The Definitive Edition (Digitally Remastered)

Digital recording technologies have not only transformed the sonic quality with which studio engineers can capture and reproduce music, but we the listeners, have also benefitted from an audio clarity and dynamic range never before accessible from previous (pre-CD) deliverable media formats.
With this in mind the motives behind delivering a reissue are explored, and whether there be genuine sonic improvements in the many anniversary re-releases of artists’ back-catalogues.
What factors determine a ‘definitive edition’ of a recording? The research is aimed at inspiring debate about recordings with a sonic fingerprint that anchor the music to a particular time in history, and whether they should be altered to suit any requirements beyond their preservation and archiving. One may also consider through historical context and drawing parallels with other art forms, that revisions of production sound is merely an extension of existing artistic practice.
The research references album tracks from various remastered and/or remixed editions of works by David Bowie and Jeff Lynne’s ELO which are considered objectively by spectral analysis tools, as well as drawing on subjective issues and direct interviews with Jeff Lynne and Ken Scott.
Further contextual references are made with recordings from artists ranging from The Beatles, Genesis, Yes, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and Rush. Proposed possible rationales for the sonic changes are made, whether they are regarded as an improvement or a deterioration of the original productions.

Analysis of Peer Reviews in Music Production

The mix is an essential part of the music production process, which has an important but poorly understood impact on the perception of a record. Little is known about which aspects are the most important, and how to acquire such information. In this work we collect, annotate and analyse over 1400 reviews by trained listeners on 98 mixes. We assess which instruments, types of processing and mix properties are most apparent when comparing mixes, and explore which challenges arise when interpreting these comments. The benefits of using such unstructured data are discussed and a methodology for analysing it is proposed.

Mastering Kurenniemi’s Rules (2012): the role of the audio engineer in the mastering process

In this paper the audio mastering process and the role of the audio engineer are studied from two viewpoints. Firstly, the mastering engineer’s stance towards music technology is described with the concepts of aesthetic and technical use of technological artefacts as well as the intrinsic and extrinsic properties of sound recording. Secondly, the relationship between the musical work and its medium is described with several examples encountered in the mastering process of the album Rules (2012), which consists of ten works from the 1960s and 1970s by the Finnish electroacoustic music composer and instrument designer Erkki Kurenniemi.

Crowdsourcing, Jamming and Remixing: A Qualitative Study of Contemporary Music Production Practices in the Cloud

In 2014, music creation in the cloud is defined by access to sophisticated production tools aided by a number of social networking options. This enables interaction between global communities of musicians across transcultural and transnational spaces. Examining practices within contemporary music production enables a new perspective on remixing and studio jamming filtered though the lens of crowdsourcing. There are multiple challenges associated with this mode of work, and while acknowledging them, this paper argues that there are numerous benefits of engaging in crowdsourcing within the context of Internet-based music production. Drawing on my creative practice and work with three online systems (Audiotool, Blend, Ohm Studio), I analyse the various characteristics of production practices in the cloud engaging international collaborators in a transcultural, transnational space. By examining phases of user-instigated collaborative asynchronous project development, this paper traces how shifts away from traditional studio settings have redefined notions of remixing and jamming, and how new technologies have impacted on interaction between users of remote music collaboration software. In doing so, it makes broader points about how social networking combined with cloud-based music production technologies can lead to new and alternative approaches to music production in international contexts.

Following the Instruments, Designers, and Users: The Case of the Fairlight CMI

The focus of this article is the Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument (CMI), which is generally regarded as the first commercially available digital sampler. However, its designers, Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie, were primarily interested in the use of digital synthesis to replicate the sounds of acoustic instruments; sampling was a secondary concern. Users of the Fairlight CMI began to use it to sample the sounds of everyday life (Richard Burgess, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel) and create the sounds of new instruments (Peter Howell and Roger Limb at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop). To develop a conceptual framework for understanding the historical and contemporary uses of musical instruments such as the Fairlight CMI, it may be useful to enter the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and engage with the work of scholars such as Nelly Oudshoorn and Trevor Pinch. Their focus on the ‘user-technology nexus’ initiates a shift in the writing of histories of technologies from a focus on the designers of technologies towards the contexts of use and ‘the co-construction’ or ‘mutual shaping’ of technologies and their users. As an example of how musicians use instruments in ways unforeseen by their designers, my argument is that a history of music technologies such as the Fairlight CMI and other digital sampling instruments needs to be a history of the designers and the users of these music technologies.

An invisible network: Music consumption and the construction of the Portuguese popular song

Music production involves coordinating efforts among diverse experts, namely recording engineers and musicians. Each contributes specialized work to the production by utilizing shared resources such as music, recorded sound and technologies. To coordinate their efforts, a producer provides information about the production and resources as pertinent to individual contributions. Similar modes of communication and coordination have been studied in scientific research communities. In cognitive science and the sociology of science, “boundary objects” (Star and Griesemer: 1989) and “trading zones” (Galison: 1999) are concepts used to explain how this coordination is enabled and has relevance for music production.

Future Music Formats: evaluating the ‘album app’

Analogue and digital music formats each bring unique benefits for the consumer, the artist and the commercial record industry. Digital formats allow rapid and mobile access to an unlimited database of music, and bring valuable marketing opportunities on a global scale. Physical formats, such as vinyl, are more representative of an art piece, which may include cover art, photographs, descriptive texts, song lyrics and production details. There is however no current format for music delivery that maximises the experience for all of the stakeholders involved.
The emerging ‘album app’ format is a rich multi-media artefact that can be downloaded to a digital device. In 2011 Bjork released the first album app, Biophilia, which included a new unique interface for music listening as well as custom visual animations. Bjork’s cutting-edge approach however brought a number of unresolved challenges with respect to consumer adoption, design costs and chart eligibility.
The research presented in this paper evaluates the album app format and resolves some of the previous functional issues. Working with the band Francois and the Atlas Mountains, this project has realised the first ever chart eligible album app, Piano Ombre, which includes detailed artwork, song lyrics, guitar chord charts, production credits and access to exclusive bonus music material. The app has been evaluated by a number of consumers and industry representatives; in particular it has been observed that prior to seeing the app only 34% of those asked saw the format as having future potential, whereas, after seeing a demonstration of the app, 77% of participants said they would purchase music in this way. This paper therefore discusses the limitations of existing music formats, provides a case study overview of the developed album app material, and evaluates the consumer, artist and industry response to the proposed new format.

“That extra thing”- the role of session musicians in the recording industry

During the golden years of the recording industry, music production justified the emergence of professional musicians whose expertise was performing in the studio – the session musicians. After the digital revolution, different models for record production emerged.
This article aims to reflect upon the agency of session musicians. Questions of musicianship, authorship, listening and gender will be highlighted. My methodology involves research on concepts, and the comparison between behaviours pre and post digital era. I make use of ethnographic interviews with studio musicians, and research collected in documentary films, as well as books and articles focused on the recording studio setting.

Unheard Sounds: The Aesthetics of Inaudible Sounds Made Audible

The article reports on Unheard Sounds, a project exploring extreme transpositions of sounds containing frequency material above the human hearing threshold. The authors demonstrate how using 192 kHz sampling rate and a 4 Hz – 100 kHz frequency range microphone results in sound files that can be transposed at least 2-3 octaves down without significant degradation in sound quality and presence compared to using conventional microphones and/or conventional sampling rates (48 kHz). We then demonstrate how these transposed sounds can present interesting sonic material for composition and improvisation.

The Development of the ‘Epic’ Queen Sound

One of the defining features of Queen’s output in the 1970s was the group’s signature ‘sound’. This paper documents four studio-related techniques that contributed to the ‘Queen sound’, with a particular focus on how these traits conveyed a sense of ‘epic’ size in the group’s songs. The second section of this paper examines the ‘Queen sound’ from a diachronic perspective, demonstrating how the group’s changing studio practices between 1974 and 1975 resulted in the complete realisation of the ‘Queen sound’.

The Sound of Coordinated Efforts: Music Producers, Boundary Objects and Trading Zones

Music production involves coordinating efforts among diverse experts, namely recording engineers and musicians. Each contributes specialized work to the production by utilizing shared resources such as music, recorded sound and technologies. To coordinate their efforts, a producer provides information about the production and resources as pertinent to individual contributions. Similar modes of communication and coordination have been studied in scientific research communities. In cognitive science and the sociology of science, “boundary objects” (Star and Griesemer: 1989) and “trading zones” (Galison: 1999) are concepts used to explain how this coordination is enabled and has relevance for music production.

Music Archives in Higher Education: A Case Study

In September 2014, the School of Music at the University of Victoria launched a digital archive of all student, faculty and guest concert recordings presented at the university. A case study of this archive, its design, implementation and subsequent use, adds to the dialogue (Seay: 2011, Strauss & Gregg: 2008) surrounding audio archives in an institutional setting. If we are to see more institutions develop this resource and more industry collaborations with institutions for the purpose of “provide[ing] primary sources while preserving culturally significant recording collections” (Seay: 2011) then a better understanding of how users and contributors interact with the archives is essential. What are the attitudes towards who can have access to the archive? What are the file sharing habits of the users? What is the level of copyright knowledge? This paper uses a web-survey and web site usage data to explore these questions and to develop a better understanding of what the users expectations are from this type of archive.

Composing and Recording for Fluid Digital Music Forms

Digital technologies have brought a new set of issues to musicians and the music industry, transforming potential income streams and the traditional recorded music market. Changes in consumer and fan behaviour in online environments and market decline due to internet file sharing brings a corresponding need to reassess the way in which recorded music is presented to audiences.

Tradition and Innovation in Creative Studio Practice: The Use of Older Gear, Processes and Ideas in Conjunction with Digital Technologies.

The necessity of using traditional tools and pre-existing knowledge is part and parcel of the process of being innovative. Rather than being diametrically opposed, tradition and innovation are complementary to each other. For Negus and Pickering ‘creativity doesn’t emerge out of a vacuum…creative talent requires a tradition so that it can learn how to go further within it or beyond it. Innovation should be understood by rejecting those approaches which set it squarely against tradition and established cultural practice’ (2004, p. 91). Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi supports this idea by asserting that ‘new is meaningful only in reference to the old. Original thought does not exist in a vacuum’ (1999, p. 315). He goes on to state that ‘without tradition there can be no novelty’ (ibid). One could then argue that a desire to use older technology for certain sorts of creative practice in the studio may not be fully explained solely in terms of technostalgia, sentimentality or a simple desire to return to a glorified past. It may be that older technologies and methods of working have an important place in informing innovative practice in the studio. This paper will present evidence to demonstrate that understanding the basis for [re]appropriating technologies and practices of a previous era informs current innovative studio practice.

Technostalgia in New Recording Projects by the 1980s ‘Dunedin Sound’ Band The Chills

This article explores the confluence of nostalgic discourses about popular music and recording and production in practice. It draws on the authors’ involvement in recent recording projects by the band The Chills, whose 1980’s and early 1990’s outputs are credited as being highly influential in the indie rock genre. The article offers new perspectives on the broader context through which technical decisions are made in recording processes, and articulates how these decisions can be understood as compromises that reflect tensions between nostalgic ideological rhetoric, and the demands of production practices in contemporary commercial contexts.

Beyond Skeuomorphism: The Evolution of Music Production Software User Interface Metaphors

For the first two decades of digital audio, interface metaphors were drawn from their analog ancestors, primarily the multitrack tape recorder, the mixing console and outboard signal processors. Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) design incorporated a high degree of skeuomorphism to help transition users from their analog equipment to their digital devices. However, as DAWs evolve new functionality undreamt of in the analog era, new interface metaphors are needed. Designs emanating from the gaming industry provide a glimpse into the future of how users will control DAWs, disposing of the current dominant design motifs of the DAW in favor of more immersive experiences.

Performing Nostalgia On Record: How Virtual Orchestras And YouTube Ensembles Have Problematised Classical Music

The purpose of this article is to discuss how nostalgia for classical music performance traditions has shaped classical recording practice, and also how the use of sound recording technologies is challenging these same nostalgic tendencies. It does so by drawing together key academic literature on classical music recording practice and classical music performance in order to demonstrate their interrelationship. In particular this article looks at how virtuosic live performance is used to reify the tradition of classical music itself, and how this has oriented twentieth century classical sound recording practice around a single aesthetic paradigm, the reproduction of a “concert hall”-like listening experience. An equivalent acoustic construction does not exist in popular music genres, which have adopted variable mix aesthetics in recordings since the 1960s. The article then examines two case studies, and uses them to illustrate the tensions that arise when performance and technology intersect within the classical genres. The case studies are virtual orchestras and YouTube ensembles, each of which problematise traditional notions of classical music performance. What these case studies show is that performance virtuosity, as a marker of quality, has been unsettled by the accessibility of orchestral sonorities and the drive towards participatory cultures of classical music.

Resonances Through Urban Non-Space: Shifting Mediums and Retained Practices of Sonic Mediation

Modern practices of isolated listening manifest of mobile creation of privatized sonic worlds speak to and of a history of audile techniques conforming to larger social narratives of societal segregation. Today, we experience headphone and iPod culture as systemic echoes of past private listening techniques manifest in radio and made mobile initially via the automobile. This study argues modern private audile techniques to be self-references of past private listening practices, and in effect, become temporal echoes resonating through the dissemination and cognition of culture. Moreover, within the widespread assimilation of privatized listening, emphasis on record production ‘fidelity’ has suffered as a result of the portability afforded by modern privatizing media experiences.

The Sooy Dynasty of Camden, New Jersey: Victor’s First Family of Recording

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. Very few know it wasn’t a record player. Discs, not cylinders developed into a major twentieth century industry, but its inventors and developers stand in the shadow of Edison’s PR canon. There is significant ignored history on the Gramophone/ Victrola side of the recording and playback story. Their flat round “records”, catalyzed popular music by professionals as American home entertainment.

A tale that deserves to better known is that of Harry, Raymond, and Charles Sooy, brothers who worked for the Victor Talking Machine Company in the acoustic era. Harry, the eldest did early experimental work on recording materials and processes for company President Eldridge Reeves Johnson. He became Director of Victor’s Recording Laboratory, and Raymond succeeded him upon his death. These men were pioneers in developing the techniques that brought sound into the company’s acoustical horns to be recorded. In 1925, Raymond helped urge the company to license new electric recording technology, even though it made everything he and his brothers achieved obsolete overnight. Victor Talking Machine Company is justly proud of the wealth it created for its owners, investors, and key employees. When Mr. Johnson sold his company shares in 1927, all others were permitted to do so. There were over thirty millionaires created including Johnson, several members of his family, key executives and factory employees. But, not the Sooys. The article then jumps trenchantly and wittily to the conclusion that record producers have been underpaid since day one.

An audience in the studio – the effect of the Artistshare fan-funding platform on creation, performance, recording and production

Before the era of recorded music, performer and audience connected as they existed within the same space and time. The Phonogram changed this and introduced isolation between artist and audience. New technological platforms are now rebuilding the link between performer and audience. This paper looks at the effect of one such platform, Artistshare. Through research with recording artists, it examines who is using the platform and why they opted to use it. It then goes on to examine the effects of its use, before summarising how this has changed the relationships and the process of writing and recording music.

The Meaning in the Mix: Tracing a Sonic Narrative in ‘When the Levee Breaks’

This article closely examines the recorded sound of Led Zeppelin’s song, ‘When the Levee Breaks’, from the landmark album Led Zeppelin IV. Though the song has appeared in academic discussions of authenticity (Headlam: 1995), gender studies (Fast: 2001), and rhythm (Brackett: 2008), none has examined in detail the relationship between the song’s unusual production—arguably one of the most significant factors in its popularity and longevity—and its reception. Through the recorded sounds, I will outline a sonic portrayal of the levee breaking, a ‘sonic narrative’ that complements the lyrical narrative.

A Studio of One’s Own: music production, technology and gender

Although the question of women’s minority status in music production has been raised in scholarship, it has not been accompanied by a detailed study of women working in the field. This article hopes to address this by examining the self-production practices of a study group of female artist-producers. The study is placed within a feminist framework and draws parallels between a feminist response, in the early part of the twentieth century to the woman novelist, who accesses available tools within a domestic environment to create literature, and a feminist reading today of the woman artist-producer, who accesses available technological tools in a domestic environment, to create and produce music.

Endless Analogue: Situating Vintage Technologies in the Contemporary Recording & Production Workplace

This paper illustrates a range of contemporary contexts where technological precursors are regularly applied in recording sessions by renowned practitioners and/ or studios. Such applications are commonly attributed to nostalgia, fashion or ‘retro’ aesthetics; these issues are critically deconstructed. Implementing a largely critical ethnographic methodology to incorporate interview material with UK practitioners in 3 case study examples, the main investigative foci concern issues of source, practicality, iconicity, context, sonic quality and authenticity.

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

Developments in digital technologies during the last 35 years have had arguably the most profound effect on the sound recording and music industries since the invention of the phonograph record. Digital audio recording is now ubiquitous, inexpensive, and available to anyone with access to a computer and a basic audio interface. However, this was not always the case. During the 1970s, designers of emerging digital recording technologies collaborated with sound engineers, producers and artists, helping to establish standards for the capture, editing, playback and storage of digital audio; paradigms that would come to govern much of modern recording. This article takes the form of a case study, examining the introduction and development of commercial digital recording technologies in the United States between 1975-1983, through the experiences of an early innovator in the field.

SMiLE: Brian Wilson’s Musical Mosaic

The story of Brian Wilson’s aborted Beach Boy’s album SMiLE is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Firstly, it pioneered a non-linear approach to pop record production decades before digital editing became the norm for record makers. Interestingly, this approach was not just a functional necessity of production, but was inseparable from its compositional process and overall aesthetic quality. Perhaps more importantly, SMiLE arguably became popular music’s first interactive work, with fans making their own linear assemblies of various bootlegged (and released) ‘modules’ long before Wilson ever got around to sequencing them into a final concrete form.

What Studios Do

This essay is focused around a seemingly simple question – what do recording studios do? First, a clarification. I am not primarily asking “what are studios” or “what do people do in studios,” two comparatively straightforward questions that are tangentially addressed in academic and trade writing. Rather, I wish to consider some of the ways in which the studio itself shapes the kinds of social and musical performances and interactions that transpire within. I contend that studios must be understood simultaneously as acoustic environments, as meeting places, as container technologies, as a system of constraints on vision, sound and mobility, and as typologies that facilitate particular interactions between humans and nonhuman objects while structuring and maintaining power relations.

Examining the Impact of Multiple Technological, Legal, Social and Cultural Factors on the Creative Practice of Sampling Record Producers in Britain.

This paper presents evidence to suggest that, despite the obvious emphasis on the impact of the technologies of sampling and their influence on music producer’s cultural output, there is not one single causal mechanism which can be isolated as the major determining factor in sampling producers’ creative output. Instead, the interplay between a number of factors both constrains and enables their creative practice. These include not only important technological factors but also social, cultural, economic, legal, historical and geographical ones. Sampling producers bring to this complex world their own idiosyncratic social and cultural trajectories and act as agents predisposed to choose what they do within the constraints and possibilities afforded them.

The Discourse of Home Recording: Authority of “Pros” and the Sovereignty of the Big Studios

This article proposes a critical analysis of the discourse of home recording. Driven by enunciations regarding home recording’s accessibility and democratization, it examines the power/knowledge relations that have been produced and legitimized within the discourse. This work shows that the government in home recording seems to be exerted by recording professionals and home recording “pros”. It suggests that the enunciation of democratization legitimizes the discourse’s elitist and excluding aspects. This notion functions as a tool for the exercise of power within the discourse of home recording, one that is intrinsically connected to the norms of the professional studio.

Can We Fix It? – The consequences of ‘fixing it in the mix’ with common equalisation techniques are scientifically evaluated.

This article describes some common equalisation techniques which are regularly employed and discusses their impact on the overall reproduced sound. Sample waveform studies and published recommendations are used to highlight ways to avoid the incorrect and over-use of both analogue and digital equalisation. This article extends further to give scientific explanations as to what effects can be heard and seen at the waveform level when equalisation is incorrectly implemented.

‘You’re Not A Real Dj Unless You Play Vinyl’ – Technology And Formats – The Progression Of Dance Music And Dj Culture

Introduction Drawing on ethnographic research I conducted into the Sydney commercial house music scene between 2002 and 2007, this article explores some of the issues that have arisen in recent years in regard to the changes in technology that have brought about shifts not only in the way DJs play music while performing, but also […]

The Systems Model of Creativity: Analyzing the Distribution of Power in the Studio

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

Waveform Pirates: Sampling, Piracy and Musical Creativity

“Thou shalt not steal” – the (uncited) admonishment from Exodus 20:15 opened Judge Kevin Duffy’s judgment in Grand Upright Music Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records, Inc. 780 F. Supp. 182 (S.D.N.Y. 1991); a case concerned with two words that have become very familiar in the post-Napster world: music and piracy. But Grand Upright was neither […]

Producer Compensation: Challenges and Options in the New Music Business

The music business is in a transitional phase as the emphasis moves from physical to virtual distribution. There is increased competition for consumer entertainment dollars from many sources including video games and inexpensive DVDs and most music is still available online for free. The industry continues to experience a serious downturn in revenues with US […]

A Multi-Tiered Music Industry?: intellectual property rights, open access and the audience for music

In the recorded music sector, the era of the majors is unlikely to suddenly end; rather what we may see is an enhanced pluralisation of the market for recorded music, which while not being a radical reordering, nevertheless suggests some interesting shifts in the way we enjoy music. In the past the music industry has […]

Nile Rodgers: Navigating Production Space

Nile Rodgers is one of the few black producers to achieve creative and commercial success across multiple genres and decades, but the scope of his contributions rarely attracts detailed analysis despite an enduring influence, partly evidenced by significant sampling of his work in the digital era. This paper focuses primarily on the aesthetics of Rodgers’ production style, encompassing economic realities and ways in which focused creative experimentation can produce both artistically and commercially satisfying results.

Take The Last Train From Meeksville: Joe Meeks’s Holloway Road recording studio 1963-7

Writer and record producer Irwin Chusid called Joe Meek “The Ed Wood of Lo-Fi”[1] and Andy Partridge of XTC commented, “Meek spoke to the dead and heard music from other planets, making number one hit records in his kitchen.”[2] Joe Meek made some great records although I would argue they were not always his most […]

From the Scientific Revolution to Rock: Toward a Sociology of Feedback

For many people, rock’s primal scene is set in a recording studio, in Memphis, in 1954. There, three musicians (Scotty Moore, Bill Black and Elvis Presley), a producer/engineer (Sam Phillips) and a tape recorder (Ampex) create a song (‘All Right Mama’) that durably transforms the physiognomy of music. In this article, I examine the technological, political and intellectual circumstances that made this event possible. One word holds pride of place in my discussion: feedback, a mode of organisation that originated in British scientific laboratories of the eighteenth century.

Divide and Conquer: Power, Role Formation, and Conflict in Recording Studio Architecture

Throughout the history of recording studios, divisions of space have exerted a tremendous influence over the recording process, and have helped to shape the experiences of every recording participant, from the technicians behind the control room window, engineers and producers, to the musicians on the performance space floor. This article combines historical research with ethnographic inquiry in an attempt to analyze how power is enacted in the studio, and how studio design facilitates and maintains recording studio hierarchy.

Phase Experiments in Multi-Microphone Recordings: A Practical Exploration.

This article presents an audio-visual exploration of various phenomena observed whilst investigating time domain shifts on individual signals in multi microphone recordings. In particular, it demonstrates aurally for the first time, the effect of the author’s: “Set Phasors to Stun”: An algorithm to improve phase coherence on transients in multi microphone recordings, [1] presented at the ICA2007 in Madrid.