptors. We introduce several adaptive dynamic effects, for use with single channel audio, which automate many parameters and enable a higher level of audio editing and manipulation. This includes adaptive effects that control the panning of a sound source between two user-defined points depending on the sound level or frequency content of the source, and dynamic compressors and noise gates with parameters which are automatically derived from the signal content

The automatic mixing of multi-channel audio relies on cross-adaptive digital audio effects which analyse the signal content of several input channels in order to produce several output channels. Itaims to implement several systems that when combined together generate an automatic sound mix out of an unknown set of multichannel inputs. The research explores the possibility of reproducing the mixing decisions of a skilled audio engineer with minimal or no human interaction. It derives the parameters in the mixing of multi-track recordings or live multi-channel audio based on a target mix or on predefined objective and perceptual criteria. By automating complex mixing tasks, it allows professional audio engineers to focus on the creative aspects of their craft, and helps inexperienced users create high quality mixes.

We will demonstrate tools, operating in real-time, which automatically align multichannel audio, especially when a source has been recorded with more than one microphone. Automatic mixing tools will also be shown which set the gain levels to prevent distortion and clipping, adjust fader controls and equalizers to achieve equal loudness across sources and across frequency bands, enhance intended sources while minimizing masking of other sources, and automatically pan multichannel audio to minimize spatial masking.

The goal of targeted mixing is to derive the parameters in the mixing of a multi-track recording based on a target mix. We demonstrate how targeted mixing can be applied to reverse engineer the parameters that, starting from a multi-track recording, produced a given mix. We derive gains, delays, filters, panning settings, and combinations of the above processors, or estimate time-varying gain envelopes produced by dynamic effects such as compressors and expanders. The main application of this is remastering, where the original mixing parameters are not available.

A broad outline of the paper is as follows;

·       Introduction

  1. The challenge
  2. Artistic versus technical editing and mixing of musical audio content
  3. Best practices and common sense approaches

·       Concepts

  1. Side chain processing
  2. Feature extraction
  3. Adaptive digital audio effects
  4. Cross adaptive effects
  5. Automatic mixing
  6. Reverse engineering

·       Intelligent single channel effects

  1. Dynamic and spectral panner, automatic dynamic effects                                                   

·       Cross-adaptive digital audio effects for multichannel mixing

  1. Time offset correction and time delay estimation
  2. Auto gain, auto fader, auto panning, spectral enhancer, auto equalization

·       Targeted mixing and re-mastering tools

  1. Reverse engineering the mix

·       Future  directions

Phillip Richardson & Rob Toulson (Anglia Ruskin University)

Fine tuning percussion - a new educational approach

A number of skills and techniques involved in music technology are rarely taught in a formal manner. Originally, ear training and listening skills were assumed to be acquired automatically as practitioners gain knowledge and experience in their field. However, in recent years, well developed education methods for assisting and accelerating ear training have proven successful.

A related skill, which has no current formal education method, is the practice of drum tuning. The tuning of acoustic drums can have a significant effect on the success of a recording project, however, this is a largely subjective matter and drum tuning is often considered something of a 'dark art' amongst emerging drummers. One popular method involved in drum tuning is to 'clear’ or ‘equalise’ the drum head, to ensure an even response by tapping the drum head around the perimeter of the drum and checking that a consistent sound is achieved at all locations. This technique is discussed in a number of popular texts and magazine articles, but to date has not been evaluated in a scientific context. Thus, no formal or quantifiable method of educating a technician in clearing the drum head has previously existed.

This paper uses modal analysis techniques to investigate the effect of clearing a drum head. It is shown that it is indeed possible to quantify how uniform the drum head tuning is via simple acoustic analysis; i.e. with a drumstick and a microphone. The effect of clearing a drum head with respect to the tension of the head, as opposed to the audible response, is shown to be ineffective in a number of cases, indicating that the drum head should indeed be tuned by analysis of the audible response rather than to the exact tension of the drum head itself. Furthermore, a drum head with a non-uniform response can be seen to exhibit beat-frequencies, producing an uneven profile to the drum response decay envelope.

It is apparent that while many expert musicians have the ability to tune drums by ear, an intelligent tuning aid provides significant benefits to those who are still learning their trade, be it as a musician or a record producer. The visual feedback produced by the novel and bespoke analysis software used in this paper can help musicians and producers make more informed choices with regards to their drum sound. Furthermore, the developed methods for drum tuning allow the development of a standardised education method for assisting and accelerating the learning of this skill.

Brian Rossiter (University of Edinburgh)

"Ain't That a Bitch?": Prince, Camille, and the Challenge to "Authentic" Black Masculinity

Vocal performance has long been regarded as one of the most potent and direct signifiers of identity – the recorded voice, in particular, often assumes the role of "interiorising notions of identification" (Stan Hawkins, The British Pop Dandy, 2009). Normally this tendency to attribute vocality to a definite personal or social identity stems from the notion that musical sounds must somehow offer a reflection or representation of those peoples who produce them, thus tempting us to envisage a linear correlation between one's sexual or racial status and the ways in which one presents oneself through the act of musical performance. As Simon Frith ("Music and Identity", 1996) has shown, the problem with this conception is that it fails to recognise that identity, particularly as encountered through the act of music making, is both an experiential process and an act of "becoming", and therefore never a fixed state of "being". Performance, as such, opens up an expansive arena where identity moves fluidly, drawing upon a vast array of bodily, emotional, and mental dispositions made tangible through the cultural quirks of sound and style. For recording artists, the range of possibilities through which one might explore the transitory aspects of one's identity has been expanded evermore by the development of technologies that enable one to experiment freely with the pitch, texture, and resonance of the voice. The performer is therefore capable of constructing an imagined audio image of him- or herself that transcends the limitations of what is possible in the "real" context of live performance.

Using Frith's position as a theoretical anchor, this paper contrasts two songs – "If I Was Your Girlfriend" and "Bob George" – by the African-American artist Prince, on which he exploits contemporary advances in recording technology in order to radically manipulate the character of his voice, both manually increasing and decreasing its pitch, and by doing so problematising the concept of his identity by continuously calling into question his own relationship to his gender, sexuality, and racial heritage. In particular, he maximises the potential of these effects in order to challenge and subvert traditional notions of patriarchal black masculinity, either by offering a radically alternative performance sensibility to that expected by patriarchy, as in the first instance, or latterly by appropriating and then exaggerating the stereotyped behavioural tropes of this ideology in a satirical manner that fully underlines the pitfalls of a one-dimensional view of "authentic" black masculinity.

Jeff Roy (University of California, Los Angeles)

The Internet Guru: Online Pedagogy in Indian Classical Music Traditions

The use of the internet in oral music distance learning for Indian classical musicians is a recent phenomenon. For the last decade, video conference programs such as Skypeand iChat have become alternative tools for well-known teachers—notably Ustad Imrat Khan in the Hindustani (North Indian) tradition and Delhi Sundarajan in the Karnatak (South Indian) tradition. They use the programs to maintain pedagogical relationships with their existing students, and in some cases to teach new students where geographical distance from the master would otherwise preclude lessons. This mode of teaching is radically different from traditional methods of one-on-one learning. With the overall purpose of exposing methods that fuse new and traditional pedagogies, I investigate how technology maintains and configures the primacy of orality in this virtual music education “scape.”

Ethnographic material collected in 2010 includes interviews conducted online and in direct live settings, as well as observations of lessons administered in these two different ways. My data is also augmented by my own lessons on the Indian violin with Khan. In the paper, I first address typical Indian pedagogy in direct, in-person settings around the tenets of repetition, simultaneous playing/singing, the use of visual aids, and the perceptual domains of time and space. Then I compare these elements in the context of lessons administered over the internet revealing drastic and subtle changes. I posit that while the internet maintains quality learning, a significant shift of opinion occurs in what constitutes “learning.” Students and teachers place less value on the social aspects of learning inherent within a traditional teacher-student relationship, and instead treat music transmission as one would the exchange of “capital.” This paper concludes with reflections on the parts of music learning that transcend these changes and further thoughts as to the future of music pedagogy in online contexts.

Mark Sarisky (The Art Institute of Austin, Texas)

The Effects of Career Targeted Education on the Art and Science of Audio Technology and Their Application to the Production of Recorded Music.

The time-honored approach to obtaining a career in the area of producing recorded music has been to study in a school of music as a traditional student and then to obtain knowledge and experience in the application of technology to this study.  The knowledge and experience was obtained either through classroom study or and internship in the recording industry, specifically at a recording studio.  Over the last 30 years, career targeted educational institutions have developed programs in Audio Production.  These programs do not follow the broad based tradition of liberal arts education so popular in the United States. These programs have a high concentration of courses that directly address the skills perceived as needed for entry into the field. This article looks at the effects of this style of education on the recorded music being produced today and the skills sets of the graduates of these programs.  In addition, it looks at the perception of what is required to have a successful career in the field of Audio Production and how that reflects the reality of life in the music business.  Along with these discussions, future studies are proposed.

Toby Seay (Drexell University)

Primary Sources in Music Production Research and Education: Using the Drexel University Audio Archive as an Institutional Model

With Drexel University in Philadelphia acquiring the Sigma Sound Studios Collection in June 2005, an opportunity arose to establish this resource as a basis for research into modern music production techniques, recording technology and archival techniques as it relates to multi-track audio recordings. Sigma Sound Studios was the paramount recording studio in Philadelphia from 1968 to 2003 and was instrumental in the creation of what became know as the ‘Sound of Philadelphia’. In keeping with the theme of change and continuity, this presentation will outline how an educational institution can best preserve and use multi-track collections within music production curriculum and will include examples from the collection as well as a discussion of the complications of keeping a commercial recording collection.   

The Sigma Sound Studios Collection consists of 6119 magnetic tape-based recordings in twelve different recording formats.  These differing formats represent the evolution of modern music production as the collection starts in the late 1960’s with 4-track analog and progresses to 8-track, 16-track, 24-track analog, 32-track and 48-track digital.  With this evolution, it is possible to see how advances in technology changed the creative process of musicians, engineers and producers as they performed and adapted their art. Researchers of musicology and popular music will find the Sigma Sound Studios Collection a valuable resource for the study of music and culture of the late 20th century and specifically how these recordings represent the musical culture of Philadelphia.  With changes in the music industry and recording media, having primary sources for research enhances the connection between music production and music technology.

Andy Simpson (Simpson High Resolution Microphones, Poland)

The Role of the Recording Engineer (“What sounds good, is good?”)


Engineering is, by definition, a quantitative physical-domain discipline. Art, in contrast, is by definition a qualitative psychophysical-domain discipline. However, in recent times it has become popular, perhaps even necessary, to define the contribution of the recording engineer as art – despite the apparent contradiction in terms. This position is usually justified by defining the role of the recording engineer as primarily qualitative: – what sounds good, is good. Within the context of the role of the recording engineer, this paper broadly investigates the potential pitfalls of the empirical approach which relate to psychoacoustics, including the definition of distortion and the role of loudness. Practical problems are derived and potential solutions discussed.


Where the goal of the recording engineer is to exactly reproduce at the ear-drum of the home-listener the sound pressure variations of acoustic music, specified as measured at a given location within the auditorium during the original acoustic event, this role is relatively well defined in the physical () domain. Under this definition, the chief responsibility of the recording engineer is to control the introduction of distortion in the recording signal chain. Therefore, we may classify this quantitative role as engineering. However, in practice it would appear well supported that the recording engineer is required not to simply record and reproduce sound-pressure variations at the ear-drum of the listener, but to prioritize the reproduction of psychophysical () variations in the acoustic perception of the listener. In this sense, any difference in acoustic perception between the original event and the reproduction can be considered distortion. Under this alternative definition, the responsibility of the recording engineer is tocontrol the introduction of this perceptual distortion. It is also widely accepted that the recording engineer is, in some cases, expected to specifically control or enhance various aspects of the acoustic perception of the listener, by the use of physical-domain means (e.g., equalization, compression, microphone placement, etc). Therefore, despite the fact that the recording itself is the physical-domain responsibility of the recording engineer, this role must be defined as qualitative, as the psychophysical-domain representation of sound and music can practically only be measured subjectively.

This paper presents the pitfalls of this approach and focuses on the definition of distortion in the two opposing domains in order to investigate their interactive relationship with respect to the role of the recording engineer.

Initially, a brief overview of psychoacoustics is given in order to place the discussion of distortion in context. Loudness is introduced as the nonlinear transformation between the physical and psychophysical domains. The concept of distortion is defined in the physical and psychophysical domains. Next, loudness is described as the mechanism by which distortion in the physical-domain is nonlinearly transformed into perceptual distortion in the psychophysical-domain. The impact of nonlinearity in the loudness function is discussed in terms of this distortion transformation and some conclusions are drawn with regards to the role of the recording engineer and possible solutions to the problems presented.

Alex Stevenson (Leeds Metropolitan University)

Developing Resources For Teaching Analogue And Digital Recording Technology

Although we have seen a rapid shift in recording technology from analogue to digital over the last two decades, the resurgence of analogue recording techniques in modern music production is very apparent. Although there is much discussion and debate regarding the ‘sound’ of analogue recording and whether or not it is ‘better’ than digital, is there not something about the process of analogue recording that holds an appeal? Digital technology has clearly removed the barriers and limitations imposed by analogue recording, such as number of tracks, degradation of multiple recording passes, financial and physical limitations of effect processing units and editing capabilities, but are these very limitations part of the appeal of analogue recording? Do these limitations actually support the creative process and therefore the product?

Furthermore, music production educationalists are faced with new potential barriers to learning in students. Many young students in further and higher education have only ever experienced the creation, recording, production and consumption of music in the digital domain. Although there are clear advantages to this, such as increased access, this also imposes the possibility for the basic elements of recording theory to be missed, which would have been learnt in the studio based apprenticeship approach.

With more and more components in the analogue recording chain being replicated in a digital or ‘virtual’ form, the need for an understanding of signal routing, and often decision making, is negated. Is there an argument for ensuring that students learn how to record with analogue limitations  to build a foundation of learning so that they are able to use digital technology to its full potential, to overcome the limitations, rather than becoming preoccupied by the endless possibilities of digital technology?

To address this issue I will be creating a range of audio, video and template based teaching resources to be used to aid the teaching and assessment of music production in Further and Higher Education. My resources will consist of:

Template recording sessions for common DAWs (Pro Tools & Logic) with, and without, audio recordings demonstrating a range of common simple and complex recording techniques

Video demonstrations of recording setups and processes utilising analogue recording techniques in the digital domain

Interviews excerpts from producers, practitioners and educators discussing their uses of analogue recording techniques in the digital domain

I aim to consult a range of experienced educationalists in the field of music production during the development of these resources, to ensure the resources developed will be suitable and useful within the field.

I then intend to present the finished resources these professionals for feedback to aid the evaluation process of the product, which will form the basis of my paper, on whether resources like these can replace the studio apprenticeship route to ensure music production students have a sound understanding of analogue recording theory and concepts when working in the digital domain.

Paul Thompson (Leeds Metropolitan University)

An ethnographic study into the learning practices and enculturation of DJs, Turntablists and popular electronic music producers.

This article describes the informal learning practices, attitudes and values of 9 popular electronic musicians and examines the development of their skills and knowledge as a DJ, turntablist, dance or Hip-hop music producer.

Ethnographic studies involving popular musicians have tended to adopt a broad approach to the study of music-making that takes into account many different aspects (Finnegan 1989, Cohen 1991, Thornton 1996, Katz 2004, Schloss 2005) and only Lucy Green’s study (2002) has focussed specifically on the learning strategies employed by guitar-based popular musicians as they develop their skills and knowledge in both formal and informal educational environments.

In formal educational institutions, and specifically Higher Education in the UK, the practical study of dance music and Hip-hop genres has been unequivocally avoided in favour of more traditional Western Art music. Although a significant move forward in the recognition of popular music, with the introduction of Anglo-American guitar-based rock in institutions in the UK during the 1980s and 1990s, the conventions of Western Art music pedagogy are still used (Campbell, 1991).

Music Technology too, has surfaced as a discrete discipline at all levels of education in the UK (Boehm, 2007) and in particular the HE sector. Music Technology courses tend to encompass music-making in its broadest sense attracting musicians from rock-based as well as an electronic or technological backgrounds. However, Music Technology and Music Production courses often fail to incorporate popular electronic music categories, such as dance and Hip-hop, into their taxonomy and avoid practical pedagogy of deejaying, turntablism, dance and Hip-hop production.

The absence of popular electronic music pedagogy in formal institutions, coupled with the popular electronic musician’s inability to ‘play’ an instrument in its traditional sense, has resulted in the disregard for the musical skills and knowledge required to compose, arrange and perform dance and Hip-hop styles of music. Gaining a greater understanding of the musical skills and knowledge of popular electronic musicians’ practice not only substantiates DJs, turntablists, dance and Hip-hop producers as musicians in their own right but creates a platform in which formal educational institutions can engage, rather than alienate, these musicians.

Participants in the study were from all over the United Kingdom and aged 18 to 40 and information was gathered through ethnographic research from questionnaires, structured and semi-structured interviews that took place between October 2009 and May 2010. The interviews were qualitative in design and the responses from the participants were recorded and transcribed and scrutinised both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Examined in the study are both formal educational experiences and informal learning practices of the participants and the conditions required for informal music learning are observed, through the related process of musical enculturation.  It is also considered whether learning practices and values, as expressed by the musicians during the study, could be realistically adapted or included within formal music education.


Boehm, C. (2007) ‘The discipline that never was’. Journal for Music, Technology and Education, Vol 1, 2007. ISSN: 17527066

Campbell, P (1991b) Lessons from the World: A cross-cultural Guide to Music Teaching and Learning. Schirmer Books. New York

Cohen, S. (1991) Rock Culture in Liverpool: Popular Music in the Making. Clarendon

Finnegan, R (1989)The Hidden Musicians: Music-Making in an English Town, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989

Green, L. (2002) how popular musicians learn. Ashgate. London.

Katz, M. (2004)Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004.

Schloss, J., G. (2004) Making Beats: The Art of Sample-based Hip-hop. Wesleyan

University Press.

Thornton, S. (1995) Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. Polity Press. London.

Robert Toft (University of Western Ontario)

‘The Bel Canto Foundation of Recorded Pop/Rock Vocal Practices’

The creation of an appealing vocal track is as much a function of a singer’s performance as it is a function of the recording processes applied to that performance, and this paper focuses on the techniques and strategies singers employ when performing in the studio, rather than the way vocal sounds are captured and processed. It explores the expressive style of singing adopted by popular artists and concentrates on the manner in which vocalists treat phrasing (particularly the tapering of notes and phrases), register and tone colour, messa di voce & vibrato, portamento, smooth & detached delivery, and ornamental figures (especially imperceptible appoggiaturas).

The presentation will place excerpts from recordings (by performers as diverse as Bob Dylan, Trisha Yearwood, Tom Jones, Ani DiFranco, Backstreet Boys, Perry Como, Herb Alpert, Michael Bublé, Karen Carpenter, Jimi Hendrix, and The Beach Boys) in the context of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century vocal practices, for many of the techniques from the bel canto era are far more evident in the work of pop and rock artists than in the approach commonly taken by today’s ‘classically’ trained singers. Indeed, the practices exhibited on these recordings comfortably map on to the verbal depictions and notated examples that survive from the earlier period, and by viewing contemporary practices through this 200-year-old lens a fascinating model for understanding many features of recorded pop/rock singing may be generated.

Rob Toulson (Anglia Ruskin University)

Media Methods for Music Technology Education

The degree subject of Audio and Music Technology is a broad multidisciplinary field encompassing aspects of electronics, mathematics, computing, acoustics, music and psychology. This brings a considerable challenge for delivery of deep and effective course content and engagement with students of varying backgrounds. Furthermore, the professional fields of music technology and music production are dominated by a need for experience above raw academic ability, so novel and diverse teaching and learning strategies are required. Audio and music technology courses have become well subscribed in UK Higher Education, but, being a rather modern academic field, these courses have not benefited to date from substantial research, analysis and development of learning and teaching strategies.

In particular, professional level case study material is required to cover practical areas of the field that are challenging to teach within a classroom environment. For example, the practice of recording a 70 piece classical orchestra cannot easily be taught in classroom alone. Practical skills of project management, pre-production, project budgeting, engineering techniques and post production all need transferring to the student, which is a considerable challenge in a purely academic environment and with large class sizes. Furthermore, there is a need for experience to be gained in a professional and industrial manner similar to that in which the music and recording industry operates. The author has developed professional level case study material to aid learning in this challenging field. The case study material, in the form of interactive DVD with multiple film and audio options, allows students to effectively be at the recording session, in the meeting, making the decisions and evaluating the results.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of this case study material in enhancing the student learning experience is conducted by discussion between the project team (the music producer, film director and the artist) as well as within a local departmental teaching group, by direct feedback from taught students, and through conference presentation and dissemination. The presented session will showcase the newly developed interactive teaching material and discuss the gathered feedback. Audience evaluation of the presented material will furthermore be used in the continuation of this study in order to further develop and enhance the learning and teaching strategies discussed.

Brandon Vaccaro (Kent State University)

Decoding Faith No More’s “Just a Man:” The Role of Production in the Interpretation of Recorded Music

In this paper, an analysis of Faith No More’s “Just a Man” is presented, focusing on the way that the recording production, particularly the production of the vocals, supports the interpreted meaning of the song. The song presents two different styles of production which correlate with shifts on the lyrical meaning throughout the song. In that context, the studio production of historic vocal artists is investigated, and the role of recording production in our interpretation of meaning in general is examined by adapting an approach pioneered by Robert S. Hatten. A series of brief hermeneutic readings of historic recordings of popular vocalists are presented, and two production styles and their correlation to expressive styles (cultural units) are established. The two styles of production, the “Shouter” style corresponding to expressive topics of religious and sexual ecstasy, peak experiences, and “testifying” and the “Crooner/Balladeer” style corresponding to the topics of ordinary life, mundanity, and a sense of an “everyman” or “everywoman,” are traced from the 1920s to the 1990s. The dialectic established in these examples is then used in the analysis of “Just a Man,” which uses both of these styles in contrasting sections.

Mads Walther-Hansen (University of Copenhagen)

The dynamic structure of phonographic space

Much research in the perception of space in audio recording is concerned with locating sounds in an imaginary environment. However, it is often neglected that sounds are not static objects in an auditory container. In this paper I will examine the dynamic structure of phonographic space, and discuss the way in which the dynamics of sound in modern popular music recordings are conceptualised in the recording studio.

I will present results from a survey I have conducted of metaphorical expressions in interviews with sound recording engineers. This study revealed that sound engineers often express them selves through force dynamic metaphors when describing the inner workings of an audio mix. Through these metaphors sounds and sound effects are described as forceful objects that act and interact. This interaction is characterized through expressions such as: the sound was “pulled back” in the mix; the compressor was “holding down” the sound; the vocal were “pushed up front”, etc. Using Lakoff and Johnson’s work on cognitive linguistics as a guide, I will argue that conceptual metaphors offer an alternative medium for understanding the structure and manifestation of phonographic space and the impact of recording practice.

Dan Walzer (Art Institute of TN - Nashville)

Integrating Small Business Concepts into an Audio Production Curriculum

As more aspiring students matriculate to college to major in audio production, there appears to be an overall lack of familiarity with basic business concepts.  The majority of audio production degree audits focus on the wide range of technology sectors that are vital to a student's success in the studio. Their abilityto easily assimilate audio production concepts is directly related to the tactile approach most audio degreeprograms use in tactile instructional styles.  Most audio students are hands-on learners and when combined with a strong visual and auditory component, they're able to grasp industry standard software like Pro Tools and Logic.  Unfortunately there seems to be a disconnect with their General Education Courses. Integrating general education core concepts into music and recording industry courses through a series of hands-on projects will help bridge the gap and make students more job savvy in the future. 

A number of audio production programs focus more on the technology and less on the core business concepts that are needed to be successful in the new music and recording industries.  It's becoming more evident that a shift in focus needs to happen, in order to introduce these vital entrepreneurial principles at an early stage in the student's academic career.

As the recording industry continues to consolidate and struggle to remain profitable, aspiring professionals are required to more versatile than ever in order to be competitive. Many students report that they want to be self-employed once they're finished with matriculation. However, upon graduation these students often lack the basic skills necessary to start a successful freelance business.  It's imperative that music and audio business courses have a balance of general observations about the new music business, along with a series of hands on projects that teach aspiring audio engineers how to start their own freelance company. 

Over the past two years our Audio Production Department has incorporated a unit entitled "Freelance 101" in which students in the entry-level music business course must devise and present a fully functional business plan for a mock studio or company they'll own after graduation. Students are required to research start up costs, devise a company logo and marketing plan, gear list, and plans for repayment of the "loan".  The project is presented to professional members of the audio community, who have the power to approve or deny a student's request for funding.

The project cultivates time management skills, effective presentation strategies, career research principles, and organizational concepts.  It prepares students for the rigors of self-employment in a competitive field without long-term job security.  The end result is a smoother transition from the academy to the real world while fostering ownership over the student's individual career and educational goals.  It combines the best elements of business savvy with entrepreneurial spirit, both keys to long-term career success.  

John Ward (Anglia Ruskin University)

Loss of our Musical Heritage? – The Rise of the Digital Remaster

Teaching Music Production and Sound Engineering requires students to be able to access and hear milestone recordings from the past to inform their learning and practice.  In a wider context, the discerning audiophile also wishes to hear such recordings as close as possible to the original studio masters.  Unfortunately, to some extent, all they can now purchase are digital remasters.  Remasters are marketed mainly as improvements to the original releases, but in many cases this claim is very debatable.

Recordings such as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, David Bowie’s Hunky Dory, Queen’s Night at the Opera and Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, are seminal recordings which listeners should be able to hear in a way that reveals the passion in the performance and the skill and artistry in the engineering and production.  This paper will argue that in some cases, extreme digital remastering is robbing people of access to the true beauty of highly important and seminal recording, and presenting them with modern remasters that in some cases lose much of the feel of the originals.  It will also suggest that such radical remastering is actually cultural vandalism that would not be tolerated in other art forms – imagine the outcry if The Mona Lisa was retouched in such a way that all the blues were overemphasised, the contrast reduced and the brightness increased. 

There are a number of ways remastering is approached. 

One is to attempt to “clean up” the original mix, remove tape hiss and repair tape dropouts, generally removing the “patina”, but without any radical alteration of EQ and dynamics.  This method does not particularly trouble the author although some may argue that it is an “Intentional Fallacy”  

Another is to quite radically alter the studio master with digital EQ, compression and limiting.  It is the latter approach that is most widely used and which the author finds most questionable, and examples of this approach to remastering will form the main focus of the presentation to ASARP.

Other sometimes quite radical methods are used, especially on very old recordings.

The talk will be illustrated with A/B comparisons of high quality recordings of original vinyl releases from the author’s own extensive collection, with digital remasters available on CD.  These will include snippets of some of the recordings named above and others, and will demonstrate how in some cases the feel, groove and soul of the originals have been altered. The recordings from LPs have been made at 24/96 resolution and dithered down to 16/44.1 resolution for playback to enable direct comparisons with tracks from remastered CDs. Comparable analysis of dynamic range and frequency spectra will be presented to show quantitatively and qualitiatively how digital remastering alters the sound compared to the originals, in some cases reducing the dynamic range to increase loudness and boosting high frequencies to produce a false perception of higher fidelity.  These analyses will used to explain the demonstrable perceived differences in voices, instruments, and rhythmic feel and groove.

Michael Ward (Leeds Metropolitan University)

Automatic Extraction of Rhythmic Parameters from Percussive Performance

Commercial applications have for some time included facilities for the extraction of some musical parameters from audio signals. In the main this has tended to focus on segmentation of audio signals and beat identification that adopt either a signal based approach that uses temporal envelopes and spectral analysis or metadata from the MPEG7 schema. The development of machines capable of ‘listening’ to performances and extracting musical information in real time have been the topic of much research in recent years. This research could facilitate applications for music production and performance tools, music recommendation and music retrieval systems based on beat and tempo parameters. This paper will present a method of listening to drums and extracting musical information from the audio signal in real time.

Music Information Retrieval (MIR) researchers in areas such as Beat Tracking (Collins, 2005) and Automated Transcription (Fitzgerald, 2004) have used onsets detection and classification algorithms to annotate percussive events from audio signals. This onset and classify paradigm has been the predominant method of working with percussive events and has been shown to work well for transient percussive strikes or for classification of percussive instruments with diverse timbral characteristics (Brent, 2009). It can, however, lose efficacy when classifying more similar sounds, for example to distinguish between tom toms or omit the temporal evolution aspect of some events such as snare rolls. In this paper an alternative method is proposed where the separate elements that make up a standard drum kit are followed  in real time using feature vectors with weightings derived from analysis of the individual instruments. Events are identified not only for onset but for duration where appropriate. The tracking of duration allows for the possibilities of machines following rhythmic textures and offers new directions for machine listening to percussive performances. Percussive instruments can be struck more rapidly than the minimal inter onset interval of many onset detection algorithms. Through using such brief inter onset intervals, a drummer can create textural durations such as snare roles, flams and linked hi-hat events are created where the ‘offset’ is as important to the rhythmic structure as the onset and classification. The proposed model draws upon research from signal processing, speech and speaker recognition, machine learning and musicology. This reduces a gap in current research and offering new research directions and applications. For example, performance software and effects could be developed taking rhythmic structure directly from audio signals. Beat tracking of percussive performances could be improved on through the detection of anacrusis events such as snare roll offsets and drum fills. Automated transcription would benefit from such research as these events are not currently transcribed by state of the art algorithms. Musicology research and music recommendation algorithms could take advantage of more information about the rhythmic structure. Finally, autonomous algorithmic musical agents could generate music based on rhythmic structure of a drum beat rather than simply relying on the beat alone allowing for interesting directions in man machine collaboration.

Barry Watson & Andrew Horsburgh (University of the West of Scotland)

Ambisonic surround mixing in a digital audio workstation environment

This work explores the recent resurgence of the ambisonic reproduction method and traces the development from early hardware devices to modern software (plug-in) processing within a digital audio workstation.  A standard workflow for the ambisonic mixing of existing multitrack recordings is proposed, and the capabilities of a four-speaker horizontal system are compared with a conventional 5.0 discrete channel system.  A range of listening tests is presented and concentrates on the parameters of immersion, image stability, localisation and frequency response. Strategies for the handling of panning, equalisation, dynamics and effects processing within the constructed sound field are illustrated with specific reference to a multi-track session from Karine Polwart’s award-winning album, ‘Scribbled in Chalk’.

Larry Whelan (London College of Music, TVU)

From art schools to music technology courses: learning lessons in innovation

One of the greatest contributions made by the British education system to popular music has come from art schools, attended by a long and distinguished list of musicians and producers from the 1950s through to the 70s and beyond. Art schools provided "a home from home to the gifted but wayward and often frankly eccentric people with which English life overflows (or used to)"(MacDonald, 2005).  And their contribution went further than supporting aspirational musicians with a grant: it can be argued that the art school influence can be felt in much experimentation and innovation that took place in popular music, and even given the occasional excesses of art rock, we can judge this influence on the British music scene as a success. Yet, in educational terms it was unintended and unplanned, coming from courses grounded in the visual arts, worlds apart from the burgeoning popular music courses of today, with their close ties to the music industry and concern for professional relevance.

This paper will examine the influence of art schools on music, and investigate the similarities with present day music technology courses, which I will argue can be seen in some respects as inheritors of the art school approach, providing study opportunities for music enthusiasts with sometimes less than conventional qualifications. The focus on technology, and concomitantly less adherence to formal studies in composition and music theory may be a blessing in disguise to popular music, where educational institutionalisation can kill originality with imitation, quash rebellion with acceptance, and lead to homogenisation and epigonism in musical culture. I believe there are lessons to be learnt from education in the 60s and 70s, if we want to maintain now as then, a vibrant, innovative and internationally successful musical culture in Britain.


MacDonald, Ian (2008). Revolution in the Head. 2nd revised edition. London: Vintage, p.xviii.

Justin Williams (Anglia Ruskin University)

Jazz/Hip-hop Hybridities and the Recording Studio

Since the first jazz/hip-hop collaborations in the early 1980s (Max Roach w/Fab 5 Freddy, Herbie Hancock w/Grandmixer D.ST), and the flowering of the so-called ‘jazz rap’ subgenre in the early 1990s (A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, Guru’s Jazzmatazz), a new generation of young jazz musicians have responded to this unique marriage of African-based genres. My paper engages with two twenty-first century jazz musicians who attempt to merge jazz and hip-hop styles in strikingly divergent ways: U.S. trumpeter Russell Gunn and U.K. saxophonist Soweto Kinch, two contemporary artists that fuse hip-hop and jazz but contrast in terms of recording studio practices, marketing/promotion, and their intra- and extra-musical discourses on genre. For example, Russell Gunn adopts a style of jazz that incorporates hip-hop, dance music, and overtly celebrates the recording studio as musical instrument. The use of trumpet and rap vocal effects demonstrates what I call 'studio consciousness’, aspects of a recording which draw attention to its studio source rather than stage an illusion of ‘liveness’. Kinch, in contrast, arguably does stage a form of ‘liveness’ on his first album Conversations with the Unseen (2003), whether the individual tracks reflect jazz or hip-hop. Using this particular comparative case study, I propose that an investigation of studio techniques may be an additional way to categorize and analyse genre and its fusions in popular music.

This paper also explores the divergent ways that Kinch and Gunn’s music is marketed and represented in media discourse, providing examples of the relationship between new media and genre identification. Gunn often addresses his critics in his recordings, while Soweto Kinch has advocated through MySpace for his albums to be placed in the ‘urban’ section of music stores rather than the ‘jazz’ section (his 'War in a Rack' campaign). Both the recordings, and the extra-musical discourses that surround them, raise important questions surrounding new conditions of publicity, genre politics and the feasibility of the internet in facilitating (or subverting) post-generic spaces.

Sean Williams (Edinburgh University)

Tubby's Dub Style - the live art of record production.

By no means is King Tubby's sound entirely reducible to the tools he used, but I propose that the affordance of the tools and the way in which many of them were repurposed had a substantial effect on the identity of that sound. His repurposing of various machines such as the high-pass filter and the four-track tape, and the inherent limiting factors present in them, channeled his creativity and helped produce his distinctive style.

Given the paucity of written documentation of Jamaican music practices coupled with the variegated and often conflicting oral accounts, a material approach is one which, by focusing on the physical evidence expressed in the tools and technologies used, attempts to cut through the layers of mythology and reveal the working conditions in Tubby's studio and some of the relationships between them and Tubby's experimental music practices.

I show how criticism of this music can benefit from such a material approach, and this type of analysis can also be usefully applied to other electronic music makers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, and therefore be used as a way of comparing and contrasting diverse musical styles. However, this paper focuses on showing how Tubby's innovative use coupled with the material affordances in his instruments contributed to the sound associated with his studio, and clearly demonstrates the diffusion of the compositional process between the roles of engineer, producer, and performer - here unified in one individual.

Alan Williams (University of Massachusetts, Lowell)

Celluloid Heroes: Fictional Truths of Recording Studio Practice on Film

In the post-war era, many Hollywood films have utilized the recording studio as the setting for decisive dramatic action. For most viewers, these scenes serve to advance the plot. But for aspiring musicians, glimpses into the recording studio provide access to an otherwise closed world, a place where the music they know and love is created. When the protagonists struggle, their lack of experience is revealed, just as the hopeful musicians in the audience fear would occur to them in such a foreign environment. And when stars onscreen overcome their fears, the audience experiences the moment vicariously – their idol's triumph is their own triumph.

Film representations of recording studio practice are important precisely for this reason. The actions depicted and the narrative tropes enacted on screen served to help formulate the novice's conception of recording practice. Such movie scenes serve as a cornerstone for recording studio mythological narratives, and result in a number of assumptions regarding conflict and power struggle among recording studio participants. Inspired and intimidated by the images of studio work they have digested from adolescence through early adulthood, many recording participants utilize practices and enact mythologies first encountered through film representation. This paper examines the formulation of film narrative tropes and mythologies, and the impact of these mythologies on recording studio practice.

Hans Zeiner-Henriksen (University of Oslo)

Music technology and issues of authenticity in the production of dance music

In an interview with the Chemical Brothers in Keyboard magazine in 1997, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons favourably contrast their work using an ARP 2600 – an analogue synthesizer from the early 1970s – to that of their colleagues in other groups who buy brand new digital synthesizers. Tellef Kvifte states that “the very concept ‘digital’ has for many people strong connotations in the direction of ‘machine,’ ‘automatic,’ ‘not human,’ etc., while ‘analogue’ has a much more human and authentic feel.” (Kvifte, Tellef. 2007. Digital Sampling and Analogue Aesthetics. In Aesthetics at Work, edited by A. Melberg. Oslo: Unipub, p. 120). Digital technology has proven to be efficient and reliable, and it introduces possibilities beyond those of analogue equipment. Still, analogue synthesizers, drum machines, mixers, tape recorders, and effect processors remain favoured by many. Does older equipment acquire status simply through its age? Is the hardship of working with more tedious production processes an important marker of authenticity in the production of dance music? The extent to which the status of older equipment relates exclusively to actual differences in types of technology, as opposed to the cultural connotations of terms like “vintage,” “retro,” or “analogue,” will be discussed in this paper. This discussion will point to the historical developments of influential genres (Chicago house and Detroit techno) with the approaches to production of their legendary originators, and try to illuminate their role in these matters. Moreover, the technological development of equipment for dance music production will be discussed in light of the social construction theory (the SCOT approach) advocated among others by Wiebe E. Bijker (see, for example, Bijker, Wiebe E., Thomas P. Hughes, and Trevor J. Pinch (eds.). 1987. The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).