Eurovision 2017 : live blog


Next morning: the results

[edit – posted the next morning, Sunday 13th May 2017]

  1. Portugal
  2. Bulgaria
  3. Moldova
  4. Belgium
  5. Sweden
  6. Italy

My predictions were:

  1. Portugal (correct!)
  2. Italy (actually 6th)
  3. Sweden (actually 5th)
  4. (or 5.) Bulgaria (actually 2nd)

Not my best year so far, but not my worst either.

  • Successfully predicted the winner (Portugal)
  • All my top 3 were in the top 6
  • I was too snarky about the Moldovans (though I maintain it’s a terrible song)
  • I was right to stick up for plucky Bulgaria
  • The voters liked Belgium’s misery-fest more than I did
  • Italy might have scored higher but apparently self-sabotaged their performance on the night with a dancing gorilla.

[———–edit ends———–]

[original pre-live blog below, with videos embedded]


[Written at at 9:14pm GMT on May 13th 2017, before voting begins]

  1. Portugal
  2. Italy
  3. Sweden

(Bulgaria also somewhere in the top 5)

How to use this blog entry

When the show begins, scroll down to the first performer (Israel) and read the text live along with the show, or just watch the videos. Intro

Welcome to the 2017 Eurovision live musicology blog, now in its seventh year. This site has provided live music analysis of the ESC final every year since 2011, previously during the UK live broadcast. Since 2016, the text has been written from Boston USA, 5 hours behind UK time and 7 hours behind the International Exhibition Centre in Kiev.

The Contest is now broadcast in the US, which would be a 3pm start time here, but the final usually (as this year) coincides with my students’ Commencement. So blog will still be ‘pre-live’, but the comments and predictions are published an hour or so ahead of the live broadcast of the final. This means I’m working from the published running order and watching the videos on the ESC website. For any non-Europeans who are unfamiliar with Eurovision, the Wikipedia page gives a great overview.

As before, I’ve posted predictions of the winners before the voting begins. 2015 is the only year so far that all three were correct, and in the correct order, but I’ve gotten close with the top few most of the time.

Live blog

(scroll down along with the show, or if you’re reading this after the show has ended, watch the videos)

1 Israel – IMRI – I feel alive

Lots of builds here, harmonically and dynamically. The whole song form is three big ramps; the first is from the intro through verse 1 to the end of chorus 1; the second from verse 2 to the end of chorus 2; then a drop bridge, with a final ramp to the end. There are really two 8-bar pre-choruses, both of which use the chorus chord loop of Ab | Cm | Bb | Fm – so you get the feeling of chorusyness two, arguably three times. The song could be called ‘breaking me to pieces’ and have a perfectly good chorus, but when he hits the high autotuned C note on the title’s “I feel alive”. I’m typing this based on the video – so for those watching it live, see how they manage that high falsetto note. His ability to hit it (or mime convincingly to it as a ‘backing’ vocal) could affect the score bigly. Sorry, typing this from America.


2 Poland – Kasia Moś – Flashlight

A Hungarian YouTube commenter has just written “It is one of my favorite musics” and although I wouldn’t personally go that far, I’d say this a brave power ballad from the Poles. There’s elements of Bond themes (obvs) and a strange reference to the end of hte pre-chorus of the theme from Fame). The chord loop is Dm | Bb | Gm | Asus4 A | for all sections, and each verse ends on a note of E, ascending to A, which feels like they’re about to sing “remember my name… FAME!” (party game – try singing this at the end of every section). You might argue that my four-bar loop is actually 8 bars, depending on whether you count it as a turgid 60bpm or a predictable 120bpm (which is where they probably set the software metronome). I’d say the whole thing feels half time, because the chorus favours athemic at the expense of energetic. The chord loop never wavers, so it’s just ‘wedge of cheese’ all the way – keep adding more stuff for ever-increasing DIVA ANTHEM POWER. Not ridiculous at all by Eurovision standards, but unlikely to win. 65%

3 Belarus Naviband – Story of my life (Historyja Majho Zyccia)

No relation to 1D. Thank you Belarus for providing our first interesting rhythmic grooves of the night so far. This one apparently, and perhaps bravely, hopes to start a new tradition of super-fast (155bpm) 12/8 time Eurovision winners. The intro is a really cool E-Esus4 hammer-on arpeggiated electric guitar riff based on the top four strings of the open E chord, leaving lots of opportunity for the guitarist to fiddle about with open harmonics on the top two strings throughout the verse. It’s not really a loop-based song either – the sections are 16 bars long, and rely on that E-Esus4 movement, which admittedly makes for a super-memorable “Hey! Hey! Ay Ay Ay Ay O” singalong outro. The chorus melody is the only thing that really lets it down – too bland perhaps – but the parallel sixths of the boy-girl vocal harmonies are a treat. My personal favourite of three so far, but I don’t think it will do well with dance fans.


4 Austria – Nathan Trent – Running on air

The long dark shadow of the guitar part from Justin Beiber’s ‘Love Yourself’ looms above this verse like a charcoal cutout of Ed Sheeran, but once you’ve got past that there’s a nicely timeless type song underneath – imagine this verse sung in the early 2000s by Corinne Bailey Rae or Macy Gray. Nathan’s a really appealing performer, but this song requires him repeatedly to hit high A (and a higher C# at the start of chorus 2). The loops are unapologetically cheerful – Dmaj7 | C#m | Bm | Bm A/C# | in the verse, F#m | E | D | Dmaj7 | in the pre-chorus, and A | Bm | D | Dadd9 | for most of the chorus. The lyric “if you push me down I’ll get up again” is probably not influenced by Chumbawumba.


5 Armenia – Artsvik – Fly with me

You know that recent Internet meme idea that all works of literature can be improved by replacing the second sentence of the first chapter with the words “And then the murders began”? How about “The song started promisingly with an implicitly 3/4 time slow piano intro. And then the synth bass riff began”. Imagine this played at half speed on a cello, and look behind you in the alleyway for the parting of the murderer’s cape. I conquered my fear halfway through verse 2 just in time to realise that the chorus had no melody. Unfortunate ordering too (not the fault of the Armenians or the Austrians) – both this song and the last one are 90bpm.


6 Netherlands – OG3NE – Lights and shadows

Old-school songwriting here, with long-form chord sequences and some interesting changes, including a quirky truck driver’s gear change to get us into a higher key for the chorus. The verse begins with B to E major back and forth, then a cool 6-bar pre-chorus of C#m | G#m F# | C#m | G#m D#m | D#m E | E |, making you feel like there’s a time-signature change in bar 5 (there isn’t). The block 3-part voices on the choruses are lovely (remember Wilson Phillips?) although they unfortunately obscure the chorus melody until the second phrase. There’s a really cool harmonic trick at the start of verse 2 where they use a C#sus2 chord to make you think it’s chord 2 of the previous key (B major). Actually, we’re already into a whole-step key change, but you won’t realise it until you’re already into verse 2 and they turn it into C# major over the line “every time a candle glows”. A classic Eurovision trope given a new twist. There’s also an entirely unexpected appearance of a Steve Vai 1980s guitar lick at the end of verse 2, and an entirely expected appearance of another key change (to D) for the final chorus. OK, so back to the song; much as I love these chord tricks, 95bpm won’t get people dancing, and the chorus melody is not big enough to drive the crowds wild in the arena.


7 Moldova – SunStroke Project – Hey mamma

Geography question: where is Moldova? Eurovision answer: way down the leaderboard.


8 Hungary – Joci Pápai – Origo

You can’t hide Eurovision predictability just by changing the chord loops, though the Hungarians are going to give it a try. There are three here – Am | C | G | Dm | (verse), Am | G | F | G | (first pre-chorus) and Am | G | Em | F | (breakdown and outro choruses). Nice violin part (or possibly an erhu or similar) that mostly does a good job of obscuring the vocal. The chorus is dreadful – not in the sense of ‘filled with dread’ like a terrifying Armenian synth bass riff: more like every chorus repeat is a dreaded obligation. Like a tax return, maybe.


9 Italy – Francesco Gabbani – Occidentali’s karma

It’s not easy to write a sentence that’s unique in world history, but “Italian Buddhist playing a Gibson Les Paul while eating sushi with chopsticks” is probably a candidate. [fellow guitar nerds – it’s actually a Guild Bluesbird]. This one opens with one of those short-decay spiky analogue synth riffs, which are around a lot right now (probably thanks to Shape Of You). The Italians are among the favourites with the bookies, and it’s a lot of fun to be sure, assuming no-one in the Asian or religious communities take offence. There’s not much in the way of chord loops, which is unusual for Eurovision, and there’s some structural quirkiness to each section; the verse loop is Cm | Eb | Bb | Bb | x2, mixing 1 and 2 bar changes, and the pre-chorus (which sounds pleasingly like a chorus until you hear the actual chorus later) is Eb | Gm | F | Dm7 |. The chorus itself is in 2 bars – you think it’s over by bar 8, but there’s another 8 whole bars of lyric-lite singalong opportunity. And the pre-chorus is 6 bars (Bb | Bb | Gm | Eb | Cm | F |) – enough to make you think you’re hearing a chorus. So there are at least 3 candidates for memorable hook sections, along with the lyric lines sung in English ‘Singing in the rain’ and ‘Sex appeal’. Quirky, camp, danceable and a decent melody. Nothing to hate here.


10 Denmark – Anja – Where I am

Middling effort from the Danes with this mid-tempo minor key anthem. A single chord loop pushes its way through the whole song, but it’s a little unusual, starting on the IV, and neither beginning or ending on the home key chord, making it want to loop endlessly – which it does throughout. In this key it’s F# | D#m | A#m | G# |, or in friendlier guitar-capo-1 speak, F, Dm, Am, G. Anja sings it really well, at least on the video I’m watching, hitting those final chorus high notes without sounding diva-esque or operatic. Nice but not world-beating.


11 Portugal – Salvador Sobral – Amar pelos dois

This is lovely – like an undiscovered jazz standard from the Great American Songbook, with just a hint of Jacques Brel by way of ‘Inch Worm’ and Harry Nilsson’s ‘Schmilsson in the Night’ arrangement of ‘Makin’ Whoopee’ (find it if you haven’t heard it – Gordon Jenkins’ lush string arrangements are beautiful). It sweeps through many a key between verses and still finds its way back to F major with a coherent and timeless verse melody. I’m watching this on video shortly before the live broadcast, so although it’s one of the front-runners to win, how well it does on the night is going to be dependent on how sincerely Salvador sings it live. A wonderful song though.


12 Azerbaijan – DiHaj – Skeletons

The intro is a mashup of Ultravox, Gary Numan and Depeche Mode, but downbeat. Promising start, leading into a less Euro-skeptic but no less morose chorus – the loop is D | Bm | F#m | F#m. Cool title, but the song is basic, in both senses of the word.


13 Croatia – Jacques Houdek – My friend

Voice over intro: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” These Croatian chaps [SPOILER] subscribe to the latter point of view, by telling us “There’s a miracle my friend / and it happens every day”. If you must play along with this song, do it musically (by strumming F | C | Dm | Bb |) rather than ideologically – these guys are far too credulous to live in an evidence-based reality. The linking section before the middle 8 uses the outro loop from ‘Hey Jude’ (F | Eb | Bb | F), and we end with a key change into G major for the last chord, which is nice but not really miraculous. Unless you believe that everything is.


14 Australia  – Isaiah – Don’t come easy

The words “Isaiah, Don’t Come Easy” contain all of the letters of the words ‘Sam Smith”. Coincidence? Another down-tempo ballad, and without any histrionics at the end, thankfully. The loops (Bm D | A G| and | Em Bm | A etc|) follow all of Milton Mermikides’ Aeolian rules, with a brief Stairway To Heaven chromatic descent in the bridge. Now that the Australians are more European than the Brits, they are doing a great job with Eurovision entries, and this is another competent ‘deux points’ attempt. Creditable but unlikely to see the top five. 58%


15 Greece – Demy – This is love

After a strangely Evanenscent minor-key intro. Demy quickly gets down to business – the song whips along at a 2012-ish dance-floor banger tempo of 128bpm. The chorus loops hit double time, adding energy built on some solid pre-choruses (the first of which uses chord inversions). The usual nonsensical mashup of Nice Songlike Words – love, stars, story, tonight, forever, reaching (out), one, everywhere. I don’t mean to single out the Greeks for this of course – it’s probably part of the brief for Eurovision songwriters – but the formula is on parade here. Will probably score similarly to the Cypriot entry.


16 Spain – Manel Navarro – Do it for your lover

The title of this song is Do It For Your Lover, as you will be reminded exactly 32 times. The chorus goes “Do It For Your Lover, Do It For Your Lover baby, clap your hands and Do It For Your Lover, Do It For Your Lover, Do It For Your Lover baby, clap your hands and Do It For Your Lover, Do It For Your Lover, Do It For Your Lover, Do it for those you ever care and love”. There’s an acoustic reggae arrangement in a Jack Johnson vein (there’s even a surfing theme in the video) over a loop of G D | Am C for the most part, with a rare moment of interest when the all-too-brief B7 chord arrives at the end of the chorus, but then we’re back on the treadmill. It’s possible to have too much repetition, and also it’s possible to have too much repetition.


17 Norway – JOWST – Grab the moment

Like many Eurovision fans, I generally expect at least one of the Scandinavian entries to be near the front of the pack. Sadly this year it’s definitely not the Norwegians. Thought experiment: imagine your five favourite songs with the word “kill” in the first bar of the chorus. There are some nice synth parts in the bridge with some weird chord transitions that might be described as ‘bendy’, but this doesn’t make up for the previous section where the sampler interlude bounces that word “kill” around the auditorium at various pitches. Presumably the hat is authentically Norwegian, but I’m not so sure about the DJ’s sparkly welder serial killer mask. 31%

18 United Kingdom Lucie Jones Never give up on you

How did they manage to make a tempo of 128 BPM sound so unexciting? The chord loop is Dm | Dm | F | F | C | C | Bb | Bb | and goes on throughout, apart from a short 4-bar pre-chorus of | Bb | Bb | C | C |. The mainly pentatonic verse melody does a decent job of providing an anthem-like feeling, and there’s a really nice tension note of E (“You don’t fall”) and the implied move into a more major-scale feel in the chorus. But the chorus opens with almost 3 whole beats of no vocal, which weakens the impact of the the singer’s titular promise. It’s a nice melody overall, and more memorable than some from the past, but the UK should be shooting for something that stands out more. This is all academic of course; even if we had a Swedish style dancefloor banger there would still be no hope for us – it’ll be hard to find a voting country that isn’t aware of Article 50. 56%

19 Cyprus – Hovig – Gravity

We have both kinds of dynamics here – mf and f. You might count this one at 75bpm, although I think they intend 150, at least for the chorus. Either way it’s really hard to dance to (yes, I tried). The chorus has a decent 2-bar melodic hook, and there’s a cool moment at the end of the second chorus when it rises from the home key of Bbm to Db major, but it’s all too brief. Inoffensive but average. Will probably score similarly to the Greek entry. 47%


20 Romania – Ilinca feat. Alex Florea – Yodel it!

Yodelling theme, with yodelled lyrics that appear to be about yodelling, and I confess I didn’t know about the popularity of this activity in Romania. Other than the gimmick, it’s standard/bland I-V-vi-IV loops for the most part – the ‘Axis of Awesome’ loop – over an unmemorable melody. Dead in the water – or maybe lost in the mountains. 32%

21 Germany – Levina – Perfect life

At first I was surprised this one wasn’t more hotly tipped. The vaguely ‘Every Breath I’ll Be Missing Your Titanium’ guitar intro was promising and the ascending phrases of the verse melody were developing nicely, but the chorus just didn’t lift itself high enough, even with three title repeats at the end. The Germans usually provide something more remarkable than this.


22 Ukraine – O.Torvald – Time

The first real rock song of the night, or at least the first electric guitar-led band. A lot of noise in the choruses, but O is not a great singer, at least on the version I heard today. Lordi’s 2006 ‘hard rock’ victory featured a great chorus hook, great costumes and a great vocal performance. The Ukranians will need to do more than just bring guitars to the show.


23 Belgium – Blanche – City lights

What is this melody remiscent of? Tweet me the answer in the comments @joebennettmusic – I’m thinking of that sus4 ‘danger zone’ move from Ab to G. Surprised this is such a favourite (top 5 for most bookies). The melody spends so much time down in the lower part of the singer’s alto range, and the chorus starts on the same low note (G below middle C) as the verse, so it’s difficult to feel difference in the chorus. I’m going to stick my neck out, literally against the odds, and say that this one won’t do as well as predicted.


24 Sweden – Robin Bengtsson – I can’t go on

Please, Scandies, deliver something classic for us.Robin’s sharp suit and sharp delivery seem to fit perfectly with that staccato bass riff over the intro and verse. The verse and chorus use the same loop of C | C | Em | D |, and the chorus “I can’t go on / I can’t go on / when you look this freakin’ beautiful’ is as epic as we’ve come to expect from the Swedes. Good job, everyone – but is it quirky enough to capture Europe’s imagination?


25 Bulgaria Kristian Kostov Beautiful mess

Angsty love ballad, with a cool drum part and nice big textures in the chorus. It’s side-stepping a lot of cliches – the loops are not the most obvious ones. The chorus loop is (in Cm) | Ab | Ab | Cm | Cm | Bb | Bb | Fm | Fm | – in loop cliche terms, and to misquote Eric Morcambe, the right chords, but *not necessarily in the right order*. Unusually, the title is taken from the verse, not from the chorus (so you might remember this song at first listen as being called ‘Untouchable’). This is high risk in Eurovision terms, but I call it brave. He’s an appealing performer, assuming he can hit those falsetto notes in the live show. In my top 5, I think.


26 France – Alma – Requiem

The French are known, quite reasonably, for often sticking to their mother tongue in Eurovisions past. So this chorus (“will you take me to paradise” etc) is probably a big deal for them culturally. Thankfully, this more moderate political position (the nationalist vote having recently been beaten at the presidential polls) may pay off for them commerically. This is good solid Eurovision-by-numbers, but it’s also extremely French, correctly highlighting the certain fact that in all cultures the harmonic minor scale is more ethnically authentic than the aeolian mode. Should do well, and who else are those disenfranchised Le Pen voters going to choose?


[ABSTRACT] Appropriation and Copyrightability in Music Copyright

I Hate These Blurred Lines: Wrongful Appropriation and Copyrightability in Music Copyright

Academic/copyright post: here’s an abstract (pdf) of a paper that I’ll be presenting with Prof Wendy Gordon next week at Boston University Law School.

James Newton

Flautist and composer James Newton, whose work ‘Choir’ was sampled by the Beastie Boys in’ ‘Pass The Mic’.

This is based in part on an earlier paper that we presented at the Art of Record Production Conference in Aalborg, Denmark in December 2016, a draft of which is embedded below with voiceover and music examples. As this is an academic paper about music copyright, it contains musical excerpts from the original audio recording. My first attempt to embed the video resulted in an automatic takedown (academic fair use YouTube dispute is in progress), so I’m trying again with a Screencast embed. Because the video represents commentary and (not for profit) academic research, I’m continuing to claim fair use. Let’s see how long the audio survives!

Abstract: We have two concerns with music infringement trials: The first concern is the process by which juries decide questions of whether a defendant copied too much from a plaintiff’s work. (This is the inquiry sometimes known as “wrongful appropriation” or “substantial similarity”.) This paper discusses the challenges of methodology in forensic musicology, and the musical and psychological difficulties of applying the ‘substantial similarity’ test fairly and objectively. (Bonadio, 2016; Gordon, 2015). We present an analysis of three disputes, with comparative audio examples – The Isley Brothers/Michael Bolton (2001); Robin Thicke & Pharrell Williams/Marvin Gaye (2015); and Randy California/Led Zeppelin (2016).
Our second concern addresses copyright classifications, in particular, the contested relationship between the creative decisions that give rise to copyrights in “musical works” (compositions) and the creative decisions that give rise to “sound recordings” (sounds as rendered). We suggest that overlap between the two is common and should be better recognized. To illustrate the potential compositional contributions of performers and sound engineers, we utilize audio examples from Newton v. Diamond and other disputes.

[Read more…]

Interactive album apps to engage the listener #ARP2016

A new interactive music format for enhancing listener engagement with recorded music

Rob Toulson

(more about Rob’s research)

screen322x5721Rob begins with a discussion of what it means to manipulate music ‘not as the artist intended’, citing DJ culture, mashups, sampling, replaced drum beats etc, from the 1950s to the present day. In each case he’s referring to the manipulation of the final stereo mix.

Examples given include DJ Dangermouse’s The Black Album and NIN’s The Hand That Feeds, leading us to more recent works such as Rock Band/Guitar Hero, Bjork’s Biophillia app, and Gwilym Gold’s Tender Metal music app (2012), an album that never plays the same way twice. [Read more…]

The Ghost Producer : Beyond the Sound Engineer #arp2016

Amateur Recordings and The Ghost Producer : Beyond the Technical Interventions of the Sound Engineer

Marzin Florian

IMG_1622.jpgABSTRACT: Phil Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound’, George Martin as the « Fifth Beatle », Teo Macero and the bonding of solo takes. The years go and the myths remain the same. Largely borne by a wind of romanticism, the record producer is often described as this « mixing hero » who could transform any uninspired composition into a classic that will be sung by a whole generation. If this paradigm of the record producer makes the amateur musicians who want to reify their creations dream, this utopian representation of the recording process quickly encounters a more pragmatic reality. Generally prohibitively expensive, the services of such producers are most of the time inaccessible for artists who aren’t financially helped by record labels. Consequently, a majority of amateur recordings are made in the context of the home studio, or within professional studios where the personal is a priori exclusively employed to be responsible for technical tasks.
Focusing on this latter situation, I will base my presentation on an ethnographic study to explain how the « function » of the record producer stays omnipresent in an amateur session despite the fact that the « profession » of the record producer is neither explicitly neither contractually embodied by the studio personal. Linking audio takes with oral exchanges that occured during the session, I will show that the amateur studio experience and its common one-personal-team organization incite the sound engineer to constantly overstep his initial technical functions, being thus a new mediation in which the ghost of the record producer will express.
On the basis of this specific study case, I’ll more globally try to highlight the increasing porosity between the producer and the sound engineer that, blurring all the past rigorous conceptual boundaries, is being to generate a new paradigm of music production.

[Read more…]

MOOCs, online learning and disruption #ARP2016

MOOCs, online learning and the disruption of traditional education

Hans T. Zeiner Henriksen, University of Oslo

regular_8f559671-be48-458a-b427-c36a4b381b50ABSTRACT: Many large global industries have the last decade experienced major challenges in their way of operating caused by various forms of digitalization. Uber, Instagram, YouTube, iTunes and Spotify are all distributors of products and services that provide easy and inexpensive access to products and services without really producing anything themselves. In higher education business as usual is the general tendency, but the concern of new developments is starting to spread. Coursera, Udacity, edX and many others provide courses of high quality that reaches many students across the globe.
Music production courses are popular and are provided by several of these distributors (ex.: Introduction to Music Production from Berklee at Coursera). The Department of Musicology, in cooperation with the Department of Educational Technology, launched the first self-made MOOC at the University of Oslo via the virtual learning platform at FutureLearn for the first time in Febraury-March this year. It will be launched again in September- October, then in connection with an on-campus Bachelor course. In this presentation the future of traditional education will be discussed on the basis of our experience from producing and running a MOOC.

Hans begins with a description of MOOCs and an overview of providers via Coursera and EDx, focussing on Berklee’s Music Production courses – we see Prince Charles Alexander’s course as an example.

[Read more…]

Narrative Meaning in Camel’s The Snow Goose (1975, 2013) #ARP2016

Record Production and Narrative Meaning: Two Recordings of Camel’s The Snow Goose (1975, 2013)

Ryan Blakeley, University of Ottawa

camelABSTRACT: British progressive rock band Camel’s third studio record, Music Inspired by the Snow Goose (1975), is an instrumental narrative concept album that musically mirrors the story of author Paul Gallico’s novella The Snow Goose (1941). Despite the absence of lyrics, the band implement a number of strategies throughout the album to effectively convey a cohesive narrative; these include the use of paratexts, recurring musical material, the musical representation of events and emotions, as well as segues between the tracks. In 2013, nearly forty years after the album’s original release, Camel re-recorded The Snow Goose from scratch; while relatively faithful to the original record, this version features changes to orchestration, extensions to certain tracks, and a vast difference in production values.
In this paper, adopting a hermeneutic approach and drawing upon the work of Simon Zagorski- Thomas (2014) on meaning in record production, I interpret how certain aspects of the The Snow Goose’s production afford meaning to the music and investigate how these meanings may differ between the two recordings. Further, I conduct a comparative analysis of these two recordings of The Snow Goose in order to explore differences in production that largely arise due to technological advancements. Ultimately this paper seeks to not only indicate some significant changes in the record production process over a nearly forty-year timespan, but also to demonstrate how the production process itself can play a key role in providing narrative meaning to – and ultimately enriching – an instrumental popular music album.
Zagorski-Thomas, Simon. The Musicology of Record Production. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Ryan’s categorises two types of concept album – connected narratives around a concept (e.g. Woody Guthrie) and specific linear narratives (e.g. Pink Floyd’s The Wall). The Snow Goose is the latter category – it tells the story of Paul Gallico’s 1941 novella.

[Read more…]

Contemporary Plugin Development #arp2016

Why Innovate When You Can Emulate? Exploring Contemporary Plugin
Development And Potential Innovation

Andrew Bourbon

cla-2a-compressor-limiterABSTRACT: As software driven approaches to mixing audio have become increasingly prevalent there has been a continuous improvement in quality in these digital mixing tools. Mix workflow in the box has developed through the established workflow presented by a traditional mixer, with the DAW offering a combination of the tape machine and the routing and processing matrix to the end user. One of the most common categories of plugin is represented by emulation, with classic hardware modeled often to component level by developers looking to create devices as measurably close as possible to a hardware reference.
The second category of contemporary plug-in development is based around tools, which rather than focusing on copying an established tool instead are targeting specific mix elements or sonic signatures. Some companies such as Waves have built on the reputations of mix engineers, offering users an insight into their sounds through named plugins. The CLA Signature Series and the Tony Maserati Signature Series are two such collections based around element specific processors. The CLA collection offers processing around commonly understood mix processes, with the Maserati drums instead featuring more descriptive parameters such as thump and snap.
The third category of plugin development incorporates plugins which rather than basing their approach on existing hardware tools or established mix practice are looking to incorporate new approaches to mix processing.
In this paper I am looking to analyse current developments, looking at these categories and how innovation can be incorporated into new mix tools. Emulation of tools leads to a mix economy based around knowledge of the tools and the re-creation of existing mix practice. New tools offer a unique opportunity, with direct access to the characteristics of sound. Through analyzing existing tools it is possible to understand the important characteristics, incorporating these into new contemporary mix processors.

Today’s presentation was inspired, Andrew says, by a conversation he had with the head of an [unnamed] Pro Audio company, who stated that he was looking to develop more mass-market hardware products with fewer features in a ‘race to the bottom’. Andrew’s disappointment with this conversation has led him to investigate categories of plugins.

[Read more…]