For this month’s guest lecture, I was very happy to introduce Stephen Mallinder to the university for a second time. As most of you will already know, Mal was one of the founder members of Cabaret Voltaire – a group who had a massive impact on me as a young music maker and his lectures now are equally valuable to our students.
For this talk, Mal concentrated on the shift from analogue to digital cultures, particularly in regard to the perceptions of musicians, producers and sound-recordists to music production, music distribution and music consumption. He drew from his own background in writing, producing and playing over the past 35 years and also talked about his current work with my old Fila Brazillia partner Steve Cobby in his own current project Hey, Rube!
He discussed the results of his own research interviewing over 30 artists (musicians, DJs, producers and sound recordists, including his old band mate Chris Watson). The findings of which have formed the basis of a chapter for the up Live-Digital publication (Chandos, Summer 2013).
Mal provided a thought-provoking, enjoyable and highly relevant session, particularly for those students investigating similar issues for their final year dissertations. Hopefully, we’ll get him back again next year for the hat-trick!
Today’s level 3 project guest lecture was given by recording engineer Ken Blair. Ken is a freelance sound recordist who’s company BMP Recording specialise in classical, jazz and acoustic music.
Ken came to talk about his typical week of recording, editing, mixing and filling in tax returns! He described a typical orchestral recording session and how it can differ from a pop/rock recording session, in that a lot of these sessions are still recorded straight to stereo – especially if its a live event recording. This means a lot of time is spent positioning microphones and balancing levels into the recording device. This also means there’s no room for error, both in terms of the musicians’ performance and in terms of the recording levels and mix balance. Nerve wracking stuff!
Ken also talked about how his background and recording experience led him to the place he’s at now. After leaving school in Scotland, Ken studied the Tonmeister course at the University of Surrey and spent a year on work placement at Air studios in Montserrat. He also gave our students some great advice regarding building their portfolios and creating a skills based CV.
Many of our students will go on to be freelance workers across the very broad range of audio production careers. Ken’s lecture was a great insight into the day to day activities of just one of these fields. Really useful stuff!
I was really pleased to welcome back Jez Riley French for this month’s guest lecture.
Jez is a field-recordist, sound artist and sonic experimenter and I invited him to talk to our L3 project students about his varied and interesting work. Jez specialises in recording hidden sonic worlds such as building structures, underwater environments and the micro perspective of the insect world.
We had great fun discussing and testing Jez’s (often self-made) kit such as hyrophones, geophones, contact and parabolic microphones.
Jez has two exciting projects coming up; a field-recording trip to Iceland with Chris Watson and a Tate Modern commission: audible silence: a headphone piece exploring the hidden sounds of the Tate modern building (february 2013). We’re also trying to arrange a field-recording trip around Lincoln for AP students – watch this space!
How do you get your music to an audience? It’s a tricky question and one that students on the Level 2 module Music Production & Enterprise must attempt to answer.
Susi O’Neill is a musician and digital marketing consultant and came to the university today to give a lecture and to help the students devise their promotional strategies for the artists they are working with for this module.
Susi’s very informative lecture covered trends in digital marketing, her own research into independent music distribution and also new business models for music marketing and promotion. She included some very useful advice and a lot of food for thought regarding the state of the recorded music industries.
As a practising musician herself, Susi’s talk tackled exactly the issues and challenges facing the musicians, producers and songwriters in today’s digital environment. I wish she could come back every month!
The week’s guest lecture was by Bill Brewster AKA DJHistory.
Bill is a passionate music fan and in his entertaining and inspiring talk he described how he has managed to make a living from the thing he loves – music.
Describing himself primarily as a record collector, Bill has worked as a journalist (which took him to New York and Geneva for two years), a DJ, a record company owner, a music producer, an A&R person, a record compiler, a liner notes writer, a music consultant, a website owner and an author (Bill’s book Last Night A DJ Saved My Life is the bible of club and DJ culture).
The audience for Bill’s talk was level 3 Audio Production students who will be looking for ways in which to turn their passion (be it radio, music or film-sound) into a sustainable living in the not too-distant future.
For me, what Bill represents, is how versatility, hard work and a love of your subject can create opportunities and, if you’re ready to respond, how one opportunity can lead to another.
Next year Bill is working on a project with legendary record producer and Chic main-man Nile Rodgers. Not bad for a lad from Grimsby!
This month’s guest lecture for level 3 audio projects was given by sound recordist Grant Bridgeman.
As this talk was for students who will be leaving us this summer, Grant focussed on the day to day realities of being a freelancer. From filling in tax forms, to buying new equipment, to dealing with job calls, to managing accounts, to travelling to and from jobs, in fact, everything but the sound. Indeed, this was the title of Grant’s lecture.
For this month’s audio project guest lecture I was very pleased to introduce one of my musical heroes. Stephen Mallinder is a founder member of Sheffield’s Cabaret Voltaire who’s approach to music production (cut-up technique, found sounds, tape loops, experimental electronics blended with the rhythms of early American techno and house) was an enormous influence on me and informed my own approach to music making.
Stephen’s talk was both interesting and enlightening – he’s a very engaging speaker. He spoke about music production with reference to his own work and also the work of artists such as Lee Scratch Perry, Marshall Jefferson and Kraftwerk and how his music connects with art movements such as Dada and Bauhaus. Referring to his PhD thesis Movement, Modernity and The Beat, Stephen also discussed the musical connections of club culture, graphic design and film-making.
With a long and varied career in many aspects of the music industry (running a record label, live promotion and hosting a radio show in Perth, Australia), along with his academic interests, Stephen’s talk was very valuable to our students and highlighted the importance of connecting your own work to many other creative outlets and industries.
The Cabaret Voltaire fan club* sat in the front row enjoyed it too.
*middle-aged male academics from the Lincoln School of Media 🙂
November’s guest lecture for level 3 audio project students was Jez Riley French. Jez explores the audible and inaudible sounds of natural and built environments. In the session Jez talked about his field-recording work and played some incredible recordings he had made with his self-built contact microphones and hydrophones, These ranged from the sound of ants eating an apricot, to long, complex drones of contact mic recordings of wire fences blowing in the breeze to the sound of razor clams on the sea bed. This fascinating and humorous talk focussed on arguably the most important aspect of audio production – listening.