The History Of Music Production

by Richard James Burgess

The History Of Music Production Author Richard James Burgess Isbn 978 0199357178 File size 6 2 MB Year 2014 Pages 264 Language English File format PDF Category Music This important work brings new perspectives to the history of recorded music and shows how new technologies have been applied artfully and creatively by the many talented artisans of the craft in ways that changed how music is understood In The History of Music Production Richard James Burgess draws on his experience as a producer musician and author Begin

Publisher :

Author : Richard James Burgess

ISBN : 978 0199357178

Year : 2014

Language: English

File Size : 6.2 MB

Category : Music

The History of Music Production

The History of Music Production
Richard James Burgess


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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Burgess, Richard James, author.
The history of music production / by Richard James Burgess
  pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978–0–19–935716–1 (hardcover : alk. paper)—ISBN 978–0–19–935717–8
(pbk. : alk. paper)  1.  Sound recording industry—History.  2.  Sound recordings—
Production and direction—History.  3.  Sound—Recording and reproducing—History.
4.  Sound recordings—History.  5.  Music and technology.  I.  Title. ML3790.B842 2014

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Printed in the United States of America
on acid-free paper

To my parents for giving me the freedom of mind to pursue my adventures. To
my sons Ace and Blaze for always stimulating my thinking, making every day an
adventure, and for bringing even more music and words to our house and my life
than I ever thought possible.

List of Illustrations  xi
Preface  xiii

Introduction  1
1. Beginnings  2
Understanding Sound  2
Toward Recording  3
The Phonograph   5
The First Producers  12

2. The Acoustic Period  16
Acoustic Recording  16
International Expansion  18
The Third Major Label  19
The Sooys  20
Documentation of Cultural Expression  24
The End of an Era  26

3. The Electric Period  29
Toward Electric Recording  29
Better Sound  30
Country Music  32
Further Technological Foundations  33
The Calm before the Storm  34
The Thirties and Forties  34
Radio, Film, and Tape Innovations  36

4. Economic and Societal Overlay  38
Cyclical Decline  38
One Thing after Another: The Thirties through the War  39
Recovery  40

5. The Studio Is Interactive  42
Toward Greater Control  42
Magnetic Tape Recording  44
Defining Some Terms  48
Mastering  49

viii Contents

Editing  49
Sound on Sound  50
Overdubbing  52
Summing up Tape’s Impact  54
The Microgroove LP  54

6. The Post–World War II Reconstruction of the Recording Industry  56
After the War  56
The Boom in Independent Labels  58
The Fifties  61
Radio DJs  64

7. Mobile Music  66
More Music for More People  66
Music Anywhere: Radio on the Move  67
My Music on the Move  69
My Music Anywhere  70

8. Expanding the Palette  73
Electric Instruments and Amplifiers  73
Synthesizers  76
Genre Hybridization  81

9. Some Key Producers  82
The Objective  82
Review of Early Producers  83
Mitch Miller  83
Leiber and Stoller  84
Phil Spector  85
Sam Phillips  87
Steve Sholes  87
Norrie Paramor  88
Joe Meek  89
Brian Wilson  90
George Martin  91
Holland, Dozier, and Holland  92
Teo Macero  92
King Tubby  93
Prince  93
Rick Rubin  94
Quincy Jones  95
Robert John “Mutt” Lange  96
Dr. Dre  96
Max Martin  97

Contents ix

10. The Sixties and Seventies  98
Cultural and Creative Revolution  98
The Sixties  98
Mix Automation  100
The Seventies  102

11. Toward the Digital Age  104
Digital Recording  104
Hip Hop  105
The State of the Eighties  106
The Sound of the Eighties  107
The Look of the Eighties  108
Shiny Silver Discs  109
Singles  111
Mixing  111
Dance Music  112
Remixes  115
Further Eighties Developments  116
Mergers and Acquisitions  118
The Internet and the World Wide Web  119

12. The Nineties  120
The Corporate State  120
The Charts and SoundScan  120
Alternative Rock  121
Toward Music Online  121
Progress with Digitized Data  122
Digital Radio  123
Millennials  125
Preparing the Way for Napster  125

13. Periods of Standards and Stability  127
Proprietary versus Open Systems  127
Standards  127

14. Deconstructing the Studio  131
Democratizing Technologies  131
Improvised Environments  131
When Is a Home Not a Home?  132
Freedom  132

15. Random Access Recording Technology  134
Why Random Access?  134
The Beginnings of Random Access for Producers  136
Drum Machines, Next Generation Sequencers, and MIDI  141

x Contents

The Beginnings of Random Access Digital Recording  143
Convergence and Integration  145

16. Transformative/Disruptive Technologies and the Value of Music  147
Definitions of Terms  147
The Industry at the Turn of the 21st Century  147
Missed Opportunity  148
Oh, Wait  149
No Big Surprises  150
What a Great Idea  151
What Happened to Vertical Integration?  151
An Idea Whose Time Had Come  152
Denial and Inaction  153
The Consequences  154
The Digital Disruption and Producer Income  155
Performance Royalties  155
Direct versus Statutory Licenses  157

17. Post-Millennial Business Models  159
American Idol  159
Downloads  160
Streaming Audio  162
Non-Interactive Streams  163
Streaming on Demand  164
Web 2.0, Social Networking, and Social Media  164
Commonalities  165

18. The Unfinished Work  167
Sampling, Mash-ups, and Remixes  167
Using Records as Raw Material  167
Disco  169
Hip Hop  169
Adapting Compositions  171
Adapting Recordings  171
The Question of Creativity  173
The Question of Legality  174

Conclusion  177
Notes  181
Bibliography  209
About the Author  227
Index  229

1.1 Scott's 1859 drawing of his phonautograph, included in his patent
paperwork preserved at the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle
(INPI). 4
1.2 Phonautograph, patented in 1857 by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville,
built by Rudolph Koenig, and purchased in 1866 by Joseph Henry, first
secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.  5
Edison’s sketch of the Tin Foil Phonograph.  6
Edison’s first phonograph, 1877.  7
Thomas Edison with an early phonograph, April 1878.  8
1.6 Letter from Volta Graphophone Company to Alexander Graham Bell,
December 6, 1889.  10
1.7 Group listening to an Edison phonograph in Salina, Kansas, in the
1890s. 12
2.1 Recording session at Edison’s studio in New York, March 1916.
Vocalist: Jacques Urlus. Conductor: Cesare Sodero.  17
2.2 Mountain Chief, Chief of Montana Blackfeet, in Native Dress with Bow,
Arrows, and Lance, Listening to Song Being Played on Phonograph and
Interpreting It in Sign Language to Frances Densmore, Ethnologist,
March 1916, by Harris & Ewing.  25
2.3 Library of Congress recording equipment in a car trunk, ca. 1940. AFC
1941/038: Library of Congress Recording Laboratory Photographs (item
ph14). 26
Jack Mullin during World War II.  45
5.2 AEG Magnetophon type K4 sp, advanced AC biased tape recorder with
6.5 mm ferric coated I.G. Farben tape.  46
5.3 Jack Mullin (left) talking to Murdo McKenzie (producer of the Bing
Crosby show) in 1947 with the two AEG Magnetophon type K4 sp, AC
biased tape recorders.  47
5.4 Jack Mullin in the NBC control room, 1949, with two Ampex 200 magnetic tape recorders loaded with 3M quarter inch tape.  48
Regency TR-1 transistor radio: “The World’s First Pocket Radio.”  68
EDM1 label of “European Man” RCA single by Landscape  115
Back cover of EDM1 “European Man” RCA single by Landscape  116
15.1 CSIRAC: The Australian computer that, in 1951, was the first to play
music 137


List of Illustrations

15.2 SDSV drum synthesizer prototype used on Landscape’s From the
Tearooms of Mars . . . 139
SDSV drum synthesizer early production model.  139
SDSV drum synthesizer early production model back panel.  140
15.5 Roland MC-8 MicroComposer used on Landscape’s From the Tearooms
of Mars . . . 140

My objective in writing this book was to trace the history of music production and
much of what has influenced and affected its development. Music production is distinct from, though intertwined with, the music industry, the recording industry, and
recording technology. Music production exists because of recording technology; it
became a profession because of the recording industry, and is tied in to the wider
music industry. Producers interact in a creative, musical, technical, socioeconomic,
business-to-business, and business-to-consumer relationship with co-creators, owners, and users of recorded music. In telling this story, and while trying not to diverge
too much, I saw it necessary to alternate between these interrelated topics of creativity, technology, business, disseminative media, the interaction with consumers,
and more.
I use the term “music production” with its many facets of meaning as described
in detail in my companion book The Art of Music Production:  The Theory and
Practice, 4th Edition.1 I selected key transitions, trends, people, and innovations that
have been formative or important in moving from the era before the first recorded
sound to music production as we know it today. These encompass technological,
creative, business, and social shifts along with their interactions. The book is laid
out in a rough chronological order but strict adherence to a timeline would not have
allowed exploration of consequential threads and themes. Many of these are parallel, concurrent, or overlapping across decades and I included interpretive analysis
to illustrate how they may have advanced the field or, in some instances, held it
back. There are isolated facts interspersed chronologically throughout the book.
These relate to notable, memorable, or influential innovations that did not warrant further exploration, may have been too much of a divergence, or for which
I could not justify the space. It is worth noting that the importance of a period is
not reflected in the amount of material listed by decade. This is because I have tried
not to unnecessarily repeat information that is grouped thematically or conceptually elsewhere. Even with this brevity, I  had to omit innumerable important but
incremental advancements.
There are untold creative, musical, technical, and business contributors to the
betterment of the art, science, and profession who are not honored here either for
lack of space, or because their work remains publicly undocumented. Where I name
famous individuals, I  am using them primarily as familiar examples of a style,
period, or shift and not necessarily because their contributions are more important
than those of lesser-known figures. As with The Art of Music Production, this is not
a technical book although it documents important technical advancements within


xiv Preface

the field, and those outside of it that affected its development. Music production,
like most other creative arts, requires technical mastery, nonetheless, the ability to
record something well is but part of the art of music production.
At various places in the book I have used the word “democratization.” I am
not entirely comfortable with this use of the term given the divergence from its
long-standing implications as a political system. Nevertheless, it has become a de
facto expression of our increasing access to information, technology, and resources.
It is in this common use context that I employ it here.
Finally, I began with a couple of overarching questions that I hope to have at
least partially answered. They were: Who and what was involved in moving us from
millennia of musical evanescence through more than a century of recorded music’s
permanence, and how has that shift affected the creation, perception, propagation,
and use of music?
Production is, mostly, a collaborative art form and as always there are many
others to whom I  must give special thanks, including:  Ellen Alers, Dan Bullard,
Blaze Burgess, Stephanie Christensen, Leonard DeGraaf, Nancy Groce, Todd
Harvey, Joanna Kelly, Kip Lornell, Bob Ludwig, Daisy Njoku, Kevin Parme, Kay
Peterson, Marlene Plumley, Gina Rappaport, Steve Raymer, Eva Reich, Perry
Resnick, Steve Reyer, Deborra Richardson, Alison Rollins, Carlene Stephens, Peter
Thoms, Ann Van Camp, Minna Zhou.
Comments, corrections, or casual conversation to Richard James Burgess at
[email protected]; for further information:

The History of Music Production

The history of music production and producers turns on developments of recording,
playback, media, and consumer technologies. However, not every technical development triggers a shift in production techniques. Like organic growth in nature, the
evolution of music production is nonlinear. Technologies and techniques coexist
for a time, arising and fading in an ever-flowing Darwinian process of development
and selection. By this, I do not mean to imply any sense of a qualitative or deterministic progress from worse to better. There are most likely parallel possibilities.
Recording technology becomes increasingly sophisticated but inside that inexorable
process, superior systems do not always dominate.
Sonic quality has diminished at times and some argue that musical, performance, and social values have too. I make no judgment in this regard. My interest
in this history may be best expressed by paraphrasing one of George Orwell’s many
astute observations as, “who understands the past can understand the future.”
Within the darker context of the business side of the music industry, Orwell’s original statement, “who controls the past . . . controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,”1 contains considerable sociological truth. This may be worth
pondering by producers and artists, especially those who think that the myriad of
individual decisions and actions made daily can influence social progress.
Music producers whether by title or by virtue of their actions are composers
in sound. They fix creative ideas, not as musical notes and instructions on a page
for interpretation by performers, but rather, directly to a medium that also captures
subtleties of individual performances and timbral qualities. Music production fuses
the composition, arrangement, orchestration, interpretation, improvisations, timbral qualities, and performance or performances into an immutable sonic whole.
Despite his initial intentions for the device, Edison’s phonograph finally gave us a
way to preserve qualities of music that could not be written down. It removed the
interpretive step from between the audience and composer and allowed us to begin
cataloging the diversity of human expression that occurs in performance. The phonograph opened up a new creative medium that allowed the development of the
art of music production. Technology is but one of the means to the end of music
production, which has many facets. Recording technology and music production
are symbiotic not synonymous. This book delves into the history of music production while my companion book, The Art of Music Production: The Theory and
Practice, 4th edition, discusses the art form with its supporting craft and business
in greater depth.


Understanding Sound


We don’t know when humans first made music or what inspired them to do so,
although there are many theories. Elements of music—particularly melody and
rhythm in the sounds other creatures make, and that we generate—surround us as
we move through our environment. And there are other natural sounds such as the
wind, waves, thunder, and so forth. Most sounds comprise complex harmonics or
overtones and the harmonic series—the order in which these naturally occur—is
a mathematical reality, a physical truth or law of the universe. As far back as the
sixth century BCE, Pythagoras (ca. 570–495 BCE) had described the mathematical
relationship between the length of a stretched string and the period of its vibration
when plucked. He determined the simple mathematical ratios that form the octave,
perfect fifth, perfect fourth, and the whole tone. From these calculations, he arrived
at the circle of fifths that, with a small adjustment known as the Pythagorean
comma, gets us to the modern tempered scale. Aristotle (384–322 BCE) understood
that “sound is a particular movement of air,”1 and Greek philosopher Chrysippus
(ca. 280–207 BCE) and the Romans Vitruvius (ca. 1st century BCE) and Boethius
(ca. 480–524 CE), speculated that sound is a wave phenomenon.2
Two thousand years after Pythagoras’s findings, Galileo Galilei (1564–1642),
originator of the study of modern acoustics, identified “sympathetic vibration” and
the relationship between the frequency and pitch of a sound. In 1636, during the
scientific revolution, French Franciscan monk and mathematician Marin Mersenne
(1588–1648) published three laws explaining the correlation between the length,
tension, and weight of a string, and its vibration. Mersenne was the first European
to mathematically define the first six overtones in the harmonic series of vibrating
strings, showing that the ratios of just intonation that sound consonant to human
ears are a phenomenon of nature.3 Although it would not be applied to music for
more than a century and a half, it is worth mentioning here the mathematical discoveries of French military scientist Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1768–1830). In
1807 he gave a lecture describing “a method to approximate any signal through a
combination of trigonometric functions.”4 This led to several mathematical processes such as the: Fourier Series, Analysis, Transform, and Synthesis. What Fourier

Beginnings 3

uncovered was a method to deconstruct complex waveforms into their sinusoidal
and cosinusoidal components. The process can be used in reverse to build complex sounds from simple sine waves as it is in additive synthesis. Fascinatingly, Yale
professor Richard Coifman described the Fourier Transform as “nature’s way of
analyzing data.”5 According to Yale structural biologist and biophysicist Professor
Peter Moore, “our eyes and ears have subconsciously performed the Fourier
transform to interpret sound and light waves for millions of years.”6 While nature
performs this feat at the speed of light, doing the necessary calculations manually is complex and was difficult to apply until 1965. That year, at IBM’s Watson
Research center, two Princeton mathematics professors—James Cooley and John
Tukey—developed the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) algorithm, making Fourier’s
principles more practically applicable.7 Fourier’s findings among their myriad applications became a critical component of digital recording, sampling, additive synthesis, and pitch-correction software.8

Toward Recording
There has long been a fascination with the idea of capturing sound and early
attempts included mechanical instruments and music notation. In 1711, English
Royal Court trumpeter John Shore invented a simple tool—the tuning fork—that
proved invaluable in experiments that helped us better understand sound.
English polymath and scientist Thomas Young (1773–1829) in 1807 described
a vibrograph used to measure the frequency of a tuning fork by etching its vibrations into a soot-coated cylinder. The drum rotated in a vertical plane powered
by a falling weight on a string.9 Frenchman Jean-Marie Constant Duhamel
(1797–1872) published an account in 1843 of a similar device that he called a
vibroscope. He attached a stylus to one leg of a tuning fork, struck the fork and
recorded its vibrations on a horizontally rotating cylinder covered with smoke
coated paper. The cylinder moved across the tuning fork on a feed screw. The
revolutions of the cylinder could be timed and thus the frequency calculated by
counting the waveforms.10 Although they were very early recording devices, these
machines were neither capable of capturing airborne sound nor designed to play
back their etchings. They were conceived as scientific measuring devices akin to
an oscilloscope.
Then, in a Paris laboratory on April 9, 1860, another important step was
taken. Seventeen years before Edison invented the phonograph, a typesetter named
Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville (1817–79) etched the sound of an unknown
French soprano singing “Au Clair de la Lune” on soot-blackened paper. This is the
first-known recording of an acoustic sound, but Monsieur Scott, as he was known,
did not think the sound could be played back. Scott patented his invention in 1857,
calling it the “phonautograph” (Figure 1.1). His collecting horn and diaphragm that
converted ambient sound to mechanical vibration was a material addition to Young

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