Doctoral Research Study – Part 2b

My journey continues….

~DLP Pro Image Fun 5b small.20141020
(2014)
This blog is a continuation of a series. See here (Page 2015a) for the previous blog.

Year 2015: 2nd Observation Part b

2nd Observation.P2a.renamed

Bordering my music-making practice

As mentioned in the previous blog, I came to understand within the first few months I needed to broadly explore the fields and disciplines of contemporary music-making, in order to border – and define – my music-making practice. Due to the breadth and rapid exponential growth of the music-making industry over the past century, I felt it was necessary to review the industry, fields and disciplines of music-making.

Historical development of the industry – an overview (continued)

Project Studio
Further technological developments gave rise to the increasing opportunity of having a music production setup in the home, based around a personal computer, a sound card, and some form of digital audio workstation to either record or arrange the music. Izhaki noted: “as computers became more affordable and competent, and the hiring of expensive {large format console, commercial} studios was no longer a requisite for multi-tracking and mixing”, a new era of home music creation and production studio iterations known as project studios began to emerge (2013, xiiii). As early as 2005, with a project studio based around an Apple computer with a range of analogue outboard hardware and synthesizers, Stuart Price admitted he “did much of the work for Madonna’s ‘Confessions On A Dancefloor’ album” in his home-based project studio (Doyle 2008). Madonna’s ‘Confessions On A Dancefloor’ album” was a commercial success. As Leyshon highlighted “the recording studio sector is not a particularly profitable or efficient part of the musical economy overall” (Leyshon 2009, 1315), and therefore from an industry perspective, it was positive that alternative options evolved.
Consoles – DAWsand Digital Virtual Instruments – Organs, Synthesisers, Samplers
The late 1990’s and 2000’s saw the development of the digital audio workstation (such as Cubase, Pro Tools, and then eMagic’s Logic). Virtual instruments (software instruments) and sample libraries (audio libraries for software instruments), available from 3rd party providers such as Spectrasonics, Native Instruments, Garritan, East West Quantm Leap, or Vienna Symphony came with extremely large and varied databases, at a cost range suitable for novice to serious producers, ready to include into their productions (Gilreath 2010). Miles Hubber and Runstein reinforced the view that the project studio, now with virtual technology “brought about monumental changes in the business of music and professional audio”, with the greatest benefit being a music creator able to “select from a wide range of tools and toys to generate specific sounds – or to get the particular sounds that he or she likes”, without necessarily having that instrument or musician capable of playing that instrument, on hand (Huber and Runstein 2013, 10-11). Webb confirms the potential of this practice, citing a commercially successful song (having reached the US Music charts) that included a sample from Apple’s household digital audio workstation Garageband: Rihanna’s “Umbrella used one of its drum loops (specifically, Vintage Funk Kit 03) to great effect” (Webb 2007).
As composer producer Goyte had made his first two albums using samples from prepared sample libraries exclusively, he decided for his third album he wanted to incorporate a range of unique acoustic instruments into the process. Recording these acoustic instruments – for example, an African thumb piano, music box, an autoharp – over time in his project studio (a barn on his family’s property), using a MacBookPro and a multi-track reel to reel recorder, Goyte then processed the recorded wave samples in a digital audio workstation via a digital sampling instrument. This effectively created a range of new virtual instruments that could be played in ways that the original acoustic instruments could not have – rhythmically, harmonically and even melodically. Goyte commented that “in virtualizing the instrument this way, it would become something unique” (Gotye 2011): effectively a unique instrument that no one else had access to, and had not necessarily heard previously, as a direct result of the digital environment processing. Goyte’s “Making Mirrors” CD was released to critical acclaim, and among many awards worldwide, won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Album’ in 2011.
“The rise of more affordable digital recording rigs and easier programming protocols represents a democratisation of technology, making available a process that was once accessible only through the facilities and skills provided by a recording studio” (Leyshon 2009,1309).
Portable Studio
With the development of laptops and handheld microphones such as the Zoom H4, the project studio got smaller and more mobile. Coined as portable studios, anyone with musical aspirations could compose and produce in a studio one moment, and then move outside to into nature, or even the extreme, “on the beach of a remote seaside island under battery power” and continue to compose and produce (Huber and Runstein 2013, 78). Such flexibility of recording environments enabled the composer producer the choice of using actual instruments (acoustic or digital), virtual instruments, purchased sample libraries, or creating their own sample libraries directly from the environment they habituate using these portable studios.
The laptop, particularly the Apple MacBookPro, was an integral part of this technological development enabling the portability of music production. Discussing the music production process of his 2011 Grammy Award winning “Making Mirrors” CD, Goyte reinforced choice with “some songs I sang into the mic of the MacBookPro – for whatever reason it sounded really good in that room and I left it in the final mix” (Holder 2011). Hewitt concludes that such choice and options of practice allows aspiring music producers “a significant degree of creative freedom”, to “produce highly accomplished soundtracks”, of a standard where “some of these tracks … can literally be sent straight to the record company for final mastering” (Hewitt 2008, xv). Certainly, the portable studio became a new environment for music production (Huber and Runstein 2013, 78).
Whilst specialising in the Post-Production stage of the Music Production process, Grammy award winning Mix Engineer Leslie Braithwaite mixed the Grammy Award winning song “Happy” entirely within a digital audio workstation. He explains his recent change of workflow to a “21st Century DAW-only approach” in order to:
“keep up with my productivity schedule. Doing recalls on large format consoles is a pain the butt, because it takes a lot of time and it is therefore just not efficient. With my workload increasing and me also trying to meet the demands for smaller budget projects, going into the box made total sense” (Tingen 2014).
As I gathered information, I documented it into a chart. This proved to be very beneficial enabling me to notice specific developments, and make connections across the various discipline streams of the industry that I have not previously recognised.

Contextual Development of Field_2015

Contextual Development of Field (2015b)
As my investigation continued to focus, I was able to form connections that I hadn’t previously noticed between the development of music-making technology, and the development of certain musical styles.  The industry of music production had exponentially developed, and was now so diverse.
onion-layers
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Doctoral Research Study – Part 2c (Page 2015b). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
References
Doyle, Tom. 2008. “Stuart Price: producing Seal & Madonna.” Accessed 20th April, 2015. https://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb08/articles/stuart_price.htm.
Gilreath, Paul. 2010. The guide to midi orchestration. 4th ed. Oxford: Focal.
Hewitt, Michael. 2008. Music theory for computer musicians. Boston: Cengage Learning Course Technology.
Holder, Christopher. 2011. “Goyte.” Audio Technology (84): 98.
Huber, David Miles and Robert E Runstein. 2013. Modern recording techniques. 8th ed. Burlington: Focal Press.
Izhaki, Roey. 2013. Mixing audio: concepts, practices and tools. 3rd ed. Oxford: Focal.
Leyshon, Andrew. 2009. “The software slump?: digital music, the democratisation of technology, and the decline of the recording studio sector within the musical economy.” Environment and Planning 41 (6): 1309.
Onion image courtesy of: Onion Layers Accessed 15th December, 2014
Page, David L. 2017. 2nd Observation image courtesy of David L Page  Created 10th June, 2017
Page, David L. 2015b. Doctoral Research Study – Part 2c  Accessed 29th April, 2015
Page, David L. 2015b. Doctoral Research Study – Part 2a  Accessed 15th April, 2015
Page, David L. 2015a. Doctoral Research Study – Part 1  Accessed 15th April, 2015
Page, David L. 2014. image courtesy of David L Page  Created 15th December, 2014
Tingen, Paul. 2014. Inside track: Happy – secrets of the mix engineers: Leslie Braithwaite. Accessed 1st May, 2015. http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may14/articles/inside-track- 0514.htm.
Webb, A. 2007. “Is GarageBand top of the pops?” The Guardian Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/oct/18/news.apple.
– @David L Page 20/04/2015
– updated @David L Page 29/04/2015
– updated @David L Page 10/06/2017
Copyright: No aspect of the content of this blog or blog site is to be reprinted or used within any practice without strict permission directly from David L Page.

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