New Facilities

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 15.02.04

In addition to further updates to the Lincoln Sound Theatre, and investment in a new stock of Zoom H4N audio recorders for radio students, LSM created a new Radio Drama Studio last summer, making creative use of space that was largely for storage, and giving much better opportunities for high class productions to be produced in collaboration with staff and students in Performing Arts.

Moreover, in October ’13, we had news that we had been successful in our bid to the University to get funding to replace and update, quite substantially, our multitrack studio. It is now equipped with an Audient ASP8024 mixing console, a range of new studio microphones (including the SE2200A and Audix drum mics) and outboard processing devices (such as the Chameleon Labs 7720 compressor).

This new kit, along with the Pro Tools HD2 system and Waves plug ins, provides students with industry standard recording and mixing facilities as recommended by our prestigious accreditation body JAMES (Joint Audio Media Education Support).

Guest Lecture – Susan Pennington

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 14.51.33

 

This month’s Level 3 guest lecture was by Susan Pennington, Supervising Sound Editor at Spool.

As many of out students hope to work in audio post-production after they graduate this year, Susan’s lecture was both hugely enjoyable and very useful indeed. Drawing from her own wealth of experience, she shed light on working in the industry with particular focus on the most common means; that of freelance work.

She clarified the various team roles and workflows within audio post and stressed the importance of communication between them. She discussed many of the creative aspects of her job as well as some of the more technical requirements such as TV delivery specifications.

For me, it was most fascinating to hear about the relationship between her role (overseeing the full team) and the film director. As someone who has worked closely with Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine, this certainly revealed how demanding her job can be!

Who Killed Classical Music?

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 18.53.17

The Composer Gabriel Prokofiev (grandson of Sergei Prokofiev) looks at the increasing disconnection between classical music and its audience. He investigates the argument that composers such as Schoenberg killed off 20th century classical music for all but a small elite audience.

Until the early 20th century, each composer of classical music developed his own style built on the traditions of previous composers. Then Arnold Schoenberg changed all this, by devising ‘Serialism’ where melodies were no longer allowed.

In the 1950s, composers such as Pierre Boulez created ‘Total Serialism’. Every aspect of a piece of music – rhythms and loudness as well as notes – was rigidly controlled by a fixed formula.

And the sense of composers being remote from their audience was exacerbated by the elevation of musical performance to a kind of ritual.

But even at a time when Serialism gripped major parts of the classical music establishment, music that was overtly emotional was still being written by composers such as Shostakovich and Prokofiev in Russia. Ironically, in these countries, the State continued to support classical music, whereas in more liberal regimes in Europe it retreated to the intellectual margins.

Now the Serialist experiment has been largely abandoned and a whole new generation of composers – including Gabriel himself – is embracing popular culture, just as composers used to in the past when folk music or dance music were a major source of inspiration.

So has the death of classical music been exaggerated? Will it find new homes and new means of expression to attract the audiences of the future?

With contributions from Arnold Whittall, Stephen Johnson, Alexander Goehr, David Matthews, Ivan Hewett and Tansy Davies

Listen to the BBC Radio 4 programme here:

 

Beyond Bollywood

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 13.44.47
Journalist Sarfraz Manzoor visits India to meet a new generation of musicians and singers performing Indie, Reggae, Ska and Rap, and examines whether this western influenced scene can seriously rival the trademark sounds of Bollywood and Bangra.

Although Bollywood music is still the mass market choice on Indian stereos the alternative scene continues to grow and find its voice. Recently there’s been a notable rise in the number of rock music festivals, dance nights and music events attracting aspiring young Indians.

To discover the impact this alternative music scene is having on India, Sarfraz Manzoor journeys to the Hauz Khas Village in Delhi, often cited as the catalyst for introducing a wave of new bands and fresh musical genres into the market.

Hauz Khas is home to the offices of the Indian version of The New Musical Express and Manzoor speaks with its Editor Sam Lal and learns how the Village and the internet has been pivotal in the advancement and popularity of artists such as the Ska Vengers and Rapper Prozpekt who produce socially relevant music.

Exploring India’s first alternative radio station, Radio 79, Manzoor meets with Raghav Dang who broadcasts Pressure Drop and is a founder member of the band The Reggae Rajas. Meeting female artists Talia Bentson and Ritika Singh he also discovers why women are very happy to pursue a singing career in the East.

As India’s alternative music scene continues to develop Manzoor will explore the challenges ahead and learn whether these new songs provide a greater sense of identity for young people.

Trevor Dann Masterclasses

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 13.23.43

Blog post by Senior Lecturer Zara Healy.

Radio legend and Visiting Professor Trevor Dann spent two days with Radio and Audio Production students at the University in October, when he delivered masterclasses in ‘what makes a good broadcast voice’, ‘using the latest smart phone apps to source good radio’ and ‘the role of A&R’ amongst a host of other topics.

Dozens of students were in attendance as well as guests from a range of community radio stations across Lincolnshire including Gravity FM (Grantham) and Lincoln City Radio, who were invited to a two-hour masterclass on radio presentation skills. Guests posed many questions to Trevor including how best to liven up travel scripts to writing for radio.

Trevor’s advice was supportive and honest. He stressed the importance of really listening to different radio stations, podcasts etc. to encourage future producers and presenters to keep up to date with what their competitors and colleagues are doing. “The future of radio is speech” he told a packed audience, “do not be afraid to try new things and be creative, give the audience the unexpected”.

Feedback from the event has been incredibly positive and, as well as his regular guest lectures, Trevor is set to return for more workshops and masterclasses in the near future.

WWI soundscape ‘about humanity’

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 06.55.07

History has left many images that illustrate the destructive legacy of WWI, but there is almost a total absence of recorded sound – particularly from the field of battle.

When musician Stuart Staples from the British band the Tindersticks was asked to compose a soundscape for the war museum at Ypres in Belgium, he said he wanted to create something reflective.

Ahead of next year’s centenary, the Today programme’s Tom Bateman went with him to the location of some of the deadliest battles.

Speaking from the German cemetery Mr Staples explained: “It’s just about the humanity… people in Germany will feel the same as the people in the UK”.

Tindersticks’ new album Across Six Leap Years is out now and In Flanders Field will be released next year.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday 22 October 2013.

LSM Research Seminar – Marie Thompson

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 18.55.47

Blog Post by Dr Dean Lockwood:

Staff and students from the Lincoln School of Media (including Audio Production) welcomed Marie Thompson for the LSM Research Seminar series which took place Wednesday, 30th October.

Marie is an artist and researcher based in Newcastle upon Tyne. She is currently a PhD candidate at Newcastle University, based in the International Centre for Music Studies. Her thesis uses a Spinozist notion of affect to critically rethink the correlation between noise, ‘unwantedness’ and ‘badness’, so to more fully allow for the use of noise as a musical resource. She is the co-editor of the collection, Sound, Music, Affect: Theorizing Sonic Experience (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013). Marie is also regularly audible as a noisemaker and improviser. She plays individually as Tragic Cabaret and in the band, Beauty Pageant. Here is Marie’s abstract for her talk for our research seminar:

‘Rethinking noise, rethinking noise music: Affect, relationality and the poetics of transgression’:

‘In this paper, I outline a relational, ethico-affective approach to noise that works to disrupt the definitive correlation between noise, ‘unwantedness’ and ‘badness’. Rather than defining noise as a type of sound, or a subjective judgement of sound, noise is posited as a productive, transformative force and a necessary component of material relations. This approach to noise, I argue, is advantageous: firstly, because it allows for the noise that occurs out of (human) earshot, insofar as it no longer relies upon a constitutive listening subject; and secondly, because it allows for noise’s capacity to be good as well as bad, generative as well as destructive. A greater space is thus made for noise’s positively productive capacity, which has been readily explored within the arts.

In the second half of this paper, I discuss how a relational, ethico-affective approach to noise provides a means of (re)conceptualising noise music that moves away from the language of failure, taboo and contradiction. Rather than approaching noise music in terms of transgression, which is underlined by a dualistic conceptualisation of the relationship between (wanted, ‘good’) music and (unwanted, ‘bad’) noise, I suggest that noise music can be understood as an act of exposure, in that it foregrounds the presence of noise that is always already within the technical-musical system.’

Guest Lecture – Mike Harding – Touch

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 12.11.31

Blog post by Senior Lecturer Dr Dean Lockwood.

On Friday 18th October, Mike Harding, founder and supremo of Touch, came to LSM to talk to Audio Production students taking the critical studies module, Auditory Culture. Given that some of the key concerns of the module are debates around the concepts of noise and the soundscape, it was a great opportunity to talk to someone intimately involved with a label which has specialized in promoting artists exploring precisely these areas. As quickly became clear, Touch has a philosophical orientation which propels it way beyond the narrow exigencies of the music industry. Touch has always been conceived as an art project rather than simply a label. Because of its obsessively experimental ethos, it has survived pretty much on its own terms and has never fit well with the complacent mainstream and its genre categories. As Mike explained, Touch was established in the early eighties in the wake of punk. Capitalizing on the energies generated by the so-called ‘New Wave’ independent scene, Touch was a key post-punk project, its first releases heavily involved in early cassette culture and the ‘mixtape’ phenomenon. With cassette magazines such as Feature Mist and Ritual: Magnetic North, Touch presented sophisticated cut-ups and powerful work by bands such as New Order, Einstürzende Neubauten and Cabaret Voltaire, as well as musics from around the world (before such a thing as ‘World Music’ existed). ‘No one ever said no’, which stands as a great testament to the label’s reputation and integrity. Mike took us, in the first part of his talk, through the early history of Touch, spicing things up with personal anecdotes, and in the second part addressed Touch’s present concerns. It is the home of artists such as Christian Fennesz, Bruce Gilbert, Ryoji Ikeda and Chris Watson. Mike played us a good selection of pieces which some of these artists have put out on Touch. These artists have in common, I would suggest, what we might term an ecological sensibility, a particular attention to the relations which comprise acoustic space, sometimes through glitch aesthetics, sometimes through field recordings or other means.

On Saturday 19th, Touch presented two world premieres at Lincoln Cathedral as part of the Frequency festival. The evening, after Mike’s introduction, commenced with Anna Von Hausswolff’s performance of an austere, resonant new score for the organ, titled Källan. Chris Watson and Hildur Guðnadóttir then presented a stunning new collaborative multi-channel sound work, titled Sönghellir (The Cave of Song), which I think captivated everyone present. Touch’s website describes the work as ‘a sound journey from under the waters of Faxafloi, Iceland, alongside some of the largest animals on the planet. Up, onto the lava beach, across the lava fields and reindeer moss to the foot of the snow mountain, Snaefellsnes. The journey continues up and then into the mountain, ending inside Sönghellir, the song cave…’ It was a perfect example of the art of acoustic space that Touch releases exemplify.

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 12.52.38

Guest Lecture – Phil Harding

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 08.38.03
Phil Harding’s track record is incredible. As a recording engineer and producer he has worked with artists as diverse as The Clash, Killing Joke, Dead Or Alive, Kylie Minogue and East 17.

As part of his lecture tour to promote his book PWL: From The Factory Floor he came to the University and gave a very entertaining and informative lecture to a packed audience of Audio Production students.

The main thrust of Phil’s lecture was how different aspects of the music industry service each other and why this is something to bear in mind when fulfilling a particular role. He talked about the importance of group work in gaining these skills and about how having the right attitude is essential for success in an industry that relies so heavily on professional relationships.

He gave us some very useful insight into the deals that the modern record producer must negotiate in order to get paid and an incredible example of the different stages of production a commercial single might go through when a rather well known pop mogul is at the helm. My jaw certainly dropped when we were told how much money was thrown at a particular project only for it to dip in and out of the charts at number 39. A non-hit wonder.

As well as continuing as a producer, mix engineer and artist in his own right, Phil is now the chairman of JAMES – the accreditation body responsible for linking industry and education. As our Audio Production programme is accredited by JAMES, Phil’s final piece of advice was for students to include this information on their CVs as it most definitely helps them stand out when applying for apprenticeships, internships and freelance work.

With such a wealth of experience, Phil and JAMES are valuable assets to our course and students. He’s also a very nice bloke – I could have chatted to him all day. And he signed my copy of the book :).