Doctoral Research Study – Part 2d

My journey continues….

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

Year 2015: 2nd Observation Part d

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.

Defining DIY

‘Do-it-yourself’ {D-I-Y, DIY} is now a broadly used term. I found numerous academic articles, publications and commercial organisations to use the term in varied ways and meanings. DIY has been linked from the core of human survival to the early settlers who needed to be resourceful due to either economic or geographical reasons, relying on themselves, or their network of family or friends to provide any required services and repairs outside of their skillset. For hundreds of years people have been doing tasks themselves, irrespective of their skillset, “without the aid of paid professionals” (Washburn 2013; Ryan et al. 1996; Skordas and Trader 1968; Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010, 1)[1]. The Oxford Dictionary defines DIY specifically to home improvement as an activity engaged for economic motive (Hornby 2005). Watson and Shove agree, but expand the definition to include a social aspect of such practice “personal networks of family, friends and neighbours are crucial for individual experiences of DIY” (2008, 69,74). Ritzer and Jurgenson similarly suggest there is an economic motive in the phenomenon of DIY, with examples from the 1970’s of corporations “putting consumers to work”[2] in order to reduce both the expense to the organisation, and the cost to the consumer. The American fast-food restaurant[3], the self-serve petrol station and banking ATMs are examples of the customer ‘volunteering’ to be a more active player in the consumption transaction process with the understanding that this should provide a level of agreeable service, whilst reducing the cost of the good being purchased (2010, 18).
Kuznetsov and Paulos offers an alternative perspective that the rise of DIY culture is motivated by creativity. They found the majority of DIY communities engaged “to express themselves and be inspired by new ideas”, “not to gain employment, money, or online fame” with an example being “amateur radio hobbyists in the 1920’s” (2010, 295), making their analogue radio devices, and then engaging in social groups to use them. Such a trait aligns to Purdue et al’s definition of DIY culture as: “self-organising networks, with overlapping memberships and values”, “challenging the symbolic codes of mainstream” (Purdue et al 1997, 647). This theme was developed in the 1960’s with the retailing of electronic parts and kits for DIY construction. The products were very popular (Saee 2010, 1081) with high school students having get-togethers to discuss projects, and meeting once they had individually completed the projects to compare what they had done. It is interesting that the definition of prosumer, unlike Ritzer and Jurgenson’s above, is very specific to electronic goods consumers:
Prosumers are those defined as: “who buys electronic goods … of a standard between those aimed at consumers and professionals”, and “who becomes involved with designing or customizing products for their own needs” (Oxford 2015).
A generation of prosumers were being developed, and similar to the amateur radio hobbyist, the assembler could then become the technical operator of the analogue equipment. With scarcity of relatively priced professional pieces of analogue audio equipment, these operators used their customized DIY built analogue equipment in varied audio situations, from hobbyist, semi-professional or professional applications. Still today, DIY electronic kits of specialist analogue audio processing equipment are available and used in today’s project studios (Cole 2011). The motivations to engage in this activity seem to be creative, social, economic and anti-main stream consumerism. As technology advanced, “quality digital recording equipment more widely available” at progressively decreasing cost to the consumer (Wallis 2001, 11). With the development of digital technology alternative music production options to the large format console studio continued. The first digital portable console[4] was introduced in 1979 using tape technology. Three years later, Springsteen released his widely acclaimed and large selling solo album ‘Nebraska’[5] made on this digital portable console, in his bedroom. Originally intended to be a ‘demo’, Springsteen decided the quality and aesthetic of the DIY recording was preferred to the studio-produced album developed (TEAC/TASCAM 2015a; Burke 2011, 119,188). “Evidence from the 1980’s showed that multi-track cassette based recording technologies spread at a high pace to virtually every nation” (Wallis 2001, 11).
Defining DIY Social, Cultural & Music-making practice-related
Examples of DIY in the practice of music have been present for centuries, with the combining of genres together to create a unique style of music, often using specific instrumentation. ‘Skiffle’ music[6], including ‘spasm bands’, ‘jug bands’ and ‘rent party bands’ with the common elements of “simple yet rhythmic style of music using home-made or improvised instruments”[7]. The motivation was for impromptu entertainment (unrehearsed at least), with the choice of instruments more than likely economic, given the prevalence of these bands in communities and an era experiencing harsh economic times (Spencer 2005, 219-226).
By the early 1970’s and 1980’s, expensive and large format analogue consoles[8], commercial record label studios became the norm, and small independent studios became less prevalent (Zagorski-Thomas 2005, 70; Watson 2014, 150). A diversity of music production backgrounds were common, being: artist/musician, audio engineer, songwriter, entrepreneur and multipath (Burgess 2013, 29). However, a culture of preserving limited access, scarcity of information and skills knowledge was very prevalent in large format console commercial studios by those who were fortunate enough to gain employment within the scarce but highly sought after roles within these studios (Morawetz 1974, 3,4; Leyshon 2009, 1316).
By the 1980’s, economic hardship and British government policy helped to mobilise a culture of rebellion, protest and anti-establishment[9]. The punk movement, with limited capital, resources and access, drew on the DIY social and cultural ethos, creating music, fanzines, record labels, press, and venues. At the core of the cultural movement was independence and expression, with the anti-establishment aesthetic held in greater regard than the formal arts institutions’ interpretation of aesthetic and value of disciplined training and technique. Many believe the DIY aspect is what “kept the punk subculture alive since the late 1970s”, allowing “individuals who seek an alternative lifestyle to thrive. The DIY record labels and independent pressing system created social networks that allowed punk music and ideologies to be distributed” (Moran 2011, 1).
With the birth of the internet[10], people under the age of 33 years old today have not experienced life without the global communication network phenomena. What is unique about the internet is that it is there are virtually no rules and no governing body to regulate it. Therefore this generation, and all generations after them, have experienced life without rules and regulations on for most people is atleast a daily interaction (if not exponentially more). So it is no wonder that Kuznetsov and Paulos (2010, 296) [11] believe DIY cultures reflect the anti-consumerism, rebelliousness, and creativity of earlier DIY initiatives, supporting the ideology that people can create rather than buy the things they want”.  I would add to this list for DIY music production culture, procure at any cost.
[1] Of course such a geographical necessity may also include a motive of economic necessity, where the consumer cannot afford the extra service charge that may be due given the extra distance required for the professional to travel.
[2] Referred to as ‘prosumers’ (Ritzer & Jurgenson, 2010; Cole, 2011).
[3] McDonald’s restaurant as a systemized approach to a fast-food restaurant, where service is reliant on the customer ‘helping themselves’ to the table, to get utensils, condiments, etc.
[4] The Tascam Portastudio 144 was released in 1979, at a cost of approximately US$150. It was the world’s first four-track recorder based on a standard compact audio cassette tape (TEAC/TASCAM 2015b) .
[5] In 1982, Bruce Springsteen released his solo album project “Nebraska”, recorded in his home, on a Tascam Portastudio 144 digital console. The album sold to platinum (Australia and the US) and gold (UK and Canada) levels, and was considered a success, making numerous top albums of the decade lists (Burke 2011; George-Warren et al. 2001) .
[6] “‘Skiffle’ refers to the form of grass roots music produced in the first half of the 20th century” (Spencer 2005, 220)
[7] Instruments range from tea-chests, washboards, and kitchen utensils – any resource imaginable that could be used to participate and improvise within the music at that moment (Spencer 2005, 219-226).
[8] In the 1970s the first large format analogue mixing consoles were released including API, Neve, Solid State Logic. 32 channel consoles were the first large format incarnation.
[9] British Parliament Margaret Thatcher is often cited as being a primary motive of the British punk rebellion movement
[10] A global communication network option – the ‘internet’ – was termed in 1982, and grew within 5 years to 10,000 host sites. By the year 2000, the ‘internet’ had 300,000 host sites, indicating the exponential growth that it was capable of into the future (Burgess 2014, 119).
[11] The success of file sharing, shareware, freeware internet sites such as, etc are testament of the proactiveness, motivation, resourcefulness and tenaciousness of the youth of today to get what they desire outside of the traditional and legal retain channels
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Doctoral Research Study – Part 2e (Page 2015b). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
Burgess, Richard James. 2014. The history of music production. New York: Oxford University Press.
Burgess, Richard James. 2013. The art of music production: the theory and practice. New York: Oxford University Press.
Burke, David. 2011. “Heart of Darkness : Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska”. London: Cherry Red Books.
Cole, S. J. 2011. “The Prosumer and the Project Studio: The Battle for Distinction in the Field of Music Recording.” Sociology 45 (3): 447–463.
DIY image courtesy of: DIY Accessed 5th May, 2015
George-Warren, Holly and Patricia Romanowski. 2001. The Rolling Stone encyclopedia of rock & roll, edited by Jon Pareles: Touchstone.
Hornby, Albert Sydney. 2005. Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary. 7 ed. New York: Oxford University Press.
Kuznetsov, Stacey and Eric Paulos. 2010. “Rise of the Expert Amateur: DIY Projects, Communities, and Cultures.” In Proceedings of the 6th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Extending Boundaries, Reykjavik, Iceland, October 16-20, 2010, edited, 295-304. ACM.
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.
Moran, Ian P. 2011. “Punk: the do-it-yourself subculture.” Social Sciences Journal 10 (1): 13.
Morawetz, David. 1974. “Employment implications of industrialisation in developing countries: a survey.” The Economic Journal: 491-542.
Onion image courtesy of: Onion Layers Accessed 15th December, 2014
Oxford. 2015. “Oxford” Accessed 20th April, 2015
Page, David L. 2017 2nd Observation image courtesy of David L Page  Created 10th June, 2017
Page, David L. 2015b. Doctoral Research Study – Part 2e  Accessed 20th May, 2015
Page, David L. 2015a. Doctoral Research Study – Part 2c  Accessed 10th May, 2015
Page, David L. 2014 image courtesy of David L Page  Created 15th December, 2014
Purdue, Derrick, Jörg Dürrschmidt, Peter Jowers and Richard O’Doherty. 1997. “DIY culture and extended milieux: LETS, veggie boxes and festivals.” The Sociological Review 45 (4).
Ritzer, George and Nathan Jurgenson. 2010. “Production, consumption, prosumption: the nature of capitalism in the age of the digital ‘prosumer’.” Journal of Consumer Culture 10 (1).
Ryan, DG, JE Ryan, BJ Starr and Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Committee. 1996. “The Australian landscape: observations of explorers and early settlers.
SAE. 2015. “SAE Institute.” Accessed 20th April, 2015
Saee, John. 2010. “Foreign Direct Investment as a Catalyst for Economic Development.” In The 6th International Scientific Conference “Business and Management’2010, edited, 1080-1085.
Skordas, Gust and Arthur Trader. 1968. The early settlers of Maryland: an index to names of immigrants compiled from records of land patents, 1633-1680, in the Hall of Records, Annapolis, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Com.
Spencer, Amy. 2005. DIY: The rise of lo-fi culture: Marion Boyars London.
TEAC/TASCAM. 2015b. TEAC Tascam History. TEAC Inc. Accessed 10th May, 2015
TEAC/TASCAM. 2015a. TEAC Tascam series: 1979 model 144 Portastudio Manual, edited by TEAC Inc. TEAC Inc. Accessed 24th July, 2015
Wallis, R Dr. 2001. “Best practice cases in the music industry and their relevance for government policies in developing countries.” Paper presented at the United Conference on Trade and Development, Brussels, Belgium, May 14-20, 2001.
Washburn, Sherwood Larned. 2013. Social life of early man. New York: Routledge.
Watson, Allan. 2014. Cultural Production in and Beyond the Recording Studio. New York, NY: Routledge.
Watson, Matthew and Elizabeth Shove. 2008. “Product, Competence, Project and Practice DIY and the dynamics of craft consumption.” Journal of Consumer Culture 8 (1): 69,74.
Zagorski-Thomas, Simon. 2005. “The US vs the UK sound: meaning in music production in the 1970s.” In The art of record production: an introductory reader for a new academic field, edited by Simon Frith and Simon Zagorski-Thomas, 57-90. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.
– @David L Page 10/05/2015
– updated @David L Page 20/05/2015
– 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.







David L Page

View posts by David L Page
With over 20 years experience in the arts & post-compulsory education, David has lived, studied and worked Internationally including Japan, India, Fiji, the US and NZ. David has extensive interests as per the extensive blogs hosted on his site (see below). Additionally, David has published in both lay texts and academic (peer-review) publications.

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