Meaning in vocal timbre #arp


The (Dis) Embodied Voice: hearing meaning in vocal timbre

Simon Zagorski-Thomas (London College of Music, UWL)
Keywords: Vocal timbre, ecological perception, embodied cognition, sonic cartoons

Leonardo da Vinci - Virgin and Child with Ss Anne and John the Baptist.jpgABSTRACT: It can be argued that since the persona of the performer is widely perceived to be the locus of meaning in popular music – as opposed to the more indirect voice of the composer in the western art music tradition – that the timbre of the voice and its control during performance should be the focal point of popular music analysis. This paper uses a framework combining the ecological approach to perception (Gibson, 1979; Clarke, 2005), embodied cognition (Lakoff and Johnson, 1999) and the neural theory of metaphor (Lakoff and Johnson, 2003; Feldman, 2008) to explore how the disembodied sound of the recorded voice in popular music is interpreted as a schematic representation of a human entity and action: a sonic cartoon (Zagorski-Thomas, 2014).

Panel – recording aesthetics #arpOslo2014

IMG_0807Panel – Amy Blier-Carruthers, Royal Academy of Music; Phil Harding, PJ Music Ltd; Pytten Hundvin, Norwegian Record Producer and Sound Engineer; Serge Lacasse, Université Laval; Susan Rogers, Berklee College of Music; Simon Zagorski-Thomas, University of West London. Moderator: Alan Williams, University of Massachusetts Lowell.

We begin this panel with a discussion of ‘pet hates’ in recording. The panel rises to the task impressively. Some hates include the loudness wars and issues of track compression (Pytten); horrible tracking rooms in the interests of authenticity; being precious about your ideas and resisting stretching them (Susan); and the boxy frequencies between 400Hz and 900Hz (Phil – “can anyone in this room tell me a good reason for boosting these frequencies, and tell me what instrument to do it on?”).

Book launch: The Art of Record Production #arp13

The Art of Record Production – An Introductory Reader for a New Academic Field (Simon Frith and Simon Zagorski-Thomas, 2012)

Book launch session: The Art of Record Production by Simon Frith and Simon Zagorski-Thomas.

Simon (ZT) described how the book came about and its philosophical approach. Contributors are either academics or production practitioners, very much in line with ARP and JARP’s philosophies. I paste below (taken from the contents list on Ashgate’s website) a list of headings and chapters in the book;

  • 1 Introduction: Simon Frith And Simon Zagorski-Thomas
  • 2 The Lacquer Disc For Immediate Playback: Professional Recording And Home Recording From The 1920s To The 1950s : George Brock-Nannestad
  • 3 The Sounds Of Space: Studio As Instrument In The Era Of High Fidelity: Susan Schmidt Horning
  • 4 No-Fi: Crafting A Language Of Recorded Music In 1950s Pop: Albin Zak III
  • 5 The US Vs The UK Sound: Meaning In Music Production In The 1970s: Simon Zagorski-Thomas
  • 6 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 91
  • 7 Beyond A Musicology Of Production: Allan Moore
  • 8 ‘I’m Not Hearing What You’re Hearing’: The Conflict And Connection Of Headphone Mixes And Multiple Audioscapes: Alan Williams
  • 9 The Self-Effacing Producer: Absence Summons Presence: Michael Jarrett
  • 10 Rethinking Creativity: Record Production And The Systems Model: Phillip Mcintyre
  • 11 Considering Space In Recorded Music: William Moylan
  • Interlude 2: Comments And Commentaries By Industry Professionals And Producers
  • 12 Simulating The Ideal Performance: Suvi Raj Grubb And Classical Music Production: Andrew Blake
  • 13 The Place Of The Producer In The Discourse Of Rock: Simon Frith
  • 14 The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds And The Musicology Of Record Production: Jan Butler
  • 15 Tubby’s Dub Style: The Live Art Of Record Production: Sean Williams
  • 16 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

Questions lead into a discussion regarding the future of publishing and how we might deal with the challenges of academic publishers, online publishing, open access and funding.