History Music Production Part 6 – DIY Culture & Music

Musical styles (Genre) studies exemplifying changing practice in music production

I provide some examples of contemporary DIY music production practitioners, chosen because of the following: their presence in public mediums; are considered a source of information and influence to the wider music production field; are practitioners who have rejected traditional recording practice, in favour of DIY Music Production practice; and have exhibited characteristics of DIY culture. Due to the diversity of the contemporary DIY music production practitioner and their musical style (genre) interests, I have included examples from three contrasting musical styles (genres): indie rock, electronic music production, and hybrid musical styles.

1. Musical style (Genre) Study A: Music production practices in indie rock

Dandy Warhols and Tame Impala

Similar to a few artists since the 1950’s (Burgess 2014, 52-53; Emerick and Massey 2006, 306; Burgess 2014, 93), Dandy Warhol’s were signed to a record label, achieved ‘commercial success’, completed their record company contractual obligations, and rejected traditional production practice to self-produce. They procured physical space, carried out DIY renovations, and improvised production using assorted technology[1] (Davie 2012, 46-50; Dandy Warhols 2010). Total oversight provided flexibility, allowing choice of technology choice, how it was to be applied, and to what standards they aspired to – commercial, technical, creative, affective or social. “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). Musician, songwriter, producer Kevin Parker {aka Tame Impala} – a contemporary DIY music production practitioner with commercial, creative and affective practice motives, has “total disregard for convention”. Similar to the Dandy Warhols, Parker prefers to experiment, producing Tame Impala’s 2012 “Lonerism” in a rented apartment with a range of technology of varying quality. Not necessarily following efficient practice, Parker’s openly disregards accepted technical processes and standards. The album received critical acclaim, described as “cosmic mangling of sound and makeshift technique”. Parker’s production and post-production skills “are sought-after by like-minded artists”: artists, who no doubt, aspire to non-convention and preparedness to deviate from accepted industry standards (Davie 2012, 44-45; Tame Impala. 2012).

2.Musical style (Genre) Study B: Music production practices in electronic music production

Danger Mouse and Goyte

Brian Burton {aka Danger Mouse[2]} experimented with the sampling process of the day[3] by fusing two well-known albums[4], and shared it with his local community. Connecting to his creative, affective and social practice motives, the community responded, shared it online with the broader community, attracting the attention of the US authorities for Danger Mouse’s breach of copyright[5] (Gunderson 2004). Much conversation and debate ensured, attracting more attention, and his ‘remix’ went ‘viral’. Danger Mouse’s name became infamous to both consumers and music industry establishment as a production talent (Johnsen et al 2007; Väkevä 2010, 61-66). Affirming the ‘possibilities’ of DIY, the ‘event’ influenced aspiring practitioners, inspiring them to similar innovative and creative acts in their attempt to gain notoriety, and “stand out in the crowd” (Hracs et al. 2013, 1144, 1149). Building on his prior releases, Danger Mouse experienced a rapid rise to fame and respect as a production practitioner (Davie 2014, 38; Duckworth 2005, 148). Similarly, DIY Wally de Backer {aka Goyte} wanted to build upon his prior releases and explore a new level of creative and affective practice for his third album by incorporating original acoustic samples into the process[6]. Recording samples in his project studio using a range of technologies[7], Goyte created a range of virtual instruments, able to be played in unique ways that the original acoustic instruments could not have[8]. By “virtualizing the instrument this way”, Goyte was able to create sonic qualities or textures not previously heard. The production received critical acclaim and awards worldwide (Goyte 2011). Additionally, as a prosumer Goyte used technology as he desired, choosing to record below high-fidelity standards (Davie 2015, 34): “some songs I sang into the microphone of the MacBookPro – for whatever reason it sounded really good in that room and I left it in the final mix” (Holder 2011). Today’s developed technology allows 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). The portable studio has enabled a new environment for DIY production (Huber and Runstein 2014, 78).

3. Musical style (Genre) Study C: Hybrid music production practice

Brian Eno & Trent Reznor

Early in his career, Eno recognized a fundamental difference between live performance and studio practice in the way music moved from a “transient and ephemeral experience, to one that could be replayed as many times as one had access to the recording” (2004, 127). Having multiple listening opportunities with recorded productions allowed the brain to hear different elements and dimensions of the composed music, each time a track is listened to. Approaching the “studio as an instrument in order to create new sonic worlds”, Eno focussed on creating multi-dimensional sonic and textural narratives, to entertain the listener and to hold the consumer’s attention each time they revisited that particular track (2004,127). Rejecting traditions of music and audio industry training and standards, Eno commenced self-producing music reflecting his creative and affective desires. Creator of the ‘ambient music’ genre (Eno 1982; Tamm 1995), Eno likens his practice to that of a painter, “working directly with a material, working directly on a substance”. A contemporary practitioner has exponentially greater options available to them[9], without the need for compositional and instrumental skill and training as required a decade ago (Eno, 2004, 127 -129). Similarly, Reznor rejected traditional production practice early, choosing instead a hybrid approach of analogue and digital working environments to drive Nine Inch Nails’ economic, creative, affective and social practice desires. Using a range of instruments, sonic qualities and textures and workflows from diverse genres, he created ‘industrial rock’ (Nine Inch Nails 2008; Wikström 2013; Anderson 2008; Young and Collins 2010, McIntyre 2012,149). Motivated by a rapidly decentralizing industry, Reznor embraced new opportunities, proactively engaging the consumer, inviting them to interact in the production process (Stone 2009; Väkevä 2010, 61). Reznor‘s acceptance and openness for change allowed for “new forms of artistry” (Väkevä 2010, 59; Anderson 2008). The “relationship between audience, producer, and artist fundamentally changed with the digitalization of music”. Prosumers no longer considered the elements of production and distribution of cultural productions “as separate functions or responsibilities, but as one process” (Miller 2013, 37). Technology enabled and encouraged access to music production for just about anyone. In turn, the contemporary prosumer interacted with the developing technology in creative or experimental ways, differently to their predecessors or how the manufacturers had intended (Tepper and Hargittai 2009, 233). Such misuse of technology, likely to be the result of either disregarding or not knowing what were previously accepted standards, often reveal innovative sonic textures that capture the imagination of peers or consumers, such as the use of Autotune when used by the producers of Cher, and later adopted by T-Pain as a vocal signature (Antares 2015; Neyfakh 2014; Sillitoe 1999). As both Eno and Reznor demonstrated, use of alternative technology or practice {creative, affective, social or effective practice}, derived from development or innovation, influences new genres of music to emerge (Langford 2010, 15). Such creativity and innovation is essential for the health and longevity of the discipline, and irrespective of the status of the practitioner, every one contributes to its development. Creativity and innovation “occurs in the plethora of smaller firms representing a multitude of cultures and subcultures, … where new ideas result from experimentation” (Moran 2011,63): “most of the real business of music production starts at the local level, where creativity blossoms in a myriad of different forms” (Wallis 2001, 11).

Conclusion

Contemporary DIY music production practice has been profoundly influenced with the increasing decentralisation in the audio and music industry since the 1980’s via a range of factors including: the development and adoption of digital recording technologies, and; the exponential influence of global communication networks on music production and consumption practices. Following these factors, DIY perspectives on cultural production have become particularly influential in music production, in many ways redefining the field today. Enabled by these factors, contemporary DIY music production practitioners are and rebellious practitioners with eclectic backgrounds, musical tastes and skill levels. They are likely motivated by creative, affective or social practice, rather than effective practice, making aesthetic choices over technical ‘standards’, and working in what could be considered ineffective or inefficient workflows. They are more likely to be passionate hobbyists, who want to create, express and be heard, using project or portable technology as either a studio or an instrument, probably in a way that was not originally intended by the manufacturer, and yet creating unique sonic qualities or textures, influencing new genres to emerge.
Due to the relative immaturity of the discipline, the diverse and eclectic nature of the contemporary DIY Music Production practitioner, and the shortage of detailed information describing process, an opportunity exists for a discipline endorsed research study into the practices of a range of contemporary DIY music production practitioners. This should be conducted with the goal of developing accepted standards and a model of contemporary DIY music production ‘best practice’ principles, to offer genuine guidance and support to contemporary DIY music production practitioners in the pursuit of their practice, irrespective of their motivation, or combination of motivations, for creative, affective, effective or social practice.
[1] The Dandy Warhols use an eclectic assortment of analogue, digital and virtual equipment, in addition to just about any device that they can see a possibility of creating new and interesting sonic qualities or textures (Davie 2012, 46-50).
[2] Danger Mouse is an example of a contemporary DIY music production practitioner, who commenced as an acoustic musician (Burton is an accomplished drummer), and then found a ‘voice’ in the DIY world of self-production within his bedroom project studio (Davie 2014, 38-43). Danger Mouse “had already released four CD mixes” prior to the ‘Grey Album’ event (Gunderson 2004)
[3] Known as Remixing, this aesthetic practice commenced in an early form in the late 1970s when dance venues started to gain popularity. Initially, DJs used two turntables to play the danceable sections of different songs, omitting the less danceable parts of songs, by alternating the album and track they were playing. Artists then saw an opportunity to have their songs ‘extended’ for the dance market, by re-recording a dance version, altering the structure of the song[3], in order for it to be more conducive to dance venues. This then led to the development of a ‘dance’ genre. With the development of digital technologies and portable tape machines, DJ’s took the dance idea, and started using a selection of well-known samples from previous hit records[3], in a very repetitive way. Known as sampling, it has continued to develop exponentially, especially as technologies developed to include virtual technologies. What was once restricted to DJ’s syncing abilities, record companies, and via tape playing devices, could now be done easily within a virtual digital audio workstation (DAW). The technology was now whatever a practitioner wanted it to be: in its original intended use as a multi-track recorder, or; as a studio; or, as an instrument. Such diversity of use enabled the proliferation of the genre: remixing. Essentially mixing, or blending two released tracks together, required little to no instrument skill, just a ‘feel’ for what sounded good to them. Access to technology now allowed practitioners to pursue ‘affective practice’, following their emotion, allowing their creativity to produce anything they could dream or imagine. Universal in moving people to engage with music is the emotional aspect (Bennett 2005, 117; Hodges and Sebald 2011, 68).
[4] Known as the “Grey album”, it was an innovative fusion of the Beatles’ “White Album” and Jay-Z’s “Black Album” (Davie 2014, 34).
[5] Danger Mouse, demonstrating characteristics synonymous with DIY culture, had not sought the owners permission before he attempted his remix, and then supplied it publically. The fact that it was not sold, and Danger Mouse nor his friends stood to make no income out of the sharing of the product meant that in theory he was not breaching copyright (Gunderson 2004).
[6] Goyte had made his first two albums using samples from prepared sample libraries. For his third album ,Goyte wanted to record acoustic samples to use within his digital instruments, effectively creating unique instruments (Goyte 2011).
[7] Goyte used both a MacBookPro and a multi-track reel to reel recorder (Goyte 2011)
[8] Goyte used innovative processing techniques to create a range of virtual instruments, played in ways that the original acoustic instruments could not have – rhythmically, harmonically and even melodically (Goyte 2011)
[9] Greater music production options, in terms of diverse sample libraries and both digital and virtual instruments that can bend, morph, twist, transpose, delay, or reverse any original signal that is fed into it
References
Anderson, Nate. 2008. “Reznor makes $750,000 even when the music is free.” Accessed May 20, 2015. http://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2008/03/reznor-makes-750000-even-whenthe-music-is-free.
Antares. 2015. “Auto-tune.” Accessed May 7, 2015. http://www.antarestech.com.
Bennett, Andy. 2005. Culture and everyday life. New York, NY: Routledge.
 Burgess, Richard James. 2014. The history of music production. New York: Oxford University Press.
 Dandy Warhols, The. 2010. The Dandy Warhols: best of the capitol years 1995-2007. Capitol Records. Compact Disc.
 Davie, Mark. 2015. “DIY: don’t be a tool.” Audio Technology 2015 (106): 98.
Davie, Mark. 2014. “Danger Mouse: producer of the decade.” Audio Technology (100): 98.
Davie, Mark. 2012. “The diy revolution.” Audio Technology (91): 98.
 Duckworth, William. 2005. Virtual music: How the web got wired for sound. New York, NY: Routledge.
 Emerick, Geoff and Howard Massey. 2007. Here, there and everywhere: my life recording the music of the beatles. New York, NY: Gotham Books.
Eno, Brian. 2004. “The studio as compositional tool.” In Audio culture: readings in modern music, edited by Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner, 127-130. New York: Continuum.
Eno, Brian. 1982. Ambient 4: on land. Editions EG. Compact Disc.
Gotye. 2011. “Making, making mirrors – a short documentary.” Accessed May 5, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZXLyeatI0s&list=PL2qcTIIqLo7WEHIeJ0s2Y21jgIKoQahkD&index=64.
Goyte. 2011. Making Mirrors. Eleven May 5, 2015. Compact Disc.
Gunderson, Philip A. 2004. “Danger Mouse’s “grey album”, mash-ups, and the age of composition.” Postmodern Culture 15 (1): 7.
Hewitt, Michael. 2008. Music theory for computer musicians. Boston: Cengage Learning Course Technology.
Hodges, Donald A and David C Sebald. 2011. Music in the human experience: an introduction to music psychology. New York: Routledge
Holder, Christopher. 2011. “Goyte.” Audio Technology (84): 98.
Hracs, Brian J, Doreen Jakob and Atle Hauge. 2013. “Standing out in the crowd: the rise of exclusivity-based strategies to compete in the contemporary marketplace for music and fashion.” Environment and Planning A 45 (5): 1144-1161.
Huber, David Miles and Robert E Runstein. 2014. Modern recording techniques. 8th ed. Burlington: Focal Press.
Johnsen, Andreas , Ralf Christensen and Henrik Moltke. 2007. “Good Copy, Bad Copy.” Copyright and Culture Documentary. Accessed June 7, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEKl5I_Q044&list=PL2qcTIIqLo7WEHIeJ0s2Y21jgIKoQahkD&index=72.
Langford, Simon. 2010. Remix manual. Burlington: Focal Press.
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.
McIntyre, Phillip. 2012. “Rethinking creativity: record production and the systems model.” In The art of record production: an introductory reader for a new academic field, 149-62. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.
Miller, Eric R. 2013. “The influence of recording technology on music performance and production.” Bachelor of Science in Media Arts and Studies, Media Arts and Studies, Ohio University.
Moran, Ian P. 2011. “Punk: the do-it-yourself subculture.” Social Sciences Journal 10 (1): 13.
Neyfakh, Leon. 2014. “The Sadness of T-Pain.” Accessed June 7, 2015. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-sadness-of-t-pain.
Nine Inch Nails. 2008. Ghosts I-IV. Shock Records. Compact Disc.
Page, David L. 2015  What Brought Me Here #10 – Eno  Accessed August 28, 2015.
Sillitoe, Sue. 1999. “Recording Cher’s “Believe”.” Accessed June 7, 2015. http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb99/articles/tracks661.htm.
Stone, Brad. 2009. “Artists find backers as labels wane.” Accessed June 7, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/technology/internet/22music.html?_r=0.
Tame Impala. 2012. Lonerism. Modular. Compact Disc.
Tamm, Eric. 1995. Brian Eno: his music and the vertical color of sound. New York, NY: Da Capo Press.
Tepper, Steven J. and Eszter Hargittai. 2009. “Pathways to music exploration in a digital age.” Poetics 37 (3): 227-249.
Väkevä, Lauri. 2010. “Garage band or GarageBand®? Remixing musical futures.” British Journal of Music Education 27 (01): 59-70.
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.
Wikström, Patrik. 2013. The music industry: music in the cloud, Digital media and society series. Cambridge: Polity.
Young, Sherman and Steve Collins. 2010. “A View from the Trenches of Music 2.0.” Popular Music and Society 33 (3): 339-355.
– ©David L Page 28/08/2015
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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Research Practitioner Part 1 – effective and best practice for the contemporary music practitioner

Pro Tools 11screenshot

Standards of effective practice have played an important part in the audio industry, even though these may be challenged by DIY culture and practices. Historically, the music and audio industry’s standards have addressed commercial and technical criteria. In commercial terms a “successful record producer is, by definition, someone who has had multiple hits” (Burgess 1997, 162; Grammy Awards 2015), while technical standards have been formulated through industry bodies such as The Audio Engineering Society (Gibson 2006, 42) and more recently, the Recording Producers and Engineers Wing (2008).

Historical development of practice

The Audio Engineering Society {AES} was formed in 1948 in New York as a governing body, and to offer industry expertise to the developing recording and broadcast industry (AES 2015). A significant outcome of the AES was the creation of standards for which the industry could operate, and that manufacturers of any recording and broadcast industry equipment could comply with. This was very beneficial as the development of certain equipment such as microphones were being constructed with a variety of unique fittings that meant that microphones were not universal, requiring different microphone cables for each manufacturer’s device. The AES was instrumental in influencing a universal standard over time (AES 2015; Huber and Runstein 2010, 111-179). However, the majority of standards developed, were technical or theoretical to audio engineering, not process or workflow-based for the more global discipline of music production (AES 2015). As access was limited to recording studios up until the 1980’s, such music production process or workflow remained to those in the one of the specific skilled roles previously referred to, or as an artist. Practice was aligned to the typical corporate organisational effectiveness objectives, to maximise profitability. Music production practice was controlled by the management of the commercial radio and television studios or the recording studios; the skilled scientists, technicians or manufacturers creating the technology or the processes, with the focus on ‘correct’ use and application of technology, inline with the studio management’s directives of conservatism to preserve the organisational objectives; or the music producers who had successfully produced recordings for artists, contracted to abide by management’s directives to meet the organisational objectives (Robbins et al 2009, 708-710; Burgess 2014, 38-41, 42-55, 82-97; Emerick and Massey 2007, 54).
As technology developed and music production related equipment became available to the prosumer market, user manuals provided by the manufacturer instructing the user how they were best to use the unit was one of the few mediums of effective practice being made available outside of the professional studio environment[1]. One of the first units with such a user manual was for the TASCAM series 144 model Portastudio user manual (TEAC 1979); A decade later, the first industry functional text, sponsored by one of the major manufacturers on the sector was released. Initiated by two audio engineers, arranging sponsorship from the Yamaha Music Corporation to be able to write it, the “Yamaha-The Sound Reinforcement Handbook” was at the time the only comprehensive audio engineering textbook of its kind, and instantly became a standard reference book to the industry (Davis & Jones 1990). The text remained for more than a decade as the only text book comprehensively, outlining audio engineering theory and techniques for ‘sound reinforcement’[2]. The third service and support more recently provided for budding DIY music producers is a range of instructional courses, vocational courses such as the likes of the Australian-based SAE, the School of Audio Engineering (2015), and JMC Academy (2015). In order to teach subject content, audio engineers with studio experience had to be employed to teach the industry standard practices. Whilst it may have taken some decades for this process to become refined and consistent, Burgess confirms their relevance in the discipline: “combined with a proactive DIY approach, a good school program can fill in knowledge gaps and instill a deeper understanding of the fundamentals while increasing awareness of best practices” (Burgess 2013, 35).
The industry to date has only a few disparate best practice documents such as The Recording Producers and Engineers Wing (2008) “Digital Audio Workstation Guidelines for Music Production” advice but it does not comprehensively cover contemporary music production practice. The industry has progressed from the traditional music production model, where exemplars existed across the different roles and skills. However, now within the decentralized music production era, the disparate roles across the music production process tend to be fused and completed by the one person, the contemporary DIY music producer. Music production practitioners have access to a large range of ancillary services and products, such industry trade magazines, texts, forums and blogs. Audio industry magazines such as “Sound on Sound” and “Audio Technology” are recognized as reputable magazines within the audio industry and music production discipline. But do they truly reflect the contemporary music production practice, or are their roots from the traditional music production model causing a widening gap of relevance? Alternative press options such as “Computer Music” (2015) and “MusicTech Focus” magazines have their origins in the development of digital technology. But do their roots limit their relevance by not including the more creative and musical requirements of the contemporary music production practice? Other alternative press includes “Wire”, which focuses more on the cultural and aesthetic aspects of music culture and practice. There is a vast range of support for music practitioners in the form of forums and blogs, with some of these operated by recognised industry professionals[3]. However, many of these are run by hobbyists with well intentioned advice, whilst others are commercially driven, with some of their marketing tactics, products and advice is at best, questionable.

Current practice

Some scholars refer to the current field of DIY music production as being in transition (Hracs, 2012), although it can also be thought of as a fusion or hybrid of two prior developments: that of traditional large format console studio music production and computer-based sound generation. Irrespective of the definition, twenty-first century contemporary DIY music production illustrates the ways that practitioners have broken with previously accepted industry practices, with consensus about effective or best practice now difficult to identify, or indeed where the idea of best practice has been actively challenged through social and cultural changes in the practices of cultural production. As such, the discipline of contemporary DIY music production lacks the infrastructure of an established and mature industry where consensus of what effective practice is, might be found.
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The notion of effective practice [4] originated in business centred on notions of effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity (Montana and Charnov 2000,12; Robbins et al 2009, 313; Griffin 1996). In this way, effective practice is a quantifiable measure and assumes the ‘organisation’ or practice has commercial or technical objectives. In contrast, contemporary DIY music production practitioners may not be motivated by either commercial or technical objectives, and therefore effective practice measures may not apply to many practices within the discipline (Rogers 2013, 168). In fact, contemporary DIY music production is a discipline in which notions of effective practice may actually be actively disregarded due to the perception that other motivations such as creativity, emotional connection and free-spiritedness are more important (McWilliam 2008, 38; Davie 2012, 41). As a result, the term best practice is perhaps more appropriate in the discipline of contemporary DIY music production, bringing with it the idea of benchmarking, or “analysing and copying the methods of the leaders” in the field (Robbins et al 2009, 313). However, without accepted discipline standards, and consensus of what best practice is, it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to accurately and effectively benchmark amongst the discipline and its practitioners. Further, if the contemporary DIY music production practice is lacking in organisational characteristics of a mature industry such as robust management processes and procedures, sophisticated vision and strategic planning, then the contemporary DIY music production practitioner is less likely able to measure quality standards should they exist, nor consciously position their practice within the field in order to optimise the chance of success (Robbins et al 2009, 708-710, 716-717).
Note [1]: The manufacturer’s user manual described ‘effective practice’ for the user to operate that unit safely, following a technically correct process
Note [2]: Sound reinforcement is a term used to describe the live audio industry function which still remains today
Note [3]: Pensado’s Place (2015) is operated by Dave Pansado who has had a recognized audio industry career
Note [4] :The notion of effective practice originated in business and post-War Japan, centred on notions of effectiveness (“doing the right thing”), efficiency (the effort exerted in “doing the right thing”), and productivity (the relationship between input and output) (Montana and Charnov 2000, 12; Robbins et al 2009, 313; Griffin 1996).
This blog series is planned to continue next month with Research Practitioner Part 2.
References
AES. 2015. “Audio Engineering Society (AES) History.” Accessed  May 3,2015
Audio Technology Magazine. 2015 http://www.audiotechnology.com.au Accessed August 15, 2015
Burgess, Richard James. 2014. The history of music production. New York: Oxford University Press.
Burgess, Richard James. 1997. The art of record production. London: Omnibus Press.
Computer Music. 2015. http://www.musicradar.com/computermusic Accessed August 15, 2015
Davie, Mark. 2012. “The diy revolution.” Audio Technology (91): 98.
Davis, Gary and Ralph Jones. 1990. Yamaha-The Sound Reinforcement Handbook. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation.
Emerick, Geoff and Howard Massey. 2007. Here, there and everywhere: my life recording the music of the beatles. New York, NY: Gotham Books.
Gibson, Bill. 2006. The s.m.a.r.t. guide to becoming a successful producer/engineer Boston: Thompson Course Technology.
Grammy Awards. 2015. “The 2015 Grammy Awards.” Accessed May 20, 2015. https://www.grammy.com/nominees.
Griffin, RW. 1996. Management. 5th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Hracs, Brian J. 2012. “A creative industry in transition: the rise of digitally driven independent music production.” Growth and Change 43 (3): 442-461.
Huber, David Miles and Robert E Runstein. 2014. Modern recording techniques. 8th ed. Burlington: Focal Press.
JMC Academy. 2015 http://www.jmcacademy.edu.au/?gclid=CN636-HnmcsCFQGbvAod7GoMDQ  Accessed August 15, 2015
McWilliam, Erica. 2008. The creative workforce: how to launch young people into high-flying futures. Sydney: UNSW press.
Montana, Patrick J and Bruce H Charnov. 2000. Management. 3rd ed. Vol. 333, Business Review Books. New York: Barron’s Educational Series.
MusicTech. 2015. http://www.musictech.net Accessed August 15, 2015
Recording Producers and Engineers Wing, The. 2008. “Digital Audio Workstation Guidelines for Music Production.” Accessed May 27, 2015. https://www.grammy.org/files/pages/DAWGuidelineLong.
Robbins, Stephen, Rolf Bergman, ID Stagg and Mary Coulter. 2009. Management 5. Sydney: Pearson Education Australia.
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.
SAE. 2015. “SAE Institute.” https://sae.edu.au/ Accessed August 15, 2015
Sound on Sound. 2015 http://www.soundonsound.com Accessed August 15, 2015
Target image courtesy of: http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/target-skills-53658831 Accessed 15th August, 2015
TEAC. 1979. “TEAC Tascam series: model 144 Portastudio manual”, edited by TEAC Inc. www.tascam.com: TEAC Inc.
Wire. 2015. http://www.thewire.co.uk Accessed August 15, 2015
– ©David L Page 16/08/2015
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.

History Music Production Part 5b – Rise of the DIY Practitioner

Following substantial technological development from the late 1960s to today, music practice has diversified exponentially in a variety of social and cultural contexts (Wallis 2001; Watson and Shove 2008). Limited access to major corporate record label and broadcasting studios in the 1970’s and 1980’s aligned with the broader social and cultural developments of DIY culture from the 1970s, and with the ever-increasing available range of technology. This enabled the process of music creation and production to exponentially develop, with musicians in the new era of project and portable studios, emerging as a new generation of music practitioners (Theberge 1997, P3; Hracs 2012). Increased access to digital recording and production technology has enabled aspiring music practitioners from diverse backgrounds and interests to participate in a do-it-yourself (DIY) capacity, resulting in a significantly more fragmented industry (Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010; Spencer 2005; Moran 2011; Watson 2014). Wallis (2001, 13) observed that practitioners’ access to user-friendly technology has “resulted in many creative artistic talents achieving a high degree of IT literacy, leading to an even broader market”. Music production technology is now accessible to most people who has any degree of interest in music practice, irrespective of their social status or professional role, their musical or sonic training or experience, or the social and cultural context. This enables a truly diverse and eclectic music practice society (Burgess 1997, 34; Rogers 2013). Practitioners now access and use broad range of music production and instrument technology, have vastly different workflows, for a broader range of music styles, and use a range of creative locations to create their EP’s. This diversity of practice now exemplifies contemporary industry (Ritzer and Jurgenson 2010; Purdue et al. 1997). As a result, recorded music is now created in ways that contrast with previous models, where cultural products resulted from established industrial hierarchies and imperatives (Burgess 1997).
AE Project Studio
Multiple options to play and produce music have implications on what elements of music production are used at any point in time: the creative technologies that can be used, the music style that emerges naturally out or certain technology, the creative location that practice occurs within, and the practice workflow. Further, as practitioners tend to assume all of these creative labour roles in their home-style project studios, contemporary music practitioners continue to extend their knowledge, skill level and technology, in obvious contrast with previous models (Izhaki 2013; Théberge 1997).
With the fragmentation of the industry, and the attracting diverse peoples in music practice, the contemporary practitioner’s motivations to practice music have also diversified. Rogers’ study highlighted varying orientations of motive amongst participants: professional, semi-professional, emerging and several non-commercial aspirational levels – including amateur or hobbyist practices. By far, the largest group was the amateur category (2013, 168). The term amateur is adopted “not as a reflection on a hobbyists’ skills, which are often quite advanced, but rather, to emphasise that most of DIY culture is not motivated by commercial purposes” (Kuznetson and Paulos 2010, 295). The “status and position of the amateur have been redeemed and a new, less aristocratic, breed of amateur has emerged .. (who) .. are technologically literate, seriously engaged, and committed practitioners” (Prior 2010, 401).
With DIY perspectives on cultural production being particularly influential in music practice, in many ways redefining the field today (Frith 1992; Watson and Shove 2008; Watson 2014; Ritzer and Jurgenson 2010; Purdue et al. 1997), traditional standards of practice are now being challenged. Music industry standards (Burgess 1997, 162; Grammy Awards 2015; Gibson 2006, 42; Recording Producers and Engineers Wing 2008) appear to be less valued by DIY music practitioners. Notions of effective practice appears to be actively disregarded due to the DIY practitioners prioritizing of motivations such as creativity, emotional connection, networking, and free-spiritedness (Hracs, 2012; Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010). Burgess found contemporary music practitioners are likely to be: self-taught, and of a ‘discoverer’ learning style (2013, 29); with a preparedness to reject accepted industry practice (eg: technical or music style standards); and a willingness to borrow at will any music or sonic characteristics from other cultural approaches to fuse into their practice, leading to “unprecedented diversity” (Rogers 2013, 168; McWilliam 2008, 38; Davie 2012, 41).
With this diversity comes the portability of both production and performance technology. For example; producing a full EP on a beach, only needing to retreat to a location to get some electricity when my laptop battery runs empty; dance festivals in a forest where the artists arrive with as little gear as a laptop, or perhaps a USB stick and perform in front of 1,000 people for up to several hours; or, as a result of the technological developments, a new music style emerges because practitioners use the digital virtual technology as an instrument and performance tool, rather than for what it was originally designed for by the manufacturer {data management} (Hewitt 2008, xv). One of the best examples of this would be the creation of electronic music and its sub-genres of Electronic dance music, trance music and chill music.
It could also be stated that in Electronic Music Production (EMP), musicians and producers generally use portable technology, accessing synthetic or digital instruments, and compose typically in a structured process (Gunderson 2004; Johnsen et al 2007; Davie 2014, 38; Duckworth 2005, 148; Goyte 2011a; Goyte 2011b; Davie 2015, 34; Holder 2011; Huber and Runstein 2013, 78). In contrast, Indie Rock musicians and producers generally use project studios, access acoustic or electric instruments, and quite often compose in an organic process (Emerick and Massey 2006, 306; Burgess 2014, 93; Dandy Warhols 2010; Leyshon 2009, 1309; Davie 2012, 44-45; Tame Impala. 2012).
Unlike the traditional motive of commercial – volume sales – success, the new amateur’s motives are diverse, and yet highly motivated, possessing an impassioned commitment to their practice, with a high level of focus on developing their knowledge, skill level and technology.
This blog will continue next month History of Music Production Part 6 – DIY Culture & Music.
References
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. 
Burgess, Richard James. 1997. The art of record production. London: Omnibus Press. 
Dandy Warhols, The. 2010. The Dandy Warhols: best of the capitol years 1995-2007. Capitol Records. Compact Disc. 
Davie, Mark. 2015. “DIY: don’t be a tool.” Audio Technology 2015 (106): 98.
Davie, Mark. 2014. “Danger Mouse: producer of the decade.” Audio Technology (100): 98.
Davie, Mark. 2012. “The diy revolution.” Audio Technology (91): 98. 
Duckworth, William. 2005. Virtual music: How the web got wired for sound. New York, NY: Routledge.
Emerick, Geoff and Howard Massey. 2007. Here, there and everywhere: my life recording the music of the beatles. New York, NY: Gotham Books.
Frith, Simon. 1992. “The industrialization of popular music.” Popular Music and Communication 2: 49-74. 
Gibson, Bill. 2006. The s.m.a.r.t. guide to becoming a successful producer/engineer Boston: Thompson Course Technology. 
Gotye. 2011 (a). “Making, making mirrors – a short documentary.” Accessed May 5, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZXLyeatI0s&list=PL2qcTIIqLo7WEHIeJ0s2Y21jgIKoQahkD&index=64. 
Goyte. 2011(b). Making Mirrors. Eleven May 5, 2015. Compact Disc.
Grammy Awards. 2015. “The 2015 Grammy Awards.” Accessed May 20, 2015. https://www.grammy.com/nominees.
Gunderson, Philip A. 2004. “Danger Mouse’s “grey album”, mash-ups, and the age of composition.” Postmodern Culture 15 (1): 7. 
Hewitt, Michael. 2008. Music theory for computer musicians. Boston: Cengage Learning Course Technology.
Holder, Christopher. 2011. “Goyte.” Audio Technology (84): 98. 
Hracs, Brian J. 2012. “A creative industry in transition: the rise of digitally driven independent music production.” Growth and Change 43 (3): 442-461. 
Huber, David Miles and Robert E Runstein. 2014. Modern recording techniques. 8th ed. Burlington: Focal Press.
Izhaki, Roey. 2013. Mixing audio: concepts, practices and tools. 3rd ed. Oxford: Focal.
Johnsen, Andreas , Ralf Christensen and Henrik Moltke. 2007. “Good Copy, Bad Copy.” Copyright and Culture Documentary. Accessed June 7, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEKl5I_Q044&list=PL2qcTIIqLo7WEHIeJ0s2Y21jgIKoQahkD&index=72.
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. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1868914&picked=prox: 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.
McWilliam, Erica. 2008. The creative workforce: how to launch young people into high-flying futures. Sydney: UNSW press.
Moran, Ian P. 2011. “Punk: the do-it-yourself subculture.” Social Sciences Journal 10 (1): 13.
Prior, Nick. 2010. “The rise of the new amateurs: Popular music, digital technology and the fate of cultural production.” Handbook of cultural sociology. London: Routledge: 398-407. 
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). 
Recording Producers and Engineers Wing, The. 2008. “Digital Audio Workstation Guidelines for Music Production.” Accessed May 27, 2015. https://www.grammy.org/files/pages/DAWGuidelineLong.
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). 
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.
Spencer, Amy. 2005. DIY: The rise of lo-fi culture: Marion Boyars London.
Tame Impala. 2012. Lonerism. Modular. Compact Disc. 
Théberge, Paul. 1997. Any sound you can make: making music/consuming technology. Hanover: University Press of New England. 
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.
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.
– ©David L Page 05/08/2015
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.

History Music Production Part 5a – Rise of the DIY Practitioner

Ever increasing levels of access

Throughout the 1970’s technology continued to advanced with “quality digital recording equipment more widely available” at progressively decreasing cost to the consumer (Wallis 2001, 11). Offering an alternative music production option to the large format console studio continued, all levels of the field actively engaged with the technology. Springsteen released his solo album ‘Nebraska’, made in his bedroom. Intended to be a ‘demo’, it was decided the aesthetic of the DIY recording was preferred to the studio-produced album (TEAC 2015; 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). A decade later, low cost digital synthesisers and samplers were available with a single key trigger for sounds, chords or multiple instrument emulation. Whilst initially limited, over time development has been exponential, allowing music producers innumerable instrumentation options to integrate into any one of their music productions as their creativity desires. This technological development enabled the creation and development of specific electronic music genres, and social and cultural events such as the 1990’s based rave parties (Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010, 295). Technology continued to develop at an exponential rate, with increasing “interest and wider adoption of DIY cultures and practices through 1) easy access to and affordability of tools and 2) the emergence of new sharing mechanisms” such as the internet having a prolific effect on the widespread interest of music production (Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010, 295; Wallis 2001,10). Numerous companies commenced manufacturing to fill “a tremendous need for good and affordable sound equipment”, entrenching the “prosumer or home-recording market” (Music Group 2015). Continuing technological developments influenced the increase of music production setups 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. Referred to as project studios, “the hiring of expensive studios was no longer a requisite” (Izhaki 2013, xiiii), and more major artists were being recorded in these environments [1]. 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 [2]. The development of the digital audio workstation, along with virtual instruments and sample libraries, provided resources ready to include into productions (Gilreath 2010). The project studio now had virtual technology accessible by both novice and professional producers alike. This “brought about monumental changes in the business of music and professional audio”, with music producers 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 needing to have that instrument or musician capable of playing that instrument, on hand (Huber and Runstein 2013,76). Other professionals3 moved their workflow entirely within a digital audio workstation.
Perhaps motivated by the power imbalance and limited access to studios in the 1970’s and 1980’s, aligned with the broader social and cultural developments of DIY culture from the 1970s, the ever increasing available range of technology enabled the process of music creation and production to exponentially develop, with musicians in the new era of project and mobile studios, emerging as a new generation of prosumers – both producers and consumers (Theberge 1997, P3; Hracs, 2012).
AE Project Studio
Technological developments have provided multiple outcomes, such as choices of musical style and music production processes. In an article on best practice within the music industry, Wallis (2001, 13) observed that access to user-friendly technology has “resulted in many creative artistic talents achieving a high degree of IT literacy, leading to the emergence of the combined studio producer/ writer role. Max Martin from Sweden…is such an example”. Today, continuing technological developments have further opened the field and discipline to an even broader market. Music production technology is now accessible to anyone who has a degree of interest in the creation and production of music, irrespective of their background {social status or professional role}, their musical or professional audio training and/or experience, or the genre of music they may be interested in attempting to produce, making for a truly diverse and eclectic music production society (Burgess 1997, 34; Rogers 2013).
The acknowledged diversity of backgrounds of the DIY music production practitioner expanded the previous music producer list several decades earlier of artist/musician, audio engineer, songwriter, entrepreneur and multipath, to now include: DJ, self-taught/school-trained and discoverer (Burgess 2013, 29). In addition, as Rogers in his 2010 study on local musicians in the Brisbane scene found, there are now varying levels of professionalism found amongst the participants: professional, semi-professional, emerging and several non-commercial aspirational levels – including amateur or hobbyist practices (Rogers 2013, 168). By far, the largest group is the amateur category. I adopt the term amateur “not as a reflection on a hobbyists’ skills, which are often quite advanced, but rather, to emphasise that most of DIY culture is not motivated by commercial purposes” (Kuznetson and Paulos 2010, 295) . The “status and position of the amateur have been redeemed and a new, less aristocratic, breed of amateur has emerged .. (who) .. are technologically literate, seriously engaged, and committed practitioners” (Prior 2010, 401).

The emergence of DIY, and the challenges of discipline-accepted standards

With DIY perspectives on cultural production being particularly influential in music production, in many ways redefining the field today (Kealy 1982; Hemphill and Leskowitz 2012; Frith 1992; Watson and Shove 2008; Watson 2014; Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010; Ritzer and Jurgenson 2010; Purdue et al. 1997), traditional standards of effective practice, which have played a central role in the music production industry, are now being challenged. Music and audio industry’s standards of commercial sales and technical criteria (Burgess 1997, 162; Grammy Awards 2015; Gibson 2006, 42; Recording Producers and Engineers Wing 2008) appear to be less valued by contemporary DIY music production practitioners. Breaking with previously accepted industry practices (Hracs,2012), the notion of ‘effective practice’ appears to be actively disregarded due to the prioritizing of other motivations such as creativity, emotional connection, networking, and free-spiritedness. That is, creative practice, affective practice and social practice, with a preparedness to reject accepted effective practice (eg: technical or genre standards) as the contemporary DIY music production practitioner sees fit (Montana and Charnov 2000,12; Robbins et al 2009, 313; Griffin 1996; Rogers 2013, 168; McWilliam 2008, 38; Davie 2012, 41).

The emerging discipline of contemporary DIY music production practice, and their practitioners

In summary, prior to my own research study and planned interviews, the contemporary DIY music production practitioners can be said to be: proactive, resourceful, tenacious and rebellious practitioners with eclectic backgrounds, musical tastes and skill levels. They most certainly possess a just do it spirit as the Nike slogan has encouraged since 1971. They are likely motivated by creative, affective or social practice, rather than effective practice, making aesthetic choices over technical standards, and working in what could be once considered, ineffective or inefficient workflows. They are more likely to be passionate hobbyists, who want to create, express and be heard, using project or portable technology as either a studio or an instrument, probably in a way that was not originally intended by the manufacturer, and yet creating unique sonic qualities or textures, influencing new genres to emerge (Wallis 2001,13; Burgess 2013, 29; Huber and Runstein 2013,76; Izhaki 2013, xiiii; Gilreath 2010; Watson 2014; Burke 2011; Doyle 2008; Wallis 2001,11; Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010, 296; Spencer 2005, 226-273; Moran 2011, 1; Rogers 2013, 168; Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010, 295; Watson 2013, 334; Prior 2010, 401; Watson 2013, 331; Braithwaite alluded in Tingen 2014; Theberge 2012, 6; Hracs et al 2013, 1144).
Note [1]: In 2005, Stuart Price used his home-based project studio, based around an Apple computer with a range of analogue outboard hardware and synthesizers to produce Madonna’s commercially successful ‘Confessions On A Dancefloor’ album. Madonna’s ‘Confessions On A Dancefloor’ album” achieved commercial success reaching the US Music charts (Doyle 2008)
Note [2]: 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 DAW-only workflow: “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).
This blog will continue next month History of Music Production Part 5b – Rise of the DIY Practitioner.
 References
Burke, David. 2011. “Heart of Darkness : Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska”. London: Cherry Red Books.
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.
Davie, Mark. 2012. “The diy revolution.” Audio Technology (91): 98.
Doyle, Tom. 2008. “Stuart Price: producing Seal & Madonna.” Accessed May 2, 2015. https://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb08/articles/stuart_price.htm.
Frith, Simon. 1992. “The industrialization of popular music.” Popular Music and Communication 2: 49-74.
Gilreath, Paul. 2010. The guide to midi orchestration. 4th ed. Oxford: Focal.
Gibson, Bill. 2006. The s.m.a.r.t. guide to becoming a successful producer/engineer Boston: Thompson Course Technology.
Grammy Awards. 2015. “The 2015 Grammy Awards.” Accessed May 20, 2015. https://www.grammy.com/nominees.
Griffin, RW. 1996. Management. 5th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Hemphill, David and Shari Leskowitz. 2012. “DIY activists: communities of practice, cultural dialogism, and radical knowledge sharing.” Adult Education Quarterly 63 (1): 57-77. doi: 10.11.77/0741113612442803.
Hracs, Brian J. 2012. “A creative industry in transition: the rise of digitally driven independent music production.” Growth and Change 43 (3): 442-461.
Hracs, Brian J, Doreen Jakob and Atle Hauge. 2013. “Standing out in the crowd: the rise of exclusivity-based strategies to compete in the contemporary marketplace for music and fashion.” Environment and Planning A 45 (5): 1144-1161.
Huber, David Miles and Robert E Runstein. 2013. Modern recording techniques. 8th ed. Burlington: Focal Press.
Huber, David Miles and Robert E Runstein. 2010. Modern recording techniques. 7th ed. Boston: Focal Press.
Izhaki, Roey. 2013. Mixing audio: concepts, practices and tools. 3rd ed. Oxford: Focal.
Kealy, Edward R. 1982. “Conventions and the production of the popular music aesthetic.” The Journal of Popular Culture 16 (2): 100-115.
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. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1868914&picked=prox: 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.
McWilliam, Erica. 2008. The creative workforce: how to launch young people into high-flying futures. Sydney: UNSW press.
Moran, Ian P. 2011. “Punk: the do-it-yourself subculture.” Social Sciences Journal 10 (1): 13. http://www.behringer.com/EN/Our-Story/index.aspx
Montana, Patrick J and Bruce H Charnov. 2000. Management. 3rd ed. Vol. 333, Business Review Books. New York: Barron’s Educational Series.
Music Group. 2015. “Behringer : our story.” Accessed May 2, 2015.
Prior, Nick. 2010. “The rise of the new amateurs: Popular music, digital technology and the fate of cultural production.” Handbook of cultural sociology. London: Routledge: 398-407.
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).
Recording Producers and Engineers Wing, The. 2008. “Digital Audio Workstation Guidelines for Music Production.” Accessed May 27, 2015. https://www.grammy.org/files/pages/DAWGuidelineLong.
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).
Robbins, Stephen, Rolf Bergman, ID Stagg and Mary Coulter. 2009. Management 5. Sydney: Pearson Education Australia.
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.
Spencer, Amy. 2005. DIY: The rise of lo-fi culture: Marion Boyars London.TEAC. 2015. “TEAC TASCAM history.” Accessed June 7,2015. www.tascam.com.
Tingen, Paul. 2014. “Inside track: Happy – secrets of the mix engineers: Leslie Braithwaite.” Accessed May 1, 2015. http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may14/articles/inside-track-0514.htm.
Théberge, Paul. 1997. Any sound you can make: making music/consuming technology. Hanover: University Press of New England.
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.
Watson, Allan. 2014. Cultural Production in and Beyond the Recording Studio. New York, NY: Routledge.
Watson, Allan. 2013. “‘Running a studio’s a silly business’: work and employment in the contemporary recording studio sector.” Area 45 (3): 330-336.
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.
– ©David L Page 24/07/2015
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.

History Music Production Part 4 – Large Format Console Studios to Digital Project Studios

David Gilmour.Large Format Console(Meter 2014)

The changing field of music production

Twenty-first century music production exists as a fragmented field of practice, in part as a result of increasing decentralisation in the audio and music industry since the 1980’s. A range of factors influenced this decentralization, including the development and adoption of digital recording technologies (Zagorski-Thomas 2005; Leyshon 2009; Huber and Runstein 2013; Izhaki 2013; Théberge 1997; Burgess 2013) and the exponential influence of global communication networks on music production and consumption practices (Spencer 2005; Moran 2011; Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010; Watson 2012).

Ever increasing levels of access

Throughout the 1970’s technology continued to advanced with “quality digital recording equipment more widely available” at progressively decreasing cost to the consumer (Wallis 2001, 11). Offering an alternative music production option to the large format console studio continued, all levels of the field actively engaged with the technology. Springsteen released his solo album ‘Nebraska’, made in his bedroom. Intended to be a ‘demo’, it was decided the aesthetic of the DIY recording was preferred to the studio-produced album (TEAC 2015; 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). A decade later, low cost digital synthesisers and samplers were available with a single key trigger for sounds, chords or multiple instrument emulation. Whilst initially limited, over time development has been exponential, allowing music producers innumerable instrumentation options to integrate into any one of their music productions as their creativity desires. This technological development enabled the creation and development of specific electronic music genres, and social and cultural events such as the 1990’s based rave parties (Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010, 295). Technology continued to develop at an exponential rate, with increasing “interest and wider adoption of DIY cultures and practices through 1) easy access to and affordability of tools and 2) the emergence of new sharing mechanisms” such as the internet having a prolific effect on the widespread interest of music production (Kuznetsov and Paulos 2010, 295; Wallis 2001,10). Numerous companies commenced manufacturing to fill “a tremendous need for good and affordable sound equipment”, entrenching the “prosumer or home-recording market” (Music Group 2015). Continuing technological developments influenced the increase of music production setups 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. Referred to as project studios, “the hiring of expensive studios was no longer a requisite” (Izhaki 2013, xiiii), and more major artists were being recorded in these evironments [1] [2]. As Leyshon highlighted, “the recording studio sector is not a particularly profitable or efficient part of the musical economy overall” (2009, 1315), and therefore from an industry perspective, it was positive that alternative options evolved. The development of the digital audio workstation, along with virtual instruments and sample libraries, provided resources ready to include into productions (Gilreath 2010). The project studio now had virtual technology accessible by both novice and professional producers alike. This “brought about monumental changes in the business of music and professional audio”, with music producers 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 needing to have that instrument or musician capable of playing that instrument, on hand (Huber and Runstein 2013,76). Other professionals[3] moved their workflow entirely within a digital audio workstation.
BraithwaiteSoS..201405(Tingen 2014)
[1] In 2005, Stuart Price used his home-based project studio, based around an Apple computer with a range of analogue outboard hardware and synthesizers to produce Madonna’s commercially successful ‘Confessions On A Dancefloor’ album (Doyle 2008).
[2] Madonna’s ‘Confessions On A Dancefloor’ album” achieved commercial success reaching the US Music charts (Doyle 2008)
[3] 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 DAW-only workflow: “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).
This blog will continue next month History of Music Production Part 5a – The Rise of DIY Practitioners.
References
Burgess, Richard James. 1997. The art of record production. London: Omnibus Press.
Burke, David. 2011. “Heart of Darkness : Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska”. London: Cherry Red Books.
Doyle, Tom. 2008. “Stuart Price: producing Seal & Madonna.” Accessed May 2, 2015. https://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb08/articles/stuart_price.htm.
Gilreath, Paul. 2010. The guide to midi orchestration. 4th ed. Oxford: Focal.
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.
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. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1868914&picked=prox: 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.
Meter, M . 2014. “For their last-ever album the endless river, Pink Floyd recorded on a boat” Accessed May 20, 2015  http://www.digitaltrends.com/music/pink-floyds-nick-mason-on-the-endless-river
Moran, Ian P. 2011. “Punk: the do-it-yourself subculture.” Social Sciences Journal 10 (1): 13.
Music Group. 2015. “Behringer : our story.” Accessed May 2, 2015. http://www.behringer.com/EN/Our-Story/index.aspx
Spencer, Amy. 2005. DIY: The rise of lo-fi culture: Marion Boyars London.
TEAC. 2015. “TEAC TASCAM history.” Accessed June 7,2015. www.tascam.com.
Théberge, Paul. 2012. “The end of the world as we know It: the changing role of the studio in the age of the internet.” In The art of record production: an introductory reader for a new academic field, edited by Simon Frith and Simon Zagorski-Thomas, 77-90. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.
Théberge, Paul. 1997. Any sound you can make: making music/consuming technology. Hanover: University Press of New England.
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.
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.
Watson, Allan. 2012. “The world according to iTunes: mapping urban networks of music production.” Global Networks 12 (4): 446-466.
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 21/05/2015
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.

Post-Production Instrumental Editing and Processing Options

MIDAS Console_looking left
As a mix engineer I guess you will receive a tracking session at some point in  which you will appraise the instrumental elements of the session as being in need of some work: perhaps some subtle work, or perhaps some extensive work. Options are available to do this by the spadeful with the very large range of accessible resources available to the practitioner.
However, what you need to do as the mix engineer at that point in time, is to make a quick decision: what extent of post-production instrumental editing or processing is required in order to achieve the desired musical or sonic effect for this production project?  In this example I will focus on one of the essential instruments in contemporary music – the central element of the rhythm section – the drums. However, most of the options I cover below can be applied to other instrumental elements of a session, al be it with different sonic hardware and/or virtual applications.

Sound Repair, Reinforcement, Supplementation, Replacement

Sound repair, sound reinforcement, sound supplementation and sound replacement are terms that I have found aspiring audiophiles use interchangeably. However, they are different, offering different levels of solutions to different production problems at different times. I will introduce the essential differences between each, and outline a particular production scenario where each may be employed.
1. The entry level of post-production drum processing is known as repair. The term sound repair is usually restricted to minor editing using either manual or DAW-based editing functions. In Pro Tools, minor editing to drum tracks can be done using a combination of Beat Detective, Elastic Audio or manual editing using the standard editing tools provided, your eye and most importantly, your ear. Elastic Pitch can also be used for minor editing of melodic or harmonic instruments when they are found to be slightly out of tune to the other instrumentation in the session.  Whilst the term editing is primarily associated with cutting and moving audio files regarding timing issues, I include applying audio processing under the category of repair. This can include manipulating the sonic qualities of the audio file in terms of spectral (equalisation, filters), dynamic (compression, limiters, gates and expanders) and time-domain (reverberation, echo, delay, flanging, chorus, etc) qualities via audio processing.
2. The next level of post-production drum processing is known as sound reinforcement. This solution uses various methods to ‘reinforce the original sound – usually a tone underneath the original signal to reinforce the lack of tone within the original signal. This production solution became very popular in the 1980’s with disco music, which led into the early stages of EDM. In the 1990’s digital reinforcement was used via devices such as a dbx 120A sub-harmonic synthesiser to reinforce the sub-harmonic frequencies of the production.

DBX_120A_Subharmonic Synth

  • In the current era, external devices are still used such as the dbx 510 sub-harmonic synthesiser as a means to reinforce the sub-harmonic frequencies (as shown below on right-hand side of 500 series rack). This option can be used for both corrective or creative purposes.

AE Project Studio Rig.20160601

  • These days this style of processing – sound reinforcement – is usual in many forms of music to use virtual reinforcement devices, such as layering an in-the-box oscillator under the original signal to reinforce the original tone.
    3. The next level of post-production drum processing is known as sound supplementation. Products such as Wavemachine Lab’s Drumagog and Steven Slate’s Trigger were developed to allow the engineer/producer to add sonic texture to the original recording to supplement it/boost it in terms of sonic qualities that were considered to be deficient. These qualities could include timbre, frequency or dynamic envelope. This situation could be due to one of several reasons: due to an imperfect recording technique overall. For example: due to poor microphone placement; poor or ineffective microphone technique for the desired effect; poor or ineffective live room for the desired effect, to name a few reasons;  imperfect or ineffective microphones used for the desired effect. This could be the actual quality of the microphone, the condition of the microphone – a suitable microphone type, or polar pattern a suitable type; an imperfect quality instrument or tuning; or even an imperfect instrumentalist technique in the original recording. This option of post-production drum processing is usually used as a corrective measure, but not always, just to bring the original tone home somewhat more. It would be quite unusual in this era for most productions to have some form of sound supplementation incorporated.

Wavemachine Labs Drumagog 5

Steven Slate Trigger 2.jpg
4. The final level of post-production drum processing is known as sound replacement. Sound replacement involves – as it sounds – the replacement of the original sound source for an alternative sound source. There are so many options available in this era in terms of post-production drum processing options. Drum replacement options such as: Steven Slate’s SSD, Toontrack’s EZ Drummer, AIR Technology’s Strike, and Native Instruments many and varied drum instruments could be useful and suitable for your particular project solution. All of these listed virtual instruments use a sample system to replace the original track’s audio file. The underlying reason to replace the original audio track could be due to: an imperfect recording technique overall. For example: a poor microphone placement; a poor or ineffective microphone technique for the desired effect; a poor or ineffective live room for the desired effect, to name a few reasons;  an imperfect or ineffective microphones used for the desired effect. This could be the actual quality of the microphone, the condition of the microphone – a suitable microphone type, or polar pattern choice for the desired effect; an imperfect quality instrument or tuning; or even an imperfect instrumentalist technique in the original recording. This option of post-production drum processing is primarily used as a corrective measure. it is essentially radical surgery, used in an emergency salvation when all has gone wrong, and no options exist, including time to re-record it in the instance of an urgent project. or used to create ‘demos’ prior to actual tracking. alternatively, with time on your side as a producer, you may choose for the best option: to re-record the original sound source. Whilst this is the most obvious option, there may be external factors that prevent this obvious choice from being a valid option.

Steven Slate SSD5

Toontrack EZ Drummer

AIR Instrument Strike
I expect as a mix engineer you will receive a tracking session at some point in your careers in which you will appraise the drum elements as being in need of some work – perhaps some very subtle repair work, some subtle reinforcement, or perhaps the session will be in need of some extensive work. With the options available in this era, you will need to make a quick decision: what extent of post-production drum processing is required in order to achieve the desired musical or sonic effect? You will have different options avaialble, offering different levels of solutions to different production problems at the different stages of production. Whether sound reinforcement, sound supplementation or sound replacement – each level of post-production drum processing offers different levels of solutions to different production problems at different times. It is up to you as the mix engineer or produce to understand the different stages of production, the needs of the particular mixing session, and employ the most appropriate level of post-production drum processing in which to realise the desired effect.
References
AE Project Studio’s Rack image courtesy of: https://au.pinterest.com/pin/543739354993444064/ Accessed 10th December, 2015
AE Project Studio’s image courtesy of: https://au.pinterest.com/pin/543739354993444064/ Accessed 21st January, 2015
AIR Instrument’s Strike image courtesy of: http://www.airmusictech.com/product/strike-2  Accessed 21st January, 2015
DBX’s 120A image courtesy of: http://dbxpro.com/en/products/120a  Accessed 21st January, 2015
Pro Tools 12: http://www.avid.com/pro-tools  Accessed 21st January, 2015
Steven Slate’s SSD image courtesy of: http://www.stevenslatedrums.com/products/platinum/  Accessed 21st January, 2015
Steven Slate’s Trigger image courtesy of:  http://www.stevenslatedrums.com/trigger-platinum.php  Accessed 21st January, 2015
Toontrack’s EZ Drummer image courtesy of:  https://www.toontrack.com/product/ezdrummer-2/  Accessed 21st January, 2015
Wavemachine Lab’s Drumagog image courtesy of:  http://www.drumagog.com  Accessed 21st January, 2015
– ©David L Page 22/01/2015
– updated ©David L Page 10/12/2015
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.

Signal Flow Part 2

As developed in last week’s Signal Flow Part 1 [June 2013], Audio Engineering is an enjoyable technical and creative pursuit. It is dependent upon the engineer understanding the fundamentals. Signal Flow is one of the core fundamentals. Understanding and practicing these three stages of Signal Flow until committed to muscle memory is essential to the development of the aspiring engineer.
This week we will build upon the three stages of Signal Flow to Part 2, including Stage 4 and Stage 5.
Note: On a console that is designed primarily for recording/tracking, such as Neve C75 or a Behringer Erodes SX4882, the Channel Path will by default be routed via the large/primary faders, and the Monitor Path will by default be routed via the small/Mix B faders or pots.
In contrast: On a console that is designed primarily for mixing, such as a Audient ASP8024 or a ASP4816, the Channel Path will by default be routed via the small/secondary faders, and the Monitor Path will by default be routed via the large/primary faders.
Of course, one of the advantages of an in-line console is to have the flexibility in routing options and being able to switch what Path is routed to the faders as the need desires. Therefore, my reference to the Channel and Monitor Path and their respective faders are based  on a console that is designed primarily for recording/tracking.

Audio Processing

Before we proceed to Stage 4 of Signal Flow, lets add some external processing into Stage 2 of the Recording process. In the Audio Industry there are accepted ways to route specific types of audio processing when using external audio processing hardware. 
Audio Industry 8 Channel Studio Signal Flow.P10
The industry standard is to route signal from either the Insert Send/Return within a Channel strip, or via the Auxiliary Send/Returns across a number of Channel strips. In circumstances where we only want to process the signal for one particular channel, we would use Insert Send/Returns. This is usually the case when we want to apply Spectral or Dynamic processing to a particular signal such as an individual instrument. For instances when we want to apply particular processing across a number of Channels or instruments, then we use the Auxilliairies Send/Returns.
Firstly we must Send the raw signal from the Channel strip or strips (referred to as dry signal) to the external audio processing hardware.

Audio Industry 8 Channel Studio Signal Flow.P11

 Once we have processed the signal (referred to as wet signal), we must return the processed signal back to the particular Channel strip or strips on the console.

Audio Industry 8 Channel Studio Signal Flow.P13

We now have added processing to either one or a number of the Channel strips on the console, within Stage 2 of the Recording process. Before we proceed, let’s recap on the Signal Flow.

Audio Engineering Signal Flow

Recording phase – Stage 1,2,3: 

Last week in Audio Signal Flow stage one, two and three, I introduced the capturing of a sound source, routing the signal to the console, monitoring that sound source pre-tape (Channel Path), taking this signal to tape, recording it on the multi-track-recorder (MTR), and then returning the signal back to the console where we had the opportunity to monitor the signal one more time post-tape (Monitor Path).
Being able to monitor the path at both pre-tape and post-tape allows the engineer to check all stages of the signal flow to ensure that there is good signal, at good levels (not too low or not too high), no extraneous sounds (such as noise, hum, buzz, crackle, hiss, etc) that could be a problem if we were to discover such once we have completed the recording phase. Once we have successfully captured and recorded the sound source to the MTR (Recording phase), we need to progress to the next phase, Mixing as part of Post-Production process

Mixing phase – Stage 3, 4, 5: 

Stage 3:

In the mixing phase, traditionally completed by a specialist engineer other than the recording engineer, the recorded tracks are routed from the tape back to the console. This stage equates to Stage three of the Recording phase, but perhaps with a more focussed intention. The purpose of this stage is to commence mixing the various tracks of audio into a blended organise song with both corrective and creative processing applied. The fundamentals as available on most analogue consoles, include manipulating the gain levels, the stereo field via panning, and the spectral qualities via the equalisation and filters on the console. Once we are satisfied a balanced mix of all of the instruments within the mix has been achieved, we need to capture this mix onto tape to be able to play it back at anytime in the future.

Stage 4:

In the fourth stage – Stage 4 Signal Flow, the multiple signals are routed from the console to a device that is capable of recording this summed balanced and processed signal into a single stereo track. This mix of the multiple channels is referred to as a Stereo Mix.

Audio Industry 8 Channel Studio Signal Flow.P14

In order to do this, we route the signal from the console’s Master fader send…….
Audio Industry 8 Channel Studio Signal Flow.P16
… to the DAW via a AD/DA interface (for example Stereo Input 1+2)..
[Note: If the Studio has a patchbay setup, you are more than likely in need of routing this Stage 4 Signal Flow via that patchbay].

Audio Industry 8 Channel Studio Signal Flow.P18

This completes Stage four, from the console to the MTR.

Stage 5:

Once we have done this, we need to prepare to Return the signal back to the console for Monitoring the Stereo Mix track. This is Stage 5 of the Mixing phase. So how do we do Return the signal to the console for monitoring this Stereo Mix track?
You will note the Outputs in the tape are already being used, returning the signal of the original mix to the console’s Channel Strips (Stage 3 Monitoring Path) in order for us to monitor the original mix. So, we need an alternate way to route this Stereo Mix track Return back to the console, in order to monitor and confirm this final Stereo Mix track meets our technical and creative standards.
Whilst each studio will have its own particular routing and naming protocol, most consoles have what we refer to as a 2-Track monitoring function. 2-Track monitoring refers to the monitoring of the final Stereo Mix track Return – Stage 5 of the Mixing phase. As the mono outputs are occupied by Stage 3, we need an alternative routing option from the DAW via the AD/DA interface. This is usually done via a digital output such as an ADAT or a SPIDF output.
[Note: Before we leave the DAW, we need to confirm the Stereo Mix levels in the virtual MTR are appropriate via Input Monitoring. If the levels are not appropriate (too high or too low), you need to re-check your mix levels, and adjust accordingly]. 

Audio Industry 8 Channel Studio Signal Flow.P20

In order to monitor this Stereo Mix track signal on the console, you need to select the 2-Track function on the console, in order to monitor this final Stereo Mix track Return – Stage 5 of the Mixing phase.
[Note: each console manufacturer is likely to have their own naming protocol for this 2-Track monitoring function. For example, a number of more recent consoles refer to this final Stereo Mix monitoring function as DAW].

Audio Industry 8 Channel Studio Signal Flow.P21

Selecting this 2-Track function on the console, will route the Stereo Mix signal to the monitors for confirming the technical and creative merits of your final Stereo Mix. To confirm that you as the Mixing Engineer is actually monitoring Stage 5 (and not Stage 3), if you select the mute button on the Stereo Mix track within the DAW, the monitoring signal to the Control Room monitors should be cut. Deselect the mute button to continue to monitor this Stereo Mix signal.

Audio Industry 8 Channel Studio Signal Flow.P22

This completes the 3 stages of the Mixing phase – Stage 3, Stage 4 and Stage 5.
Audio Engineering is an enjoyable, technical and creative pursuit. It is dependent upon the engineer understanding the fundamentals. Signal Flow is one of the core fundamentals. Understanding and practicing these three stages of the Recording phase’ Signal Flow and the three stages of the Mixing phase Signal Flow until committed to muscle memory is essential to the development of the aspiring engineer.
Reference
Images courtesy of:  David L Page  Accessed 3rd June, 2013
– ©David L Page 10/06/2013
– updated ©David L Page 14/02/2016
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.