1 comment on “Popular Music Education: Foreword”

Popular Music Education: Foreword

The Bloomsbury Handbook of Popular Music Education

This post is taken from my foreword to The Bloomsbury Handbook of Popular Music Education: Perspectives and Practices (Bloomsbury, 2019). Editors: Zack Moir, Bryan Powell, Gareth Dylan Smith. Used by permission.


Popular Music Education. These three words, even though they have been at the center of my professional life for more than 25 years, continue to challenge and intrigue me because each one generates questions. What do we mean by ‘Popular’? Popular with whom, and for how long? Popular in the sense of widely distributed, or in the sense of culturally influential? When we say ‘Music’, which music… and whose music? The consensus reached long ago in conservatoires about the centrality of the European ‘common practice period’ has no easy parallel in PME, and popular music has evolved into so many forms and sub-genres that it is arguably impossible for any teacher or student to have knowledge of it all. And when we talk about ‘Education’, what, exactly, are we teaching? PME in high schools and in higher education deals variously with listening, performing existing music, creating original music, music technology, the commercial music industry, and (often controversially) the history of various canons, styles and traditions. Which of these should we choose to teach? Each answer to these questions breeds further questions. If we decide that our curriculum supports creativity, then our students will probably need to be songwriters, the song being the dominant creative product in most popular music. But how does one build a suitable grading framework for songwriting, when songs represent personal expression? What if the teacher’s definition of a good song is different from the student’s?

0 comments on “Teaching Song Production Analysis #apme2018”

Teaching Song Production Analysis #apme2018

Misty Jones, Middle Tennessee State University

Practical Production Analysis: Helping Students Produce Competitive Songs

Misty opens by describing her particular students as ‘in the box’ producers – that is to say, they create the entire sound recording in a Digital Audio Workstation. The problem she’s trying to solve is this: the students’ recordings are just not ready yet [for the commercial marketplace]. So today, she will be sharing her approach to helping students to make their song recordings competitive, in the genre they want to produce in.

The approach starts with the assumption that students ‘have their chops down’ – that is, they can write melodies & lyrics, understand harmony, and can program beats. With this out of the way, the students are asked to work on these four areas:

  • Form/Arrangement
  • Instrumentation
  • Texture Variation
  • Production Techniques
0 comments on “‘Stay Another Day’: … formula to create a successful Boy Band #arpOslo2014”

‘Stay Another Day’: … formula to create a successful Boy Band #arpOslo2014

East 17‘Stay Another Day’: A music composition and production formula to create a successful Boy Band

Phil Harding, producer and PhD candidate

ABSTRACT: Is there a music composition and production formula for a Boy Band? This question is rooted in the trans-cultural context of the 1990s, and it is important for musicologists, entrepreneurs, composers and producers to research this. My study is based on the phenomena of Boy Band success of the 1990s and I am looking at an empirically and theoretically grounded formula proposal that started then and could be contextualized today with ethnographic reflection. In this paper, I will use my own knowledge and experience in the Boy Band genre; I had success as a producer and composer in the 1990s with ‘East 17’ and ‘Boyzone’. I will then contrast this with the views of the managers of those bands – Tom Watkins and Louis Walsh. This will raise some questions around the compositional techniques and the music production technology used today both in professional studios and home recording facilities. What interactive media do composers and musicians in both regional and international contexts use for the collaboration process? Do composition and even recording sessions need to take place in the same room any longer? Pop act ‘The KLF’ (Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond) wrote ‘The Manual (How To Have a Number One The Easy Way)’ 1. This presented the idea of a formula to have a guaranteed No.1 hit single in the UK charts in the 1980s/90s. This will be explored alongside an analysis of data towards my proposed formula for a successful manufactured Boy Band.

0 comments on “Book launch: The Art of Music Production (4th edition) #arp13”

Book launch: The Art of Music Production (4th edition) #arp13

The Art of Music Production: The Theory and Practice (Fourth Edition) : Richard James Burgess, OUP, 2013

Richard J. Burgess, The Art of Music Production (4th edition), Oxford University Press (Publication date: August 2013)

Richard (Wikipedia page) provided a brief history of the book and described its journey through various publishers to its current home at OUP. He discussed the initial rationale for the book (from 1994) and the way its context has changed as the ‘album development timescale’ has shrunk over the last 20 years. He notes that the wrong choice of a producer can jeopardise an artist’s career – and states that he partly wrote it to correct what he perceived to be the unhelpfully poor producer selection by some A&R people.

The new book is substantially rewritten for a different context and climate. He notes the increasing loss of the apprenticeship system, commenting that some students leaving college are not coping well in the studio system, and he laments the lack of timescale to develop the necessary interpersonal skills in young producers/engineers. His own learning about the education system is reflected in the new edition.