{[ promptMessage ]}

Bookmark it

{[ promptMessage ]}

Shuker pdf - MUSIC AND TECHNOLOGY 5 élffen D(2005 From...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–11. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 1

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
Image of page 3

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 4
Image of page 5

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 6
Image of page 7

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 8
Image of page 9

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 10
Image of page 11
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: MUSIC AND TECHNOLOGY 5 élffen, D. (2005) From Edison to Marconi. The First Thirty Years of Recorded Music, lefterson, NC: McFarland. More specifically on sound recording, see: Cunningham, M. (1996) Good Vibrations: A History of Record Production, Chessington: Castle Communications. Major recording studios are historically identified with particular producers, house bands, and sounds: ‘- Cogan, }. and Clark, W. (2003) Temples of Sound. Inside the Great Recording Studios, San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. On instruments: Waksman, S. (1996) Instrument of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Popular Music and Society, 26, 1 (October, 2003): Special Issue: Reading the Instrument. On the impact of digital music, MP3 and the iPod: Jones, D. (2005) iPod, Therefore IAm, London: Phoenix, provides an engaging personal account. More academic discussions are: lones, S. and Lenmart, A. (2004) ‘Music Downloading and Listening‘, Popular Music, 27, 2, 221—40. Taylor, T. (2001) Strange Sounds: Music Technology and Culture, London: Routledge. 46 Chapter 3 ‘I’m just a Singer’ Making music and the success continuum \ In addressing the question of how meaning is produced in popular music, a central role must be accorded to those who actually make the music. But this is not to simply accept the ‘creative artist' view of the production of cultural products, which sees ‘art’ as the product of the creative individual, largely unencumbered by politics and economics. Those involved in making music clearly exercise varying degrees of personal autonomy, but this is circumscribed by the available technologies and expertise, by economics, and by the expectations of their audience: It is a question of the dynamic interrelationship of the production context, the texts and their creators, and the audience for the music. This chapter is concerned with the nature of music making and the roles and relative, status of those who make music, primarily, but not exclusively musicians. While they are credited as the authors of their recordings, their ability to lmake music’ is, to varying extents, dependent on the input of other industry personnel, including session musicians, songwriters, record producers, sound engineers and mixers, along with those who regulate access to the infrastructure of the industry (such as venue owners, promoters). For convenience, and reflecting their historical prominence, I- am largely concerned with ‘mainstream’ rock and pop, and the demarcations present within their musical production as sounds. Other genres, notably disco and dance music, and ‘musicians’ such as the contemporary dance D], subvert many of the traditional assumptions of the ‘rock formation’ about the nature of musicianship (see Straw, 1999). My discussion begins with the initial creation of a musical text. For performers ‘starting out’, this is through learning to first play one’s instrument and reproduce 47 MAKING MUSIC AND THE SUCCESS CONTINUUM existing songs, a form of musical apprenticeship. If the intention is to move beyond this, attention then turns to songwriting and the ‘working up‘ of an original composition, for performance and (possibly) recording. The role of the producer is central to the preparation of the musical text as a material product — the sound recording. The second part of the chapter considers the differing roles and status of those who create music. I examine the distinctions frequently used by musicians themselves, as well as critics and fans, to label various performers. There is an obvious hierarchy of values at work here, both between and within various categories, and in the discourse around the application of terms such as creativity and authenticity (see Negus and Pickering, 2004) . MAKING MUSIC As most biographies demonstrate, the career trajectory of popular musicians involves skill and hard work, not to mention a certain amount of luck. The few detailed ethnographic accounts we have, suggest that most bands and performers are ‘precariously balanced between fame and obSCurity, security and insecurity, commerce and creativity‘ (Cohen, 1991: 4). It is a Darwinian struggle, and there are thOusands of unsigned artists: Most bands never make it beyond the start-up and early momentum phases of the drive to success. The obstacles prove to be too great to surmount. Disharmonies within the group, lack of financial resources, personal problems, fatigue, waning enthusiasm in the face of frustration, inability to make hard decisions to sacrifice weaker members, and lack of the requisite talents and skills all contribute to failure. Weinstein, 1991: 75) Weinstein‘s later discussion (2004) suggests not much has changed. Even if a band gets signed to a major label, it has only a small chance of breaking even. Our detailed knowledge of this process, of how performers actually create their music and attempt to create an audience for their efforts, wasinitially sparse. Writing in 1990, Cohen's summary of the available literature observed that there had been a lack of ethnographic or participant observer study of the process of making music: What is particularly lacking in the literature (on rock) is ethnographic data and micro sociological detail. Two other important features have been ‘omitted: the grassroots of the industry — the countless, as yet unknown bands struggling for success at a local level - and the actual process of music making by rock bands. (Cohen, 1991: 6) 48 MAKING MUSIC AND THE SUCCESS CONTINUUM In addition to Cohen’s Rock Culture in Liverpool, there are now a handful of ‘classic' accounts, along with a large body of biographical profiles of varying usefulness. To these we can add several compendiums of reflections from musicians; inodepth studies of the making of particular recordings; further accounts of musicians involved in local musical scenes; and several insightful discussions of musical creativity (see Notes). The ‘musician’ To begin with, the term ‘musician’ is not as straightforward as it seems. Finnegan, in her study of music-making in Milton Keynes, found it difficult to distinguish ‘amateur’ from ‘professional' musicians: local bands sometimes contained many players in full-time (non'musical) jobs and others whose only regular occupation was their music; yet in giving performances, practising, sharing out the fees and identification with the group, the members were treated exactly alike (except for the inconvenience of those in jobs that had to plead illness or take time off work if they traveled to distant bookings). (Finnegan, 1989: 13) Furthermore, the local musicians tended to use ‘professional’ in an evaluative rather than an economic sense, to refer to a player‘s standard of performance, musical knowledge and qualifications, and regular appearances with musicians themselves regarded as professional. Later studies (Shute, 2005), and my own conversations with local musicians, also demonstrate this more expansive use of the term. While the term 'musician’ has been associated with singing or playing an instrument, the development of sampling technology, computer'based composition, and D]/ mixer culture have undermined such easy equations. Accordingly, the concept of musician is best regarded as ‘an open category that can subsume any kind of musical competence’ (Wicke, 2003: 193). Since the end of the 19505, the demarcation {-1 between the performer, the songwriter, and producer has become blurred. Currently, l, while the three roles can be distinct, the term musician frequently embraces all three 2 activities. The realities of practice There are still-few formal study or apprenticeship programmes for aspiring popular musicians, in sharp contrast to the opportunities for classical and jazz instrumentalists. Learning the required musical skills takes time and perseverance as well as inclination and talent: ' 49 MAKING MUSIC AND THE SUCCESS CONTINUUM The hardest thing to dawn on us was that if you practice a lot you get better a lot faster. I didn’t realize that maybe there was a big distance between an hour and five hours of practice a day. We went through a transitional stage from being proud of being a garage band to really seeing the limitations and wanting to take it one step further. (Dan Zanes, guitarist, the Del Fuegos quoted in Pollock, 2002: 30—1) Even the proficiency of a ‘genius’ like Jimi Hendrix has its pragmatic foundation: Practicing his guitar was the central activity of Jimi’s life that year [1962}. He went to bed practicing, he slept with the guitar on his chest, and the first thing he did upon rising was to start practicing again. In an effort to find even more time to practice, he occasionally bought cheap amphetamines so he could stay up all night. (Cross, 2005: 98—9) Bennett’s detailed account, ‘The Realities of Practice’, showed that ‘song-getting’ for most rock musicians was a process of ‘copying a recording by playing along with it and using the. technical ability to play parts of it over and over again’ (Bennett, 1990: 224). The two Liverpool punk bands which Cohen studied demonstrated a complex process of musical composition, rehearsal, and performance. Their creative process was typically incremental and participatory (Cohen, 1991). Later (auto)biographical accounts of rock performers show a similar process at work. Reflecting the limitations of conventional notation when applied to rock music, little use is made of sheet music: ‘lt’s so simple just to get things off the record, sheet music is just for people who can’t hear’ (piano player; cited Bennett, 1990: 227) .Cornposition and song copying initially takes place in private, with the next step the expansion of the song-getting experience to the group situation ~— transforming the song into a performable entity — and its extension to the creation of ‘sets' of songs: We work in blocks of three or four songs that fit well together, usually taken right off the records in that order. It's a matter of pacing. knowing your material, knowing how your material is going to affect people. We traditionally come out for about twenty—five or thirty minutes of solid blasting, where it’s really loud and pretty up-tempo and aggressive. We'll take it down for about fifteen or twenty just to give people a little bit of a breather (Bob Mould, guitarist, Husker Du; Sugar quoted in Pollock, 2002: 160) These blocks of material, usually consisting of ten to fifteen songs to be played over a live set are constructed for specific audiences and contexts (gigs), and, as such, 50 MAKING MUSIC AND THE SUCCESS CONTINUUM usually represent a compromise between what bands want to play, what audiences want to hear, and what is marketable. The role of the songwriter: ‘Wrote a Song', Bob Seger With its romantic connotations of creativity and authenticity, composition is at the heart of discourses surrounding authorship in popular music. Examples of artistic and commercial success frequently accord songwriting a key place: Kurt Cobain‘s ability to write songs with such strong books was the crucial ingredient in Nirvana’s eventual world wide appeal. The melodies he wrote were so memorable, people found themselves singing along without even knowing or understanding the lyrics. (Berkenstadt and Cross, 1998: 63) A canonical meta-list of "The Top Thirty Albums’ shows that, with one exception, all were composed by the musicians responsible for the recording (Von Appen and Doehring, 2006; and see Chapter 7.'The exception was The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, where Peter Asher contributed most of the lyrics). While composing popular music can encompass several modes, most recently the bricolage of electronic practices underpinning dance music, i am interested here in songwriting in mainstream, chart«oriented rock and pop music. In comparison with the writing on other roles in the music industry, and the nature of the creative process in popular music, the role of the songwriter has received only limited attention. Published work has concentrated on song composition and the process of songwriting, and the contributions of leading songwriters (see Flanaghan, 1987; Stock, 2004; Zollo, 1997). There are numerous personal accounts of the process of songwriting. For example, Paul McCartney’s recollections of his collaboration with John Lennon (Miles, 1997), Mike Stock’s account of his work as part of the Stock Aitken Waterman production team (Stock, 2004); and Cantin’s discussion of the collaboration between Alanis Morissette and Greg Ballard: she would sit on the floor. Ballard would perch on a chair. They’d both take acoustic guitars and fool around with melodies and lyrical ideas and see what happened. When they really got rolling, Alanis would fall into a kind of trance- like state. (Cantin, 1997: 126) Kiedis describes writing ‘Under the Bridge’: 5 | MAKING MUSIC AND THE SUCCESS CONTINUUM I started freestyling some poetry in my car and putting the words to a melody and sang all the way down the freeway. Whenl got home, I got out my notebook and wrote the whole thing down in a song structure, even though it was meant to be a poem to deal with my own anguish. (Kiedis, 2004: 265) Such accounts place songwriting in the realm of romantic views of creativity, but this must be‘ tempered with an appreciation of the social conditions under which it takes place, and the sheer graft involved: But it wasn’t easy. The secret of our success lay in hard work, long hours and those magical ‘eureka’ moments. Our success rate didn’t happen by accident. We knew exactly what we were doing on each record and, having discussed the artist and the song, we understood the audience we were trying to reach. (Stock, 2004: 100) Songwriters have historically exercised considerable influence over artists/styles. In the 1950s Leiber and Stoller got an unprecedented deal with Atlantic to write and produce their own songs; the resulting collaborations with performers such as the Drifters and Ben E. King produced sweet soul, a very self-conscious marriage of R&B and classical instruments, notably the violin. In the 1960s Holland, Dozier, Holland contributed to the development of the distinctive Motown sound. In the 19705 Chinn and Chapman composed over 50 British Top Ten hits in association with producers Mickie Most and Phil Wainman, “using competent bar bands (Mud, Sweet) on to whom they could graft a style and image’ (Hatch and Millward, 1987: 141), to produce highly commercial power pop, glitter rock, and dance music. In the 19805, Stock Aitken Waterman wrote and produced successful dance pop for performers such as Kylie Minogue: ‘Down at the Hit Factory, Matt and I were the band and the singers were the guest vocalists. The songs were doing the selling and the artists were an adjunct’ (Stock, 2004: 100). During the late 19505 and early 19605 a factory model of songwriting, combined with a strong aesthetic sense, was evident in the work of a group of songwriters (and music publishers) in New York’s Brill Building: ‘the best of Tin Pan Alley's melodic and lyrical hall marks were incorporated into R&B to raise the music to new levels of sophistication’ (AMG, 1995: 883). The group included a number of successful songwriting teams: the more pop—oriented Goffin and King; Mann and Well; and Barry and Greenwich; the R&B—oriented Pomus and Shuman, and Leiber and Stoller. Several also produced, most notably Phil Spector, Bert Berns, and Leiber and Stoller, who wrote and produced most of the Coasters hits. One factor that distinguished the group was their youth: mainly in their late teens or early twenties, with several married ‘ 52 MAKING MUSIC AND THE SUCCESS CONTINUUM couples working together, the Brill Building songwriters were well able to relate to and interpret teenage dreams and concerns, especially the search for identity and romance. These provided the themes for many of the songs they wrote, especially those performed by the teen idols and girl groups of the period. Pomus and Shuman, and Leiber and Stoller also wrote some of Elvis Presley's best material. Collectively, the Brill Building songwriters were responsible for a large number of chart successes, and had an enduring influence (see Shaw, 1992). The role of such songwriters, however, was challenged by the British invasion and the emergence of a tradition of self«contained groups or performers writing their own songs (most notably the Beatles), which weakened the traditional songwriting market. The 19805 and 19905 saw a new visibility for professional songwriters, often also producing, working with or for the proliferation of manufactured pop performers. Among the most successful recent examples of this process 15 ‘Can't Get You Out of My Head’ (2002). Written by Cathy Dennis and Rob Davis, for Kylie Minogue, the song topped the charts internationally, revived Minogue’s career, and the two songwriters won the British 2002 Ivor Novello Award. Singer songwriters Some songwriters have been accorded auteur status, partially when they have later successfully recorded their own material (e.g. Carol King: Tapestry, Ode, 1971; Neil Diamond), or are performing as singer songwriters. The term ‘singer songwriters’ has been given to artists who both write and perform their material, and who are able to perform solo, usually on acoustic guitar or piano. An emphasis on lyrics has resulted in the work of such performers often being referred to as song poets, accorded auteur status, and made the subject of intensive lyric analysis (see Chapter 5). The folk music revival in the 19605 saw several singer writers come to prominence: Joan Baez,.Donovan, Phil Ochs, and, above all, Bob Dylan. Singer songwriters were a strong ‘movem‘ént’ in the 19705, including Neil Young, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, and Joan Armatrading; most are still performing/recording. In the 19805 the appellation singer songwriter was applied to, among others, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, and Elvis Costello; in the 19905 to Tori Amos, Suzanne Vega, Tanita Tikaram, Tracy Chapman, and Toni Child, and more recently to performers such as Dido, James Morrison, and David Gray This fe_male predominance led some observers to equate the 'form' with women performersiclhemtohits emphasis on lyrics and performance rather than the indulgences associated with male dominated styles of rock music. The application of the term to solo performers is awkward, in that most of those mentioned ‘ usually perform with ‘backing’ bands, and at times regard themselves as an integral -‘ part of these. Nonetheless, the concept of singer songwriter continues to have strong connotations of greater authenticity and ‘true’ authorship. , 53 MAKING MUSIC AND THE SUCCESS CONTINUUM Once a song is composed, even if only in a limited form (partial lyrics, or a riff to build on), it becomes ‘worked up’ for live performance and recording. Beyond creating a distinctive musical sound and original material, successful performers must l also develop the different skills required of the live and studio recordingsettings. it is during the latter process that the role of the producer comes to the fore. Producers: ‘Lookin’ for that million-dollar sound’ (Bruce Springsteen, ‘The Promise’) The occupation of producer emerged as a distinct job category and career path in the popular music industry during the 19505, initially as someone who directed and supervised recording sessions, and who also frequently doubled as sound engineer (e.g. Sam Phillips at Sun Records). Successful producers, such as songwriters Leiber and Stoller at Atlantic, and George Martin at EMI, began exerting pressure on their recording companies to receive credits (on recordings) and royalties. By the mid-1960s, the studio producer had become an auteur figure, an artist employing multi'track technology and stereo sound to make recording ‘a form of composition in itself, rather than simply as a means of documen...
View Full Document

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern