Abbey Road Studios

Cultural commentator Paul Morley explores a history of popular music through some of the iconic recording studios in which classic albums were created.

Without them music as we know it would simply not exist. There’d be no technology to capture the sounds envisaged by the musicians and created and enhanced by the engineers and producers… and there’d be no music for the record companies to market and distribute. But more than that, the studios actually played a crucial part in the structure and fabric of the music recorded there – the sounds enhanced by the studio space itself… the potential and shortcomings of the equipment and technology housed in the cubicles… and the ability and ‘vision’ of the engineers and producers operating it all to find the new sound that makes the recordings sound different and fresh.

Today he visits the world’s first purpose built recording studio, and possibly the most famous: the one at No 3, Abbey Road, a stone’s throw from a much photographed zebra crossing in London’s St John’s Wood. Opened by Sir Edward Elgar conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in a recording of “Land Of Hope And Glory”, the studios went on to record everyone from Adam Ant, The Bolshoi and Nick Cave… to XTC, Diana Yakawa and the Zombies – to say nothing of Pink Floyd and the Beatles.

But that’s not what’s drawn Paul Morley to these historic recording rooms – it’s the continuing work in capturing the sound of orchestras that is put under the spotlight in this programme. With the help of engineers and producers, composers and those that keep the studios running on a day to day basis, Paul explores how the relationship classical music has with the recording studio differs from the one that pop music enjoys.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Listen to the BBC Radio 4 programme here

First Career Steps – Matt North

Blog Post by Audio Production alumnus Matt North:

Having finished my degree in Audio Production, I am currently working for Ideal Shopping Direct as a Technical Operator. The company broadcasts over four channels and its main channel, Ideal World, is live 17 hours a day. My main responsibilities within my role are varied and alongside operating audio for the shows, I am learning new skills in different roles such as Floor Technician, Video Controller and Camera Operation. The Floor Technician role is especially interesting as I am learning new skills in lighting television sets, testing audio and visual feeds and dealing first-hand with presenters and guests alike.

The audio role within the company is very enjoyable, consisting of running the desk and ensuring all audio is to a suitable level for broadcast, as well as playing out sound effects and VT.

Whilst I am very much enjoying my work, I intend to gain as many skills and as much experience as possible within this role and then potentially move to a full-time Audio Operator role. Although I am doing some audio operation as a Technical Operator, I feel it would be beneficial for my CV and career to possess the official title of Audio Operator for future endeavours.

Ultimately, I intend to pursue my passion for film & TV sound that I developed whilst studying Audio Production. Since finishing my degree, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work as a Sound Recordist, as well as complete audio post-production on a short film with a former graduate from Lincoln, Michael Beddoes. I spoke to him after his guest lecture for R&D and he invited me to assist him on his project entitled ‘Breaking’, which has been entered into the Virgin Media Shorts competition and has received great attention. It was an invaluable experience, teaching me more about the location recording process and I am extremely proud of the finished product.

Through working on ‘Breaking’, I was asked by the film’s producer (Adam Spinks) to be in charge of sound on his upcoming feature film ‘Survivors’, which is being shot over 11 days in September in Surrey. The film has been crowd-funded and is being produced on a budget of around £4000. This was a fantastic opportunity that I could not turn down and since accepting the role, Adam has also asked me to complete post-production work on another short film he has done – and this was my first official paid freelance role. Although it was only a small amount, it is definitely a milestone in my career.

I am currently using my wages from working at Ideal World to buy my first personal location recording kit for the ‘Survivors’ shoot. I have upgraded to Pro Tools 10 and I am also currently enhancing the knowledge I gained from my degree in audio production for film through reading and testing the equipment I have purchased.

After the ‘Survivors’ shoot, I intend to apply for more freelance roles within the industry to enhance my audio portfolio, whilst continuing to gain experience in live TV sound at Ideal World. Afterwards, I hope to move to Manchester or London and apply for work in Audio Post-Production facilities whilst continuing with freelance audio work.

Links here: Breaking, Survivors

LONDON 2012 – how ELBOW created the Olympics Theme

This is a great insight into how Elbow went about probably their most challenging brief.

“Go into a studio and come up with a global Olympic theme”. It starts with a brass fanfare where the first five notes relate to the five Olympic Rings. It’s a call to attention. The choir was introduced to make it more ‘everyman’. It will become another familiar BBC sporting theme which will be remembered by a generation. Though as Elbow’s Guy Garvey admits, “It’s never going to be as good as ‘Ski Sunday’ theme is it?

Mercury Prize-winning group Elbow have spoken about how they created their anthem for the BBC’s Olympics coverage.
Entitled First Steps, the new piece was recorded with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the NovaVox gospel choir.

watch the
Behind the scenes film here

First Steps is accompanied by an animation produced at Passion Pictures, showing the landscape of the United Kingdom transformed into a giant sporting arena inside the Olympic Stadium.

Guy Garvey and therest of the band spoke to the BBC about their inspiration for the music and the recording process, and the video’s designer explained how he created the look of the graphics.

 

 

 

The track will be available as a digital download only.

 

 

The trailer has been devised around the concept of “Stadium UK” and cleverly uses animation to transform the United Kingdom into a sporting hub where athletes prepare and compete in the Olympic Games. Exchanging swimming pools for the English Channel, running tacks for the streets of Britain and gymnastic apparatus for famous London landmarks.

Rockfield Studios

“The era of the great recording studio being central to the production of great albums hit its peak around the time the Stone Roses released their debut album. By the end of the 1990s a combination of increasingly sophisticated home recording and the Internet era assault on traditional record companies with their big recording budgets was threatening the very future of the studio. Studios started to close taking their history and artistic and scientific knowledge with them and even though there was a greater mainstream appetite for pop music, the astonishing complicated machines responsible for the history of pop were becoming as antiquated as steam trains, as irrelevant and obsolescent as stately homes.” Morley, 2012.

Cultural commentator Paul Morley explores a history of popular music through some of the iconic recording studios in which classic albums were created. In future programmes he revisits some of the classical masterpieces recorded in the 80 year old Abbey Road Studios and cutting edge pop in Metropolis, the studio complex built when the music industry was at its most bloated peak. But he begins in the rural heart of Monmouthshire – at a studio that grew out of a farm and gave birth to some of rock music’s finest recordings – everything from Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to the Stone Roses’ eponymous debut album, from Dr. Feelgood’s “Down By The Jetty” to Oasis’ “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory”, even from the Waterboys’ “Fisherman’s Blues” to Adam Ant’s “Kings Of THe Wild Frontier”. Those trying to explain what part the studio played in creating such musical magic include performers (the veteran Dave Edmunds and the newcomers Iko), technicians (John Leckie and Sean Genockey) and the people who (in some cases, quite literally) built the studio and the business (father and daughter, Kingley and Lisa Ward, and Terry Matthews). As the money flowing through the music industry continues to dry up – Paul also asks what future there may be or the historic recording studios that helped build the industry in the first place?

Listen to the BBC Radio 4 programme here

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

ICE T, on Rap, Hip Hop and a new Documentary

In a nutshell- history of Rap, Hip hop & Break Dancing

This explanation caught my ear. Rapper Ice T was talking about his new documentary Something from nothing, about how when the New York state school system was being cut back, and there were no musical instruments available in schools, kids took the record player and turned it into an instrument, how using the breaks in the tracks became popular with MC’s on the decks, which in turn led to Break Dancing. The MC’s then started working with Rappers and so the story continued.

Listen to this extract of Ice T from BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, where he very succinctly explains the origins of hip-hop.
 

American musician and performer Ice-T has directed a cinema documentary Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap in which he talks to leading performers including Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre and Eminem about the culture of hip-hop. Ice-T discusses the origins of the music, and its continuing influence.

The Storyline is as follows

SOMETHING FROM NOTHING: THE ART OF RAP is a feature length performance documentary about the runaway juggernaut that is Rap music. At the wheel of this unstoppable beast is the film’s director and interviewer Ice-T. Taking us on a deeply personal journey Ice-T uncovers how this music of the street has grown to dominate the world. Along the way Ice-T meets a whole spectrum of Hip-Hop talent, from founders, to new faces, to the global superstars like Eminem, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and Kanye West. He exposes the roots and history of Rap and then, through meeting many of its most famous protagonists, studies the living mechanism of the music to reveal ‘The Art Of Rap’. This extraordinary film features unique performances from the entire cast, without resorting to archive material, to build a fresh and surprising take on the phenomenon that is Rap.

see a BBC video about the documentary here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17853254

You can Follow Something from Nothing – The Art of Rap on Facebook

and on IMdB here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2062996/

The Ecstasy and Dread of Sonic Flux: Simon Reynolds on David Toop

Hello. This is my first post to the blog, and I’d like to use it to tell you about a very interesting article I read recently in The Wire magazine (April 2012). It’s a piece by the music journalist, Simon Reynolds, on the writer and musician, David Toop. Toop has been known for quite some time for his antipathy to ‘taste tribalism’ – the way people occupy forms of music as if they were fortresses in which they can take shelter. He has emphasized the porosity of genres and the need to dismantle these fortresses of taste. In this, his work has a strong affinity with the theories of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, amongst which is the idea of the rhizome, based on plants that proliferate in a multiplicity of directions, open-endedly, unlike trees which are rigid, trunk-based plants. So, for example, the ‘idea of the band as a family’, Toop says, ought to be dismantled because it is too much an unshifting ‘tree-like command structure’. Instead, music should be made by temporary alliances of people, shifting collectives who gather together for a project, then disband, reforming in different configurations elsewhere. An important part of this way of working is to open yourself up to a whole host of new influences and inspirations. So, for example, post-punk musicians in the 70s-80s were ‘xenomaniacs’ ( lovers of otherness) and sought out exotic, obscure forms of music for ideas: field recordings from other traditions – religious, shamanistic, aboriginal, nomadic; environmental soundscapes; avant-garde musics. Toop has celebrated what he calls an ‘ocean’ of rhizomatically connected sounds.

This extends to Toop’s writing about music, too. He wanted to abandon a linearized, chronological account of music because this was fundamentally unimaginative. Music journalism should disorientate (‘deterritorialize’, in Deleuze and Guattari’s terms) as well as provide orientation. It should expose the reader to untimely, surprising connections. In fact, writing should be more like music, more rhapsodic. Writing can sample, can explore resonances.

Reynolds’ article is also intriguing in the things it says about the resonances between music and the digital. Since the 90s, Toop has become very cynical about what is happening to music when, in the ‘always-there plenitude’ of the internet, it is all so abundantly and easily available. Post-punks (pre-internet) had to put a lot of energy into discovering new things, now the whole process has been de-energized. As a consequence, Toop began to become pretty much allergic to music, developing ‘xenophobia’ (fear of the outside) rather than xenomania. Now the imperative for Toop seems to be to protect himself from the formlessness of the digital, to keep a space for himself in which he can cultivate his projects. Toop is particularly wary about the ‘exaltation of the virus’ in a lot of contemporary writing and those writers and musicians who celebrate contagion in culture. The problem is that contemporary capitalism is viral, infecting and marketing every new idea, every form of inventiveness. This is the negative, dark side of viral, digital culture – it throws us into a precarious existence where all our energies are harvested by capital. In fact, this thesis is very close to the argument that Rob Coley and I have put forward in our new book on digital culture, Cloud Time (published by Zero Books – we sent Reynolds an electronic copy a year or so ago, so I wonder if it helped him crystallize his views on this?).

The upshot for anyone interested in audio production is that we now live in a highly ambiguous, indistinct situation where we are torn between life in a blissful, ocean of sonic flows – a multiplicity of fascinating new forms – and a ‘non-specific dread’ with regards to the future, when every dream, every urge, every idea is instantly seized and sold on by powers we can’t control.

Robert Babicz on Mastering


Robert Babicz  is a Polish music producer, mastering engineer and live performer living in Cologne, Germany. With a career spanning nearly two decades covering genres from techno to acid house to minimal, Babicz has also been known under the pseudonyms Rob AcidAcid WarriorDepartment of Dance and Sontec amongst many others. He has released a number of very well respected record labels such as Kompakt, Treibstoff, Bedrock , Intec Digital and  Audiomatique, as well his own labels, Junkfood and Babiczstyle. He is well known as a live performer, never a DJ, as he uses synths and live equipment and improvises in every set he plays. Watch the video here

In this short interview, he discusses mastering, what he thinks of mastering software,how you should prepare your track for mastering and gives an insight into the kit he uses.

Variations – the history of appropriative collage in music


I’ve been listening to this excellent 8 part series recently. Variations covers the history of appropriative collage in music i.e. using other people’s music in your own compositions – something I’ve done many times in my musical career. The series begins with examples from 1908, examines Musique Concrete of the 40s, the Avant Garde and experimental music of the 50s and 60s to sampling and remixing of the 80s and beyond.

The series investigates the whole notion of authorship. Indeed, “The idea of a completely original piece of music is a fairly recent one. Music was passed on through sound, through generations, even for centuries after the invention of written music. Only gradually, and centuries after the implementation of written notation, did it become standard practice for a composer to sign his name to a piece of music and claim it entirely as his own, giving rise to the cult of the individual composer.” (Leidecker, 2008).

The series is available as a free podcast from RWM’s website (under the heading Curatorial). I highly recommend it to our Audio Production students or, indeed, anyone with an interest in society’s experience of music.

Chris Moyles – Marmite or Madness – the end of ZOO FORMAT for breakfast

“I’m just going to give a heads up that we’re going to wrap it up, …it’s almost time to go, we’re off. A couple more months of us and then it’s someone else’s turn to have a go.” (Chris Moyles on-air 11-7-12)

Yesterday (11th July) saw a major milestone in BBC Radio Broadcasting, in the form of the ritual that is the changing of the guard at the helm of the most listened to time-slot on UK Radio – The Breakfast Show, more specifically Radio One’s breakfast show. The reason – BBC wishes to bring down the average age of Radio One’s audience to 15-29.

Chris Moyles has been Radio One’s DJ at breakfast for years. Most students attending University will have grown up with him. Moyles has won awards, outraged people, increased ratings, climbed mountains for charity, gained weight, lost weight, spoken his mind and generally enjoyed great freedom as he lived out his dream. I have been struck by the amount of debate for and against Chris Moyles – (so much so that one of my own posts on the subject was deleted by a detractor, such is the strength of feeling held by some) He has been praised as ‘the most successful breakfast show host”, and Gary Barlow even wrote a parody song about Mr Moyles ‘The greatest DJ in the World?” http://youtu.be/1Ewaq9cmhLY

I have only met Chris Moyles once, (more of which later) but like millions of other people I feel that I know him well. Each morning on the way to work it was a ritual for me . Radio 4 until ‘thought for the day’ then switch over to find out what Chris Moyles and his ‘ZOO RADIO’ team, Aled, Tina, Comedy Dave, Dominic Byrne, were up to. Often they would spend ages just chatting and discussing topics of the day – occasionally even playing a record or two! People would ‘turn-up’, like the time a breathless Will.i.am brought round a USB stick with a temp mix of ‘This is love“.
I would argue, that to really understand Moyles, you have to listen over a reasonable length of time.

 

I don’t necessarily like Chris Moyles, he can be incredibly annoying,  but he was also entertaining. He is also very proficient in ‘driving’ a radio desk. (backed up by a very efficient team no doubt) but he is a master at talking up to the vocal line, or matching beats, and reacting rapidly live on air, calling up tracks from the now completely digitised music and jingle library.  When he actually played tracks I often liked the music he played. Moyles is a bit like Marmite – I can tolerate it, sometimes I really like it, but sometimes I just don’t want any!

You will certainly be hard pushed to find people sitting on the fence in their opinions of him. Radio One’s Ben Cooper described him as: “Quite simply he’s been the most successful breakfast show host in Radio 1 history.” – others find Moyles “utterly vile”, and “a nasty piece of work”

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The breakfast slot is seen as key to audiences and image at Radio Stations. People listen driving to work, on the tube, on their phones and at home whilst burning the toast. It’s the slot that gets the nation going in the morning.

Not that Radio One gets the most listeners at that time in the morning. That award goes to BBC Radio 2, and another Chris, EVANS. In the period January to March 2012, Chris Evans Breakfast show scored weekly ratings of 9.23 million listeners against Radio One’s current incumbant Chris Moyles’s 7.1 Million. The other major player is that stalwart of speech radio the Today programme which averages about 6.1 million.
(source RAJAR)

In an On-Air ‘announcement’ (listen here http://youtu.be/L–bVB8QU7M) Chris Moyles revealed to his listeners that he will be leaving Radio One’s morning slot in October after over 8 years at the helm.

Nick Grimshaw was later announced as the new Breakfast show host – and Chris moyles lost no time in playing a trick on Grimshaw, inviting him into the studio this morning (Thursday 12th July – and then leaving him totally alone in the studio without warning! 

Chris abandons Grimshaw – Telegraph

 Moyles walks out – METRO

During his time in office, Moyles has seen the audience for Radio One in the morning rise from the doldrums, and remain high for several years – though now there are signs that Radio audiences are falling with the rise of streaming music services and other outlets.

It seems that Radio One are keen to keep Chris Moyles and already there are rumours about a new show for Moyles. Ben Cooper the controller of Radio One has already said as such,
Stating “Chris Moyles will reinvent himself at Radio One”
( http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/jul/11/chris-moyles-reinvent-radio-1-ben-cooper?newsfeed=true )

Moyles has the record for the longest continuous radio show, he has climbed Kilimanjaro with other celebrities for Comic Relief, he has broadcast from various parts of the globe, as well as Hackney, London !! (The Hackney Weekend – community event ) Over the years hundreds if not thousands of incidents have occurred, which all have contributed to peoples feelings about Moyles. He can seem arrogant, but also has a considerate side and can read the mood of the nation well. Two examples display the paradox:

On Tuesday September 11th 2001, the terrorist attacks in America occurred just before Chris was due to go on the air at 3pm UK time. A decision was made not to do the usual show. Instead, Chris played non stop music, interrupted only by regular Newsbeat updates from Claire Bradley. He was wildly praised for his handling of the situation. The next three shows were much the same – featuring emails from listeners, stories from eye witnesses.
(taken from http://chrismoyles.net/teamchris.shtml )

In February 2002, Chris also got himself into hot water with the Broadcasting Standards Commission, when he offered to take Charlotte Church’s virginity on the day she turned 16. The complaints were upheld and Moyles forced to apologise. Despite this, Charlotte has made several subsequent appearances on the show, with Chris even presenting his Christmas Day show live from her mums pub in 2005.

for more of Chris Moyles controversial moments see (http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/chris-moyles-controversy-mirrorcouks-top-363913 )

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Moyles’s home town is Leeds, where I spent three years in the mid 1980’s. During his departure speech he commented on how getting to the Radio One breakfast slot was a childhood dream. He certainly has worked his way up through a vast array of local radio stations, and I admire the way a Leeds boy made it to the big time – always good to see the seemingly Southern bias being challenged.

Rod McPhee writing yesterday in the Yorkshire Evening Post :

when he first arrived at Radio 1 in 1997 it marked a definitive end of an era of radio where Smashy and Nicey DJs still lingered. He almost sounded like a bloke who’d wandered in off the street and found himself thrust in front of a microphone. That was his gift though. It took a lot of skill and experience to sound that natural. You only have to listen to some presenters on some local radio shows (and some presenters on other Radio 1 shows) to realise just how smooth Moyles really is.”
( http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/lifestyle/columnists/rod-mcphee-chris-moyles-love-or-hate-him-you-have-to-rate-him-1-4730770 )

He has a reputation for brashness. Nicholas Lezard write in the Independent:

“I listened to his show the day after the broadcast. To my surprise, Moyles was humility itself, and barely referred to his award, preferring instead to play some great music and make some splendid topical jokes. Ha! Just kidding. He talked about almost nothing else for the first 21 minutes and 14 seconds of the show, by which time someone whispered into his ear and reminded him that Radio 1 was a music station, not a speech station. I had my smugometer to hand, to be scientific, but it exploded.”
( http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/chris-moyles-radio-1-830193.html )

Rod McPhee again :

“Moyles has always given the impression of being a sensitive soul, a reactive personality who takes things personally. Of course, he only gives a hint of this through occasional outbursts, but it’s there all the same. Which is why he’s not only one of the most successful DJs of the last decade but also one of the most interesting. He certainly seems to have more layers than his replacement, Primmie Hill It-kid Nick Grimshaw. Complete with standard issue bouffant and skinny jeans, he’s just a generic clone of modern youth.”

“…we should celebrate him in Leeds. Sure he’s never allowed his Loiner heart to bleed across the pages of newspapers and magazines, but that’s preferable to other stars who love to use their gritty, northern roots to cynically promote themselves.
Truth is, Leeds is a little better off for boasting Moyles in its alumni, and, laud or loathe him, Radio 1’s certainly a lot worse off for losing him”

Changing the breakfast presenter is generational thing at Radio One.
Samira Ahmed writing in The Guardian in November 2011 wrote:

“Radio 1’s dilemma is encapsulated in the totemic persona of its breakfast show presenter, Chris Moyles. Chris Evans’s spiritual heir, Moyles joined Radio 1 in the late 90s and has recently signed a new contract with the station. Now 37, the enfant terrible’s frequent alleged homophobic comments have seen him censured by Ofcom (in 2009) and “warned” by the Radio 1 controller, but, with his valuable ratings, always protected by management. (The new controller, incidentally, is Moyles’s former producer, Ben Cooper).
Whatever you think of him, and there have been plenty of critics, Moyles could be seen to represent what’s happened to adulthood – the phenomenon of extended middle youth, says Garfield, pointing to the demographic of rock festivals. A thirtysomething today is comparable in what they listen to, how they live and consume and how they regard themselves, to a twentysomething a generation ago.”
(http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/08/radio-1-extended-middle-youth )

love or loathe him, we may be in for a quieter time at breakfast on Radio One for a while – my prediction is that ratings will fall under Grimshaw, then a new replacement will be sought, and that person may well become as infamous as Moyles, but it could take several years.

Oh and that meeting I had with Moyles? Well it was in the stairwell at Broadcasting House. I nodded at him and I think he muttered “eorgh” or similar. I don’t remember I was too busy looking at Mariella Frostrup walking down the stairs. Now there’s a radio personality!

CHRIS HAINSTOCK 2012

there is a sound archive of some of Chris Moyles radio shows here

 

what are your thought s on Chris Moyles and his legacy? –

Work Experience At British Grove

Blog post by level 1 Audio Production student Alistair Pritchard (3rd from left).

I was invited to spend a day at British Grove Studios in London by Dave Harries when our course gained JAMES accreditation. I helped set up the new tweeters in both studios and was introduced to the various employees of the studio and was then invited to spend a whole week at the studio later on in the year.

The building has a lovely, warm and homely atmosphere with real character, made more so by the staff that work there. Owned by Mark Knopfler and managed by David Stewart, British Grove is one of the very few studios left in London who cater for orchestral recordings as well as bands. Its amazing acoustics and flexibility of live rooms and booths allow it to adapt to each client’s needs.

During my first day I worked as Assistant Engineer with Joe (Engineer) and Steve McLaughlin who’s produced various compositions for films such as Die Hard and X-Men. This involved setting up for recording piano and classical guitar (see picture below) to add to a previous orchestral recording done at Abbey Road Studios. This was to be used for an art exhibition and possibly for a film in the future. Microphone positioning/choice was a key factor during this session to get the best sound but also to piece the music together as it was a complicated composition.

On my second day, after getting to grips with my role as an Assistant Engineer and familiar with the new environment, I was to work with Rich and Jason – setting up to record an album. Later that day I was introduced to Guy Fletcher (keyboard player in Mark’s band). The recording would take place for the rest of the week in studio 1 and, during this time, Glyn Johns was mixing an album for a client with Martin (British Grove Engineer) in Studio 2. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to him and Don Was, which was really nice. I then found myself discussing work with them and made coffee throughout the week which lead to having lunch followed by some sound advice from Glyn himself.

For the recording session in studio 1 we had to use all of the booths and the live room. This consisted of many instruments being recorded all at the same time. To name a few:

Fiddle and Whistle/Flute – Neumann 67 (valve).
Drums – AKG C12s were used as overheads (also valve and very rare these days).
Vocals – A modern copy of a Telefunken 251.

Danny Cummings (percussionist) then turned up with all of his gear and by God, did he bring some drums?! We set them up and got levels with various microphones to find out which ones gave the best sound, in particular for the bass drum. The project was for a Spanish flamenco artist (cannot be named for private reasons) and was to be produced by Guy Fletcher. The musicians were part of Mark Knopfler’s folk band and friends, who I have to thank for making me very welcome and are such nice people. In total we had nine songs to record in full and straight away from hearing the first song you could see why the client had come to British Grove Studios, he was absolutely incredible as a composer of music and guitarist.

Throughout the week I learnt a lot about the hierarchy within a studio and how each level communicates with each other. Specifically to production techniques I learnt about microphone placement and some useful tips on Pro Tools. As the week came to an end working at British Grove started to feel like a norm, and I thoroughly enjoyed it and was always eager to learn but I felt like part of the team – in all honesty I was sad to go.

However, my week was still yet to be completed as David gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse and I stayed for the weekend too. I was then fortunate enough to meet Paul Crockford who is Mark’s manager and has a wealth of experience in the role. The following morning we were set to finish the previous day’s song which would determine whether or not we would finish on time. Later that day I was pleasantly surprised to meet Mark Knopfler himself and that was a great end to the week with the final pieces being tracked and edited.

Overall I had a brilliant time and couldn’t have asked for a better week. Thank you to all involved.