The Art of Record Production: An Introductory Reader for a New Academic Field

Edited by Simon Frith, Edinburgh University, UK and Simon Zagorski-Thomas, London College of Music, University of West London, UK

ARP Book 1

  • The playback of recordings is the primary means of experiencing music in contemporary society, and in recent years 'classical' musicologists and popular music theorists have begun to examine the ways in which the production of recordings affects not just the sound of the final product but also musical aesthetics more generally. Record production can, indeed, be treated as part of the creative process of composition. At the same time, training in the use of these forms of technology has moved from an apprentice-based system into university education. Musical education and music research are thus intersecting to produce a new academic field: the history and analysis of the production of recorded music.

    This book is designed as a general introductory reader, a text book for undergraduate degree courses studying the creative processes involved in the production of recorded music. The aim is to introduce students to the variety of approaches and methodologies that are currently being employed by scholars in this field. The book is divided into three sections covering historical approaches, theoretical approaches and case studies and practice. There are also three interludes of commentary on the academic contributions from leading record producers and other industry professionals.

    This collection gives students and scholars a broad overview of the way in which academics from the analytical and practice-based areas of the university system can be brought together with industry professionals to explore the ways in which this new academic field should progress.

  • Contents: Introduction, Simon Frith and Simon Zagorski-Thomas; Part I Historical Approaches: The lacquer disc for immediate playback: professional recording and home recording from the 1920s to the 1950s, George Brock-Nannestad; The sounds of space: studio as instrument in the era of high fidelity, Susan Schmidt Horning; No-fi: crafting a language of recorded music in 1950s pop, Albin Zak III; The US vs the UK sound: meaning in music production in the 1970s, Simon Zagorski-Thomas; The end of the world as we know it: the changing role of the studio in the age of the internet, Paul Théberge; Interlude 1: comments and commentaries by industry professionals and producers, Phil Harding, Bob Olhsson, Steve Savage, Richard James Burgess, Jerry Boys and Paul D. Miller. Part II Theoretical Approaches: Beyond a musicology of production, Allan Moore; 'I'm not hearing what you're hearing': the conflict and connection of headphone mixes and multiple audioscapes, Alan Williams; The self-effacing producer: absence summons presence, Michael Jarrett; Rethinking creativity: record production and the systems model, Phillip McIntyre; Considering space in recorded music, William Moylan; Interlude 2: comments and commentaries by industry professionals, and producers, Mike Howlett, Richard James Burgess, Maureen Droney, Bob Olhsson and Robin Millar. Part III Case Studies: Simulating the ideal performance: Suvi Raj Grubb and classical music production, Andrew Blake; The place of the producer in the discourse of rock, Simon Frith; The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and the musicology of record production, Jan Butler; Tubby's dub style: the live art of record production, Sean Williams; Recording the Revolution: 50 years of music studios in revolutionary Cuba, Jan Fairley and Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier; Interlude 3: comments and commentaries by industry professionals and producers, Maureen Droney, Jerry Boys, Richard James Burgess, Mike Howlett, Paul D. Miller, Katia Isakoff, Tony Platt and Phil Harding; Afterword; Bibliography; Index.

  • About the Editor: Simon Frith is Tovey Professor of Music at the University of Edinburgh and a Fellow of the British Academy. He pioneered the academic study of popular music and also had a long career as a music journalist. He chairs the Judges of the Mercury Music Prize.

    Simon Zagorski-Thomas is a Professor at the London College of Music, University of West London, and is the former chairman of the Association for the Study of the Art of Record Production. He worked for 25 years as a composer, sound engineer and producer and is, at present, conducting research into the musicology of record production and performance in the studio.

  • Reviews: 'The Art of Record Production is an impressive, important achievement. Just a glance at the list of contributors - all prominent scholars and practitioners - reveals the value of this volume. But take a closer look and it becomes clear what a thoughtfully produced, methodologically diverse, thoroughly researched, and engaging work this is. The Art of Record Production is an ideal companion for anyone interested in the aesthetic, cultural, musical, and technical aspects of recorded music.'
    Mark Katz, University of North Carolina, USA

    'This is an excellent and stimulating contribution to an understudied area. The book will be welcomed by everybody seriously interested in recorded music. Students in particular will benefit from the broad range of questions and subjects covered in this publication.'
    Peter Wicke, Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany