Recording in the 1960s: the new (Cult)ure of the Studio #arp2016


One day, all conference programmes will look like this.

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.

IMG_1604.JPGSusan’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: 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.