Doctoral Research Study – Part 2g

My journey continues….

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

Year 2015: 2nd Observation Part g

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. Following exploring the breadth and rapid exponential growth of the music-making industry over the past century in the previous five (5) blogs, I continue to examine an aspect of my practice – me as a practitioner – outlining:
d. Changing motives of practice
and then outline my specific site/s:
e. My sites: my DIY Studio Production setup/s.
I will then conclude with:
f. Defining the Music Production process
g. Defining a holistic DIY Music Production process

Changing motives of practice

Given my current motives for practice are very much exploratory – research and investigation – not volume sales-based, I do not feel it is appropriate for me to categorise my music-making practice as per the industry definition of professional practice. In looking for an alternative classification to define my music-making practice, I considered the classifications for my practice of: professional, semi-professional, amateur or hobbyist (Rogers 2013). Could it be semi-professional, as I earn multiple small income streams from various forms of music-making practice? Or is it amateur, referring to my current status as a music producer where I am earning minimal income at present because of my current pursuits of creative industry education, and full-time doctoral studies? Referencing Kuznetson and Paulos’s article, I am reluctant to assume the title of expert for my music-making practice, as I consider myself a generalist across a breadth of skills and experiences. (Kuznetson and Paulos 2010, 295). However, I daresay my clients, the Institute that employs me as a Senior Lecturer, and my students may see that differently. What I do however accept is who I am: highly motivated, possessing an impassioned commitment to my practice, with a very high level of focus on developing my knowledge, skill level and technology. After four decades of music-making practice, I seek to learn on a daily basis: newly released creative technologies, applying them in a variety of creative locations; familiarising my self with new music styles; developing new practice workflows; better understanding my motives, and my self. I engaged in this doctoral research study to investigate my practice, in order to develop greater understanding and workflows. I therefore am of the opinion I exhibit qualities and attributes that reflect an attitude of professionalism. For these reasons, not with standing my experience, knowledge and skills accumulated and developed to date, both within the field and discipline of music and sound, and all other experiences in life, I also classify my self as an aspiring music practitioner.
As I continued my investigations, I began to recognise I approached my music-making with physical instruments in a different manner to my approach to music-making using virtual technologies (using my laptop to make music for example). In drilling down I determined that much of this was how I viewed both devices. I commenced my music-making practice with acoustic and analogue technology, developing a workflow that reinforced my musical literacy, instrumental skills and personal taste in music. However, as technology developed in the mid to late 1980’s, and alternative music-making devices became available, I moved from acoustic to digital technologies. In the early 2000’s my development of alternative devices included digital virtual technologies.
I viewed virtual technologies very differently. The actual device that housed the music-making application software (DAW) was a computer (a laptop for example). I saw a laptop as a device that houses many many application software that enabled me to record data and/or make transactions. I used computer technologies for administrative purposes (applications such as i-Note, word, excel, etc); organisation purposes (applications such as iCal, reminders, etc); and everyday personal and business management (services such as the internet-based social media sites, banking sites, utility sites to pay bills, etc). I viewed the music-making application software (DAW) as somewhat removed from me. It was housed in a aluminium and plastic case, that I could see, but not touch. The virtual keyboards were   engaged by pressing a computer keyboard letter; or perhaps a key on a plastic physical keyboard controller. Neither devices are derived directly from nature. They are manufactured. A computer and a keyboard controller are physical devices which also have natural resonant qualities. They only minimally expand and contract in extreme conditions, with such occurrences perhaps likely to render these devices inoperable. There is also a slight delay between the time you touch the key and having the sound emitted out of the computer monitors. They are not what I consider to be large resonant devices that can be embraced and/or feel the resonant qualities as they are played, such as I experience with a piano or guitar.
Moving from acoustic to digital and digital virtual technologies in recent decades, I observed the vastly different technologies and associated workflows that lend themselves to creative locations and music styles. This transition impacted my music-making practice, hindering the realisation of my creative productions: my EPs. I am compelled to learn more about my practice, and my practitioner self. I continue to practice a variety of music styles across multiple sites, motivated by multiple motives, developing my knowledge, skill level and technology. Whilst I have found my self at various times asking a number of questions in isolation, I now find myself seeing them as connected issues within a more global problem as I proposed for this doctoral research investigation.
Despite my four decades of practice, I have my eyes very much on the future. I still have a lifetime of music goals still to realise: songs to write and arrange; sonic textures to explore; creative productions to develop; and engage with both my peers and the public to a far greater degree than I have to date. I am hopeful of continuing my journey with music as an integral part of my life, core to my being, accompanying me wherever I am – wherever I choose to go.

My DIY Music Production setup

I have two music-making setups: a portable studio setup; and a project studio setup.
My portable setup includes:
An Apple MacBookPro 17” laptop[1] sits before me as a multi-dimensional tool for music production. It is portable, with me using it daily in a range of sites, from my project studio, the staffroom, a classroom, the waiting room of a professional service provider such as a doctor, on a train station while waiting for a commuter train, on a bus, on an airplane, in a park, or on the beach during my recreational time. The device includes a 2.5 Ghz intel processor, 16 gigabytes of random access memory (RAM) operating at 1,333 Megahertz, 1.75 terrabytes of storage, with an Intel high definition 512 megabytes graphics card. It has in excess of 170 applications installed on it {and to name but a few applications}, allowing me to use the device as a word processor, a multi-media player for both movies and music, a recording device, a multi-track recorder, or an instrument. And not just one instrument, but just about any instrument you can imagine, from an acoustic – European[2] or world[3] – instrument to a synthetic instrument[4]. In addition, I carry a two terabyte external hard drive with my laptop shoulder bag which stores my numerous and varied sample libraries[5] that allows me to have numerous instrumentation options wherever I am. Irrespective of the size, material, weight or value of that instrument, the need for electricity or batteries to operate it, or the technique and skill level required to play it, I have these instruments with me anytime I choose to travel to any location, and can choose to integrate any one of them into my music productions, as my creativity desires.
But such choices were not always available. I could not even begin to imagine in 1987 when I purchased my first digital recording console[6], with relative limited options, flexibility, speed, and quality that such a device with its enabled process and workflow would be possible. Several decades later, in 2004 when I purchased my first digital virtual audio recording workstation (DAW)[7], I did not imagine that I would be able to procure a device, the equivalent of a large note pad, and with it hanging lightly over my shoulder, be able to board a plane with such a powerful music production tool, with exponential more options, flexibility, speed, and quality in just another 8 years. My mind now ponders what I will be able to do in another 8 years time?
My project studio setup:
a 27” iMac has five (5) TB of internal hard drive with many TBs of samples. It runs a the industry standard DAW operation software (Pro Tools 11), and is supported by a 32 channel console with multiple monitors and a number of external analogue and digital audio processing devices. This setup allows extreme flexibility to be able to record and produce just about any style of acoustic or synthetic-based music possible.
I have practiced as a musician and a music producer in a number of locations globally for the greater part of my life. Irrespective of my geographical base, I approached these roles quite independently in my formative years. However, over the past decade I observe I am increasingly being drawn to attempt to fuse these two roles into what I would refer to as a singular, interdependent practice – musician as music producer. How I do this, and how I can do it more effectively is to be the basis on my Doctoral Research Study topic: “Holistic DIY Music Production: The effective integration of acoustic instruments with synthetic instruments during DIY Music Production in the digital environment[8].”

Defining the Music Production process

In order to explore these changes and new relationships, and what the implications have been on the process of music creation and production, we need to define the stages.
Raimond et al differentiates the music creation process (the musician composing) with that of the performance and recording process, whilst labeling them both under the ‘Music Production workflow’ (Raimond et al. 2007). Within the audio engineering industry, via anecdotal conversations with my audio engineering colleagues over many years, it is generally accepted that the Music Production process is divided into 3 main stages: Pre-Production, being prior to Production where the recording session is planned, and all logistics and all equipment confirmed; Production, being the actual recording process; and Post-Production, being the process following recording, up to having a ‘completed audio product’ in hand. This definition of the Music Production process is confirmed in such industry recognised texts as the “Art of Music Production”(Burgess 2013, 60-75), but I was unable to find such a suitable audio industry-based graphic, I am drawing on a similar practice described in a film industry document. Apple’s film digital workstation Final Cut Pro 7’s manual describes the process in terms of 5 stages {see graphic below}, with the two additional stages being ‘Scripting’ {what could be argued as the film equivalent of the music creation process with the film scriptwriter composing the film’s narrative – storyline and dialogue}, and Distribution {that which comes after the completed film product/artifact is in hand} (Apple 2010).

Production process.20150729.png

(Apple 2010)
It was common to have multiple roles for the various specialist technical skills along the music and audio industry production chain. Some of the specialist roles were: songwriters/composers, artists, arrangers, recording engineers, tape operators, console operators, mixing engineers, mastering engineers, and producers (Leach 2011).

Defining a Holistic DIY Music Production’ process

I will therefore refer to these five (5) stages both the Music Creation and Production stages, as the Holistic DIY Music Production process, including:
  1. the music creation stage (musician composing, lyrics and orchestrating the musical piece);
  • the three stages of the audio engineering process of,
  1. Pre-Production – pre-meetings to the actual performance and recording of that performance, planning the logistics of the production session, organising the ‘event’ including studio and equipment bookings, staffing, coaching people, setting up the session;
  2. Production – the actual performance and recording of that performance, control room and live room management, tracking, overdubbing, discussing the arrangement, creating an environment or space that will elicit the best out of the musicians
  3. Post-Production – following the completion of the actual performance and recording of that performance, an process that may include: arrangement, orchestration, decision to re-track, re-overdub, editing, mixing, embellishing all elements of the mix (including FX and interest), mastering, etc up to having a ‘completed audio product’ in hand;
    • and the final stage,
  4. Distribution – with the ‘completed audio product’ in hand, how this product will be released or distributed to the consumers or marketplace (irrespective of whether it is a commercially-motivated product, or not) 
[1] I purchased this in February 2012. The system came with a 250 gigabyte hard drive and cost my the equivalent of AUD$4,000 at the time. I currently have a 1.75 terrabyte hard drive capacity installed within it.
[2] Such as a double bass which I have seen many times in both European music orchestras and contemporary Jazz bands, but never played one
[3] Such as a Kenyan instrument – the Nyatiti – which I have only ever seen in Kenya during one of my trips in the early 1980s.
[4] Such as a Jupiter-8 synthesiser which I saw being played live in Japan in the late 1980s
[5] Sample libraries such a ‘symphonic orchestras’, ‘marching bands’, and ‘kitchen pot’ sets. I have compiled my sample libraries via purchases (about $10,000, including multiple instruments or play engines), creating samples from my recorded stock, and also trading via my peer network. I currently have approximately 2 Terrabyte of samples available for my use in music production at this time
[6] A TEAC Tascam Porta-4 Studio digital console. It cost me the equivalent of AUD$200 at the time.
[7] Referred to as a DAW, I purchased Pro Tools 6 and shortly after Logic Pro 7 multi-track software in August 2004, installed on a Mac Tower with a Digidesgn 002 interface. The system came with a 150 gigabyte hard drive, and cost me the equivalent of AUD$5,500 at the time
[8] As part of that KK59 Doctoral Research Study, I will necessarily need to define the ‘musician as music producer’ process, and intend to include both the Songwriting/Composition stage, and the Distribution stage in what I currently refer to as a Holistic DIY Music Production process. However, for the purposes of this KKP623 Essay “Assignment #2 Contextual Review of currents and trends that are shaping Effective Practice”, I will use the more common industry definition of Music Production as discussed by Burgess (1997, 64) in the “Art of Music Production”, excluding any extensive discussion of these two ‘additional’ stages of Songwriting/Composition and Distribution
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Doctoral Research Study – Part 2h (Page 2015b). It is intended for this blog series to continue on a regular basis as I progress through my doctoral research project.
Apple. 2010. “Final cut pro 7 manual. Accessed 10th May, 2015.
Burgess, Richard James. 2013. The art of music production: the theory and practice. New York: Oxford University Press.
Burgess, Richard James. 1997. The art of record production. London: Omnibus 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.
Leach, Joel. 2011. A concise guide to music industry terms. Missouri: Mel Bay Publications.
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 2h  Accessed 5th September, 2015
Page, David L. 2015a. Doctoral Research Study – Part 2f  Accessed 20th May, 2015
Page, David L. 2014. image courtesy of David L Page.  Created 15th December, 2014
Raimond, Yves, Samer A Abdallah, Mark B Sandler and Frederick Giasson. 2007. “The music ontology.” In ISMIR, edited, 417-422: Citeseer.
Rogers, I. 2013. The hobbyist majority and the mainstream fringe: the pathways of independent music-making in Brisbane, Australia. In Redefining mainstream popular music, edited by Sarah Baker, Andy Bennett and Jodie Taylor, 162-173. New York: Routledge.
– @David L Page 29/07/2015
– updated @David L Page 05/09/2015
– 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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