I’m here in Aalborg, Denmark for the 11th Art of Record Production conference. ARP is one of my favourite conferences, for the following reasons:
It’s a good mix of academics and studio practitioners
It has an open-access peer-reviewed online journal
It consists entirely of techy people, so the PowerPoints and sound systems always work
The entire conference programme pack can be carried in your pocket – see photo
Our first keynote speaker St John’s University’s Susan Schmidt Horning (New York). Susan’s research deals with the way musical style is shaped by developments in recording technologies. Her book ‘Chasing Sound: Technology, Culture, and the Art of Studio Recording from Edison to the LP’ is known to many ARP delegates.
Susan’s starting point is the technological, social and cultural upheaval from the 1960s, drawing a line from postwar technologies. Ampex tapes became the industry standard, based on the work of a company that began in Radar research. The major labels – RCA, Decca and Columbia – all began around the mid-20th century. They had a dramatic effect on recorded sound because they were monetising recordings, due in part to the empowerment of a new generation of young people with disposable income who could purchase the new pop product – the single, and later, the album.
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
PART I HISTORICAL APPROACHES
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
PART II THEORETICAL APPROACHES
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
PART III CASE STUDIES
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.