Susan Rogers, Berklee College of Music
Susan begins with an audio-powered journey through her life in the music industry, including her work as audio engineer for Prince (covering the Purple Rain and Sign ‘O’ the Times eras). It is interspersed with anecdotes and career nodes commentary. This is all thoroughly enjoyable and I sense the crowd would have been happy with this being the entire presentation!
But she moves us on to the theme of the presentation, which is: what are musical emotions about? Emotions are temporary and affect the goals of the perceiver in real time. Music can’t further or block goals – so how does it affect emotion?
Susan’s academic study and research is in cognitive science, and she applies this to musical experience. She talks us through a brief ‘Psych 101’ of stages of response to a stimulus, contrasting dangerous situations with musical surprise. The stages are: cognitive appraisal (“this situation is dangerous” or “those chords are beautiful”), subjective feeling (feel afraid or feel impressed/moved), physiological arousal (heart beats faster/attention is focused), expression (you scream/smile) and action tendency.
Paul Thompson, Leeds Beckett University
(co-written with Phillip Mcintyre, University of Newcastle – presented in Phil’s absence with his apologies for not being able to make it in person)
ABSTRACT: Sound engineering has historically been viewed as a technical rather than creative endeavour (Kealy, 1979), particularly within the commercial recording industry where the sound engineer, the record producer and the musician have an identifiable history of delineated unionised roles within the domain of record production.
There is general agreement in the literature that creativity may be best thought of as the bringing into being of ‘an idea or product that is original, valued and implemented’ (Wolff, 2000: 81) and there is growing evidence that creativity occurs through the convergence of multiple elements; an agent, a knowledge system (the domain) and a social organisation that holds the domain knowledge (the field), through a dynamic system of interaction (Csikszentmihalyi: 1988, 1997, 1999 & 2004).
Drawing upon current literature, interviews, case studies and data gathered from an extended ethnographic study in the recording studio, this paper explores the systems model of creativity where sound engineering is identified as a creative endeavour within the broader creative and collaborative system of record production.
Paul describes sound engineering as a ‘layer’ within music creativity, and relates his view to Boden’s discussion of creative myths:
Yannick Lapointe, Université Laval
ABSTRACT: In the mediating process from musical ideas to fully realized sound, music takes a lot of different forms and is shaped by a wide variety of actors. With recorded music, the somewhat logical or typical process consists in the following: the composers and arrangers write the musical ideas (sometimes), the performers and programmers make these ideas into sounds, the record producers and sound engineers capture and organize the sound into phonograms, and finally the record consumers (usually the listeners) reproduce these phonograms back to sound, or, in cases of remediation, the DJ or remixers use these phonograms to produce new ones. Of all these actors, only one is not commonly regarded as an artist: the record consumer. This begs the question: as the one usually responsible for record reproduction, and given that his role in the recorded music mediation process is not that remote from the one played by the other actors, could the record consumer be considered a fully fledged artist in the same way as his peers?
Although the answer to this question is certainly not the same for every record consumers, this paper will argue that a particular group amongst them, the hi-fi enthusiasts, has indeed elevated record reproduction to an art form. It will explain, by drawing on a comparison between the record production and reproduction processes (and more specifically between the roles of record producers, sound engineers, and hi-fi enthusiasts), how and why high-fidelity can be considered an “art of record reproduction”.
Yannick outlines a typical production chain from creator through to listener. It’s an impressive theoretical model, incorporating traditional musicology, performance practice, and a mediation stage that he calls ‘phonomusicology’ – the production chain of the audio from the producer’s studio role through to the hi-fi reproduction equipment.
Joint Authorship, Works-for-Hire, and the Idea/Expression Distinction: The collision of law and practice in popular music recording
Tom Porcello – Vassar College USA
ABSTRACT: This paper examines some of the specific provisions in the US Copyright Law that hinder ascribing joint authorship (and therefore authors’ rights) and performance rights to all parties—performers, producers, songwriters, engineers—in contemporary popular music practices. Taking as its starting point studio practices that might be described as “composition-in-recording,” two areas of US copyright law are considered. The first concerns the particularly strong role of the “work for hire doctrine,” which in effect has the power to appropriate the creative output of individuals, as well as a specific provision in the definition of joint authorship—that the contributions of each author must be independently copyrightable for a work to be considered jointly authored. These two provisions, it is argued, disproportionately hinder broad attribution of authorship in music production. Second, the paper examines the uncomfortable tension between the idea/expression distinction that undergirds US copyright law on the one hand, and the composition/performance distinction that provides different legal rights to composers and performers of musical recordings. Here it is argued that “composition-in-recording” considerably problematizes the validity of assigning different rights to “composers” and “performers” (which is further problematized by the narrow, quotidian definition of what acts constitute studio “performance”). The paper concludes by suggesting some specific changes to the US Copyright Law that could better bring into alignment studio practice and a broader ascription of authorship, as well as some justifications within legal theory for doing so.
Tom’s presentation covers an area that is related to mine – that is, we’re both interested in the relationship between the creative process in popular music recording and the law that governs ownership. Copyright protects ‘expressions of an idea’ rather than an idea itself.
I’m at the ARP conference at the University of Oslo this week. As always, I’ll be real-time blogging the sessions and providing links to other study materials where I can find them, or where the author provides them. Blog posts to follow session by session with the hashtag #arposlo2014.